For some, Zoom may have been a stopover during the early days of the pandemic. For others it is now a way of life.
Should you find yourself in the latter camp, there are a few very simple and effective settings you can adjust to make sure the video you send to all your colleagues, friends and family looks the best it can.
Most of the controls you need live in the Settings > Video section of the Zoom desktop app for Windows and Mac, which you can access by opening the app and clicking the gear icon in the top right corner.
Make sure HD video is enabled
Chances are, your webcam can handle high-definition video. But if Zoom’s HD setting isn’t enabled, you won’t be getting the most out of your camera.
Go to the Settings > Video section and make sure the HD box is checked. It’s located just below the camera selector.
Adjust for low light
Of all the tweaks here, adjusting for low light may be the most positively dramatic change you can make. The necessary setting can be found in the Settings > Video section under the My video heading.
Make sure the box is checked and if you feel your preview image is too bright or not bright enough, you can use the drop-down menu next to the feature to put it in manual mode. Play with it a bit to get it the way you want it.
Retouch your appearance
There is absolutely nothing wrong with having a few wrinkles and smile lines. But for the record, Zoom does have a “Touch up my appearance” setting that smoothes them out. You’ll find it directly above the low light setting in the Settings > Video section of My Video.
There is a slider that allows you to experiment with the amount of touch-up, so play around with that a bit. Be careful though: if you get too aggressive, you could end up looking like a Madame Tussaud’s wax figure.
Buy a better camera
If you’ve adjusted the above settings and are still not satisfied, it may be time to consider buying a new camera, especially if you’re using a built-in laptop camera. Stand-alone webcams can offer better quality, and mounting a webcam on a tripod allows you to frame yourself in a more flattering way. (Try to position the camera relatively high and point it slightly down on your face.)
There’s no shortage of decent webcams available for under $100–this Logitech is very popular, but it’s important to note that Zoom works best at a native HD resolution (1280×720) at 30 frames per second. So if you’re shopping, there’s no need to spend $150 to $200 on a 4K compatible webcam right now unless you’re going to be using it for non-Zoom stuff like live game streaming or general offline recording.
That said, there’s nothing wrong with being a little future-proof: not a 4K webcam not working with zoom. And you never know what the app might support in the future.