Let’s just be blunt, the webcam built into your laptop is mediocre at best and unflattering at worst. Many creative professionals still WFH at least part of the time, and video-based meetings and impromptu FaceTime/Zoom/Teams sessions aren’t going anywhere. Yet, there’s a dearth of webcams designed specifically for those of us working on-the-go from our laptops, making the Opal Tadpole webcam a notable new option.
Maybe you already recognize the name Opal, an imaging company that made waves two years ago with the launch of their 4K C1 webcam. The C1 arrived at a moment when many remote workers were seeking an upgrade to their WFH setups, noting murky and low resolution video made for poor remote collaboration. The new Tadpole follows suit with an ultra-portable 1.2” squared webcam optimized for laptops, weighing the same as two AA batteries ensuring its weight doesn’t tip over the screen or fall off.
Like the C1 webcam designed for full size desktop monitors, the Tadpole’s industrial design is its most conspicuous upgrade from competitive webcams. The minimalist design comes equipped with a clip that fits directly onto any laptop display without requiring a camera mount and is further embellished with a woven nylon cable with USB-C 2.0 that connects with equal ease whether used with a Mac or Windows PC.
“Most webcams are large and built to live on top of a monitor in a home office,” says Stefan Sohlstrom, Co-Founder of Opal Camera. “At Opal, we challenged ourselves to deliver high-quality hardware, but in a beautiful form factor that’s as tiny, convenient, and plug and play as possible. We put everything that you would want when working on a laptop… directly into the hardware.”
Resolution wise, Opal claims the Tadpole’s 4K Sony IMX582 sensor paired with a f1.8 six-element glass lens all bolstered by machine learning results in DSLR-quality video. But perhaps equally, if not more, innovative is the inclusion of the brand’s directional VisiMic microphone. Using a combination of software and hardware, the mic limits audio to whatever the Tadpole’s camera can see, effectively eliminating background noise. Out of the picture, out the scope of its mics.
Due to its small size, rather than a dedicated button, the Tadpole includes a Tap to Mute capacitive touch sensor built directly into the camera’s USB-C plug, making it easy to pause audio when you’re not on the Zoom podium to speak.
The Opal Tadpole webcam is available in white or black for $175 at opalcamera.com (and eventually via Amazon), with an optional carrying case sold separately.