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This $300 webcam does its best to replicate DSLR quality

We’re all looking to up our videoconferencing game these days, and now a new Mac-exclusive webcam claims to be the “first professional webcam.” What does that mean? Well, Opal’s C1 webcam aims to be a DSLR-like camera that attaches to your Mac and attempts to transform your pitiful built-in webcam into something far more powerful.

As reported by Tom’s Hardware, the Opal C1 has some pretty spectacular specs to back up those claims.

The Opal C1 webcam attached to a monitor.

The C1 houses a mirrorless, 7.8mm 4K Sony sensor that sports a 78-degree field of view and hits 60 frames per second. That checks all the boxes for a high-end camera, and it is notably cheaper than connecting a regular DSLR to your computer.

For sound, the Opal C1 has a multidirectional MicMesh that takes up over half the the webcam. Opal is promising noise-cancellation, so in theory, the mic will deliver crisp and isolated sound that blocks out background noise.

The Opal C1 sitting against a white background.

All of that fits into a relatively compact package. The Opal C1 measures 1.97 x 3.07 x 1.81 inches. That is pretty bulky for a typical webcam, but about half the size of a traditional DSLR.

For internal specs, the C1 houses the Opal Trillium microchip and Intel’s latest 14-nanometer VPU chip. The Trillium microchip can perform “4 trillion operations per second” according to Opal, and combined with the Intel processor, it should have some impressive computational power.

How necessary that will be is debatable, though, since most videoconference and streaming services compress video anyway.

The C1 will launch with Opal’s custom app, which works exclusively with Mac. That makes sense since some of Opal’s founding members are former Apple employees. The app allows you to apply a variety of filters and adjustments to video and audio, including a Bokeh mode that artificially blurs the background, making it easier to focus on you.

Image quality comparisons between the Opal C1 and other webcams.

Windows users won’t necessarily miss out, though. The Opal C1 is still compatible with third-party software.

You can’t buy the Opal C1 just yet. It’s currently in a private, invite-only beta stage. You can, however, add your name to a reservation list to buy a beta model when it releases.

At $300, the Opal C1 is notably more expensive than some of the other best webcams you can buy, but we will have to wait and see if it is worth it.

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Caleb Clark
Caleb Clark is a full-time writer that primarily covers consumer tech and gaming. He also writes frequently on Medium about…
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