Obsbot Tiny 4K PTZ Webcam review: A smart, tracking webcam for professionals
The Obsbot Tiny 4K PTZ is an innovative webcam designed to meet the increasingly demanding needs of the hybrid workforce. While you could once get away with a crummy laptop webcam for your work calls, now your image quality is expected to be as professional as you are.
Neatly designed and capable of delivering a 4K video stream, the Tiny 4K PTZ has an ace up its sleeve in the form of motorised tracking. Left to right, up and down, the Tiny 4K can follow you around the room, ensuring you remain properly centred throughout your call, class or video.
This tech does come at a cost and, at £269, the Tiny 4K is far from a budget option. For demanding users in need of a smart, capable camera for professional presentations, however, the Obsbot Tiny 4K PTZ may well be worth the investment.
Obsbot Tiny 4K PTZ Webcam review: What do you get for the money?
The Tiny 4K will set you back £269 and for that, you get the Tiny 4K webcam, a monitor mount, USB-C cable, USB-C to Type-A adapter and a secondary USB-A to DC power cable for use with older USB 2.0 ports. Everything then comes neatly packaged in a custom carrying vase.
A quick glance will tell you the Tiny 4K is not your typical webcam. It has a stout build with the lens mounted via a vertical pivot to a raised arm and that arm, in turn, is attached to a chunky, rotating base. At the back, you’ll find a USB-C port and a DC power input (only required for devices with older USB 2.0 ports). An LED indicator light runs across the front of the device, flanked by a pair of omnidirectional microphones.
A standard 1/4in thread allows the camera to be attached to any standard tripod or stand, while the included monitor mount allows it to be affixed to most standard displays or laptops. The monitor mount itself folds down for compact storage, comes with a self-adhesive strip for more permanent installations and the camera is held in place using magnets.
The camera offers 150 degrees of rotation adjustment, 45 degrees of tilt and can be pointed straight down to ensure your privacy while not in use. Video streaming is available in 4K at 30fps or 1080p at up to 60fps and the lens has a reasonably wide-angle 86-degree field of view.
The Tiny 4K is plug-and-play for both Windows and Mac systems and can even track without the need for additional software. To get the most out of the camera, however, it needs pairing with Obsbot’s TinyCam app. Available for both Windows and macOS, the app enables you to manually control the camera’s position and focus, adjust the tracking behaviour and toggle settings for HDR and face-priority autoexposure.
Obsbot Tiny 4K PTZ Webcam review: What do we like?
First and foremost the Tiny 4K’s image quality is excellent. Video streams at 4K pack plenty of detail and both the colours and contrast look pleasant and natural. TinyCam’s face-priority autoexposure is very effective, too, maintaining proper lighting on my face even under highly backlit conditions.
Like all webcams, the Tiny 4K certainly benefits from being used in a well-lit room and the image does soften in darker environments but it does a respectable job of handling image noise. There’s a decent amount of dynamic range on offer, too, for a webcam. For higher contrast environments there is an HDR mode but I found it tended to oversaturate colours.
The Tiny 4K’s headline feature is, of course, its tracking function and I’m happy to report it doesn’t disappoint. During my testing, I found it did an excellent job of keeping my face consistently centred within the frame. Movements feel natural and unobtrusive, gently gliding to follow you around the room. And, because the Tiny 4K physically repositions the camera using motors, rather than cropping in and following you digitally – a feature you may find on some other conferencing cams – it maintains full resolution at all times.
Tracking can be started or stopped from within the TinyCam app or with a raised hand gesture and you can also preset up to three different static camera angles for quick switching. This setup is great for work calls where you don’t want to keep glancing to check your framing. However, it should really come into its own for running online classes or presentations, or any situation where you need to move or switch the camera from one position to another.
The Tiny 4K’s dual omnidirectional microphones also do a respectable job. In some cases, I did notice just a touch of background hiss but, overall, the mics sound warm and clear.
Obsbot Tiny 4K PTZ Webcam review: How could it be better?
While the TinyCam app offers plenty of control over the Tiny 4K’s behaviour, it lacks any sort of manual camera control. To Obsbot’s credit, I found the camera’s automatic settings for exposure and white balance to be very reliable but, if you’re looking to lock in specific values or force specific frame rates or resolutions, you’ll need to rely on third-party software like OBS Studio.
The Tiny 4K’s gesture controls, while a nice idea, in theory, can also be a little inconsistent. A raised open palm should start and stop face tracking while extending your thumb and index finger into an L-shape is meant to initiate a digital zoom. While the gestures do work most of the time, they can be a touch finicky and being left holding an L to the camera during a work call isn’t necessarily the best look.
Finally, while it certainly brings some unique features to the table, there’s no getting around the Tiny 4K’s not-so-tiny asking price. At £269 this is one of the most expensive webcams we’ve looked at, and if you can live without Obsbot’s tracking tech then you can get comparable video quality for less.
Obsbot Tiny 4K PTZ Webcam review: Should you buy it?
The Obsbot Tiny 4K PTZ is certainly not for everybody. If you’re simply looking for a high-quality camera for work calls and video chats, there are plenty of traditional options available for considerably less.
For those that regularly lead presentations, online classes, or stream any sort of content that includes movement, however, the Tiny 4K could be a game-changer. While I would like to have seen more camera control in the TinyCam app, the Obsbot Tiny 4K is a solid all-around device, and its tracking and preset positing switching options raise it head and shoulders above the crowd.
If you need the sort of functionality that Obsbot offers then the only real question is whether you need to stump up for this 4K unit. With the majority of video calling platforms still topping out at Full HD resolution, for many applications, Obsbot’s more affordable Tiny 1080p PTZ Webcam may well be the better value option.