Last Updated: September 2019
This page represents an ongoing work. Technology is constantly changing and as we test & implement new gear this page will be updated to reflect that. The goal is to recommend the best in class technical tools for use as a webcam model. We do not have any affiliation with any of the companies that manufacture these products and our recommendation of them is obviously not reflective of any endorsement by those companies of Pandora Modeling.
How we choose products.
In working with now thousands of models over the years, we've collected a large amount of data as to what tools work and what don't. We've tried out countless different laptops, webcams, lightbulbs, routers, ISPs, and mattress covers. We've seen the live results of each product when a model uses them. In short, we know what works.
We select the products to recommend based on a "best in class" ideology. Meaning, for the specific use case we are going to have happen, what tool is the best? This factors in things like quality, reliability, options, price, and a cam models specific needs. We like things that work simply and get the job done without fuss.
These products are the tools of our trade. Here, we pick the best ones.
1 Mac, 1 Windows
We love Apple. Our everyday work machines are Macbook Pros. Many of our models swear by using Macbook Pros to broadcast. Macbook Pros are powerful, the WiFi cards work great, they can be hard-lined into a router using an inexpensive adapter, and they are a joy to use. For our needs, their video processing power is more than sufficient to stream live HD video. They have good battery life for extended mobility while working. Love it. Love it. Love it. But they are pricey.
PC laptops change a lot more than Macs. It’s a competitive marketplace with a lot of manufacturers. As of 2019, we have been the happiest with Lenovo’s offerings. They have powerful computers at competitive prices with a wide range of options. They also, in our experience, have been winning the design game. Their computers tend to “feel” nice and well-built.
We recommend the S145 as a great, mid-tier laptop. It’s powerful, sleek, and has 12GB of RAM to power HD video streaming.
Maximum: The best in class for powerful PC laptops today tend to be gaming laptops. It’s the biggest market and a lot of manufacturers are building really powerful cutting edge machines to power the latest games. As a general rule, if you can play Fortnite at a high frame rate without problems, you can cam in HD: Gigabyte AERO 15-X9-9RT5 ($2,200) or Acer Predator Helios 300 ($1,000) are current best options.
1 with remote, 1 without
Finding a good webcam with a remote was impossible for a long time; and then our prayers were answered when Logitech released the BCC950. The image quality is great and the audio quality is pristine. It looks great and the added ability to remotely change the view and zoom in/out makes it extremely attractive for cam models.
We have been recommending this Logitech series for years and have yet to receive negative feedback from anyone. The C930e is the newest version. We had still been recommending the C920 up until this post, but the price of the C930e has come down enough to make it qualify as the best in class at a $100 price point. The image quality on the C930e is absolutely outstanding.
The Logitech C930e (and most other cams) will mount to this tripod out of the box. The BCC950 does not have a standard tripod mount as it comes with a base (necessary for the remote) so a tripod is unnecessary if you use that cam.
Adding a tripod allows you to have an extremely stable, easy-to-arrange view for your image. The C930 will just clip onto your laptop or monitor. It’s a nice feature, but for camming this is not an ideal setup. Having the webcam on the laptop leads to all sorts of unhappy compromises: the screen always has to be close enough to read, which brings the cam too close and if you’re typing on your laptop it tends to shake the cam which is hugely noticeable and dissatisfying for viewers. Having these be semi-independent from each other allows you to set up your camera at the best angle possible and keep it there while being free to move your computer as you please.
Tripods can be inconvenient if you like to move your setup around a lot or have a very small room as they take up some floor space. But if you primarily cam from your bed, having a stationary cam angle is often the best approach (and you can quickly unclip it from the tripod for handheld).
This pistol grip tripod from Amazon is really cool. If you have used a tripod before you know the annoyance of loosening the thread to adjust the tilt and trying to have it at just the right tightness to be steady so you can check the video and make adjustments without it slipping before doing the final tighten. If you haven’t, that might mean nothing to you. Just trust us, pistol grip adjustment is a smooth fun feature on a tripod!
Take your lighting to an extremely professional level with this simple and inexpensive studio photography lighting kit. This will be very noticeable with an HD webcam. You could get by with inexpensive lamps from Target or Walmart, or move up a level to the umbrella lighting. This kit is really versatile if you have the floor space for it (not ideal for anyone in a small room). You can rotate the umbrella lamps and move them closer/further to control the lighting intensity and make sure you are shadow free. The small third light is useful for backlighting (providing ambient room light so that your entire video presentation is well-lit, not just you).
How essential these are depends upon the built-in lighting in your cam room. Some rooms were just built with good lighting design and you don’t have to worry about it, many more weren’t.
The umbrella lighting setup is great for models who are setting up a really professional, dedicated cam room. They are less practical for models who are traveling, have limited space, or don’t want to lose a lot of floor space to 3 additional lighting rigs. Don’t worry, we thought of you too.
Tabletop Photography Light: These types of lights are great for camming. They are small, portable, and inexpensive. They can sit right next to your laptop (just behind it) and really illuminate you. Most models prefer these to the umbrella lights because of their simplicity. They are much better if you switch your setup around often. In terms of making sure you are well-lit, they get the job done as well as the umbrella lights. They also have the ability to gel the light to affect the color which you can mess around with to find you perfect lighting. Adjusting the lighting is as simple as rotating it. Have it pointed straight at you for maximum light. If that is too much, just rotate them to point less and less at you and it will ease the intensity of the light.
Selfie Ring Light Tripod: These little lights are awesome! When camming from your phone is finally a reality, these are going to sell out quick. For the time being, they are still incredibly cool. The light has 3 built-in light modes (White, Warm White, Warm), comes on a small tripod (that you can set on tabletop or floor), and has a phone holder. A really great idea is to use the phone holder when you’re camming, that way, you’re not on it. Off cam, it’s clearly the perfect device for taking great profile pictures and content for Twitter/Instagram/etc. Also perfect for anyone recording clip content from their phones for ManyVids, ModelClips, etc.
#1 Netgear Powerline 1200
We're really bad at explaining the technology behind Powerline. Basically, "This product hooks up to your modem or router and sends internet over your home's electric lines so that you can get the fastest speed anywhere in the house." It's a real life-saver for models whose work room is far away from the router. The further you are away from the router, the less effective a WiFi connection becomes. By adding the Netgear Powerline (and then plugging in the outlet in your room and connecting via ethernet), you get full speed with no WiFi loss.
How necessary this is depends on your internet speed. But in general, when camming, you should be hard-wired into your internet source instead of using WiFi. This product allows you to do that if you're not working from the room your router is in.
#2 Apple Music or spotify
Everyone should have a music streaming subscription, adult video chat model or not. It's just the best way to listen to music, period. And during your long marathon sessions on cam, music will save your sanity. You can also listen our awesome camming podcast on Spotify.
#3 The Fastest Internet Available in Your Area
If you're not on the fastest internet plan available to you, call and upgrade. Live streaming 1080p video is an incredibly data-intensive process. You want to have upload speeds of at least 2-3mbps (check this at speedtest.net). More is better and there is no such thing as too much. $20-30/month extra on internet will pay for itself with one extra show earned for having a better stream.
The tiny details matter. The big ones do too. This list covers the general equipment that will help you deliver the highest possible video quality, without going overboard. We left out most of the crazy expensive stuff that some people use because we really don't think it's necessary (or practical for most models).
We shopped around and tried things out so that you didn't have to. Everything on this list is 5 stars. Either for quality or for price to value. Keep in mind that each category listed has at least dozens, often hundreds of competing products. Almost all of them would get the job done fine. This list simply compiles what we think are the highest value, best-fit tools to satisfy the needs of any cam model.