Tweaking my webcam setup (Logitech C930e, Fedora Linux, v4l)

I came really close to making some large purchases to improve my video call situation, and I may still do so, but I did spend some time and found a few quick wins maybe will help others:

  1. I use Fedora as my workstation.  Won’t change it.
  2. I have a Logitech C930e.  Logitech doesn’t publish anything on how to tweak the camera on Linux.  Figure out how to tweak it.
  3. I like (love) working in the dark.  So I never have any lights on.  That has to change.
  4. I have a window behind me in my home office.  Shutting the blinds is not enough.  Repositioning my desk won’t work in the space I’ve got.  Get a blackout curtain.
  5. My webcam is sitting on top of my monitor, dead center.  This makes it really awkward to look directly at.  It’s about 8″ above my eye-line.  I don’t think I’m going to change this. My eyeline has to remain at the center of the monitor or I get neck pain.

Here are the tweaks I made that do seem to have improved things:

  1. dnf install v4l2ucp v4l-utils
  2. v4l2-ctl --set-ctrl zoom_absolute=125 # this helps with the "know your frame" part https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g2wH36xzs_M.  This camera has a really wide FoV, so this shrinks it down a bit.
  3. v4l2-ctl --set-ctrl tilt_absolute=-36000 # this helps tilt the center of the camera frame down towards where I'm sitting (8" below camera).
  4. v4l2-ctl --set-ctrl sharpness=150 # This seemed to help the most.  I tried a bunch of values and 150 is best for my office.
  5. Lighting:  Instead of having my desk lamp illuminate my keyboard, turn it 180degrees to bounce off the white ceiling.  Big improvement.
  6. Lighting:  You can’t work in the dark anymore.
  7. Auto-focus:  I have a TV just to my right.  When whatever’s on changes brightness, it makes the camera autofocus freak out.  I typically keep the TV muted.  Now I’ll pause it while on calls.
  8. Microphone:  I have an external USB mic (Blue Yeti).  Turns out I had it in the wrong position relative to how I’m sitting.  Thanks to a co-workers “webcam basics” slides  for that tip (confirmed in Blue Yeti docs).
  9. Despite that, after recording a video meeting of just myself I still didn’t like how the audio turned out.  So I bought an inexpensive lavalier microphone from Amazon, figured it’s worth a try.

One thing I cannot figure out how to do is bokeh.  I think that remains a gap between what I’ve got now and higher end gear.

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