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:
- I use Fedora as my workstation. Won’t change it.
- I have a Logitech C930e. Logitech doesn’t publish anything on how to tweak the camera on Linux. Figure out how to tweak it.
- I like (love) working in the dark. So I never have any lights on. That has to change.
- 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.
- 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:
dnf install v4l2ucp v4l-utils
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.
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).
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.
- Lighting: Instead of having my desk lamp illuminate my keyboard, turn it 180degrees to bounce off the white ceiling. Big improvement.
- Lighting: You can’t work in the dark anymore.
- 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.
- 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).
- 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.