How to Fix a Blurry Webcam?

External webcam
External webcam (Source: Pixabay.com)

A blurry webcam is not a unique issue, where one in every ten users may face it at one point in time, but it can become a real hassle when you cannot figure out the cause.

Most internal webcams come with auto-focus, while external cams can easily be adjusted using a focus-ring to solve blurry video issues.

However, some cases can be tricky, requiring further troubleshooting to find the exact problem.

A blurry webcam is usually caused by the out-of-focus lens (focus ring), poor internet connection, outdated driver, or physical damage, which can be fixed by adjusting the focus and wi-fi connection and updating appropriate drivers, and cleaning or replacing parts.

Blurry video meeting
Blurry video meeting (Source: Queens University Belfast Blog)

There may be other problems with your webcam or device, but do not worry because they can be fixed within a few steps.

Read on to figure out how to fix your blurry webcam in no time to be prepared for your next Zoom session.

Why is my Webcam Blurry?

A blurry webcam can be frustrating, especially when trying to video chat with your friend or colleagues.

The reasons may range from severe issues like faulty software or hardware to slight problems like lens grease or grime.

You should understand that there are multiple reasons for a blurry webcam, and each cause has a differing effect on the built-in and external webcam.

External webcam
External webcam (Source: Pixabay)

A built-in webcam is affixed to a laptop, while external webcams are separately brought from the store.

Moreover, built-in webcams would not require configuring, but the external webcams may need a few initial configurations.

However, the underlying issues for blurred video may be related to both hardware and software failures.

Therefore, you should always start with troubleshooting the issue to find out the exact problem.

Fixing Blurry Webcam Issues

Here are some probable situations that may be causing a blurry webcam and proven solutions.

1. Out-of-Focus Webcam

An out-of-focus webcam is one of the most common reasons for blurry images prevalent in external webcams.

The manual focus ring usually found within the webcam frame may be adjusted at the wrong setting.

Using webcam in a natural light source
Out-of-focus webcam (Source: Unsplash)

Although most webcams auto-adjust the image, some may require manual adjusting to fix focus wherever you are seated.

Therefore, manually adjusting the focus may help resolve this issue.

Solution

  • When setting up a webcam, pay extra attention to manual settings, including checking the USB port, installing updated webcam drivers, and adjusting the focus.
  • Access the focus ring of the webcam and gently turn it in both clock and anti-clock direction to find the proper focus.
  • As you begin adjusting, the blurred image will gradually come into a sharper image.

2. Poor Internet Connection

A poor internet connection is one of the major culprits for blurry images.

However, check for other probable signs, such as lagging or freezing images, to determine whether your internet connection is causing the blurry picture.

The image would usually keep freezing every few seconds with video lagging behind the audio, especially videos in high aspect ratio and refresh rates such as High (HD) definition or Ultra HD.

Buffering video
Buffering video caused by slow internet (Source: QZ)

The video will get blurred when the video’s aspect ratio and refresh rate excess that the internet connection can support.

Solution

  • Switch to an Ethernet connection if you use a wireless connection over the router.
  • The Ethernet transfers internet packets at twice the speed of wi-fi.
  • Otherwise, consider upgrading your internet connection by calling the internet service provider.
  • A good internet speed is between 50 and 100 Mbps, allowing video streaming in HD or even 4K with lagging.

Read our blog about working from home with slow internet.

3. Outdated Video Card or Missing Drivers

A laptop with an outdated video card is prone to blurry videos that need upgrading, especially in the case of a built-in webcam.

External webcams typically have higher quality components and post-processing software supporting a better resolution and refresh rate.

eGPU video card diagram
eGPU video card diagram (Source: Pixabay)

However, a built-in webcam relies on the camera’s quality and graphics or video card to render a smoother video.

An outdated or low-grade video card may affect the rendering quality of HD and UHD images, causing blur.

Here is how to check the video card software status.

  • Press Windows+R and enter “devmgmt.msc”
  • Under Display Adapters, right-click on the video card to select “properties.”
  • Go to the Driver tab and click Update Driver.
  • Then, follow the screen direction to update the software

Solution

  • Upgrading the video card or image processing firmware may help reduce the blur.
  • Otherwise, consider upgrading the entire device with a built-in webcam that supports HD and UDH images.

4. Protective Film Covering (Built-in webcam)

This may be true for a recently brought laptop.

The webcam is often covered with a protective film to prevent scratches, which may cause blurry, out-of-focus, or dark videos.

Protective plastic cover
Protective plastic cover (Source: Dynabook Support)

However, the flimsy designs are nearly impossible to notice without some close inspection.

Solution

  • Scratch the sides with your fingernail to check whether the webcam is covered with a thin, transparent layer.
  • The protective layer corners will gradually peel off.
  • Pull it off once you peel it enough to grab it with two fingertips.

5. Background App Usage

The numerous apps running in the background may also prevent quality video streaming, causing blur and video lags.

Running numerous apps may use available Random Access Memory (RAM) to prevent the webcam from smoothly functioning.

Background apps
Background apps (Source: Personal work)

It mainly occurs in a low-spec laptop with lesser 2Gb or 4Gb RAM.

However, you can solve the momentary blur issue by closing all the apps or just a few apps to free up the RAM for video streaming.

Lagging or freezing video may be more prevalent with a laptop running numerous applications.

Solution

  • Close the apps to free up RAM.
  • Restart the laptop and run the webcam only.
  • Upgrade the RAM’s size of the laptop, at least 8GB, for smoother video streaming.

6. Scratches, Foggy, or Damage

Scratches, foggy, or damaged webcam lenses may also cause video blurs.

Foggy lens or lens condensation mainly occurs when the device is moved from a cold to a warm location.

A foggged lens
A fogged lens (Source: NightSky Pix)

On the other hand, scratches and internal damage may occur from mishandling the device or accidents.

Solution

  • Take your webcam or laptop to a warm location or close to the heater, so the water vapor inside the lens can dry up.
  • Alternatively, a hairdryer on low heat may also clean up the fog.
  • Clean the minor scratches by applying the paste of baking soda or toothpaste and wiping with a clean cloth.
  • However, significant scratches and internal damage may need replacing the webcam.

7. Lens Grease

Lens grease is a common culprit for blurred videos.

It is mainly caused by food grease, oil, creams, fingerprints, and residue that sticks to the webcam.

It would likely occur when you touch the webcam with dirty or sticky hands or objects, such as after handling food, oil-based tools, or home products.

Greasy palm
Greasy palm (Source: Pexels)

The rarely cleaned laptop device or external webcam may also accumulate grease.

Solution

  • Dab a dry cloth or cotton ball in 50/50 99% Isopropyl alcohol and water, and wipe the webcam until the grimes comes off.
  • Apply commercial lens cleaner on the webcam and wipe it with a dry microfiber cloth.
  • If the grimes seem complicated, let the cleaning agent sit for a while before wiping them off with a cloth.
Fixing the blurred video
Fixing the blurred video (Source: Unsplash)

8. Antivirus Software

Sometimes, your antivirus software may be preventing the webcam video, causing blur and lagging.

You should start by investigating whether your antivirus is preventing your camera.

Solutions

Note: Other technical issues like device damage, defective lens, or poor USB connection (external webcam) may also be causing blurry video, which you require advanced troubleshooting from a technician.

The Bottom Line

Webcam is a quite in-handy tool useful in various cases, especially for organizing video meetings for work or fun.

Follow the guide given above to troubleshoot blurry videos to find the correct solution.

However, ensure to clean it regularly and check whether it is functioning correctly to prevent blurry video issues in the future.

Related Article: Why is my webcam flickering?

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