Why is my Webcam Lagging and How to Fix it?

Imagine you are video calling your client, but the webcam begins lagging precisely when you are about to seal the deal. Would not that be frustrating?

Every user who has been into a video call would know how it feels.

However, do not blame your webcam yet, as it is only one of the many factors for a lagging video.

Generally, webcam lag occurs for many reasons, including slow internet, insufficient lighting, incorrect resolution, and outdated driver, which require diagnosing each problem before deciding the exact cause.

Webcam lagging
Webcam lagging (Source: Pexels)

Fortunately, most of these problems can be caught and fixed quickly. Some would require significant upgrades or replacing the device altogether.

Read on to find out what may be causing a lagging webcam and how to fix it.

What is Webcam Lagging?

It would be easier to say that a webcam device is enough to conduct video communication with anyone using an active internet connection.

However, the answer is not that simple!

A webcam uses multiple computer resources to conduct smooth video communication. It will begin lagging if any of these resources are not in optimal condition.

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

For example, you need a good internet connection with the high bandwidth required for smooth video calling.

Similarly, the device should have to date video driver and the latest software to render each video frame smoothly.

Moreover, the video resolution should match the webcam’s, and lighting should be ample to allow the camera sensor to take a clear picture.

Sometimes, the webcam would work fine but may begin lagging when you open multiple applications, which indicates a low processing unit.

Therefore, a lagging webcam may indicate one or more of your computer or laptop resources are insufficient or missing.

Solving webcam utility problem
Solving webcam utility problem (Source: Canon)

Read more to find out what may be causing a blurry webcam.

Why is My Webcam Lagging and How to Fix it?

Multiple reasons may be causing a slower webcam or dropping frames.

Most modern webcams have lenses with suitable sensors to capture smoother video. If your webcam is still lagging, there may be other bigger problems.

Here are a few possible causes for a lagging webcam.

1. Slow Internet Connection

The slow internet connection is a primary culprit that will cause webcam lagging and choppy video streams.

You should know the internet is to be blamed if your video becomes choppy whenever you use Skype, Messenger, and Zoom.

With each application supporting HD and UHD video streams, the need for a good internet connection is a must.

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

Mega Meeting points out that video conferencing typically requires around 1.5 to 2 Mbps down and 2 Mbps up for participants in a one-to-one call with two parties.

Therefore, your internet connection should boast high speed to get a lag-free video.

Otherwise, consider downsizing your video resolution to accommodate a low-spec yet quality video stream.

Solution

  • Start with testing your internet speed to ensure it runs over 1 Mbps.
  • Upgrade your internet package by calling up the Internet Service Provider.
  • Optimize bandwidth by using an Ethernet connection (wired from the router to your computer)
  • Otherwise, consider disconnecting other devices when you are video calling.
  • Alternatively, lower the video specification to match the bandwidth, from 1440p to 1080p or 720p.
  • Consider using a Virtual Private Network (VPN) to amplify bandwidth usage.

Consider reading our article if you are struggling with slow internet. Read more to find out; How to Work from Home with Slow Internet?

2. Insufficient Lighting

Good lighting is another concern for video calling because poorly lit locations will automatically lower your webcam video quality.

A lag-free video is achieved by the correct frames per second (FPS) that depends directly on the shutter speed.

The shutter speed will dwindle when the lighting condition is poor, causing a drop in FPS.

Dark screen in Zoom call
The dark will dwindle Webcam’s FPS Count (Source: Zoom Support)

For example, most webcams that guarantee 30 FPS will only provide 20-25 FPS in standard lighting and drop to 10 FPS in the dark to keep the shutter open longer to collect more light.

PC Gamer points out that the darker your setting, you will need a longer exposure time and a wider aperture to illuminate your shot correctly.

Therefore, your webcam video will lag when the lighting or brightness drops.

Solution

  • Increase lighting in the room by adding additional ambient light (ceiling or wall light).
  • Add extra task light (desk light or ring light) and keep it closer to the subject, yourself.
  • Alternatively, stay closer to the window during the daytime to utilize daylight.
  • Turn off the automatic exposure setting of the webcam to increase FPS by navigating to Camera Control or Setting and reducing the level of Exposure.

You may be interested in reading; An Ultimate Guide to Best Lighting for Zoom

3. Less RAM or System Overload

The device’s inability to process multiple applications will render a slower video connection.

Also known as RAM, the processing power of your device will determine whether you can smoothly run multiple applications simultaneously.

For example, running memory-intensive programs such as games, media players, web browsers, or high-spec software simultaneously will eat up a big chunk of RAM’s resources.

Therefore, the video will begin lagging when it fails to get significant RAM resources. Similarly, system overload is another concern for a computer or laptop with limited memory.

Running too many applications or a high-spec software will load the CPU up to 100% at a time, taking away the memory reserved for video calling.

  • Right-click on Windows and tap on Task Manager to assess CPU load.
  • Go to Processes to check whether the CPU is used up to 100%.
Close background apps from the Task Manager
CPU Usage indicates the consumption of computing power

Solution

  • Start by freeing up RAM: Uninstall or disable unneeded software and update all apps.
  • Scan for Malware that may be taking up significant RAM resources.
  • Close other software when using the video calling app.
  • On the Task Manager, tap on the process and click End Task to prevent from using CPU resources.
  • Update your RAM to a higher spec, from 8GB to 12GB.
  • Otherwise, upgrade your system by replacing it with a new high-spec device.

4. Low FPS Camera Mode

Setting your webcam to a lower FPS mode will automatically slow down the video, leading to lags.

While most webcams automatically adjust to the correct FPS setting based on the resolution, some may require tweaking.

FPS setting for Logitech Webcam
FPS setting for Logitech Webcam (Source: Alter Cam)

For example, Logitech C922 Pro has dozens of resolution/fps options, where a video resolution of 720p and 1080p run at 60fps will offer smooth operation.

The higher the frame rate, the lower will be the aperture speed. However, the FPS will be primarily affected by the lighting in the room.

If you are sure the lighting is OK, consider tweaking the FPS set to the desired output in the webcam.

Solution

  • For Logitech C922 Pro, open the Camera Setting and find the ‘resolution/FPS type’ from the drop-down menu.
  • Click ‘Custom,’ then find the desired resolution and frame rate.
  • Choose anywhere between 720p/60fps, 896p/30fps or 1080p/30fps and above.

5. Outdated Video Driver and Software

Video Driver, GPU, or graphics processor is another cause for lagging webcam, where outdated or low GPU can cause incompatibility issues.

Your webcam video will begin lagging when it uses more processing power than the graphics processor could provide.

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

Although your webcam would run as it is supposed to, the video will lag.

Digital Masta points out that the duration of a graphics card until the user feels inevitable perceived obsolescence is between 3 and 5 years.

On the other hand, the outdated driver software may also cause webcam lag because the software cannot communicate the driver with the operating system.

Although it has an easy fix, you should first ensure running the latest graphics processor.

Solution

Update the driver software by installing the new version.

  • Right-click on Windows and click Device Manager.
  • Tap on Display Adapters and right-click on the appropriate video driver from the list, for example, AMD Radeon R7 M460.
  • Press Update Driver and follow the dialog box.
  • Search and install the latest update automatically.
  • Alternatively, you can visit the video card manufacturer’s website to download the latest version.
Update webcam driver
Update webcam driver

The Bottom Line

Whether you are using your webcam for video chatting, taking snaps, or streaming to your audience, lagging can severely hamper your productivity.

Start with finding out what may be causing the video lagging and whether you can quickly fix it by yourself.

Some would require professional help and additional money to fix the problem, significantly upgrading the internet speed and video card.

Please drop in your comment below to let us know what caused the video to lag and how you fixed it.

Related Article: Why is my Webcam Flickering?

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