The world of 4K webcams is growing and Jabra is joining the fray with the PanaCast 20. With a retail price of $329 but a bunch of smart features like AI auto-framing and intelligent lighting optimization, is this camera right for you? Find out in our review.
- Current price: $329 (Amazon)
- Number of cameras: 1
- Camera resolution: 13 megapixels
- Image sensor: 1/3.2″
- Zoom: Up to 3x lossless digital zoom at 720p
- Field of View: Horizontal: 90°, Vertical: 75°, Diagonal: 117°
- 4k Ultra HD: 3840 x 2160 at 30 fps
- 1080p Full HD: 1920 x 1080 at 30 fps
- 720p HD: 1280 x 720 at 30 fps
- Focal Length: 2.26mm
- Aperture: 2.25
- Intelligent Zoom: Yes
- Vivid HDR: Yes
- Picture in Picture (PIP): Yes
- Microphone type: MEMS
- Number of microphones: 3
- Microphone Sensitivity: -37dBFS
- Microphone frequency range: 100 Hz – 8000 Hz
- user friendliness
- Manual pan, tilt and zoom (PTZ): Yes
- Connectivity: USB-C
- Supported USB versions: USB 3.0, USB 2.0 (delivering more than 500 mA of current)
- UVC versions: 1.1
- Box contents: PanaCast 20, carrying case, USB-C to USB-A cable 1.5 m (USB 3.0)
- Packaging dimensions (WxHxD): 160mm x 50mm x 130mm | 6.3in x 2in x 5.2in
- Main Unit Dimensions (W x H x D): 44mm x 25mm x 80mm | 1.73in x 1in x 3.14in
- Weight: 136g | 4.9 oz
- Guarantee: 2 years
- Certifications and Compliance: Microsoft Teams, Zoom, Works with all leading UC platforms
Jabra PanaCast 20 design and key features
Personal video conferencing. Newly invented.
Meeting. Newly invented.
Picture book. Wherever you work.
Your next meeting requires next-generation technology.
These are the slogans that appear on the Jabra PanaCast 20 product page. Unlike most webcams we and other tech sites review, this camera is about the idea of working remotely. As with any camera, however, cramming it into a box too tightly is a no-brainer. A great camera is a great camera, and if it offers a crisp image and solid features, it will work for various types of video work – including streaming.
The camera itself is small and very portable. It’s one of the lowest-profile webcams I’ve seen, rising just over half an inch above the top of your monitor. The body is metal, and it has to be metal: high-resolution cameras with advanced features generate heat, and this one is no exception. The PanaCast 20 gets warm, but this body does a good job of dissipating heat.
The quality of this camera is undisputed. The PanaCast 20 is crisp and detailed with resolution scaling up to 4K, 30 FPS. It also offers HDR, which is extremely helpful in overcoming the most common webcam pitfalls: overexposed highlights and crushed shadows. Together these two features result in a camera that is exceptionally sharp and offers more detail in both bright and dark areas.
In addition to recording at 4K, the camera can also record at 1080p and 720p, and capture 13MP still images. All of these resolutions are capped at 30p. This is a disappointing limitation that I can’t see as anything other than a by-product of being a business camera. Still, at 1080p or 720p, surely the framerate could be bumped up to 60p? Virtually all of the major contenders in the consumer space (Dell Ultrasharp, Razer Kiyo Pro, Logitech StreamCam) are at their best here. The camera also uses a fixed focus system, but the range is wide enough that you’re essentially always in focus.
On the plus side, the PanaCast 20 offers one of the widest fields of view you can find in a webcam today, at a sweeping 117 degrees. The Kiyo Pro comes close at 103 degrees, but only with a terrible fisheye effect that renders the image unusable. The PanaCast 20, on the other hand, only has a slight curve that you see along straight lines. It doesn’t distract and is fully usable. 117 degrees is enough to record most of an average room. So if you need to get up and move, your viewers can still see you fully. If you don’t want to be seen, there’s a physical privacy cover that slides over the lens and turns the white shot indicator orange, letting you know you’re protected.
They will also be able to hear you well. The webcam has an array of three MEMS microphones that do a good job of picking up your voice while still blocking out ambient noise. They don’t compare to a dedicated mic (not a webcam mic), but they’re good for calls or times when you might not have a standalone mic or headset handy.
The PanaCast 20 has some other nice features. When used at 1080p, it’s able to intelligently track your face and zoom in to keep you centered in the frame. This allows you to move around the room without worrying about your viewers losing you. It also has an intelligent lighting system that can balance exposure much better than a standard webcam.
One of the most interesting features it offers is the ability to do picture-in-picture. At 720p, Jabra quotes “3x lossless digital zoom”. This is used to allow you to intrude on one part of the screen and present yourself on another. It’s a useful feature when you want to showcase things in your stream, e.g. B. demonstrate a new keyboard or play the guitar. Normally this would require two separate cameras, so the shot here is a really pleasant surprise.
Jabra PanaCast 20 – camera performance
The Jabra PanaCast 20 delivers an excellent picture. Only the Dell Ultrasharp really rivals this in fine detail seen in areas like facial hair and skin texture, but the PanaCast wins in overall image quality. Color reproduction is excellent too, with an excellent natural white balance. It’s the best-looking webcam we’ve tested to date, and the best I’ve personally experienced anywhere – despite reviewing multiple 4K cameras on multiple websites.
If you’re unfamiliar with camera terminology, here’s what this means: even in bright scenes, where light might be reflecting off your forehead, no detail is lost unless that light is it Yes, really bright. Conversely, when dealing with shadows, the PanaCast 20 allows you to see more than you would normally be able to. This is especially true when you’re looking at clothes. Enabling HDR restores the texture of fabrics that would otherwise be lost.
And look at that expansive field of view!
Here’s how it compares to some key competitors:
Normal lighting (lamp and window)
Of the three 4K cameras in this roundup, the PanaCast 20 definitely delivers the most natural image. The Brio comes close, but the PanaCast 20 gains in detail and realistic exposure. The Brio is brighter and looks quite nice, while the Dell UltraSharp struggled with the overcast day’s light coming in through the window and wood paneling behind me to add too much contrast.
Well lit (lamp, window, key lighting)
In a well-lit scenario, all three cameras perform better and the results are pretty much the same. The UltraSharp looks a lot better with an injection in 5000K light, but I still think the PanaCast looks best here. The Brio also looks quite good, but is less lifelike.
Low light (monitor only)
Finally, in low light, we can see things lean more towards UltraSharp thanks to the STARVIS night vision sensor. STARVIS definitely has less noise but also adjusts the colors so my shirt looks blue. The PanaCast 20 and Brio keep the shirt color but offer more noise. The brio also gives my skin an orange tint. Overall, this is very good low-light performance, even with some grain in the image.
Overall I think the PanaCast is by far the best of the bunch. The Brio looks good, but its autofocus is borderline unusable if you wear glasses, making it a poor contender in the real world. The UltraSharp’s extra contrast doesn’t look great in pictures, but really isn’t that bad in actual use. Still, the PanaCast is the winner here, even if you’ll pay extra for it.
And that’s really the biggest problem with this camera: its price. It’s obviously a very good camera, but at $329 it’s too expensive to recommend over the competition. The Dell Ultrasharp is arguably better than a standout camera, as is the Razer Kiyo Pro if you need 1080p, and both offer similar low-light performance and 60p capture. Both are over $100 less, which is a shame because the PanaCast really is great. However, for most users, this price premium is just too high to justify.
What’s happening here is that this camera is aimed at a different type of consumer. If you’re buying a webcam for business purposes (and probably writing it off as an expense or a tax deduction), that higher price won’t feel quite as painful. For personal use, however, it’s really good. To appeal to mainstream users, it needs to cost at least $100 less and hopefully offer more features.
The Jabra PanaCast 20 is one of the best looking webcams you can buy, period. It delivers a razor-sharp, clear image with very good low-light performance and excellent color reproduction. Unfortunately, as a business-focused camera, its features (or lack thereof) are designed to match. For $329, it lacks the features of competing webcams designed for streamers: autofocus, 1080p60, STARVIS to reduce grain in low light. If you must have a webcam and money isn’t an issue then this can be a good choice – but this price point puts it in competition with used RX100s or GoPros and HDMI adapters which will no doubt offer even better quality.
What Jabra has done here is impressive. It’s just a shame it will be out of reach for so many people.
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