Before OBSbot Tiny became the permanent part of my hardware streaming kit, I used multiple Logi C920 webcams. Face follow quickly became one of my favourite features. I could finally live stream away without worrying about being outside of the frame. It’s time to put OBSbot Tiny 4K (AmazonUK, AmazonUS, OBSbot Store) to the test. It looks promising already, especially, since it brings one of the most important changes to the table – and I don’t mean the 4K resolution!
OBSbot Tiny 4K
Inside the box, you will find OBSbot Tiny 4K, 2 charging cables (USB-C -USB-C with USB-A adapter – thank you very much, and a dedicated DC jack for… well someone will find the use for that) and exactly the same monitor stand. As the camera retained the same footprint – it makes sense to re-use the magnetic design that worked well.
If you missed the original OBSbot Tiny review the superpower of the Tiny series is the automatic ability to track people & gesture control. Both features are baked into the hardware of the webcam, so anyone worried about privacy can rest assured that the camera doesn’t need additional software to stay smart. If you follow me for some time and watch my live stream you know, that OBSbot Tiny works well.
The rant about wrappings
The parcel wasn’t particularly big, but I’d like to make a note about the packaging. I understand the desire to make the unboxing exciting, but the OBSbot Tiny 4K came inside the cardboard box (branded by OBSbot), which had another cardboard box sleeve wrapped around a cardboard hard box storing a material box with a zipper.
This packing matryoshka could be justified for an action camera or anything that you are likely to take with you on a dangerous adventure, but OBSbot Tiny 4K is a webcam and that zipped carrying case is simply an overkill. I’m not going to take it with me camping, I can’t even re-purpose it for something else as the interior had been carefully moulded to fit the webcam’s profile. C’mon OBSbot folk, give me environmentally efficient packaging and drop the price by $10 and I will be equally impressed.
While the most obvious upgrade is featured in the OBSbot’s Tiny 4K name, it’s not the 4K resolution that I’m most excited about. Apart from the four-time resolution bump, the webcam comes with 1080P 60FPS mode which is something a lot of content creators care about. See it in action in this live stream on YouTube.
Smooth framerate aside, overall image quality increased significantly. Thanks to a bigger sensor, the dynamic range is better and the camera nicely saturates colours in the frame without overexposing the most obvious elements. Thanks to Face AE – exposing images based on the brightness of the frame around your mug generates natural-looking colours without washed-out areas.
Looking at the videos shot by the last generation, OBSbot Tiny 4K brings the webcam experience to the next level. This is the primary strength of the webcam and the feature I was most excited about.
Where the situation mandates it, you can drop the frames by half and record in 4K resolution to capture more details. I can’t get equally excited about 30FPS in that mode, but for anyone prioritising resolution, the option is there. It makes the gesture of zooming in particularly useful as the perceived loss of quality is smaller than when used in 1080p mode.
With a bigger sensor, OBSbot Tiny 4K tackles low light situations even better than the previous camera. The footage looks clean even when the only source of light is provided by the laptop/computer screen. It matters, as while many of us understand the need for a decent webcam for our online meetings, not everyone follows the same suit when it comes to illuminating their rooms.
Apart from the sensor and resolution, the feature-set is remarkably similar on both cameras with exception of HRD mode for the newer webcam and Face/Auto Focus.
Where OBSbot Tiny 4K nails it again is the audio quality. Thanks to the noise cancelling and the array of the microphones, you don’t have to worry about getting another microphone (which is often the case). It works well in live stream situations, calls and offline recording mode.
The microphone is balanced well and it will handle sound from up close, and compensate for the loss of gain when recording subjects further away. You should be heard perfectly no matter where in the room you are.
Auto-focus, Face focus & tracking
What’s missing right now, is the ability to track objects. There is a light in the tunnel, as the company has added special focus options to let the camera focus on objects in front of you. Unfortunately, this works best when the tracking is disabled, Face Focus turned off and the object in question is placed in front of your face. If you fail to do so, the camera will return to tracking your face, and with mug assists enabled, it will spaz out the moment your face is covered.
I want a proximity-based focus mode that hones in onto objects held closer to the camera regardless of the frame position.
Tracking – is still awesome
Despite the above, face tracking is still one of the best ones I came across. You can move about freely, pace like a madman and the camera will make sure you are in the centre of the frame. If you download the companion app, you can also control how the tracking behaves defining the speed of the camera and headroom space.
You shall not pass – gestures
Just as before OBSbot Tiny 4K supports 2 gestures. They are handy in theory, but they will make you look like a doofus if you get them wrong, or the camera takes too long to recognise them. I had been caught with my hands up for far too long in the past, raising questions from the video call participants about the nature of my behaviour.
Gestures work well 90% of the time for me. I have an extremely “busy” backgrounds which doesn’t help and on occasion, I’m left with my hand repeating the gesture 2-3 times to register. If your backgrounds are plain, you should have a much better success rate.
- Follow face
- Zoom in
If you are a person who earns living through countless video calls and meetings, save yourself the hassle, go professional and add the OBSbot Remote to your kit. It will save you from re-enacting Gandalf vs Balrog each time you wish the camera to follow your face.
Zoom-in gesture makes perfect sense. In a 4K mode, zooming in will preserve a lot of details which wasn’t exactly the case in the last-gen device.
New features in the companion app
As the OBSbot Tiny 4K comes with new hardware, new options are also unlocked in the companion app. New is the support for HDR, Grain reduction, Face AE and Face Focus options which help the camera decide what to focus on. There is a dedicated Landscape/Portrait aspect ratio if you are using the camera to stream to mobile platforms (fun fact: you can connect the camera to a phone via USB-C, special apps may be required to make it work).
Other functions are inherited from the previous generation and include: positional presets (combined with global hotkeys, which can be useful for directing attention to the right places), default boot position and manual gimbal controls.
Privacy-concerned folk can shut down the camera remotely and by forcing the gimbal to look down. It will disable the camera and physically restrict the field of view to the base of the camera. Just for a good measure.
Who is it for?
Let’s face it, dropping a whopping $260 on a webcam sounds like a mad idea, so if you are going to make that decision, you don’t want to regret it. What makes the OBSbot Tiny 4K a better deal to swallow is the fact that it comes with a really good microphone. Is that enough to sway your decision?
Makers – maybe?
It will all depend on what you make and how you film. If all you want is a camera that focuses on your make, then this camera isn’t for you. Are you looking to complement your recording setup with a camera that keeps your face in the frame or follows you wherever you go, then OBSbot Tiny 4K is a strong option.
Livestreamers /online influencers – yes!
With excellent face tracking and strong focus assist, OBSbot Tiny 4K brings exceptional value to anyone streaming on regular basis. No more mixing framerate or overexposed cheeks from sitting too close to the light source (like a monitor). You will get away without a dedicated microphone as well, although I know many of you will look for dedicated sound capture.
Performers – yes!
With a snappy follow, 4K recording and a zoom that doesn’t kill the quality, OBSbot Tiny 4K is a great choice for anyone performing away from the camera. The microphone will work wonders in capturing the sound from your recording studio and the excellent tracking will keep you in the frame no matter how fast you move.
Professionals – not really!
There isn’t much to gain by picking OBSbot Tiny 4K over the original OBSbot Tiny. While 4K sounds great on paper, in reality, coworkers on the other side are likely to be hindered by their broadband speed, Zoom/Teams bitrate and the lack of a 4K compatible screen to make the experience worth it.
As face tracking is equally good on the original OBSbot Tiny, you could save yourself a couple of bucks while still impressing everyone with a camera that keeps tabs on you. You can get the original OBSbot Tiny for as little as $169 (AmazonUK, AmazonUS, OBSBOT Store).
As for the price, getting OBSBot Tiny 4K (AmazonUK, AmazonUS, OBSbot Store) for $260 isn’t prohibitive for anyone serious about their online presence, anyone else wanting to impress their family on a Skype call with automatic tracking can settle for the humble OBSbot Tiny version for $199 (which you can get for as little as £149 on Amazon). Let me know what you think about the webcam in this Reddit thread, or during my next live stream!
🆓📈💵 – See the transparency note for details.