How To Zoom In And Out With A Webcam

Webcams are an integral part of modern living. Without one, we wouldn’t be able to host zoom parties through our laptops, conduct business meetings on our work computers, or would struggle to record ourselves for Twitch or YouTube. 

And yet, the functionality of the webcams which come built into your devices as standard are frustratingly lacking. There is almost no innate way to zoom in and out using them. Instead, the only way you can control the zoom of a webcam is if you buy one separately, and use its software settings to manually adjust the zoom.

Nevertheless, this can be a totally affordable option, and many of you reading this now already have a secondary webcam with which you want to learn how to zoom with. Read on to learn exactly how to zoom in and out with a webcam, and if you have any other queries, see our FAQ section below.

How to Zoom In and Out with a Windows 10 Camera

  1. From your Windows 10 desktop, open the start menu and locate a video-chat app like Zoom or Skype (if you haven’t got one downloaded, do so first – they are both free)
  2. Open Zoom or Skype and sign in using your relevant credentials
  3. Next, locate the settings either by clicking the cog-icon or first clicking your username in the top-right of the app and then selecting ‘Settings’
  4. Select ‘Video’ settings from the left-hand sidebar
  5. Next, under your computer’s default webcam, you can select whether your webcam is cropped as ‘Standard’ or in ‘Widescreen’ (16:9 ratio)
    1. Note: Widescreen will zoom in a little, whilst Standard will zoom out

How to Zoom In and Out with Your Own Webcam (YouCam 5.0 example)

  1. Having purchased your own webcam, plug it into your computer and install the software which comes with it
  2. Next, open the webcam app (you can do this through a chat app like Windows Live Messenger, Skype or Zoom, or just through the webcam itself – we recommend the latter)
  3. Below the webcam’s preview window, select the ‘Settings’ button
  4. Next, choose to ‘Enable video zoom’, which will allow you to zoom in and out using your webcam in one of two ways:
    1. Manual Zoom: You can use the zoom slider which is now enabled in the webcam window to zoom in (drag to the right) or out (drag to the left) up to 4x magnification. Alternatively, you can click to drag a box over the part of the captured image you wish to zoom in on and let go of the click to zoom right in on that area.
    2. Auto Face Detection: Selecting this feature enables your YouCam webcam (or alternative) to automatically detect your face, zooming in on it slightly and following it as you move around the picture.

And there you have it! Whilst frustrating that there are no great zoom options with our built-in Windows cameras, a stand-alone webcam is a great investment if you use video features a lot. By following our guidelines above, you can master the art of zooming in and out with it in a minute. Happy zooming!


Why would I want or need to zoom in and out with a webcam?

Webcams, whether those pre-installed in our computers or those we buy as an additional tool are almost a necessity in today’s bustling online world. Were it not for the ability to conduct video calls, conferences, and meet-ups with colleagues and friends, the last few years would have been unimaginably more difficult. 

Knowing how to properly utilize the functionality of your webcam is important, as it allows you to present the clearest, most professional image of yourself to workmates, and to achieve the best crop of you and your family when speaking with acquaintances.

Zooming in on a webcam can crop out distracting or unsightly backgrounds, whilst focusing on your face, whilst zooming out can ensure that all people present are captured in the frame of the image.

Why can’t I zoom in and out with the Windows Camera app?

Unfortunately, the standard cameras or webcams built into most Windows computers and laptops do not come with an inherent zoom function. In fact, their crop can only be changed from ‘Standard’ to ‘Widescreen – 16:9 ratio’, which does zoom in on you a little bit, but not with the control we’d like it to.

The Windows Camera app is a very basic app, with the functionality to capture still or video images using the in-built camera, but nothing else. There is no option to zoom in or out, and so your best bet (in order to optimize the framing/crop of your picture) is to manually move the entire computer/laptop, or yourself in relation to it, until you achieve the desired effect. 

Which is the best zoom option: optical or digital?

Without a doubt, the best webcam you can buy for zooming capabilities is an optical lens webcam. An optical lens is the same type fitted in the cameras used by photographers, and in short refers to the mechanical telescoping of the lens, which zooms in and out on the picture without losing resolution.

Digital webcams, on the other hand, are much less expensive, but zoom in and out simply by cropping down the image simply by enlarging the existing pixels on the screen. Whilst you get all the zooming functionality you’re looking for, the picture quality is undoubtedly worse with a digital webcam when compared with an optical one.

Can I zoom in and out using my computer’s camera on Zoom or Skype?

Again, unfortunately not if you are using our computer’s factory camera. In short, the only way you can zoom in and out using a webcam is if you purchase a stand-alone webcam and adjust its zoom using its software/built-in settings. With a stand-alone webcam, you can effectively zoom in and out with it through whichever app you like.