Obsbot Tiny 2 Review: Pricey 4K Webcam Packs a Ton of Features
The camera's tracking and autofocus performance stand out from the pack.
Lori GruninSenior Editor / Advice
I've been reviewing hardware and software, devising testing methodology and handed out buying advice for what seems like forever; I'm currently absorbed by computers and gaming hardware, but previously spent many years concentrating on cameras. I've also volunteered with a cat rescue for over 15 years doing adoptions, designing marketing materials, managing volunteers and, of course, photographing cats.
ExpertisePhotography, PCs and laptops, gaming and gaming accessories
How do you top a webcam already dubbed "Tiny 4K"? With a tinier one, natch. Obsbot's second generation of its 4K webcam, which also offered AI-enhanced, physical tracking -- it rotates to follow you -- is a significant upgrade over its predecessor in almost every respect. But the Obsbot Tiny 2 4K comes at a significantly higher price as well: $329 with a bundled carrying case. There's also an optional remote.
The price wouldn't be such a sticking point if it were top-notch in all respects.
On one hand, it definitely has the best tracking and autofocus I've seen, with the ability to track not just your head, but also zones, with presets like upper body, lower body and "headless" (which just creeps me out), and you can create custom zones. Not only does it track well in almost all respects, moving smoothly and naturally from one position to another, but the phase-detection autofocus doesn't pulse like contrast-AF-based system found in many webcams. It would be nice to be able to set the interval it registers before it decides you've actually moved; the default seems just a hair too long before it thinks "OK, she's moved and not just twitched."
But while it's better than before, the mic still isn't great, even for a webcam, which tend to have meh mics; since the dual mics are omnidirectional, they pick up a lot of extraneous noise and the noise reduction overprocesses the sound in order to remove it.
And the Tiny 2 is good, but I think the Insta360 Link and Razer Kiyo Pro Ultra -- both still relatively expensive at $300 -- have better exposure (they both have larger sensors, 1/1.2 inch compared to Obsbot's 1/1.5 inch), white balance and noise profiles. By default, it's a little too contrasty, with slightly off skin tones, and though the low-light video isn't noisy, it's exacerbated by the contrast.
You can make manual adjustments in software, including setting shutter speed and ISO sensitivity independently, changing the contrast or setting a manual white balance, but none of those are good solutions in variable lighting and manual white balance just never works right.
These are places where webcams could really benefit from some AI -- to recognize what tone it should be targeting, how to hit a specific user-requested white balance given multiple and changing light sources, when (and how) to shape the mic pickup range from uni- to omnidirectional and so on.
Like the Tiny 4K and some competitors, the Tiny 2 has gesture controls in addition to the voice control. But I find the voice control far more useful than gestures; I wave my hands around a lot while talking, which tends to result in things like unwanted and unexpected zooming in the middle of a rant.
Plus, I really wish the gimbal positioning were voice controllable. The virtual joystick you manipulate in software has a floaty movement, which results in either too small or sudden large jumps when you try to adjust it with the mouse. And you can't lock an axis, which means that when you're trying to pan you inevitably end up tilting.
The webcam also has a variety of uncommon features, including modes for shooting your desktop, hand tracking, fixing on a white board and encompassing multiple people with tracking. Unlike webcams that digitally track, a swiveling base allows it to cover a wider range of movement without the degradation digital tracking incurs. It also allows it to handle a much greater range of vertical movement, which enables things like desktop mode.
Obsbot has added a broad set of "beauty" adjustments -- adjustable skin retouching and face, head and body part reshaping -- and color filter effects to its software. All of these, as well as a blurred background option, only work using the Obsbot Virtual Camera (because they're rendered in software) and only in 1080p.
The basic face retouching isn't bad, though I'd love a way to be able to adjust skin tone, not just how aggressive the overall effect is. And most of the filters aren't very extreme; in some cases I really couldn't tell what it had done. But the background blur doesn't look very good: It has some trouble deciding what to mask out, though no worse than Zoom does, but combined with the fake-looking blur it comes out looking somewhat ham-handed.
I also wish the Tiny 2 offered a 1440p mode in addition to 1080 30/60fps and 4K 30fps, which is becoming popular in webcams targeted at streaming. That gives you a higher quality, and potentially a higher frame rate option, without the burden on your system imposed by 4K.
There are features of the Obsbot Tiny 4K that make it stand out, such as the combination of the robotic rotation and tilt plus metal build, which the Razer Kiyo Pro Ultra lacks, and the extremely flexible mounting angle, which both the Insta360 and the Razer lack, or the virtual camera with its skinnying, smoothing and color effects. And the excellent autofocus and tracking performance do make it a top consideration for standup presentations. But for the price class, I really think both the Insta360 and Razer come out ahead for image quality.