There are several different types of computer-compatible cameras, each specially suited for different purposes. Some are ideal for basic personal use, while others are better at meeting commercial and security needs. With the proper software, even camcorders and digital cameras can be converted into webcams.
The most common webcams are dedicated webcams. They are relatively inexpensive and easy to install, as they connect to a computer via a USB connection. However, they tend to relay grainy images at low frame rates.
Integrated cameras are cameras built directly into a computer's hardware. Many newer laptops feature integrated cameras. The quality of these cameras may vary, but there is no software to install or cords to connect.
Camcorders can often be connected to a computer and used like a webcam. With a video-capture card, a computer can display or send to a network images being relayed from a camcorder. The camcorder itself does not need to record anything, as software can allow the computer itself to save any data.
Digital cameras can be connected to a computer and/or network in a similar fashion. Although digital cameras may not be useful for streaming video, they can be set to periodically take and send high-quality images. This is useful if it is necessary to have a new, clear image at regular intervals.
Wireless webcams are cameras that do not need to be physically connected to a computer or network to transmit images, as they do so via radio waves or a wireless network. Wireless webcams connected to a network are often used for security purposes as they can send images to multiple computers at the same time.