The rise in home working and video meetings means more people now regularly use a webcam. A flickering webcam isn’t likely to ruin your life, but it can be incredibly frustrating.
Here’s how to diagnose why your webcam is flickering and how to stop it from happening.
What Causes Webcam Flicker?
Constant flickering on your webcam can have several potential causes. One of the most likely causes is a conflict between the shutter speed and the lighting in the room.
Although it might not look like it, lighting elements that use AC power pulse extremely quickly, producing what seems to be a constant brightness. If the frequency of these pulses, called Oscillations Per Second, syncs up with the camera shutter speed, image flickering can occur. This is a very simplistic explanation, but hopefully, you get the idea.
You can test this by turning off the lights. If that stops the flickering, you have found the cause. How to stop the flickering is explained below.
Other potential causes include out-of-date drivers and incorrect settings in apps that access the webcam. Using a low-speed USB port could even cause it.
1. Change the Frequency or Shutter Speed
It might not be practical, or even possible, to have the lights turned off when using your webcam. Luckily, there is usually another way to solve this problem.
- If using the built-in webcam, open the Windows Camera app and click the settings icon.
- Select Video Settings and change Flicker Reduction from 60Hz to 50Hz.
Some video chat/conferencing software will override that change with its own preset frequency setting. Most allow you to adjust the shutter speed or tweak the power frequency. For example, in Skype:
- Open the main Skype Settings and click on Audio & Video.
- Click Webcam Settings to open a new properties window.
- On the Video Proc Amp tab, change the PowerLine Frequency from 60Hz to 50Hz.
- Click Apply and check to see if the flickering has been fixed.
This method will also be necessary if using an external webcam, as the Windows Camera app settings won’t apply. The software that came with the webcam might also include the frequency setting
2. Update Your System and Webcam Software
If you have removed the conflict of shutter speed and lighting as a potential cause of the flicker, ensuring all software is up-to-date is the next step.
Check for any waiting Windows System Updates. There could be a Camera app revision within a cumulative or quality update that will fix the problem. You should also check in the Optional Updates section, as webcam software updates can sometimes be hidden in there.
Install all available updates and restart your computer. You can then test the webcam to see if there is any improvement in the flickering problem.
Here are more reasons why keeping software updated is essential to ensure Windows and your computer work as expected.
3. Update the Webcam Drivers
Next, check that the webcam drivers are updated. Drivers are only relevant to a specific device or component, making them unlikely to be updated during the previous fix.
- Open the Device Manager and look for Imaging Devices, Camera, or similar in the list of devices.
- Right-click on the webcam and click Update Driver in the action menu. If there is more than one webcam listed, ensure you update the correct one.
- Follow the instructions onscreen to scan for and install any available driver updates.
If you are using external webcam software, check for any updates for this as well. It is unlikely that the webcam software is causing the flickering, but an update may include a way to stop it.
4. Test the USB Connection (External Webcams Only)
If using an external USB webcam rather than one built into your laptop or screen, the USB port could be the problem. The USB port you are using could be failing or be too slow.
Some webcams require a USB 3.0 connection, so ensure your camera is connected to the correct USB port on your computer. USB 3.0 ports are usually blue on the inside. If you have more than one appropriate USB port available, try the webcam in a different port.
If you think the USB port is the problem, a look at our guide to diagnosing and fixing broken USB ports will help you learn more.
5. Disable Low Light Compensation
Your webcam properties may include the option to enable low light compensation. This will automatically brighten the image if the environmental lighting is poor. Disabling this optional feature can stop webcam flicker.
If this option is available, you will find it in the settings or properties menu of the webcam software you installed when you set the camera up.
Your internal webcam may also have this feature, but availability varies between laptop models. Most internal webcams, the type that is built into the top of a laptop screen, default to the Windows Camera app.
If the low light compensation option isn’t available in the webcam software, check for it in the settings of the video chat app you are using.
6. Change Windows 11 Power Settings
In some cases, particularly if using a laptop on battery, your power settings can cause the webcam to flicker. For example, Battery Saver mode may reduce the amount of power used by certain features. This can include the webcam. Try disabling the power-saving features.
- Open Settings > System > Power & Battery and scroll down to the Battery section.
- Battery Saver will only be active and editable when the laptop is not plugged in.
- Disable Battery Saver, close the Settings, and check the webcam for flickering.
- You can also try changing the Power Mode. If the Windows Power Plan is set to High Performance, you won’t be able to change the Power Mode in Settings.
You can learn more about changing the Windows Power Plan to help with quality or performance issues, or simply to reduce power consumption.
Stop Flickering on a Windows 11 Webcam
Trying to take part in a remote meeting when your webcam is flickering can be very annoying. Thankfully, there is usually an easy way to stop this frustrating but common problem. By working your way through the fixes here, you will soon be back to your video-chatting and remote-working best.
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