If the global pandemic taught the industrial design world anything, it is that we are heavily reliant on video calls and, with that, a requirement for quality webcams and decent audio. Yet, this market is severely lacking. Your big tech corporations have been caught sleeping. People actively seek a better solution than a 720p resolution camera with mediocre built-in mics. Remote is here to stay, and the Opal C1 Camera is here to disrupt the webcam market, offering 4k quality targeted to professional users for 10% of the price of a DSLR setup. Timeless industrial design backed by impressive customisable software that gets better through machine learning.
Opal is making it easy to look and sound professional on video calls. Headed up by Veeraj Chugh and Stefan Sohlstrom, with Kenny Sweet leading the design, Opal has a stacked team of designers and engineers behind some of the most beloved products ever built. This team is focused on building the best camera on the market today. Having tested the Opal C1, this camera will make a much-needed impact.
From the understated packaging, the geometric hardware, and the ever-evolving software, there is a lot to appreciate with this product. The Opal C1 comes in a sleek matte black box, with a simple white illustration of the camera, indicating the device’s size before you open it. The packaging is 100% recyclable, with no polyurethanes typically used in boxes. And the camera itself is less than 1% plastic, with most of the device being fully recyclable.
The metallic hardware of the Opal C1 is remarkably simple. The attention to detail and precision of the build is clear to see from the moment you hold the device in your hands—including the mount. Devoid of any branding, the minimalist design language is synonymous with Dieter Rams, which gives this camera a timeless quality. Veeraj explains:
We’ve intentionally dialled back branding and logos from the face of the product. We built an object that can live in the most beautiful desktop setups in the world and bring a new perspective to the conversation when it comes to the shape of the tools we use each day. In the end, this is your device, and we’d like to make you the focus, not Opal.
A notable detail of the device is the removal magnetic lens cap. It offers a little extra privacy and protection and puts your mind at ease when the camera is not in use. The tactility of it is also pretty satisfying.
The Opal C1 comes in two solid colours—black and white. While the black design might be a more subtle addition to your setup, the (off) white finish adds a beautiful contrast and highlights the hardware design details more clearly.
The coiled cable might initially seem like an obtrusive feature of the design package, but it does grow on you. That said, a wireless solution that pushes the minimalist design even further would be something that we would love to see with this product.
The dots on the front of the device are a collection of microphones that make up what Opal calls MicMesh. They filter out background noise and improve clarity. And when you’re working remotely, that is significant.
We’re focusing on building the markets leading Noise Cancellation and using the same learnings to build something we call Studio Sound. Studio sound allows you to sound like you’re on a professional podcast without the $500 boom mic. Using MicMesh inputs piped through a neural net, we’ll be able to make your sound professional quality.
Finally, the software (or Opalsoft); a Mac app that features gesture and manual controls to adjust your overall look and feel, including touchup, brightness, saturation, and a surprising pixelate option. You can even change the depth of field with bokeh that makes your video look like it’s shot on a high-quality DSLR. As the software is still in beta, there are a couple of minor imperfections. Still, you can already see where Opal is looking to take this product, and there’s currently nothing that comes close to this in the webcam market.