Papalook PA452 Webcam Review: Ready and capable

Papalook Pa452 Webcam Review
(Image: © Christopher Close / iMore)

iMore Verdict

Bottom line: Papalook's PA452 covers the basics with good for video calls visuals, and noise-cancelling microphone, which gets the job done for occasional use. However, the lack of autofocus and privacy features keep it from being a standout.


  • +

    Rotatable, tilting design

  • +

    Solid, not spectacular visuals

  • +

    Easy plug and play setup

  • +

    Works with Mac, Windows, ChromeOS


  • -

    Questionable design choices

  • -

    Manual focus adjustments

  • -

    Useless blue light toggle switch

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    No privacy cover or active LED indicator light

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Webcams, once a must-have accessory for Mac and PC's, have become pretty much an afterthought over the years with the rise of laptops, tablets, and smartphones. However, recently, with 2020 being well... you know, 2020, webcams have made a roaring comeback. This has created supply issues with some of the best webcams from the bigger brands, creating an opportunity for smaller brands to fill the void.

One of these smaller, lesser-known, brands is Papalook, which sent over one of its latest webcams, the PA452, for testing recently. Papalook's webcam is reasonably priced, and offers high definition video capabilities with simple plug-and-play setup, but is it enough to make it the best webcam for Mac, PC, streaming, or more? Let's dive in!

The basics

Papalook PA452 Webcam: The features

Papalook Pa452 Webcam Review Front

Papalook Pa452 Webcam Review Front (Image credit: Christopher Close / iMore)

The Papalook PA452 is pretty much par for the course when it comes to design, sporting a wide frame with the camera lens sitting directly in the center. The webcam mixes in several shades of gray with the body having a slightly lighter hue that contrasts with its base that is a darker gray. The face of the camera features rounded corners that have a clear plastic accent, making the whole front of the webcam have a mirror-like look.

Around the back of the webcam is a small toggle switch for turning on a set of blue lights located on the front. I am not entirely sure what these lights are actually for, but my best guess would be that they are used to help with low light scenarios. More on that later. Positioned below, the camera's base is designed to clip onto the top of your monitor or laptop lid, with a stabilizer piece on the back that keeps it all in place. The mount portion offers the ability to make minor tilt adjustments, and for horizontal adjustments, the webcam can be rotated a full 360-degrees if desired.

Papalook Pa452 Webcam Review Mounted

Papalook Pa452 Webcam Review Mounted (Image credit: Christopher Close / iMore)

Papalook's camera offers specs similar to most typical webcams, with its ability to capture and record video in 1080p high definition resolution at 30 frames per second. The camera has a 65-degree wide-angle lens, with an F2.0 Aperture, and is made of four-layer glass. The PA452 does not have autofocus, instead relying on turning the lens manually on the camera itself. Moving over to audio, the PA452 includes built-in, noise-canceling microphones that are positioned on each side of the lens. The webcam does not have any on-board speakers, so there is no upgraded audio experience to be found here.

Papalook Pa452 Webcam Review Back

Papalook Pa452 Webcam Review Back (Image credit: Christopher Close / iMore)

Papalook's webcam works with all of the major PC platforms right out of the box, Windows, macOS, and ChromeOS. The camera connects via a non-removable USB 2.0 cable, with a standard USB-A connector. In most cases, you will not need to download and install a driver or additional software to get it up and running. In fact, there isn't any software at all with the camera in the box, but Papalook does make an app called AMCAP available directly from the company's website if you want advanced or additional controls.

Good enough

Papalook PA452 Webcam: What I like

Papalook Pa452 Webcam Review

Papalook Pa452 Webcam Review (Image credit: Christopher Close / iMore)

Setting up the PA452 was extremely easy, with the whole process consisting of plugging it into the back of my Mac Mini. No drivers to download or additional software; it just works with apps like FaceTime, and Google Meet, right out of the box, which was really nice. Making the whole process easy was the generous length of the non-removable USB cable, which I estimate to be around six-foot.

While I am not a fan of the overall color scheme and shiny look, I do like how stable the camera feels when positioned above my monitor. My existing webcam from Logitech tends to move a little too readily for my tastes, whereas the Papalook PA452 just feels more solid and requires a bit more pressure to make adjustments. This applies to both vertical and horizontal adjustments, although the tilting motion is limited.

Papalook Pa452 Webcam Review Daylight

Papalook Pa452 Webcam Review Daylight (Image credit: Christopher Close / iMore)

Overall, if I had to make a comparison, I would put the PA452's image quality just a little above most modern Apple laptops, which may or may not be an upgrade depending on your situation.

The image quality of the PA452 was reasonably good in typical room lighting conditions. In my testing, I found that the webcam provided enough details for video calls, and it was able to keep up just fine with motion within its view without significant issues with tearing. Colors were more on the muted side — which I tend to prefer, using the webcam as-is without any correction or tweaks from an app, and manual focus adjustments were smooth, and it was easy to dial-in a desired look.

Papalook Pa452 Webcam Review Dark

Papalook Pa452 Webcam Review Dark (Image credit: Christopher Close / iMore)

Images in a completely dark room (except for my monitor) were decent, but not spectacular. As expected, the PA452 struggled with colors and overall quality in low-light, like most webcams, but surprisingly, the image was bright enough to make it actually usable in a pinch. Overall, if I had to make a comparison, I would put the PA452's image quality just a little above most modern Apple laptops, which may or may not be an upgrade depending on your situation. You can definitely get a better image out of the PA452 with a few tweaks here and there, but for most, it will work just fine as is.

The button, it does nothing!

Papalook PA452 Webcam: What I don't like

Papalook Pa452 Webcam Review Focus

Papalook Pa452 Webcam Review Focus (Image credit: Christopher Close / iMore)

As previously mentioned, I do not particularly care for the color choices and mirrored look of the hardware. The scheme makes the camera stand out, at least when it is perched on top of my monitor that has a black frame, and not in a good way. I also do not care for how its mounting clip extends further down onto my monitor than I am used to with other cameras. In my case, the top bezel on my monitor is fairly thin, and the PA452 definitely covered some of my precious screen real estate. Granted, it didn't cover it by a lot, but it was enough to be a little annoying. Unfortunately, I was unable to adjust the mount so that it would sit a little higher up on the bezel, as there just wasn't enough tension to keep it in place.

Sticking with the hardware, I do not like how the webcam does not have a privacy cover built-in or have an add-on available in the box. The webcam also does not have a built-in indicator light to let you know when it is active, both of which are huge oversights in my book. With that being said, I do strongly recommend that you purchase a cover or unplug it after each use just for general privacy, especially if you plan to use the camera in an at-home setting.

Papalook Pa452 Webcam Review Lights

Papalook Pa452 Webcam Review Lights (Image credit: Christopher Close / iMore)

Another hardware complaint that I have is about the blue LED lights that I referenced earlier. I find it odd that Papalook doesn't clarify what exactly this function actually does, as I did not notice any differences whether they were on and off. This is true even in dark environments, which was my best guess — an aid for night vision, so I am sure that this will confuse many customers. I was only able to track down one mention of this light, on an Amazon listing for the webcam, but it too was vague. The listing stated that "The switch is designed for controlling the LED light", so yeah, not really helpful.

My biggest beef with the webcam, though, is the lack of autofocus. This means that you have to turn the lens to dial in the desired look, which could get a little old after a while if you like to change positions or if you plan on taking it with you to different locations. Having to manually adjust focus also negates some of the plug-and-play setup experience, and I am sure that most buyers will just want a webcam that can get them on their video calls without having to worry about adjustments.

Win some, lose some

Papalook PA452 Webcam: The Bottom Line

For all of the positives that the Papalook PA452 has going for it, like its above Macbook level image quality, partial plug and play setup, and solid mount, there are quite a few things that keep it from being a top tier webcam. The lack of autofocus, missing privacy features, seemingly useless LED light feature, and questionable finish puts a damper on the whole experience and keeps it from being the best webcam for Mac, PC, streaming, and more.

Now, the PA452 is undoubtedly good enough if you just need a webcam for occasional calls, or if you just need a webcam as soon as possible since the category is in high demand right now. Just remember that focus adjustments are manual and be sure to unplug it or buy a webcam privacy cover if you have any concerns about the prospect of having a camera looking into your home at all times.

Christopher Close

Christopher spends most of his time writing and dreaming about all things HomeKit and the Home app. Whether it is installing smart light switches, testing the latest door locks, or automating his households daily routines, Christopher has done it all.