How to use (almost) any camera as a webcam
Cameras, even those in phones, brag about megapixels and lens specifications — but laptops? Not so much. There’s a reason computer companies don’t say much about the webcams that come built into the bezels of their screens. Most of these cameras are low-quality, with tiny sensors and cheap lenses. Sure, they work for basic videoconferencing, but they aren’t very impressive and certainly leave us wanting something more.
While you could just buy a stand-alone webcam that connects over USB, to really take production value up a notch, you can opt for a DSLR or mirrorless camera. You’ll need a few workarounds to get this type of camera to be recognized as a webcam by your computer, but the trouble is worth it for the higher resolution, much better low-light performance, and cinematic background blur.
To accomplish this, you’ll need some specific hardware and/or software to get your camera and computer to play nice. Fortunately, with the right tools, using your DSLR or mirrorless camera as a webcam is a straightforward procedure. With major camera manufacturers like Canon, Nikon, Sony, Fujifilm, Panasonic, Olympus, and GoPro recently building a webcam option into their software, the odds are now pretty good that you can modify your current camera to use as a webcam, for free.
Most computers cannot natively read the video coming from a camera’s HDMI output. If your computer has an HDMI port, it is likely itself an output port. And while cameras have USB ports, they generally do not send a clean video signal through them.
You’ll need a device that converts your camera’s HDMI feed to a USB output that your computer will think is a connected webcam. The beauty of this setup is that you can generally use any HDMI source as the input, from a camera to a game console to another computer, and the output can be used however you’d like, from video conferencing to livestreaming or recording.
The quality of the video that your computer receives is limited by the device. Even if you have a camera that can shoot 4K video, the USB adapter may only support 1080p output. Given that most livestreams and videoconferences are reduced to 1080p (or even 720p) anyway, this probably isn’t a huge concern.
There are a number of different products for achieving this. Some of the top-ranked ones include:
The last one on this list is actually a four-input HDMI switcher. It allows you to connect multiple cameras or other HDMI inputs and select which one to output to your computer, which will see it as a simple webcam. This allows for advanced livestreaming setups with different angles, sharing a screen from a tablet or phone, or even printed material via an HDMI document camera. Sure, you don’t need that for your average Zoom meeting, but the ATEM Mini has much more flexibility than a simple HDMI to USB adapter — and it’s not even that expensive.
Finally, tell the video chat platform that you want to use a camera besides the built-in webcam by going to the settings inside the web conferencing app and switching to the camera you connected. (Here’s how to change the camera in Zoom and Skype).
The software solution
Some software programs can grab the video feed from a camera that’s plugged directly into the USB port without bothering with HDMI at all. These software solutions are less universal than video cards, however. Third-party software is available, but as 2020 made working from home a necessity for many, several manufacturers launched their own native solutions. Canon, Nikon, Sony, Fujifilm, Panasonic, Olympus, and GoPro are all integrating a webcam feature into native (and free) software. Most of these programs are recently launched beta options but provide users a way to use their camera as a webcam without buying any additional accessories.
Whether you use manufacturer software or third-party software, you will need the USB cable that came with your camera. Cameras should also have a full battery, while long live-streams may require an AC adapter to keep the camera fully juiced. Unlike using HDMI, USB doesn’t provide access to the camera’s microphone, so these software tools will still require you to use your computer’s built-in mic or an external one (plugged into the computer, not the camera). A safe place to mount your camera, like a tripod, is ideal. And while not required, you’ll also get better results with a video light and an external microphone.
Exact set-up depends on the software that you’re using, but, in general, you’ll connect the camera to your computer using the USB (make sure that the camera is powered on). You’ll need to launch the webcam utility software and follow any steps there, and inside the app you plan to livestream with, you’ll need to go into the settings and choose your camera instead of the default built-in webcam. Just like using an HDMI video capture device, you will still need to set the FOCUS on your camera. If your camera has face and eye detection, be sure to turn it on.
With Sony as the latest company to join the trend of webcam software, all the major camera companies now have a webcam option, at least in beta. Sony Imaging Edge Webcam is a Windows-only program that’s compatible with 35 different Sony cameras at launch including the latest A9, A7, A6000, RX100, and RX0 series cameras, as well as the new vlogging focused ZV1 and a handful of older generations and point-and-shoots. The program is available for download directly from Sony.
Now officially out of beta, the EOS Webcam Utility app lets you use one of more than 40 different Canon cameras as a webcam over USB for programs from Zoom and Skype to Messenger and YouTube Live. The program allows you to record while streaming, in case you want to save your end of that Zoom chat for later. Cameras with Movie Servo AF will support full-time autofocus while recording. Canon also has a number of webcam kits available, which bundles a compatible camera with a power cord. The MacOS version is still in public beta.
Nikon recently launched the beta version of Nikon Webcam Utility. The Windows 10 software launched first, but now the company has a beta program for Mac users as well. The app works with Nikon Z cameras, as well as recent DSLRs, including the D6, D850, D780, D500, D7500, and D5600. The software allows compatible cameras to stream using just the USB cord that came with the camera, but also works with HDMI video capture devices.
The Fujifilm X Webcam program, now in its second version, allows you to adjust a number of different camera settings when using one of the compatible cameras as a webcam, including using film simulation effects. The app, available for Windows and MacOS, works with several high-end Fujifilm mirrorless cameras, including the X-T2, X-T3, and X-T4, as well as all medium-format GFX models, and budget-friendly models in automatic mode only. The latest update to the software allows users to adjust the settings mid-recording, including exposure compensation and film simulation, from the computer. The X-A7 and X-T200 can also be used with the software with a firmware update, but have more limited features and are stuck in auto mode for streaming.
Panasonic Lumix Tether for streaming is a beta program that allows some Panasonic Lumix mirrorless cameras to be used as webcams on Windows. The program is similar to Panasonic’s earlier tethering program, but strips the overlays (such as FOCUS boxes) from the image, giving a clean output suitable for use in videoconferencing.
Olympus’ native webcam option is called OM-D Webcam. This beta software is compatible with Windows 10 and Mac (Mac OS 10.2, 10.3, and 10.4) and needs one of five more advanced OM-D cameras to work, including the E-M1X, E-M1, E-M1 Mark II, E-M1 Mark III, and the E-M5 Mark II. After installing the software and connecting the camera, users can select the camera as a device option in their video conferencing software of choice.
While an action camera won’t give you the background blur of using a mirrorless or DSLR, the GoPro HERO8 Black and HERO9 can also now be used as a wide-angle webcam. To adapt the action cam for webcam use, the HERO8 first needs to have updated beta firmware on the camera itself, while the new HERO9 is ready to go right out of the box. Then, install GoPro Webcam on your computer, and connect the GoPro with USB. The software is compatible with Mac OS, and a Windows version is now in beta testing.
The above programs are, of course, designed to only work with cameras made by their respective brands, and even then, some older or budget models may not be compatible.
There are also third-party options. SparkoCam is a Windows program that allows Canon and Nikon DSLRs to work as webcams without any special hardware ( check for full compatibility with your camera first). The program offers a free trial but starts at 50 to remove the large watermark. Unfortunately, it is not offered for Mac.
Ecamm Live is a Mac option for live streaming that works with several camera brands. With tools including multi-camera switching, picture-in-picture, and screen sharing from a Mac or an iPhone, the software is a more advanced option for those taking their streaming a little more professionally. Once you finish streaming, Ecamm Live can save the video file to your hard drive. The save feature is handy in many different scenarios, especially for anyone who’s recording footage they plan to edit later on.
In addition, some free hacks can enable a camera to work as a webcam without needing to use a capture card. However, the setup isn’t perfect, and you’ll still need to get a capture card despite this if you’re wanting to edit or re-watch your video.
Other accessories you may need
Even though monitor mounts can be helpful, it’s likely that you won’t be able to connect your camera to your monitor without obstructing it directly. This means you’ll need a tripod. For video conferencing, we suggest using a compact tabletop tripod. One of our favorites is the Joby GorillaPod or Manfrotto Pixi variations. If you’re looking for more info on these two fabulous tripods, you can read more on our list of the best tripods.
When updating your video, you should examine your audio quality. You can easily enhance the overall quality of your vocals by employing an external USB mic. Improved audio will offer you limited Echo effects and background sound, delivering a less distracting stream. Along with this, you also acquire the bonus perk of having some new contemporary streaming equipment. If this piques your interest, check out how Digital Trends producer Dan Baker set up his home office for live streaming.
Hillary never planned on becoming a photographer—and then she was handed a camera at her first writing job and she’s been…
You’re probably familiar with the online dangers that you could come across while working from home on your own computer or one provided by your employer. Spam, malware, adware, and viruses are just some things to think about. With the future of the workplace now possibly heading into the online metaverse, these are all dangers that could still come up for workers.- and Microsoft has a warning about it.
In a recent post, Charlie Bell, the executive vice president for security, compliance, identity, and management at Microsoft, talked about the cornerstones for securing work in the metaverse. Bell believes that with the metaverse, the security stakes will be higher than imagined, and lists ways that companies and the major players in the space can stay safe when bringing workers online to the virtual metaverse. importantly, though, he also touched on how anyone can easily be impersonated in the metaverse.
If you work on a remote team, you need an efficient way to communicate. Even in-house teams can benefit from popular workspaces such as Slack or Microsoft Teams. With both being at the top of the workspace market, you should consider which one is right for you.
Depending on the features you need, you might already have a clear winner in mind. But if not, you can read our guide to help you figure out which one is best for you. Messaging abilities
The first reviews of Apple’s new Studio Display have been released, with journalists having harsh opinions toward the 12-megapixel ultrawide front camera on the 27-inch display.
While many expected the Studio Display to be the next step in Apple’s PC future due to its 12-megapixel lens and its A13 Bionic chip, the video and photo capture capabilities on the peripheral have left reviewers disappointed.
Upgrade your lifestyleDigital Trends helps readers keep tabs on the fast-paced world of tech with all the latest news, fun product reviews, insightful editorials, and one-of-a-kind sneak peeks.
How to use your camera as a webcam
Knowing how to use your camera as a webcam will instantly boost the quality of video calls, even more so than using a standalone or built-in webcam.
With many people now working from home regularly, video meetings are often the primary way that teams get round the table these days, when once they were used as a backup solution. Meanwhile, video calling is also one of the main ways many of us speak to friends and family who live apart.
Using your camera as a webcam will instantly boost the quality of your video calls, as the best cameras are often designed specifically to shoot high quality video, and feature much bigger lenses and sensors than webcams. Hooking your camera up to use as a webcam will also help if the one you were previously using is broken.
Thankfully, camera manufacturers make it easy to use their products as webcams. In most cases, whether you own a mirrorless, DSLR or point and shoot camera, all you’ll need to do is connect it to your computer via USB and run some software. We’re here to show you how.
The process can differ depending on what camera you have and what software you want to use, so this guide will cover how to use your camera as a webcam via both universal apps and manufacturer-specific solutions.
How to use your camera as a webcam
In many cases, you can use your camera as a webcam by plugging it into your PC via USB, and then using software such as SparkoCam to allow the best video chat apps, such as Zoom, to access your camera. However, Canon, Fujifilm, Nikon, Olympus, Panasonic, and Sony have all released their own apps, and these may work better if you have a compatible model.
Reasons to avoid
Windows users who own a Canon or Nikon camera will find SparkoCam to be a quick one-stop solution. This software supports a wide range of Canon and Nikon cameras, and lets you add effects, such as animations, face accessories, and green-screens. This app only works on Windows machines, but it’s compatible with Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8, and Windows 10.
SparkoSoft offers several versions of SparkoCam (starting listed): SparkoCam for Canon (49.95), SparkoCam for Nikon (49.95); SparkoCam Pro (69.95), and SparkoCam (39.95). SparkoCam Pro offers support for both Canon and Nikon Cameras, while SparkoCam will put a watermark on Canon and Nikon camera streams.
SparkoCam-compatible cameras Canon: Includes EOS-1D X Mark III, 1D X Mark II, 7D Mark II, 6D Mark II, 5D Mark IV, EOS 90D, EOS 80D, EOS 850D, 800D, EOS 750D, 77D, Canon 5DS, Canon 5DS R, EOS R, EOS RP, EOS M6 Mark II, EOS M200, M50, PowerShot G7X Mark III, PowerShot G5X Mark II, EOS T8i, T7i, T7, T6, T6i, T6s, T5i, EOS Rebel SL3, SL2, SL1
Nikon: D850, D810, D780, D750, D500, D7500, D7200, D5600, D5500, D6, D5, D4s, Z6, Z7
Reasons to avoid
For Mac users who want to use their cameras as a webcam, Cascable looks to be a good option.
If you’re connecting your camera via Wi-Fi, it should work with most Canon, Fujifilm, Nikon, Olympus, Panasonic and Sony cameras with Wi-Fi (here’s a complete list). If you’re connecting via USB, Cascable should work with most Canon and Nikon cameras. However, the company recommends that your Mac should be running macOS 10.14.4 or higher. It is, however, now native on Macs with Intel or Apple M1 silicon.
Cascable is free to try, but after two minutes, a video overlay will be applied to your stream, and certain features are not available. A full license costs 30.
How to use your Canon camera as a webcam
Canon released a webcam utility that allows you to use select Canon DSLRs, mirrorless cameras, and PowerShot cameras as a webcam. The software will work with both Windows 10 and macOS Catalina and higher.
Compatible cameras include the EOS Rebel SL2, SL3, T6, T7, T7i,T8i, EOS 60D, EOS 70D, EOS 80D, EOS 90D, the PowerShot GX5 II, GX7 III, and SX70HS. (A full list can be found on Canon’s site.)
Compatible video-conferencing programs include: Cisco WebEx, Messenger, Live, Discord, Microsoft Teams, Google Hangouts, Google Meet, Skype, Slack, and Zoom.
How to use your Fujifilm camera as a webcam
Fujifilm camera owners can use the Fujifilm X Webcam app for both Windows 10 and macOS devices (10.12 Sierra and above). It works with the Fujifilm GFX100, GFX100S, GFX 50S, GFX 50R, X-H1, X-Pro2, X-Pro3, X-T2, X-T3, X-T4, X-S10, X-T30, X-T200, X-E4 and X100V.
How to use your Nikon camera as a webcam
Nikon’s Webcam Utility — which it out of its beta version — now works for both Macs and PCs; it requires a PC running 64-bit Windows 10, an Intel Celeron, Pentium 4, or Core series processor, and 4GB of RAM. Macs need to have MacOS High Sierra 10.13 or later, at least a 1GHz Intel Core or Xeon processor, and at least 2GB of RAM.
The software is compatible with the Nikon Z7, Z 7II, Z6, Z 6 II, Z5, Z 50, D6, D5, D850, D810, D780, D750, D500, D7500, D7200, D5600, D5500, D5300, and D3500. It will work with the web versions of Microsoft Teams, Skype, Zoom, Google Meet, and Messenger (Safari is not supported; Chrome is recommended), and the Microsoft Teams, Zoom, and Messenger apps.
How to use your Olympus camera as a webcam
Owners of the Olympus E-M1X, E-M1, E-M1 Mark II, E-M1 Mark III and the E-M5 Mark II can use the Olympus OM-D Webcam beta software in conjunction with a PC to use those cameras as a webcam.
Olympus also has a version of its software for Macs, compatible with Macs running macOS 10.15 (Catalina), 10.14 (Mojave), 10.13 (High Sierra) or 10.12 (Sierra).
How to use your Panasonic camera as a webcam
While Panasonic’s existing Lumix Tether app already let you control some of the company’s cameras from your laptop or desktop, a new beta version of the app lets you view a livestream from the camera, which you can pass through to a videoconferencing app of your choice.
The Lumix Tether beta app is compatible with the DC-GH5, DC-G9, DC-GH5S, DC-S1, DC-S1R, and DC-S1H cameras.
It works on Windows 10, plus Mac OS X 10.11-10.14. Though it does also work with macOS 10.15 Catalina, Panasonic warns that some issues are reported.
How to use your Sony camera as a webcam
Sony released a desktop app called Imaging Edge Webcam that will let you use select Sony cameras as a webcam. The program, which will work with PCs running Windows 10 (64-bit) as well as Macs running MacOS 10.13-10.15, allows you to tether the following Sony cameras via USB, and use them with popular video chat apps. Note that Sony says it won’t work on Macs running Apple silicon.
Compatible cameras include:
Mirrorless: a5100, a6100, a6300, a6400, a6500, a6600, Alpha 7 II, Alpha 7 III, Alpha 7R II, Alpha 7R III, Alpha 7R IV, Alpha 7S, Alpha 7S II, Alpha 7S III, Alpha 7C, Alpha 9, Alpha 77 II,
Compact: DSC-RX100 Mark IV, DSC-RX100 Mark V, DSC-RX100 Mark 5A, DSC-RX100 Mark VI, DSC-RX100 Mark VII
Action cameras: RX0, RX0 II
Other models: RX10 II, RX10 III, RX10 IV, RX1R II, DSC-WX700, DSC-WX800
How to Use Your Digital Camera as a Webcam
Many of the popular digital SLRs and mirrorless cameras released over the past few years now offer USB webcam support—you just need to install some extra software. We break down which manufacturers support the feature and which camera models work, so you can step up your Zoom game.
Images, and the devices that capture them, are my FOCUS. I’ve covered cameras at PCMag for the past 10 years, which has given me a front row seat for the DSLR to mirrorless transition, the smartphone camera revolution, and the mainstream adoption of drones for aerial imaging. You can find me on Instagram @jamespfisher.
With webcams in short supply and demand skyrocketing due to the sharp spike in remote work, you might be staring at your digital SLR or mirrorless camera, wondering why you can’t connect it to your computer and enjoy better video quality than laptop webcams provide. The simple answer is, most cameras don’t support the function, at least on their own. Yes, they have USB ports, but there’s some software needed to take a digital video signal and feed it into Zoom, Google Meet, and others.
The good news is, the big camera makers have jumped in with software to bridge the gap. Regardless of whether you use a Mac or Windows system, you can download software for select Canon, Fujifilm, Nikon, Olympus, Panasonic, or Sony cameras and use them as a webcam. If you’re on a Mac, you’ll probably need to use Chrome as your web browser—Safari doesn’t let you pick anything aside from your Mac’s built-in FaceTime camera.
For models that aren’t supported, there’s additional hardware you can add to your system, and there are software hacks you can try too. I was plugging my Sony a7R IV into my MacBook Pro every morning for a staff meeting for months—and if your camera isn’t supported by official software, it’s still an option you have available.
No matter what system and camera you’re using, we’re here to help.
Canon EOS Webcam Utility
The Canon EOS Webcam Utilit (Opens in a new window) y, available for macOS and Windows systems, works with select SLR, mirrorless, and fixed-lens cameras. It’s out of beta and now an officially supported application with support for better than 40 Canon camera models. You’ll need a 64-bit version of Windows 10 or a macOS system running High Sierra, Mojave, or Catalina to use it.
Most supported cameras are mirrorless or SLR models, so don’t expect to use your old 100 PowerShot Elph. Still, Canon has done a very good job supporting cameras that are a few generations old—if you have a Canon with swappable lenses purchased in recent years, that’s a good chance it’ll work with the software. Canon has a full list of supported models on the download (Opens in a new window) page for the software.
Once you’ve got the software running on your system, it’s just a matter of plugging your camera in via USB, and selecting the right source in your video chat app. If you’re on a Mac you’ll need to download Chrome or Firefox to get this to work.
Fujifilm X Webcam
Fujifilm‘s webcam utility (Opens in a new window) is cross-platform, with support for PCs running Windows 10 and Macs running Sierra, High Sierra, Mojave, and Catalina.
It only works with Fujifilm’s higher-end X and GFX system cameras, with support dating back a couple of generations. You’ll need a Fujifilm X-T2, X-T3, X-T4, X-H1, X-Pro2, X-Pro3, GFX50S, GFX50R, or GFX100 to use it.
As for entry-level support, there are two recent models that work as USB webcams without the need for additional software. You can plug the X-A7 or X-T200 into your computer and you’ll be able to use it as a webcam in Google Meet, Microsoft Teams, Skype, and Zoom.
Nikon Webcam Utility
Nikon’s software (Opens in a new window) offers cross-platform compatibility. It works with PCs running 64-bit versions of Windows 10 and Mac systems with Sierra, High Sierra, or Catalina.
Camera support is limited to recent releases, so you’re out of luck if you have an older SLR. But current models are supported. At press time, the app works with the D5600, D7500, D500, D780, D850, D6, Z 50, Z 5, Z 6, Z 6 II, Z 7 and Z 7 II.
Olympus OM-D Webcam Beta
The Olympus OM-D Webcam Beta (Opens in a new window) is available for 32-bit and 64-bit Windows 10 systems, as well as for Macs running Sierra through Catalina.
It only works with a few models, all above entry-level. They are the OM-D E-M1, OM-D E-M1 Mark II, OM-D E-M1 Mark III, OM-D E-M1X, and the OM-D E-M5 Mark II.
I tested the macOS software along with the E-M1 Mark III and it worked like a charm. You just need to select the appropriate USB connection type when you plug the camera into your computer—use the icon that shows a camera connected to a desktop PC to do so—and if you want a 16:9 frame, remember to change the aspect ratio in camera settings.
Please note, the newest E-M5 Mark III isn’t supported—for once, you’re better off with an older model to take advantage of a new feature.
Panasonic Lumix Tether for Streaming
The Panasonic Lumix Tether for Streaming (Opens in a new window) software is cross-platform, with some beta software caveats. It works with 32-bit and 64-bit Windows 10 systems, and Macs running operating systems as old as El Capitan (10.11) through the latest Catalina release.
But there are some bugs that cause weird operation on Catalina. Panasonic outlines them, and offers workarounds (Opens in a new window) to help you get it running if you’re having trouble.
As for camera supported, it’s limited to higher-end models. The software works with the Lumix GH5, G9, GH5S, S1, S1R, and S1H.
Sony Imaging Edge Webcam
Sony’s webcam solution, Imaging Edge Webcam (Opens in a new window). works with 64-bit Windows 10 systems as well as Mac computers running High Sierra, Mojave, or Catalina. It supports a wide range of a7 mirrorless models as well as fixed-lens compacts in the RX family, and even some older A-mount SLRs.
Some cameras require you to fiddle with menu settings first, but once the software is up and running and your camera is configured it works seamlessly. Specifically, if you’ve got an a9 II, a7R IV, or ZV-1, you’ll need to make some changes to network settings in the camera menu to get things working, and there are a bunch of other models that require you to have the Mode dial set to a specific setting for the best results.
Once you’ve got the software installed, you can refer to Sony’s documentation (Opens in a new window) to get details for your specific camera model.
The Mac Hack (Camera Live CamTwist)
Camera makers have done a good job supporting Windows systems, but not every brand offers a Mac webcam app. There are workarounds, including a hack that I’ve been using for Google and Zoom calls, detailed in a report by DPReview (Opens in a new window).
If you’re comfortable fooling around in Terminal, the command line interface offered by macOS, you can type in a couple of commands to open up your computer to a wide array of enthusiast and professional cameras. You’ll need to have Zoom installed.
The first command, xcode-select.-install, loads Apple’s Xcode development toolkit onto your Mac, if you don’t have it installed already.
The second, sudo codesign.-remove-signature /Applications/zoom.us.app/, removes the signature from the Zoom application.
You might be wondering, is this safe? Our senior security analyst, Max Eddy, cautions against it, warning that it may have unforeseeable consequences. As such, we don’t recommend this trick for everyone.
If you decide to proceed, you’ll need to download a couple of apps—Camera Live (Opens in a new window) and CamTwist (Opens in a new window). Once you’ve got them installed and have your camera connected, start Camera Live—you should see your camera in its list of connected devices.
Next, launch CamTwist, select Syphon as your video source in the first column, and the Camera Live server from the drop-down on the far right portion of the screen. Once it’s running, you’ll be able to select the CamTwist app as a video source in Zoom, Google Hangouts, Google Meet, and others. Just remember to use Chrome as your web browser—Safari doesn’t let you move away from your Mac’s built-in camera.
But, it’s a hack, so expect it to be a bit finicky. You might need to do a bit of a dance with Camera Live and your camera’s On/Off switch to make things work, and I’ve had to issue a Force Quit on a few occasions. Your experience might depend on your camera, too—the software was much more likely to crash with the Nikon Z 7 connected than with the Sony a7R IV.
Software can only get you so far. If you have a camera that’s not supported by any apps, but still want to use it as a webcam, there are some hardware options.
You just need to make sure that you can output a video signal via HDMI—to test this, plug your camera into your TV and see if there’s a picture. Also importantly, see if you can turn off distracting user interface elements from the video signal. Most interchangeable lens models with HDMI can, but it’s worth it to check.
Products like the Atomos Connect (79), the Elgato Cam Link 4K (Opens in a new window) (130), and the BlackMagic ATEM Mini (Opens in a new window) (295) bridge the gap between HDMI and USB. Connect one to your PC or Mac via USB, then plug your camera in via HDMI, and you’ll be able to use it as a webcam. You’ll need to spend some more money, but if you already own a nice camera without its own webcam support app, you might find them to be better investments than a standalone webcam.
If your digital camera isn’t supported, and you’d prefer a standalone webcam to a something like the Cam Link, head over to our guide on how to buy the best webcam to suit your needs.
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Top tips for using a DSLR as a webcam
Webcams get the job done for live streaming and video conferencing, but what if there was something better? There is! With just a few cables and some free software, you can easily turn your DSLR camera into a webcam. Improve the quality of your live streams, video chats, and webinars.
If you’ve been in a lot of video conference meetings, or you live stream regularly, you’ve probably realized that the webcam mounted inside your laptop has poor image quality. If you want better video for your live streams, video chats, and webinars, then you need a better camera. Rather than buying a new webcam, why not turn the DSLR camera you already have into a webcam?
Since the 2020 pandemic and the soaring numbers of live streamers and video conference meetings that resulted, it’s become easier than ever to use your DSLR as a webcam. In this guide, we’ll walk you through the various options for setting up your DSLR camera as a webcam.
What is the difference between DSLR and web cameras?
Before we dive into how to use a DSLR camera as a webcam, you should know the difference between the two. DSLR stands for “digital single-lens reflex,” and it’s a common type of digital camera. It combines the mechanisms of a single-lens reflex camera with a digital imaging sensor.
A web camera or webcam is a video camera that records or streams video in real time over the internet. They are less powerful than DSLR cameras and much smaller, usually sitting on a desk, attached to the top of a computer monitor, or built into laptops.
Although webcams are smaller and less powerful than DSLR cameras, they are less expensive. DSLR cameras also must be recharged when their batteries die down, whereas webcams are powered by the laptop or computer they’re plugged or built into.
Webcams are popular among live streamers, and there are high-quality webcams available that will enhance the quality of your live video. However, if you want even better quality or already own a DSLR camera and don’t want to buy a new webcam, then a DSLR camera is an excellent choice.
Why would you use a DSLR camera instead of a webcam?
Some use cases for DSLR cameras as webcams include:
- Live streaming: You can easily use a DSLR camera as source with your favorite live streaming software. A DSLR also enhances the video quality, enticing more viewers to watch your stream.
- VOD content creation: For prerecorded videos and VOD content, a DSLR camera is easy to use and gives your videos a professional look.
- Video conferencing: If you’re in a lot of meetings or find yourself presenting webinars often, it would be worthwhile to use a DSLR instead of a webcam, so the mediocre quality of your video doesn’t distract from your presentation.
- Taking photos: If you use your webcam to take profile photos or selfies, swap out your DSLR instead. Webcams aren’t meant to capture photos, but DSLR cameras are. You’ll end up with a high-quality, professional photo you can use on your social media profiles, including LinkedIn.
What do you need to use a DSLR as a webcam?
There are three ways to set up a DSLR as a webcam. One involves the camera manufacturer’s software, one requires a capture card, and the last one uses broadcasting software.
Several camera manufacturers, such as Panasonic, Canon, and Sony, have developed software that allows you to use their DSLR cameras for live video chatting and streaming on your computer. For this method, all you need is the USB cable that came with your camera and the software. Several brands have their own software available to download:
To use the manufacturer’s DSLR webcam software, download the software and follow the instructions for calibrating the settings. Note that for each software, only certain models of cameras are supported.
If the Canon, Fujifilm, Sony, or Panasonic webcam apps don’t work with your camera, you can try a webcam app such as Ecamm Live. All it takes is connecting your camera to your computer via USB cable. Once you have the webcam software up and running, you can change the camera settings.
A second option is connecting your camera to a capture card. Before 2020 made all of us more concerned about webcam software, this method was the number-one way live streamers turned DSLRs into webcams. A capture card takes the video your DSLR records and converts it for digital streaming.
To set it up, connect your DSLR camera to your capture card with an HDMI cable. Then, stick the USB end of your capture card into your computer. If you’re planning to use a video conferencing tool with this setup, such as Zoom or Microsoft Teams, then you don’t need to download any other software.
If you’re planning to live stream with your DSLR camera, you’ll need broadcasting software such as OBS or Restream. You’ll use the HDMI and capture card method above, then download your broadcasting software and add your DSLR camera as source.