In this article, we will explain how to use digital camera as webcam in detail for your convenience.
Webcams are quickly becoming a rarity these days. The advent of laptops, tablets, and smartphones has inversely affected the sale of webcams, forcing the manufacturers to cease their production. Although all of the laptops come with a webcam yet they are good for nothing. They are low-quality cameras with cheap lenses and tiny sensors. However, you need not worry because some of the modern DSLRs and mirrorless models also have webcam capability.
You have to do a lot of things to make your camera work as a webcam. But – it is worth going through the trouble if you want to enjoy cinematic background blur, high resolutions, and excellent low light performance during your video calls. You will have to spend a few bucks on some accessories and a capture device. However, it will cost you from less than $100 to $180. The price is almost the same as substandard webcams available for sale on eBay and other online marketplaces. The major difference is that you will get better video quality compared to a webcam.
What to Know Before Buying Anything?
First and foremost, not all digital cameras can work as a webcam for PC. Therefore, you need to verify whether or not your camera qualifies. You can use some point-and-shoot cameras as webcams thanks to the first-party software and drivers installed into them by default.
The best way to determine if you can use your camera as a webcam is to spend some time on Google. You would quickly find if others have had any success in this regard. You must also not ignore weird quirks mentioned by people on various photography forums. Some older models do work as a webcam using the following hardware setup. However, they will not offer the same quality as the newer cameras.
For other cameras, such as Nikon and Canon, you can use any of the several third-party software that has sprung like mushrooms of late. Also, keep in mind that most of these are paid software. There are also free software but we don’t recommend using them for obvious reasons.
For best results, use modern mirrorless cameras that offer clean HDMI output. They are not only futureproof but also compatible with a many camera as webcam software.
You require quite a few accessories if you want to use a mirrorless camera or a DSLR as webcam. The first thing you should buy is a power source considering your camera does not have a power-over-USB Feature. Most people use a dummy battery for their mirrorless or DSLR camera. A dummy battery plugs into the wall but sits in the battery compartment.
All the methods we are going to try also require a mini HDMI-/HDMI-to-HDMI cable or a micro-USB-to-USB cable. Your camera would have most likely come with a USB cable as well. The most effective of all these methods also involves a capture device.
How to Use Digital Camera as Webcam? Use Camera’s Software
The first method on our list is using camera’s software. Before you can use this method, you must ensure that your camera model has built-in webcam functionality. The best way to accomplish this task is to go through the camera manual and the bundled software your camera came with. If your camera has this feature, it would also have the manufacturer’s drivers and software installed for the webcam. Similarly, you can also download the correct software for your particular model from the manufacturer’s website.
After installing the necessary software, connect the camera to your computer using either the USB or HDMI cable, whichever is applicable. Now, the computer should automatically recognize your camera as a webcam. If it does, you can choose the camera as an input device for all the major applications such as Skype, Slack, Google Meet, Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Discord, FaceTime, or Slack.
You must not worry if your camera doesn’t have native support for the webcam. There are many other ways to use to achieve your goal.
Once again, you will learn what to do after a simple search on Google for your camera model. It probably doesn’t have a webcam feature if the tutorials start recommending HDMI cables and capture devices. In this case, the traditional USB cable is not going to work.
It is pertinent to mention that some of the PowerShot and interchangeable lens cameras by Canon can work as a webcam thanks to the EOS Webcam Utility.
How to Use Digital Camera as Webcam? Use a Third-Party App
You can also choose from numerous third-party apps to use your digital camera as a webcam, provided your model is compatible with your preferred app. For example, the Canon camera use as a webcam is possible through Sparkocam, a Windows-only platform. It is compatible with a wide range of Canon cameras and a limited number of Nikon cameras as well.
Although Sparkocam is not the perfect solution for your webcam problems yet it is the best webcam app at the moment, especially for Canon camera owners. It is also pricy but gets the job done. It also has separate versions for Nikon and Canon cameras. The one version focuses on the features like filters, green-screen, background blur, and others. The other version supports both the Canon and Nikon. A license for single use will cost you $50. It is $70 if you want the app for both Canon and Nikon.
Sparkocam is the only choice if you own a PC as well as a Canon or Nikon camera. However, we still cannot recommend it because of its problems such as it is full of bloatware besides being bulky. Therefore, it is better to consider the HDMI method before buying Sparkocam.
How can I Use Digital Camera as Webcam on Pc? Use a Capture Device
HDMI is the way to go if you want a professional or serious webcam setup. This particular method turns an uncompressed and raw video into a USB feed after picking it up from your DSLR or mirrorless camera. The quality of video and audio is also matchless. However, you have to need a few more accessories and take a few more steps to make it work.
The first thing you need is a capture device such as an external USB, cards, or recorders. It enables your pc to receive and decode signals coming from your camera. The best thing about using a capture device is that the camera settings won’t be visible on the screen. In simple words, there will be no overlay.
Half of your work is already complete if your camera has an HDMI output. You can also test the HDMI port by connecting your camera to a regular monitor or TV. The port is working properly if you see a “Clean” output mode.
Which Capture Device to Use?
So, what capture device works best when it comes to converting HDMI input to USB feed? The Elgato Cam Link 4K is the most popular and best of these capture devices. Available for around $130, it is a small dongle that is compatible with both PC and Mac. You just need to connect the dongle to both your computer and your camera. Now install the Cam Link’s app on your PC to start using the camera as a webcam.
Elgato has a list of supported cameras which you can check to find if your camera is on that list or not. You should also search the internet to find if others have any success with your particular camera model. The Elgato Cam Link offers 1080p at 60fps as well as 4K video resolution. You can use any HDMI device to convert your camera to a webcam. However, Elgato Cam Link is not only cheaper but specially designed for this purpose as well.
The following video by Elgato explains how to use DSLR as webcam using Elgato Cam Link 4K.
What about the Microphone?
All the digital cameras nowadays come with a microphone. However, built-in camera microphones are not up to the mark. Using them is like not having any sound at all. They also pick a lot of unnecessary noise, resulting in extremely poor audio quality in your videos and calls. Therefore, you need to use an external microphone to put yourself out of your misery.
You also don’t need a fancy or expensive microphone either. Most earbuds or earphones that come with smartphones will do the job just fine.
Use a Tripod or Stand as well
It is also advisable to use a stand or a tripod to eliminate camera shakes during video calls. However, you also need to identify the position of the HDMI output port and AC input before buying a proper tripod.
You can simply use boxes or a pile of books if the camera has a flat base. A small upgrade such as a tripod with a ball head mount will further enhance your experience. Besides, it will help you declutter by providing more room for the cables attached to the underside of the camera.
Sometimes you do need a good webcam for conference calls, interviews, and casual chats with your friends and relatives. We all know that the built-in webcams on your laptops cannot offer the video quality you are looking for. The best solution is to convert your digital camera into a webcam. It will not only offer high resolutions but all the benefits you associate with a good mirrorless or DSLR camera as well.