With web cameras in limited supply and the need for one increasing because of the rapid demand for remote work during the pandemic, you may be looking at your digital camera and pondering if it's possible to connect it to your PC and gain greater video quality compared to a webcam. The basic explanation is that most cameras don't support this feature on their own. Yes, they have USB connections, but additional software might be required to deliver a digital video signal to videoconferencing applications like Zoom.
The excellent news is that most major camera manufacturers have stepped up their game to fill the gap. You could download software for certain cameras like Sony or Cannon and utilize them as a webcam regardless if you have a Windows laptop or a Mac computer. If you're using a Mac, you'll most likely need Chrome as your browser because Safari does not allow you to select anything other than Mac's integrated FaceTime camera. For machines that aren't compatible, you could add additional hardware to your system, as well as install software or attempt hacks.
Cameras, including those in phones, boast resolution and lens specs, but what about laptops? Hardly. There's a good reason why computer manufacturers don't disclose much about the cameras integrated into the bezels of their displays. The majority of these cams are of poor quality, with small sensors and low-cost lenses. Sure, they're adequate for basic videoconferencing, but they're not really outstanding.
Although you could just purchase a stand-alone web camera that plugs through USB, a DSLR or mirrorless camera would provide far greater production value. A few tweaks are required to have this sort of camera be detected as a web camera by your PC, but the effort is well worth it for the increased resolution, far improved low-light performance, and dramatic background blur. To do so, you would need some special hardware or software for your digital camera and PC to work together. Luckily, utilizing your digital camera as a webcam is a simple process if you have the right equipment.
The first step is to see if your camera allows this functionality directly via the manufacturer's software or drivers. Looking through the instructions and any accompanying software is the best approach to manage this. You might also be able to locate software downloads for your specific model on the website of your camera manufacturer. A quick online search for your camera model and webcam will tell you all you need to know. If instructions start recommending capture cards and HDMI adapters, it’s doubtful that you can use this digital camera as a USB webcam.
Your camera must be identified as a capture device by your Windows or Mac PC once you've downloaded and installed all necessary drivers. You may then use it as an input device in any program you wish, such as Zoom or Facetime. Don't worry if your camera doesn't support webcam mode. This function is supported by some action cameras and compact point-and-shoot cameras, but not by the majority of mirrorless and DSLR cameras.
Most PCs are unable to interpret video from a camera's HDMI output. If your machine has an HDMI port, there is most likely an output port as well. Furthermore, although cameras have USB connections, they do not often provide a crisp video signal through these. You would need a device that switches the HDMI feed from your camera to a USB output that your PC recognizes as a linked webcam. The benefit of this configuration is that you could use any HDMI device as an input, from a camera to a gaming console, and also the output could be used for anything from video conferencing to live broadcasting.
However, do note that the device limits the video quality that your machine gets. Even if your camera is capable of shooting 4K video, the USB adapter might only support 1080p output. Considering that so many live streams and videoconferences are limited to 1080p, this is unlikely to be a major issue. There are a variety of hardware devices that can accomplish this. Elgato Cam Link 4K is one example.
These days, webcams are hard to come by. These unexpected necessities are sold out at major shops, with leftover stock demanding exorbitant rates from third-party vendors. Nevertheless, all is not lost. You could adopt a similar setup with your digital camera.
Here's how to set up your digital camera as a webcam:
Great web cameras might be difficult to come by. Luckily, several digital cameras can be used as improvised webcams. By using your digital camera as a webcam, you'll notice a significant improvement in video quality in your virtual meetings.