Looking to use your DSLR for video chats and work calls? You’re in the right place. We’ve scoured the internet to find some of the best options out there. The good news here is that there’s usually a pretty simple answer for most cameras.
With just a few tweaks, you’ll have a powerful video conferencing tool at your fingertips. You’ll be live streaming with incredible video quality before you know it! Just so you know, many of the tips on this page also apply to mirrorless cameras.
Whether you’re using a digital single lens reflex (DSLR) camera or a more modern mirrorless, we’ve got you covered!
Advantages of Using a DSLR Camera for Video Calls
The events of the past two years have made video conference calls a regular fact of life (for better or worse!) An increasing number of people are looking to up their game when chatting on Microsoft Teams, Google Meet, or Zoom.
In this section, we explore some of the main reasons that people decide to switch to a more premium capture device for their calls.
Better Video Quality
It’s pretty obvious, but picture quality is probably the main reason that most people make the switch. If you’ve spent any time calling on your average computer, chances are you’ve realised that your laptop’s camera leaves a lot to be desired.
A DSLR webcam is a different story. These devices are built from the ground up to deliver some of the best quality video available for live streams and the like. With the right software installed – and a small amount of tweaking in your settings – you’ll be good to go!
In addition to better image quality, your new webcam can also offer an increased level of control than you may be used to. This depends on the webcam utility you’re using, but most camera manufacturers these days offer pretty good solutions.
You’ll be able to tweak your high quality webcam to your heart’s content!
Less Stuttering and Dropped Frames
As a general rule, using a DSLR as a webcam means you’ll be dealing with less stuttering overall. This is because many DSLR cameras can record footage with a much higher FPS than your average webcam. You’ll enjoy buttery-smooth video for your calls.
Provided you have a decent internet connection, that is; a call with a slow connection will suffer in quality no matter how good your camera is!
Better Low-Light Performance
A lot of the time, you won’t be video calling in ideal lighting environments. Oppressive fluorescent lighting, overhead lamps, and dim rooms can all affect the quality of your calls. A decent DSLR or mirrorless camera with a good lens usually does a much better job of adapting to lighting changes than a traditional webcam.
Using DSLR Cameras as Webcams – What You May Need
In this section, we explore what you may need when setting up your DSLR camera for video conferencing. You won’t need all of these as it all comes down to the specific camera you’re using and the approach you choose when setting up your gear.
In short, these are the main ways people set up a DSLR webcam:
- By using a capture card like this one
- Using their camera manufacturer’s webcam/ streaming software
- Using other software that works more universally
We discuss the details below!
Your Digital Camera
No points for guessing this first one! You’ll need a decent DSLR or mirrorless camera to make this process worthwhile. Make sure you’re familiar with your camera’s settings and know how to use its HDMI output features.
When streaming video with your camera, you’ll have to switch to video mode or find the appropriate ‘streaming’ option in your settings.
A USB Capture Card
You’ll often have to pick up a capture card like this one to allow your camera to communicate with your desktop PC or laptop. In short, a capture card lets your computer and camera talk to each other via your DSLR’s HDMI output.
HDMI to Micro HDMI Cable
In most cases, you’ll want a micro to full-size HDMI cable to connect your camera to your PC. Double-check the socket on your camera to make sure. Some older Sony and Canon models may use a proprietary cable that you’ll need to source through them.
If you’re using extras like an external microphone, you’ll also need a usb cable.
This one isn’t strictly necessary, but it can really take things up a notch. Depending on the age of your DSLR, your internal microphone might let down the quality of your streams. External microphones can be picked up reasonably cheaply and give your streams the crisp audio they deserve.
A Tripod or Mount
Another piece of additional hardware worth considering is a decent tripod/ mount for your camera. Most DSLR cameras are quite heavy and will need some hands-free support to function properly as a webcam.
Check out our guide to camera tripods if you’re unsure where to start.
As mentioned earlier, you’ll need some form of extra software in order to use your camera as a webcam. Make sure that any option you consider works with your operating system and will actually play nicely with programs like Zoom or Microsoft Teams.
We list a few options below.
SparkoCam is a webcam app that works with a broad range of DSLR cameras. It comes with a suite of tools that make it easier to control your camera with your PC. There are also some fun gimmicks like face filters and green-screen modes thrown in for good measure.
This option is for PC users only and costs $70 a year (free options below!).
Using a Mac? The program CamTwist makes it possible to run live streams using your digital camera. It’s designed to work with HDMI capture cards and can be downloaded for free. You’ll also have access to a ton of different effects and visual tools which is a great bonus.
Another option for Windows users is digiCamControl. Expect a suite of tools and effects that make using your DSLR as a webcam a breeze! Just as a head’s up – the settings menu might feel a little fiddly to non-power users but it’s nothing you can’t get used to.
If You’ve Got a Canon DSLR Camera
Want to take advantage of the image quality on your Canon camera? You’ll want their dedicated webcam software.
Canon EOS Webcam Utility
Download here: link
The Canon EOS webcam utility is designed to transform your Canon DSLR into live video powerhouse! Using your digital camera as a webcam doesn’t get much better than this. When downloading the program, you’ll need to provide some info about your camera’s specific model.
Check your camera’s manual if you’re unsure. This lets you download the right drivers so everything runs smoothly from the moment you open the app. When plugging in your camera, you’ll probably have to switch to ‘movie mode’ in your settings menu.
If you’re scratching your head and wondering where to start, this guide might be able to help:
It will talk you through the camera settings, hardware, and other considerations you’ll need to think about.
Use a Fujifilm DSLR as a Webcam
Fujifilm users don’t need to feel left out of the party. The company’s ‘X Webcam’ software works with a ton of their cameras and seems to work very well.
Fujifilm X Webcam
Download here: link
This handy bit of software is available for both Windows and Mac operating systems and can interface with your camera via a USB or HDMI connection. You’ll be able to use your DSLR for Zoom, Google Meet, Skype, and more.
Just make sure you’re using Edge or Chrome as your web browser of choice.
Overwhelmed? This guide from Fujifilm may help.
Use a Nikon DSLR as a Webcam
Nikon users should install the Nikon Webcam Utility to use their DSLR as a webcam
Nikon Webcam Utility
Download here: link
This live streaming app is available on both MacOs and Windows and has been tested on all of the video conferencing apps you care about. When connecting your Nikon camera to your PC, make sure you’ve selected ‘PC Mode’ and disconnected your USB cable from any other hardware.
A note for Mac users – this doesn’t work in Safari and you’ll have to use Chrome or Edge.
Panasonic Live Streaming App
Using a Lumix camera? There’s a beta version of Panasonic’s webcam app available that you might like to try.
LUMIX Webcam Software (Beta)
Download here: link
Say goodbye to your laptop’s webcam and boost your video quality with this handy software from Panasonic. Make sure you’ve put your camera in ‘PC Tether’ mode before plugging in your USB. Use the link provided above to double-check compatibility and setup support.
If you’ve already got a powerful camera lying around, setting it up as a webcam can be easier than you might expect. Our main advice is to double-check whether you actually need a capture card before ordering one.
Some setups need them, others don’t. Check the guidance from your manufacture online if you’re unsure. Whichever approach you go with, we hope it serves you well during your video calls and streams!