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Can I use my digital camera as a webcam?

How to use your digital camera as a webcam

Many people now work at least part of their schedule from home and have multiple online meetings every week. Webcams are great for virtual meetings, but many don't provide the same video quality as a digital camera. Luckily, using your digital camera as a webcam is surprisingly easy.

If you want to use your digital camera as a webcam, there are a few things you need to know before setting it up. 

What to know before using your digital camera as a webcam

Why you'd use a digital camera as a webcam

Digital cameras have top-notch video quality; many are capable of recording in 1080p or 4K. And most have numerous accessories that further increase their video capabilities. They're ideal for people who spend most of their day in virtual meetings and those who stream as a hobby or professionally. And they're versatile — you can take them on vacation, too, and capture photos and videos.

Software can enable webcam functions on your digital camera

Not every digital camera has webcam capabilities. Still, many brands have licensed software that lets your camera be used as a webcam.

  • Most Canon EOS cameras are compatible with Canon's webcam software, downloaded from the Canon website.
  • Panasonic has tethering software available on its site that enables digital camera capabilities for its DC-GH5, DC-G9, DC-GH5S, DC-S1, DC-S1R and DC-S1H digital cameras.
  • Sony has Imaging Edge Webcam software available on its website; this software is compatible with nearly 40 Sony digital cameras.
  • Fujifilm, Nikon and Olympus also have software downloads that enable webcam functions for some digital cameras.

The licensed software often has specific system requirements, so it's essential to check the brand's website to ensure it will work with your device. 

If your camera doesn't have licensed software that enables webcam functions, numerous third-party applications can help. Still, researching the software before downloading it is essential, as many third-party applications are loaded with bloatware, using excessive disk space and memory.

Hardware can enable webcam functions on your digital camera

If your camera has a HDMI out port or mini-HDMI out port, you should be able to enable webcam functions using a device that converts the HDMI output to a USB output. Many cameras have clean HDMI features that keep your screen free of camera settings and overlays. If you aren't sure if your camera has clean HDMI overlay settings, read its manual or look it up on the manufacturer's website. 

The Elgato Cam Link 4K is one of the most popular capture cards and is affordable compared with other capture cards. It works with most digital cameras, but not all of them, so check its website to ensure it's compatible with your camera before purchasing.

There are numerous other capture cards, too, some of them cheaper than the Elgato 4K. Read their reviews, though, to ensure others had success with them before buying one.

Consider an external microphone

Although digital cameras offer superior video quality, their audio quality may not be ideal. While they can be pricey, an XLR or USB microphone is an excellent way to improve your sound quality. In some cases, you can plug it directly into your camera, although it will usually need to be plugged into your computer. After connecting a mic to your computer, check your sound settings to ensure it recognizes the correct mic input.

If you don't want to invest in an external mic, a quality pair of headphones with a microphone is a more affordable way to improve your sound quality. Additionally, headphones with mics save you desk space.

Charge, weight and space

Ensure that your digital camera is fully charged before using it as a webcam. Some can plug directly into your computer and charge while in use.

Digital cameras are heavier than webcams, so you'll need a desktop camera stand that can support the weight of your camera. They also take up more room than a webcam, so you'll want to ensure you've cleared off enough desk space for your camera.

Using your digital camera as a webcam FAQ

Can webcams be used as digital cameras?

A. Many webcams have photo features, but the quality isn't as good as a digital camera's. Webcams also lack the portability offered by digital cameras.

Can you use lenses while using your digital camera as a webcam?

A. Yes, if you want to improve the quality of your video further, you can use compatible lenses that enhance close-up video quality.

Which type of camera is better to use as a webcam, DSLR or mirrorless?

A. Mirrorless cameras are usually more compact and lighter than DSLR cameras, making them ideal for those with limited desk space. On the other hand, DSLR cameras have a larger selection of lenses and accessories, making them ideal for those who want the highest-quality video.

What you need to use your digital camera as a webcam

Canon EOS M200 Mirrorless Digital Camera Bundle

This bundle comes with everything you need to use a digital camera as a webcam. The included tripod is small enough to be used on most desks. 

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BlueAVS HDMI to USB Video Capture Card

This affordable card is ideal for those who don't want to spend too much. Many reviewers felt it was comparable to the high-end Elgato capture card.

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Joby GorillaPod Compact Tripod

This is ideal for desktop and on-the-go use. The flexible legs let you perfectly position your camera and even hang it from your desktop shelves. 

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Cody Stewart writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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