How To Use Any DSLR as a Webcam

How To Use Any DSLR as a Webcam

With COVID-19 continuing. to force many of us to work and socialise from home, most of the big camera brands have released official software that turns your DSLR into a webcam that can be used with Zoom, OBS, Facebook Messenger and other apps.

We’ve highlighted some examples of this already, but with so many companies releasing apps, we decided to round up all of the currently available software into one post. We’ll also cover a few viable third-party alternatives to try out in case your brand or specific model isn’t supported by the proprietary stuff.

Setting up

Before we cover the software, let’s talk about hardware. Regardless of which camera or app you use, you’ll need to gather a few things before you get started:

  • Obviously you’ll need the camera, a PC and the correct app, but you also need a USB cable to connect your camera to your PC. The exact type will depend on your camera, but the USB cable that came with your device will work best. If you don’t have that one, consult the user manual or manufacturer’s website to see what you need.
  • You should also consider using a tripod or similar mount to steady your camera.
  • If you’re after the best possible image, seek out available how-to guides for getting the best video quality out of your specific camera. You’ll likely find lens and accessory recommendations, too.

One last thing to note: Many of the apps listed here are still in beta. Expect minimal extra features, limited compatibility (we’ll note any major exceptions) and, in some cases, buggy performance. We’ve also noted if an app has extra requirements like installing additional software or updating your camera’s firmware.

With those caveats out of the way, let’s move onto the software.

Sony (Windows 10)

We’ll start with Sony’s new Imaging Edge webcam app, since it just came out. The software is pretty standard, though it does allow some cameras to charge over USB while connected to your PC, which is an uncommon feature. The software only works on Windows 10, so Mac users will need to try a third-party solution instead (we’ll suggest a couple at toward the end of the list).

Download links and a list of supported cameras are available here, and a setup walkthrough can be found here.

Canon (Windows and Mac)

If you have a newer Canon EOS or PowerShot camera, then Canon’s EOS Webcam beta utility is probably your best bet. The app released for Windows earlier this year, but a recent update expanded support to Mac as well.

We have a guide for downloading and installing the app on Windows. Mac owners will find a similar walkthrough on Canon’s website.

Canon’s official list of compatible cameras and all related download links are available here.

Fujifilm (Windows and Mac)

Fujifilm’s X Webcam app is free to download, though some users may find its support a bit limited. The utility is available for Windows 10 and Mac, but only a few of Fujifilm’s newest cameras are compatible. It also only works with a select list of video apps, but most of the popular ones like Zoom, Google Meet, Skype, and OBS are covered.

Full compatibility information, download links and setup instructions are available on Fujifilm’s website.

GoPro (Mac)

GoPro’s app is still in beta and pretty barebones, but it at least turns your GoPro HERO8 Black into a webcam on Mac. A Windows version is in the works but not currently available. You also need to manually install beta firmware on your camera, but our guide will walk you through the entire setup process.

Nikon (Windows)

Nikon’s beta webcam utility is another Windows-only app. The official download page includes installation steps and lists all supported camera models. Nikon also has a nice live streaming guide with tips on maximizing your camera’s video quality.

Olympus (Windows)

Olympus’ OM-D Webcam Beta is, once again, only out for Windows 10. Camera support is limited to just five OM-D camera models: E-M1, E-M1X, E-M1 Mark II, E-M1 Mark III and the E-M5 Mark II. Olympus also chose to make its app only support video recording, so you’ll need use your PC’s built-in microphone or set up an external one if you want to be able to stream/record your voice.

You can download the OM-D Webcam Beta from Olympus’ website. The page also shows you how to install and configure the app, and offers tips for recording audio — though our guide on starting a podcast can help with that, too.

Panasonic (Windows and Mac)

Panasonic’s Lumix Tether already let users connect their cameras to their Windows or Mac PCs for tethered shooting (during which your PC acts as an external display for viewing photos immediately after you take them), but the app now includes a Live View mode for streaming. It only works with six Panasonic cameras — the DC-GH5, DC-G9, DC-GH5S, DC-S1, DC-S1R and DC-S1H — but should work with any streaming or video chatting apps.

Download links and an installation walkthrough are available here.

Third-party apps (Windows and Mac)

Almost every big-name camera brand has its own webcam app by now, but you don’t have to rely on first-party software if you don’t want to — especially considering the apps listed above only support specific cameras, and in some cases are Mac or Windows-exclusive.

If none of the above apps will work for your camera, here are a couple of third-party options that might do the trick:

  • Sparkocam (Windows): Only supports Canon and Nikon cameras, but works with older models not included in either company’s webcam apps. The free version of Sparkocam displays a watermark over the video, but you can remove it with a purchase of the premium version ($100 for a 1-year licence, or $140 for lifetime access).
  • CamTwist (Mac): CamTwist is free to download and should work with a variety of cameras. Unfortunately, it won’t work with 64-bit programs, so overall app support is limited. Still, it’s worth trying if this your only option.

Use a capture card

For the sake of completeness, there’s one more way you can use your DSLR as a webcam: with an external capture card. This will probably work even for cameras that aren’t supported by any of the apps we’ve listed above. Your PC should automatically detect the video source once you have everything plugged in.

Unfortunately, using a capture card is a more expensive solution — you’ll need the card itself, as well as the proper HDMI and/or USB cables to hook everything up. The cables won’t cost much, but decent capture cards start around $250.

That said, $250 for a capture card is a lot less than it will cost you to buy a new DSLR just to use it as a webcam. That said, you probably have a smartphone. Why not use that as your webcam if your older DSLR isn’t up to the task?

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