If you’re looking for ways to use a DSLR as a webcam, then you might want to continue reading.
DSLR cameras produce both high quality photos and videos and they can be perfect for live streams, Skype conversations, etc.
You don’t have to be a computer expert to realize that most of the webcams in today’s laptops produce low-quality video footage.
Even if you spend a couple thousand dollars on a powerful, insanely fast laptop, it might still be equipped with a low quality camera that doesn’t capture good video or audio footage.
But what can be done?
Well, instead of spending more money on a separate webcam, your DSLR camera will be able to take on that role.
I will walk you step by step on how you can set up your camera.
Method #1 – Use Elgato or MAGEWELL capture device with OBS
This method can be used on mostly all DSLR cameras that have an HDMI out port whether it’s a Canon, Nikon or Sony.
If you are interested in getting the best video and audio quality, you will a capture device.
There are numerous ones on the market which come at different prices. I personally like the Elgato. It is excellent and it allows me to get an excellent video and audio quality.
I can also recommend the MAGEWELL capture device which also does provide great results.
You might be asking why do you need additional hardware.
Well because DSLR cameras, as well as GoPro cameras, haven’t been designed to be used as webcams.
The video capture device will convert the video and audio signals from the camera into a digital format that is recognized by the computer.
The capture devices can capture videos from the DSLR with a resolution of up to 1080p at 60 frames per second.
The good thing about this is the ability to save the captured videos on your computer and also the ability to use it with different applications such as Skype, Twitch, Zoom, Periscope or Facebook to create live streams.
Now if you don’t feel like investing in additional hardware, there is a program which captures videos from DSLR cameras, but with low quality.
I will talk about it later on. (in Method #2).
The video capture devices are specially designed to capture video and audio footage from various devices (including DSLR cameras) and they eliminate any type of delay.
Therefore, if you stream your gaming sessions or your Youtube videos live on the internet, your viewers will enjoy a lag-free experience.
Let’s talk about these two video capture devices in more detail.
The Elgato device has one HDMI input port and one USB 3.0 output port. It is compatible with most operating systems such as MAC OS X, Windows, Linux and Chrome OS.
It is very small in size so it won’t occupy a lot of space on your desk and it will give you the opportunity to enjoy state-of-the-art video and audio streaming quality.
Important: Make sure your USB port is 3.0
The Magewell device is also very small in dimensions and it features an HDMI port and a USB 3.0 port.
It is also compatible with Windows, MAC OS X and Linux operating systems and it supports video resolution up to 1080p 60fps.
This product comes with a one year warranty and doesn’t require you to install any third party software or drivers.
Keep in mind that you can use it for a wide variety of cameras and its small size makes it portable and easy to use at the same time.
If you don’t feel like investing that much money yet, but still want a decent video quality, then go for the Elgato.
How to set up your video capture device with your DSLR camera
Important: Just before you buy anything, take a look at your camera and make sure you have a mini USB port and a mini HDMI out port (check the below photo).
This guide works with both Windows and Mac computers.
Once you have your capture device and the necessary cables, follow these steps:
- Connect your DSLR to the computer using a USB cable. This is necessary to continuously charge your DSLR, you can alternatively use a 5V charger. I use this one.
- Connect the mini HDMI cable from your camera to the HDMI port on your video capture device. I use this one.
- Connect the USB cable of your video capture device to your computer. Make sure you use a USB 3.0 for faster data transfers.
- Download the OBS free software which allows you to adjust the video recording settings. You’re going to need it later for setting up live streaming as well.
- Power up your DSLR and in the Settings menu, choose either 1080p at 30fps or 60fps, depending on your preferences. Also, disable OSD (on screen display) to prevent the date and time to show up in your videos.
- After you have installed OBS software, inside OBS, go to Sources, Add then Video Capture Device. Choose the capture device and select Custom Resolution (1280×720 at 30fps or 60fps) for the preferred resolution.
- In the Audio settings, also choose the video capturing device to record your audio while using your camera as a webcam.
- If you’d like to use your DSLR with Skype, go to Skype, Settings, Audio &Video and select your video capture device for both the Video and Audio settings. This allows you to use your DSLR as a webcam while you chat with friends on Skype.
- If you’re interested in making live streams, you can also use OBS software. Go to Settings, Broadcast Settings and choose “live streaming”. If you’d like to simply record video footage and save it in your computer, you can choose “file output only” from the same section.
These are the steps required to transform your camera into a high-quality webcam for streaming and video calls with friends.
You might want to invest in a tripod or some sort of tool to hold your camera in place while filming and these can be found widely online at affordable prices.
Additionally, you might also want to use an external microphone for recording audio.
To do that, you’ll have to select “Microphone” in the Audio settings for both OBS and Skype programs.
How to use more than one DSLR camera as a webcam
It is possible to use more than one DSLR camera as a webcam and for that, you need an additional HDMI switch which has 2 or more HDMI inputs.
You might want to use more than one cameras as a webcam if you want to show different angles while recording video footage.
To set up your cameras, plug them into the HDMI inputs of the HDMI switch and plug the HDMI output into the video capturing card.
It is important to note here that you can only see one video feed at a time and you can toggle between them using the HDMI switch.
If you are using this setup with Skype, you might encounter some mirroring, but there’s nothing to worry about as this won’t be visible to the person you’re chatting with.
If you’d love to give this a try, you will need to buy an HDMI switch, a micro HDMI to HDMI cable and one HDMI cable for plugging the switch device to the video capturing card.
Method #2 – DSLR as Webcam with SparkoCam
Some of you might not want to invest in additional hardware at all and this doesn’t mean that you won’t be able to transform your DSLR camera into a webcam.
The SparkoCam software allows you to do just that, but bear in mind that there are some limitations in comparison with using a high-quality video capturing device.
SparkoCam is a free software which can be downloaded and installed on computers that run Windows operating system only. Sparkocam is not available for MAC OS X.
It comes with premium features that can be purchased at prices between $40 and $180. It is ideal for Nikon and Canon DLSR cameras and it offers decent quality results.
First of all, you start by connecting your DSLR camera to your computer using a USB cable. I use a mini USB cable on my Canon EOS 200D. I don’t need to install any Canon webcam software.
Turn on the camera and open SparkoCam. In the Device tab, you should select your own DSLR camera from the list (Canon or Nikon).
If you want to use your camera for Skype, go to Skype settings, audio and video and choose SparkoCam Video from the camera list.
This automatically allows you to use your DSLR as a webcam, without requiring any other action.
You can use your camera for other applications as well, as long as you can select the webcam source from the Settings menu.
To determine whether you should go for this method or buy a video capture device, I’ve created a small list of advantages and disadvantages for the SparkoCam software. Check it out:
- Free to use – this software allows users to explore its features and functionality for free. All that you have to do is to download and install the program into your computer.
- Easy to use – navigating the features of SparkoCam is very easy. You also get plenty of instructions online if you need help with anything.
- Support available – if you need help or you encountered a bug, you are just one email away from professional support from the program manufacturer.
- Adds watermark to the videos – if you are using the free version, every single one of your videos will have a watermark. This can be annoying for some people, but the watermark will be removed if you opt for a paid version.
- Average video quality – since the DSLR is using the USB to send the video signal to your computer then the quality will be very average unlike using a capture device.
- No audio recording for Canon and Nikon cameras – these DSLR cameras can’t use their internal microphone for webcam streaming, so you basically need an external microphone if you want to make video calls over Skype. This can be an annoyance for some, but an external mic isn’t that expensive these days and can provide excellent audio quality.
Although using SparkoCam software limits your video and audio experience, it’s still a great tool to try if you want to use your DSLR camera as a webcam.
This program allows you to select from multiple video recording options, adjusting settings and even adding effects to your clips.
If you are happy with it, you can go for the paid version which adds more features and removes the watermarks.
I have done a similar setup with my GoPro, you can check it here.
I hope that this short article gave you an idea on how you can make the most out of your DSLR and enhance your video streaming experiences.
It is unfortunate that most manufacturers don’t add decent webcams to their laptops.
If you’re a professional YouTuber, gamer or you just make regular video calls on Skype or Facebook to chat with your friends or business partners, using your DSLR camera as a webcam might be something you can take advantage of.
I hope you liked my guide on how to use a DSLR as a webcam, if you have any questions then please feel free to ask in the comments section below 🙂