Maybe you're trying to set up a home office, but when you went online to buy one of the best webcams, you've found that they're all sold out. It's a problem many consumers are facing, but for many, there's a fairly easy solution: Use your camera as a webcam.
Yes, your trusty DSLR or mirrorless camera that's gathering dust now that your vacation has been cancelled can be repurposed as a webcam for all those Zoom and Skype calls. And, because your typical camera will have a much larger image sensor than most webcams, your video streams will look a lot better.
While you can use your phone as a webcam, many people can't spare their phone to be used just for a single purpose. That's where your camera comes in; in many cases, all you have to do is plug your camera into your laptop or desktop via USB, and run a program.
If you plan on using your camera as a webcam, we also recommend investing in a tripod, so you don't have to prop your camera on a stack of books.
Below are a few ways to use your camera as a webcam, from a universal app to manufacturer-specific apps.
How to use your camera as a webcam
In many cases, you can use your camera as a webcam by plugging it into your PC via USB, and then using software such as SparkoCam to allow the best video chat apps, such as Zoom, to access your camera. However, Canon, Fujifilm, Olympus, and Panasonic have all released their own apps, which may work better if you have a compatible model.
Windows users who own a Canon or Nikon camera will find SparkoCam to be a quick one-stop solution. This software supports a wide range of Canon and Nikon cameras, and lets you add effects, such as animations, face accessories, and green-screens. This app only works on Windows machines, but it's compatible with Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8, and Windows 10.
SparkoSoft offers several versions of SparkoCam (starting prices listed): SparkoCam for Canon ($49.95), SparkoCam for Nikon ($49.95); SparkoCam Pro ($69.95), and SparkoCam ($39.95). SparkoCam Pro offers support for both Canon and Nikon Cameras, while SparkoCam will put a watermark on Canon and Nikon camera streams.
Canon: Includes EOS-1D X Mark III, 1D X Mark II, 7D Mark II, 6D Mark II, 5D Mark IV, EOS 90D, EOS 80D, EOS 850D, 800D, EOS 750D, 77D, Canon 5DS, Canon 5DS R, EOS R, EOS RP, EOS M6 Mark II, EOS M200, M50, PowerShot G7X Mark III, PowerShot G5X Mark II, EOS T8i, T7i, T7, T6, T6i, T6s, T5i, EOS Rebel SL3, SL2, SL1
Nikon: D850, D810, D780, D750, D500, D7500, D7200, D5600, D5500, D6, D5, D4s, Z6, Z7
For Mac users, Cascable looks to be a good option for those who want to use their cameras as a webcam. Cascable Pro Webcam is a beta program, so there may be unexpected bugs.
If you're connecting your camera via Wi-Fi, it should work with most Canon, Fujifilm, Nikon, Olympus, Panasonic and Sony cameras with Wi-Fi (here's a complete list). If you're connecting via USB, Cascable should work with most Canon and Nikon cameras. However, the company recommends that your Mac should be running macOS 10.15 Catalina.
Cascable is free to try, but after two minutes, a video overlay will be applied to your stream, and certain features are not available. A full license costs $30.
Canon released a beta utility that allows you to use select Canon DSLRs, mirrorless cameras, and PowerShot cameras as a webcam; compatible cameras include the EOS Rebel SL2, SL3, T6, T7, EOS 80D, EOS 90D, the PowerShot GX5 II, GX7 III, and SX70HS. And, it works with both Windows 10 and Mac systems.
Download Canon EOS Webcam Utility Beta
Fujifilm released the Fujifilm X Webcam app, which is a Windows 10-only program at the moment, but works with the Fujifilm GFX100, GFX 50S, GFX 50R, X-H1, X-Pro2, X-Pro3, X-T2, X-T3, and X-T4 cameras. Firmware updates for the X-T200 and the X-A7 will now let you use those cameras, too. Fujifilm also said that its software will work with Macs starting in mid-July.
Download Fujifilm X Webcam
Owners of the Olympus E-M1X, E-M1, E-M1 Mark II, E-M1 Mark III and the E-M5 Mark II can use the Olympus OM-D Webcam beta software in conjunction with a PC to use those cameras as a webcam. Sorry, there's no Mac support at this time.
Download Olympus OM-D Webcam beta
While Panasonic's existing Lumix Tether app already let you control some of the company's cameras from your laptop or desktop, a new beta version of the app (Windows only) lets you view a livestream from the camera, which you can pass through to a videoconferencing app of your choice. The Lumix Tether beta app is compatible with the DC-GH5, DC-G9, DC-GH5S, DC-S1, DC-S1R, and DC-S1H cameras.
Download Panasonic Lumix Tether beta