How to Use a Camera as a Webcam

Learn how to turn a digital camera into a working webcam

What to Know

  • Some point and shoot and most DSLR and action cams can be used as webcams.
  • Use the webcam software provided by your camera manufacturer if your camera has a USB output.
  • Use a HDMI to USB capture device if your camera provides a clean HDMI video output and doesn’t have webcam software.

This article explains how to use a camera as a webcam, including instructions for using the USB connection on your camera along with webcam software and instructions for using the HDMI output on your camera with a capture device.

The examples in this article specifically use a Canon Eos Rebel T6, Canon’s webcam software, and an HDMI capture device with open broadcaster software (OBS).

Can I Use a Normal Camera as a Webcam?

You can use a normal digital camera as a webcam, but not all cameras are suitable for this use. To use a camera as a webcam, it needs to either have a USB port and webcam software from the camera’s manufacturer, or an HDMI port that outputs clean video without any on-screen display (OSD) elements.

If your camera fits one of those categories, then you can use it as a webcam. Some cameras have both a USB port and an HDMI output, which allows you to choose the method of output you'd like to use.

Cameras without these outputs, the necessary webcam software, or the HDMI output includes OSD elements won't be suitable for use as a webcam.

Required Equipment For Using a Camera as a Webcam

To use a camera as a webcam, you’ll need some equipment and software. The specific items that you’ll need to get together will differ depending on whether you’re going to use a USB connection or HDMI connection to output video.

Here are the things you need if you want to use a camera as a webcam:

  • Mount or tripod: The best mount or tripod for using your camera as a webcam will depend on your specific setup. You may want to pick up a small tripod that you can set on your desk, a monopod that clamps onto your desk, or some other mount that will correctly position your camera for use as a webcam.
  • Power source: You can just run your camera on battery power, but it’s likely to drain very quickly as the battery isn’t designed for taking continuous video over long periods of time. If your camera doesn’t have a wired power input option, check to see if a dummy battery is available that lets you plug your camera into power.
  • Capture device: If you’re making use of the HDMI output on your camera, you’ll need a capture device to connect your camera to your computer. Look for an HDMI capture device that connects to your computer via USB and is designed for live video.
  • Software: If you’re using the USB connection on your camera, you’ll need to check with the manufacturer of the camera to obtain their webcam software. If you’re using a capture device, you can either use your capture device as the video input for your video conferencing app or capture the video in streaming software like OBS.

How to Use a DSLR as a Webcam Using Webcam Software

If you want to use your camera as a webcam, the first thing you need to do is check if it has a USB output port, and whether the manufacturer provides webcam software. The software may have been provided with the camera when you bought it, or you may be able to download it from the manufacturer’s website.

First try searching on the manufacturer’s website, or search the internet for “(your camera model) webcam software.” If you find webcam software from the manufacturer, then you can download it, install it, and connect your camera to your computer via USB with the software running.

With the manufacturer’s webcam software running, and your camera connected via USB, your computer should then recognize the camera as a capture device. You can then open your video conferencing app or streaming software and select your camera as the video input.

If the manufacturer of your camera doesn’t provide webcam software, and there are no third party solutions, then you can’t use the camera as a USB webcam.

The specific process of setting a normal camera up as a webcam differs from one manufacturer to another, but you'll go through the same general steps. Here’s an example using a Canon Eos Rebel T6:

  1. Download and install the webcam software for your camera.

    If the webcam software installer instructs you to reboot your computer, make sure to do that before you proceed.

    Download on the Canon webcam software page
  2. Connect your camera to your computer via USB.

    Connecting a USB cable to a DSLR camera.
  3. Set your camera to video mode, then turn on your camera.

    Video mode on a DSLR camera
  4. Open your video conferencing app or streaming software, then navigate to the video input settings.

    Voice and Video in Discord settings
  5. Select your camera from the list of sources. Your camera is now working as a webcam.

    A DSLR working as a webcam in Discord.

How to Use a Normal Camera as a Webcam Using HDMI

If your camera doesn’t have webcam software or a USB data port, but it does have an HDMI port that outputs clean video, you will need a capture device. Capture devices take a video input via HDMI and output data to a computer via USB. The video coming through the capture device can then be used in place of a webcam, output to streaming software, or recorded.

Here’s how to use a DSLR as a webcam with a capture device:

  1. Plug an HDMI cable into your camera.

    Connecting HDMI to a DSLR.
  2. Connect the HDMI cable to your capture device.

    Connecting an HDMI cable to a video capture device.
  3. Plug the capture device into a USB port on your computer.

    Connecting a video capture device to a laptop via USB.
  4. Set your camera to video mode and turn on your camera.

    Video mode on a DSLR camera

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  5. Open your streaming software or video conferencing app, then select USB Video as your video source. Your camera is now operating as a webcam.

    A DSLR outputting video to OBS as a webcam.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Which digital cameras can be used as webcams? Most digital cameras that have a video mode and a USB port can work as a webcam. Some models, such as the Fujifilm X-A7, integrate with programs like Zoom and Skype, so you don't need to use any additional software.
  • Can you use a webcam as a security camera? Yes. Thanks to software like iSpy, webcams can double as security cameras. Therefore, you can use your digital camera as a security webcam.
  • Can I use my phone's camera as a webcam? Yes. You can use your Android phone as a webcam for PC. You can also use your iPhone as a webcam.
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