Power Your Video Chat and Broadcasts By Using a DSLR as a Webcam
In the past few decades, webcams capable of recording high-quality footage have made the world a more connected place by enabling online video calling and chat.
These cameras also make it possible to stream or record presentations, tutorials, and other forms of visual content.
Although these cameras are incredibly easy to use, they lack certain advanced options that are standard on a professional DSLR camera. This then begs the question:
Can You Use a DSLR Camera as a Webcam? The short answer is, yes.
However, it involves a bit more than simply plugging your digital camera into your computer and firing up a video chat.
In this article, we look at some of the advantages you stand to gain by using a professional DSLR camera as your webcam, and the different ways you can set up to make it possible.
A webcam simply cannot match the capability of a DSLR camera to produce high-definition video broadcasts with vivid detail.
This is down to the following capabilities of a DSLR camera:
- You Can Fine-Tune Video Settings: With a webcam, controlling the aperture, exposure or ISO settings is out of the question, yet you can set these easily on a DSLR. Adjusting these settings will result in better quality video output.
- Higher Resolution: DSLR cameras let you record your videos in much higher resolution than is possible with a webcam. As a result of the higher level of detail, videos that you capture with a DSLR are more visually appealing.
- Better Sound Recording: Besides offering the ability to attach an external microphone, a DSLR camera features a better built-in microphone than that of a webcam. This provides higher quality audio reproduction and reduces the amount of background noise recorded.
Some DSLR camera models cannot work as webcams. It is important to find out if your digital camera supports this option before you proceed to the steps below.
Newer Nikon and Canon cameras offer this feature, with many even having their own dedicated webcam software.
If you choose to use a digital camera as your webcam, we recommend that you do not rely on the built-in battery, as the power source as it could shut down during your chat or live broadcast.
Always stream or record with your camera’s power supply plugged in to a main outlet.
Another thing to remember before you try to use a DSLR as a webcam is to confirm that your video and camera drivers are properly installed and updated to the newest versions.
There are two main ways to convert your digital camera into a high-resolution, configurable webcam. They are:
You can begin the process of transforming your DSLR camera into a webcam by downloading and installing an application known as SparkoCam on your Windows PC.
This application picks any compatible camera connected to your computer and creates a virtual webcam that your chat program can use.
To be certain that SparkoCam functions properly, you should have the following as a minimum: 4 Gigabytes of RAM, an Intel Pentium processor and at least Direct X 9.0c.
You may then follow the steps below to install and use the application:
- Download the Sparko software installer and run the SparkoCamSetup.exe located within the installer package. This will launch a wizard. Follow all the steps to complete installation of SparkoCam.
Once the software is successfully installed, plug the USB cable of your camera into the computer.
- Turn on your camera. If your computer recognizes the attached camera, you should see a system tray notification on your computer screen or a pop-up window like the one below that shows the installation progress of the new device.
If this window or the notification does not appear, do not be alarmed. They are not mandatory. Simply follow the next steps.
You should also keep in mind that you may receive a software utility program for your DSLR camera shipped along with the device.
This utility is not required for SparkoCam to work, so you may close it and do the next steps.
- Navigate to the start menu and open the SparkoCam app. On the main interface, click the Device tab and choose Nikon Camera by clicking the check box. If your DSLR camera is a Canon, select Canon Camera.
SparkoCam automatically picks up your device if there is only one camera connected to your computer. However, if there are several devices installed, you will have to select your camera from a list.
- Now that you have your DSLR camera set up as a webcam, it is ready to use in your favorite streaming or chat application. However, to do this, you need to make sure that the application identifies SparkoCam as its video source.
For example, we will look at the popular chat application, Skype. To use your Canon or Nikon digital camera as a webcam, open Skype’s Settings.
In the resulting dialog, select the Audio & Video tab, and then choose SparkoCam Virtual Webcam as your camera.
Besides the SparkoCam software above, there are also several hardware solutions that connect your camera to your PC, allowing it to identify the DSLR as a webcam. The most popular are:
- AJA U-TAP|HDMI: The AJA U-TAP is a simple device that converts video signals from HDMI to USB 3.0. The hardware is compatible with Windows, Linux and Mac computers, making it highly versatile. The AJA U-TAP is easy to use. Simply plug the supplied Mini-HDMI cable to the converter and then to your camera. You should then plug the converter into a USB slot on your computer. Your recording software will now offer your DSLR camera as a webcam option.
- CamLink: CamLink is a device that helps you turn a DSLR camera with HDMI output into a webcam. Designed as a USB stick, it has a HDMI slot on one end, where you connect your camera. Camlink works with all Windows and Mac computers with USB 3.0 ports. To get the best results when using this device, you should adjust the video resolution and frame rate on your chat or recording software before you broadcast.
- Kapchr: The Kapchr is another device that, like AJA U-TAP and Kapchr, lets you connect a digital camera to a Windows PC or Mac computer. This powerful device also captures the HDMI output from your camera and interfaces with your computer via the USB port. However, the Kapchr has an extra feature that is not found on the other two devices – a recording interface. The Kapchr has an input that you can use to connect a recording device for your sound input in 16-bit audio at 48 GHz. On the other hand, Kapchr lets you record your video at 350 Mb/sec without the need for special webcam recording tools.
Each of the methods above will make sure that you get the input control and picture quality that a DSLR camera offers when you use it as a webcam.
However, before you can use your webcam or any of the three video-capture devices we have listed above, you need to confirm that your computer’s operating system is updated and that you have the latest device drivers installed.
If you are having trouble getting using a DSLR as a webcam, it is possible that you have wrong, missing or incorrectly installed device drivers.
Driver Support is a service that automatically scans your PC to give an inventory of all connected and installed devices, including digital cameras.
When fully registered, the Driver Support software provides you with a list of all outdated drivers on your computer and downloads drivers automatically, so you do not have to find and install them manually.
Enjoy sharing the best quality videos you can with the power and flexibility of using your DSLR camera as a webcam. For the best results, Download Driver Support software today, and update to the latest digital camera drivers automatically.