How to Connect Your Camera to Your Computer for High Quality Video Conferencing

How to install a webcam Turn on your computer and make sure the operating system is loaded. Most webcams have a USB cable connected to them. Plug the USB cable into an available USB port on your computer. ... Newer operating systems, like Windows 8 and Windows 10, should recognize the webcam as connected.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic started, many people have been working from home and struggling to find high-quality webcams. Even if you have a laptop with a built-in webcam, chances are the resolution and colors aren’t great. So, if you own a DSLR, mirrorless, or compact camera, why not put it to use as a high-quality webcam?

Some Canon, Nikon, and Sony models can be used as webcams without any extra hardware. In other cases, you’ll need a video capture device. While the setup can be challenging and syncing audio can be difficult, the results can make you look like the most presentable person on your Zoom call.

Before we talk about hardware or apps, you need to mount your camera somewhere. You can use a tripod or GorillaPod to mount it on or next to your desk, but be careful not to knock over your expensive camera. If you want something sturdier, you can clamp or screw a camera to your desk. You might need a USB Type-C or HDMI cable depending on your hardware.

The reason you can’t just plug in a camera like it’s a webcam is that most aren’t designed to output video that way. However, some models can stream video via the USB port. Canon has made it easy to use its recent DSLR or mirrorless cameras as webcams thanks to a new app designed for that purpose. Setup is relatively simple; you just need to download and install the beta software, connect your compatible Canon camera with a USB cable, turn it on, set it to movie mode, and adjust the exposure and focus as you want.

Nikon doesn’t have a webcam utility, but you can use a Windows-only app called SparkoCam. It supports newer Canon and Nikon cameras, and setup is similar; you just install the app and plug in your camera. There’s a free version, but it has an ugly watermark, so you’ll need to pay $50 for a Canon or Nikon license.

The most expensive method is using a USB capture card. These devices can take the HDMI signal from your camera and convert it to a streaming USB signal. The benefit is that they work on more cameras and on both Macs and PCs, plus they can use the internal or external microphone from your camera, so you’ll get better quality, and the audio will stay in sync.

The Elgato Cam Link 4K is well-supported and relatively cheap at $129. The $100 Iogear also works well, and if you want more bells and whistles, check out Blackmagic Design’s $295 ATEM Mini. To set up a USB capture card, you should follow the manufacturer’s instructions, but normally you just need to install the included software, plug your camera into the capture card, then plug the capture card into your USB port on your computer.

Using your mirrorless or DSLR camera as a webcam can take a lot of trouble and possible expense, so is it worth it? It was for the author of the article because they had the equipment and enjoyed dabbling with gadgets. If you’re willing to put in the effort, you’ll look better than anybody else in your video conference, and that’s always a plus.

So, if you’re struggling with low-quality webcams and have a DSLR, mirrorless, or compact camera, follow these tips to elevate your video conferencing game.