How to Use a DSLR as a Webcam

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Updated September 12, 2022

When people conjure an image of a webcam, most people picture either a small, peeping eye built into the top of their computer or some round, security-camera-style plugin device. However, most fail to consider that the best webcams can come in other forms. A little-known piece of knowledge is that with the right software, you can figure out how to use a DSLR as a webcam to boost overall image quality. Below, we’ll show you how.

KEY TAKEAWAYS:

  • Most major camera brands offer streaming software that to downloaded that allows you to use the DSLR as a webcam.
  • Before connecting your camera, ensure it’s compatible with your computer’s operating system.
  • Both USB and HDMI cables work as ways to connect your camera as a video source.

And don’t get it twisted; DSLRs aren’t the only devices that can act as a webcam. We have more guides explaining how to use a camcorder as a webcam. We also have resources for built-in models, like our piece on how to use a camera on a Chromebook.

Insider Tip

Many modern DSLR cameras now have a dedicated webcam app that users can download from their computers.

How to Connect DSLR as Webcam

Webcam users often find that their built-in cameras just aren’t cutting it. Because of this, many look to other devices to increase their video quality. Figuring out how to set up an external webcam on Windows 10 or any other computer OS requires research. DSLRs specifically demand specific cables and streaming software. However, the good news is that the process is straightforward once you have all that down.

And don’t forget that many devices can transition into great webcams. There are even ways how to use a GoPro as a webcam, and, of course, we’ll show you how!

STEP 1 Check Your Cameras Webcam Software Compatibility

First, always check for compatibility. Some cameras are only compatible with specific computer operating systems. For example, both Nikon and Canon EOS works with PC and Mac, while Sony works only with PC.

STEP 2 Download the Webcam Software

Download the correct software that corresponds with your camera’s brand on your computer: EOS Webcam Utility (Canon), Imaging Edge Webcam (Sony), Webcam Utility Software (Nikon)

STEP 3 Check Webcam Output and Plug in the Camera

You’ll need a USB or HDMI output port to connect to your computer. If you have both, remember that HDMI produces better video quality than a USB cable connection. Once you’ve established which connection you’ll use, plug the camera into your computer.

STEP 4 Set Up Video Feed

In your camera’s video settings, turn it to movie mode. Then, open a video streaming app, like Zoom, Google Meet, or Windows Teams. Test the visual quality and, if necessary, plug in an external microphone to enable audio.

Warning

Using USB connections rather than an HDMI cable will result in lower visual quality.

STAT: EOS Webcam Utility is compatible with more than 40 of Canon’s digital cameras. (source)

How to Use a DSLR as a Webcam FAQs

Does it cost money to get webcam streaming software for your digital camera?

All major camera companies' webcam software versions come free to download and use.

Do DSLR cameras have audio output?

Some digital cameras have a built-in microphone, but most have an audio jack to plug in a headset.

Is it possible to use any DSLR as a webcam?

Most modern DSLR cameras will work as a webcam. You only need to figure out what type of computer OS it's compatible with.
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