Use Your DSLR or Mirrorless Camera As a Webcam
Some of you might wonder how to use DSLR as webcam. You will need to know that there are some definite steps you need to take if you want to use your camera for tools like Skype or online video meetings. Why would you want to use a DSLR or a mirrorless camera as a webcam in the first place? Let’s uncover the reasons and steps regarding how to use DSLR webcam:
1st Reason – Quality
The foremost aim of using DSLR as webcam is quality. No webcam on earth can look as good as the video from say, the beautiful 35 millimeter F2.0 lens. So, the choice of lenses is a significant factor. You also have much more control over picture quality, audio quality, color balance, etc. Also, the quality of your video and audio matters if you are in the photography business, like doing online meetings.
Nothing is more unprofessional than a shaky DSLR webcam with awful crappy audio. I call it S.W.W.A.C.A, Shaky Webcam With Awful Crappy Audio. Don’t want that? So, how can you use a camera as webcam?
First off, you need to be sure that your camera has a mini HDMI port on it. The X series cameras, such as the X-T2, 3, 4 X-H1, X-Pro, all of those have them. Not only do you need an HDMI port, but you also need to be sure that your camera can produce output. The output is popularly called as clean HDMI. This means HDMI that doesn’t have the menu information in it.
You don’t see the camera settings in it. It’s just pure, clean HDMI with zero menus. If you are unsure if your camera has this, do a Google search for your camera model and then put clean HDMI output after that Google search. I can tell you that several X series cameras such as the X-T2, X-T3, X-T4, and X-H1 do offer this feature.
2nd Reason – Lasting Battery
The second thing you need is to find a way to power your camera continuously without using crappy, two-seconds lasting batteries. So, for the X-T series, you can use the battery grip and simply plug that into the camera. Now plug the battery grip into the wall, and you are good to go.
If you don’t have a battery grip, you can get this dummy battery, which plugs into the camera, and then this plugs into the wall. The bottom line is that you cannot be using batteries alone as you don’t want them running out in the middle of your video webcast.
3rd Reason – HDMI Cable
The third thing you’re going to need is a mini HDMI to regular HDMI cable. Probably the best bang for the buck is the Amazon Basics or Cable Matters HDMI cables.
4th Reason – HDMI Capture Device
The fourth thing that you are going to need is an HDMI video capture device. This is a device that is connected between your camera and the computer. It basically takes the signal from the camera and translates it such that your computer processes that a webcam is attached to it.
How to use DSLR as Webcam
Once you have the HDMI capture device, connect your camera to the device, and then connect the device to your computer through the USB port. So, now you have your camera connected to your computer via the HDMI capture device.
Next, you need to make some very important setting changes within the camera menu. I am explaining the demo on the Fujifilm X-T3. However, the process is quite similar if you have different cameras.
Power Management – 1st Step to use DSLR as Webcam
The first thing you are want to do is go into your “Power Management” settings. Now make sure that Auto Power Off is set to off. You don’t want the camera powering down in the middle of your webcast.
Video Settings – 2nd Step to use DSLR as Webcam
The next thing you want to check is in the “Video Settings.” Make sure that the “HDMI Output Info Display” is set to off. The reason I had to change cameras was that when I switched it off, it disconnected it from my demo screen. So, I had to use the phone to show the setting.
4K HDMI Standby Quality – 3rd Step to use DSLR as Webcam
The next setting you want to make is 4K HDMI Standby Quality. For that, if you are using the cam link, you should set that to 4K. If you don’t see your camera recognized in your ‘video meeting software’ on your computer, try toggling this setting to FHD. The FHD setting may fix the problem, particularly if it only accepts 1080 input.
I recommend turning on Face or Eye auto-detect. You will find that in your Video Settings; simply have it, Eye Auto. I also like to put the camera in “C,” i.e., continuous auto-focus mode.
The rest of the settings here are basically the same such as exposure, color balance, etc., that you’re already used to. The great thing about it is whatever settings you make on here will carry over into your video webcast.
So, now I’ve connected this studio camera. What I am going to do now is to open up Skype on the computer and see if it recognizes my camera as webcam. Now I’m going to tell you something really cool.
Okay, so I have Skype open right here, inside my meeting software. Whether it’s Skype or Zoom, you have an area where you can select your video source and your audio source.
So, in this case, I’m going to select my video source, and there it is, Cam Link 4K.
I have selected Cam Link 4K, but I could choose a different webcam. If you have followed the article till here, you can see the quality just isn’t as good. But now I’m going to go ahead and switch it back to the Cam Link.
Remember, I have not pressed the record button on the X-T3. It’s not recording anything. It’s not recording to SD. It’s just sitting thereon. So theoretically, I could leave this camera on for hours as long as it’s plugged in, and it’s not set to auto turn off.
Film Sim – 4th Step to use DSLR Camera as Webcam
Alright, now let’s change the Film Sim. Let’s see if we can do that. I’m going to go ahead, and I am going to press on my shortcut for that. And let’s change it to, I don’t know, the black and white one we all love. Alright, now we’re in black and white.
Let’s turn everything on and see if it works. Okay, oh my goodness, check it out. So it works. If you change the Film Sim using a camera as a webcam, you need to have it connected as a webcam that will affect the picture. So, you can use these Film Sims for your webcam, or you can create your own custom color balance profile. A very, very cool, neat little trick you probably didn’t know about.
Look After the Audio while Recording
Most webcam programs like Skype, zoom, etc., will default to your computer’s microphone and, in many cases that might work for you. But if it doesn’t sound that good, don’t skip on this Step. Nothing ruins good video more than crappy audio.
Tips for maintaining Good Audio
-Keep Microphone Close to You
The number one tip for good audio is to get the microphone as close to you as possible. If your camera is more than a few feet away or if your computer’s built-in audio sounds terrible, then get yourself an external mic and plug it into the external mic jack on the camera. Also, you can plug it into your computer and select that audio source.
Moreover, I can change it to Cam Link 4K. And if I do that, it is then going to use either the camera’s built-in audio or it will use an external microphone if you have it connected to the output jack. Does that make sense?
Lastly, you could pick another microphone that you have connected to your computer through USB, and that is a great option. You can either connect a microphone directly to your computer with USB or connect to your camera. The bottom line here is that you want to try and have as professional of video and audio setup as you can if you have to meet with clients.
You may decide that purchasing and use DSLR as webcam with 1080p is the best way to go and avoid all the hassle of trying to your DSLR or mirrorless camera as a webcam. But no matter what setup camera or system that you’re using, make sure that you have
• good audio,
• good lighting
• some attention to camera placement and
• Where you are in frame and even what’s behind you.
That will go a long way toward making your online video sessions a lot more professional. I really hope you enjoyed this blog and found it helpful.