Working from home has become the new norm for most of us, with meeting rooms now replaced by the likes of Zoom, Hangouts, or Skype. But if your laptop’s built-in webcam isn’t up to scratch, you may have been wondering how to use your DSLR or mirrorless as a webcam – and we’re here to show you how.
Of course, you could just buy a standalone webcam instead, but there are two issues with that. Firstly, many of the best webcams are now sold out (although we have a handy feature that reveals where to buy a webcam). Also, many simply can’t match the professional quality or resolution of the camera you already have.
Using your DSLR or mirrorless camera as a webcam isn’t quite as straightforward as plugging it into your laptop, even if Canon recently offered a handy software solution to its US users on this front. But there two main approaches, one using USB and a superior method over HDMI, that are broadly the same for most cameras, which we’ve outlined below.
That said, as that Canon software shows, there can also be small differences depending on whether you have a Canon, Nikon Camera connect as Webcam for your Mac. So we approached each manufacturer to give us guidance and tips relating to their camera ranges, which we’ve included further down this page.
Other things to be aware of:
Use a Third-Party App
If your camera is supported, you can use a third-party application to turn your DSLR, prosumer, or compact camera into a webcam. The Windows-only Sparkocam works with a large variety of Canon cameras and a small number of Nikon cameras, too.
Unfortunately, Sparkocam has its problems. One Redditor noted “it’s bulky and full of bloatware.” Another remarked that he or she “cannot remove the demo of spark cam (sic)” from the computer. Another shared that he or she “tried using eos and Sparkocam but I am unhappy with how laggy the video is.”
Based on our research, there aren’t presently any alternatives to Sparkocam, and it’s pricey. There are separate versions for Canon and Nikon, one that supports both, and another that focuses on the app’s other features, like green-screen and filters. A single-user license for your system of choice is $50 ($70 if you want to use both Nikon and Canon systems).
It’s hard to recommend Sparkocam, but, for some people, there might not be an alternative. So, if you find yourself in this boat, you use Windows, and you don’t have any other alternatives, Sparkocam is your best bet. Before you buy the app, though, you might want to read on and consider the HDMI route.