Learning how to use a DSLR as a webcam will give you the quality and professionalism that a standard webcam can’t.
They generally provide lower quality results and lack the detail and accurate coloring that a DSLR offers.
The problem is that you can’t just hook up a DSLR and press record like you can with a webcam – you’ll know this if you’ve ever tried.
The whole process becomes pretty frustrating and confusing without clear guidelines.
We’ve taken the time to pull all this information together and put it in one place. You’ll know the exact steps you need to take to use your DSLR as a webcam.
Let’s get into the guide!
Can You Use a Camera as a Webcam?
Yes, absolutely. I didn’t know this either when I was starting out.
I thought I was going to be stuck with low-quality webcams forever and I couldn’t understand how some streamers got such epic quality videos.
There are a couple of benefits of using a DSLR as a webcam:
- Higher resolution and quality
- More accurate color representation
- More features and settings
- DLSRs have way more uses than a dedicated webcam
- It’s easier to edit in the post and the raw footage is more versatile
- DSLRs deliver professional quality consistently and reliably
These are just a few of the benefits. I assume you’ve already made up your mind though – this is here to push you off the fence if you need to make a decision.
It’s a worthwhile investment to start using a good DSLR as a webcam, and you’ll be grateful for the huge bump in quality.
Learning how to use a camera as a webcam will vastly improve the professionalism and quality of your content.
What Are the Most Important Things I’ll Need?
Before getting started and learning how to use your DSLR as a webcam, you need to get all the necessaries together. It’ll make the process faster and easier for you.
Here’s a quick rundown of the most important things you’ll need:
- The right DSLR webcam software for your camera and PC
- The necessary adaptors and cables
- A tripod or mount
- Decent lighting equipment
- A capture card
- Nearby power supply with a consistent feed
- Relatively wide-angle lens with a good field of view
I didn’t go into much detail on each as there is quite a lot of information on each step. This is a quick outline of what we’ll cover in this guide so feel free to jump around to what interests you.
You’ll find the detailed steps below along with some added pointers to keep in mind.
How to Set Up a DSLR as a Webcam?
Here we’ll take a quick look at what features your camera need to be used as a webcam.
Check your camera and make sure you have the following:
- Your camera has to have an HDMI output port
- You need to make sure your camera has the ability to output ‘clean’ HDMI
- Your DSLR needs to be plugged and charging so make sure that it isn’t super prone to overheating
- Change any settings that will cause your camera to go into the power-saving mode or a timer to turn off – this depends on the model you have
- Use a lens that has a relatively wide-angle; something more or less around 35mm should do the job
‘Clean’ HDMI output means that your DSLR needs to be able to send out video without any overlays or graphics on it. You just see the clean footage with nothing over it.
These steps may change depending on the make and model of your DSLR.
If you’re unsure, do a quick search or contact your supplier for help specific to your camera and ask them what you need to do to prepare your setup.
Many new DSLRs might have a mini or micro-HDMI port instead of the regular-sized one.
If this is the case then you’re going to need an adaptor to make the connection. I’d recommend going with a mini/micro to HDMI female adaptor.
You should be able to get one pretty easily as they’re commonly used.
P.S. You can also use a digital camera as a webcam – just make sure it meets all the above requirements.
What Non-camera Items Will I Need?
This is an important point to talk a little about if you’re interested in getting the highest possible quality.
Many DSLRs work exceptionally well in good lighting. If you want high-quality footage then you’ll need to pay special attention to lighting.
Here are some things you may need:
- A warm white light (3000K – 4000K)
- A light stand or something you can use to hang it from above
- A light-colored surface or sheet to bounce the light off
- Nearby power supply to avoid excessive cables waiting to trip you up
We prefer going with warm white lighting as opposed to yellow or cool white lighting.
Warm white lighting is generally more flattering and helps your skin tone appear more even and full.
Cool white lighting often has the opposite effect and can even make you look sick in some cases.
Hang the light from the ceiling on using a lampstand. Keep it above the line of sight of the camera, but not too high up.
You don’t want to create shadows under your facial features and look like something out of a horror film.
The best solution is to bounce the light off a white or beige flat surface like a wall or sheet. This will make the light seem more natural and charming.
How to Connect the DSLR to the Computer?
You’ve done most of the work already and this step is pretty straightforward and simple.
This step is where you’ll use your capture card, so make sure you’ve bought one and have it nearby.
Here’s a quick run-through of what to do:
- Plug the HDMI cable into your camera’s outlet (use the adaptor if necessary)
- Plug it into your capture card
- Plug the capture card’s USB into a USB3.0 (it’s faster)
- Let windows do the detecting and installing of the driver
If everything worked out so far then you’re on the right track.
Make sure to keep track of all the adaptors and cables.
I personally prefer keeping them in a dedicated box that I organized myself so that they don’t become a huge tangled mess.
The adaptors are unbelievably easy to lose and it’s horribly frustrating trying to find them again.
What Software Do I Need on My Pc?
This will come down to what PC you’re using and what operating system you’re on.
Knowing how to use a video camera as a webcam is only part of it, the software you choose can make a big difference in how easy this whole process becomes.
There are tons of options and you’ll need to choose one that works for you and for your setup.
I’d recommend OBS studio as it’s open-source and free.
There are tons of features and it’s pretty intuitive to learn and use.
Do some research and watch a couple of videos to decide which ones suit you best.
Here are the basics of what you need to do with your software of choice:
- Open up the software on your PC and sign in
- Follow the procedure of adding a new source
- Select the video capture option (depends on your software) and add it
- Name it to something you won’t forget so it’s easy to identify later on
- Once you’ve successfully added it, you’ll be able to see your feed on the preview screen
- Resize and adjust your screen so that you can see yourself clearly
I’ve tried to make these steps more general and not specifically directed at people using OBS as there are so many good alternatives out there.
Most software will follow this general procedure. If you get stuck along the way, just look up a quick guide on how to get it done.
This is more set toward video streaming – it’s the most common use of DSLRs as webcams so I figured I’d gear it more towards that.
Remember to set everything up for comfort as you’re going to be spending lots of time using this setup.
You don’t want your frustration filtering into your videos so try to keep it as simple as possible.
What if Something Goes Wrong?
The first thing to do is relax and not get frustrated.
There have been so many times I wanted to punch a hole through my monitor because of one small adjustment or mistake I made.
Here’s a list of common things to check for:
- Inspect your HDMI cable to make sure it’s working well and not faulty. Test one that you know works to see if that’s the issue.
- Make sure your micro/mini to HDMI is working fine and connected properly
- Test your video capture card and try a different one if you aren’t sure – they can take damage quite easily when they fall
- Make sure your power supply is steady. Fluctuating supplies can damage your gear
- Make sure your camera is not in any kind of low power or sleep mode
- Check your device manager or software to ensure your camera and capture card have been recognized
- Keep the software on your camera and software version up to date
- Spend time learning more about your software so you can self-diagnose any problems
Take some time to go through all these steps.
They’re the easiest for you to fix quickly and can save you a lot of time and stress.
If it’s something more technical, then get somebody who knows what they’re doing to take a look at it.
If you’re relatively tech-savvy then you can look up some guides online and try to tackle the problem yourself.
Just be careful not to make matters worse. If you’re not confident changing anything, better leave it to somebody who is.
Our Final Thoughts
That’s it for the guide.
Each of our steps might not be necessary for you as you might not be interested in streaming, etc.
Feel free to pick and choose what you need.
I’m by no means a tech expert but these steps have proven pretty solid.
If anything is ever too advanced for you or beyond your abilities, just do a couple of searches online or call somebody in.
The experience will be your guide and you’ll be pumping out high-quality content in no time.
DSLRs far outclass your standard webcam but they don’t come cheap – so it’s important to get the most out of your investment.
Soon you’ll know how to use a DSLR as a webcam and get high quality, professional-grade content. Just stick with it and keep working on your skills – you’ll learn faster than you think!