- Lighting Options for Recording Video At Home
- Types of Microphones for Vlogging
- Awesome Camera Accessories
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With the rise of work from home and videoconferencing, many of you long time photographers are considering how to use your camera as a webcam.
After all, your DSLR, mirrorless camera, or action cameras are very high quality and are already set up for capturing amazing video. Using your camera as a webcam could open up a wide range of options for you as well. Especially when thinking about our different lenses and the photographic control we’re used to.
Computer Webcam Alternatives
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Most of our computers and tablets have a decent enough webcam built into them. Webcam alternatives include accessory webcams that you can mount on your computer and plug in via the USB connection. Many of these are a step up from the built-in cameras in terms of resolution and overall quality.
The other webcam alternatives include using your existing digital camera as a webcam by means of an adapter or dongle. If you’re like me, you’re wondering why you just can’t plug in your camera like you may do for transferring files.
It’s partly a software issue, you need a different set of protocols to stream as opposed to simple file transfer. And also a hardware issue, you want to stream the highest quality feed from your camera so then the HDMI output is preferred, necessitating a specific connection type between camera and computer.
Video Capture Device
The key to using your existing camera as a webcam is allowing your computer to accept the video signal from your camera. You do this with an adapter commonly called a video capture device.
You can find one at Ikan, the professional video production equipment manufacturer and retailer, the HomeStream™ Video Capture Device. I like shopping for professional video equipment at Ikan because they manufacture what they sell and their equipment is designed by experienced videographers and cinematographers.
Install the software for the device and then simply plug in your camera’s clean HDMI feed to the video capture device and plug the device into your computer’s USB port.
The HomeStream™ Video Capture Device can be installed on computers or devices using Windows, Linux, Android, and macOS. Its signal is compatible with various streaming services including OBS, Zoom, Skype, UberConference, Twitch, Facebook Live, Youtube Live, DLive, and others.
How to Set Up
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Once you have the capture device set up on your computer, you then set up your camera as a webcam. Turn it on and set it to the video mode. The camera needs to be capable of outputting clean HDMI or the results won’t be any better than the webcam you already have.
Change your camera’s display view because whatever is showing on your viewscreen is what is streaming. Adjust the display to show only the video with no camera settings unless you just want them to show to everyone.
Use the highest video quality your whole system can allow, 4K 30fps if your camera has that capability. The video capture device will convert it to a signal that the computer can handle and then the streaming software will convert also to what it can handle, but starting with the highest level will give you top quality end result.
It’s also a good idea to turn off autofocus and use a mode that allows you to control the lens aperture. You can see right on your computer screen what these adjustments do for your feed, it’s actually pretty cool.
Choose the menu option on your camera that allows for the longest time being on, it’s annoying to have your camera auto shut down in the middle of a streaming session. Also make sure your battery is fully charged or use an AC adapter to power your camera.
Don’t Neglect Audio
While our cameras have incredible visual capability, their built in mics aren’t really all that great, despite what the ad copy says about their awesome mics. You will either need to mount a really good shotgun mic on your camera or use other auxiliary microphones.
I like the shotgun mic option for using my camera as a webcam since it points right at the subject, usually me, when mounted on the camera. The shotgun mics I’ve found at Ikan have very good performance.
Alternatives to on camera shotgun mics are desk mics, lavaliers, and boom mics. Several options are also available from Ikan and other manufacturers. Some use the USB and others use 3.5mm jacks, both of which work well for streaming web broadcasts.
Put It All Together and Start Streaming Ultra High Quality Video
All it takes is one tiny device to go from wondering how to use your camera as a webcam to actually broadcasting top quality audio and video. Once you start, though, how do you ever go back? Now you have to step up your game in regards to lighting, composition, hair and make up. I’ll just say this, it’s worth it!