Saturday, May 30, 2020
Home Video How to use a DSLR or mirrorless camera as a webcam

How to use a DSLR or mirrorless camera as a webcam [2020]

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We’re in a weird time for certain tech niches that used to be quite limited. Live streaming had somewhat been relegated to a somewhat small subset of people and connecting your camera to your computer for broadcasting was pretty much seen as a “hobby” or only for gamers or kids. But with so many people now working from home (or out of work), more and more people are looking to get better streaming video by using their camera as a webcam.

It’s definitely not hard to connect your camera to your computer to use it for streaming in applications like OBS, Streamlabs, Xsplit, or other streaming-specific applications that can see most capture devices. But unlike these applications, video calling or conferencing applications aren’t built with this robust support.

Why do USB webcams work in video conferencing apps and cameras/video capture devices don’t?

Applications like Skype, Zoom, Hangouts, and others are built to work with webcams that everyone has in their laptops, or connected via USB to their computer. The protocol being used here is called UVC, or USB Video Device Class. Basically, this is a protocol that advertises the device with a certain configuration that these applications can see without requiring specially dedicated drivers.

UVC is really meant for consumer webcams, which more specialized video capture devices technically are not. But as more and more people get into streaming, they also want to use these setups as cameras for Skype and other platforms, and more manufacturers are building in UVC support to their devices.

Unfortunately, not even all modern capture devices support it, and figuring out if a device you are looking for does support UVC can be difficult, requiring reading a bunch of specs lists to come up with an answer.

We’ve received enough comments, tweets, and other interactions asking about whether devices support UVC or why their capture device won’t work in Skype that we’ve decided to put out a list of our suggested UVC-supporting devices so you can use your DSLR or mirrorless camera as a webcam.

Unlike many of our guides, we’re not going to go into features or anything in the list below. Just our favorites and some others that may be good alternatives if the top picks aren’t available given the current circumstances.

Our top pick: Elgato Cam Link 4K

Elgato Cam Link 4K — Broadcast live, record via DSLR, camcorder, or action cam, 1080p60 or 4K at 30 fps, compact HDMI capture device, USB 3.0
  • Easily connect your DSLR, camcorder, or action Cam to your PC or Mac
  • Go live on any platform in no time thanks to ultra-low-latency technology
  • Broadcast in stunning quality up to 1080P60 or 4K at 30 FPS

Last update on 2020-05-29 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

As is the case with our previous streaming camera guide and how to live stream guide, the Elgato Cam Link 4K gets our top nod. It’s easy, inexpensive, and works excellent for streaming as well as providing a great UVC interface for video calling applications.

SEE ALSO:  17 Best microphones for live streaming and podcasting [2020]

Unfortunately, it’s also sold out pretty much everywhere. We’ve provided some options in our best alternative live streaming equipment guide, but not all of those are UVC-compatible. All of the below devices are, however. Not all of them will be available, but they’re worth listing in case they somehow become available in the future.

Best alternatives to the Elgato Cam Link to use your dslr or mirrorless camera as a webcam

Elgato Game Capture HD60 S+

Sale
Elgato Game Capture HD60 S+ 1080p60 HDR10 Capture with 4K60 HDR10 Zero-lag passthrough, Ultra-Low Latency Technology…
  • Capture your gameplay in superb 1080p60 HDR10 quality
  • Play your high-fidelity console games in original format thanks to 4K60 HDR10 zero-lag passthrough
  • Power your workflow with ultra-low-latency Instant Gameview technology

Last update on 2020-05-30 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Note: While the names are similar, the Game Capture HD60 and HD60 S do NOT support UVC. The HD60 S+ is the first and only in the HD60 line that does support this protocol.

AVerMedia Live Gamer Portable 2 Plus

Sale
AVerMedia Live Gamer Portable 2 Plus, 4K Pass-Through, 4K Full HD 1080p60 USB Game Capture, Ultra Low Latency, Record, Stream, Plug & Play, Party Chat for Xbox, Playstation, Nintendo Switch (GC513)
  • 4K Pass through: Experience 4K while recording at Full HD
  • PC & PC-Free Modes: Capture with or without PC and read your files on the fly
  • Headset Commentary: Add your commentary to your streams or recordings

Last update on 2020-05-29 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

SEE ALSO:  Best lighting for live streaming video [2020]

AV.io 4K

AV.io 4K – Grab and Go USB Video Capture for HD 1080p 60 fps and UHD 4K 30 fps
  • DVI-D and HDMI video audio capture - UHD 4K at 30 fps and HD 1080p at 60fps
  • Rugged and portable plug and play video capture for Windows, Mac OSX and Linux
  • Supports aspect ratios for 4:3 TV, 16:9 Widescreen, 16:10 and 5:4 monitor

Last update on 2020-05-30 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

AV.io HD

AV.io HD - Grab and Go USB Video Capture for VGA, DVI, and HDMI up to 1080p at 60 fps
  • VGA, DVI, HDMI (with audio) graphics and video capture up to 1080p at 60 fps
  • Rugged and portable, plug and play with Windows, Mac OSX and Linux
  • Supports aspect ratios for 4:3 TV, 16:9 Widescreen, 16:10 and 5:4 monitor

Last update on 2020-05-29 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

AVerMedia Live Gamer Ultra

AVerMedia Live Gamer Ultra – 4Kp60 HDR Pass-Through, 4Kp30 Capture Card, Ultra-Low Latency for Broadcasting and Recording PS4 Pro and Xbox One X, USB 3.1 (GC553)
  • 4Kp60 High Dynamic Range (HDR) Pass-through (For 4K, HDR or High frame rate recording only NVIDIA graphics card are supported.)
  • High Refresh Rate Pass-through at Full HD up to 240Hz; 4Kp60 / 1440p144 / 1080p240
  • Max Recording: 4Kp30 / 1440p60 / 1080p120 / 1080p60HDR

Last update on 2020-05-30 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

SEE ALSO:  Best audio interfaces for live streaming to Facebook Live, YouTube Live, Twitch [2020]

AVerMedia BU110 ExtremeCap UVC

AVerMedia BU110 ExtremeCap UVC
  • Use your Android device or computer to stream and capture with your DSLR camera. HDMI to USB 3.0 converter
  • Uncompressed Full HD Video at 1080p60
  • Plug and play, no driver needed

Last update on 2020-05-30 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

PUTELTAL 4K HDMI to USB 3.0 Video Capture Card

PUTELTAL 4K HDMI to USB 3.0 Video Capture Card Dongle 1080P Full HD Video Recorder for OBS Gaming Live Streaming HD Capture Box for PS3 PS4 Xbox Wii U & More
  • 【Plug and Play,No Need to Install Driver】It is compatible with Linux, Mac OS, windows 7/8/10, very easy to setup, there is no need to install driver. This Game Capture Box only supports Desktop PC i5、Notebook i7 or above CPU, No need to install drivers, it is real PnP. USB3.0, speed 300-350MB/s, compatible with USB 2.0.
  • 【Stronger Compatibility】This 1080P hdmi capture card can be compatible with all 1080P 720P hdmi device, such as Wii U, PS4, PS3, Xbox One, Xbox 360, Wii, Nintendo Switch, DVD, camera.
  • [email protected] Video Capture】-- The game capture card can display HDMI content, video recording, meeting recording, game recording and other functions on the computer.Suitable for windows

Last update on 2020-05-29 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

MiraBox

Sale
MiraBox Capture Card,USB 3.0 HDMI Game Capture Card Device With HDMI Loop-out Support HD Video HDCP 1080P Windows 7 8 10 Linux Youtube OBS Twitch for PS3 PS4 Xbox Wii U Streaming and Recording, HSV321
  • 【Stronger Compatibility】This 1080P hdmi capture card can be compatible with all 1080P 720P hdmi device, such as Wii U, PS4, PS3, Xbox One, Xbox 360, Wii, Nintendo Switch, DVD, camera, ZOSI security camera, DSLR and set top box etc.
  • 【1080P With 60FPS,Support HDCP】The HD video capture card can support HDCP 1080P with 60FPS, it is very suitable to use it for game live streaming.
  • 【Faster Data Transmition】USB3.0 high speed transmission port,let your live streaming to Twitch, Youtube, OBS, Potplayer and VLC more easily.

Last update on 2020-05-30 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Magewell USB Capture HDMI Gen2

Last update on 2020-05-30 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

SEE ALSO:  Canon releases new software allowing select EOS cameras to function as high-quality USB webcam

Software options: SparkoCam, CamTwist, Canon EOS Webcam Utility Beta (new)

If you really can’t get a hold of a UVC-compatible capture device and still need to use your camera as a webcam, there may still be hope. Various software solutions exist to take the USB feed from your camera and then capture that via screen capture and turn it into a virtual UVC device that your applications can see.

Update 4/28/20: Canon has released a new Windows-only beta software called Canon EOS Webcam Utility, which allows select compatible EOS and PowerShot cameras to function as a high-quality webcam over USB as a UVC-compatible device.  We’ve put together a quick overview of the Canon EOS Webcam Utility Beta software announcement for you to take a look at, and if you have a compatible camera this may be the best way to go without buying new hardware.

SparkoCam is the most popular option for using Canon and Nikon DSLRs as webcams. There is a free download that will leave a watermark on your video, but it works pretty well. Unfortunately, SparkoCam is not available for macOS, but is a great option for Windows if you don’t mind a watermark (or want to spend nearly as much as a capture device for a license).

SparkoCam interface

 

There is an option for Mac users to get your Canon camera (provided it’s on the compatibility list) to work with a two-application system using Cam Live and CamTwist. We’re not aware of a software solution for Nikon, Sony, or others so if you have one please let us know in the comments below!

Using a Canon DSLR as a webcam on macOS

  1. Install Camera Live and CamTwist on your Mac
  2. Open Camera Live > connect your DSLR to your Mac via USB
  3. In Camera Live, select your camera, it should say “Ready”
  4. Open CamTwist
  5. Select video source “Syphon” > set Syphon Server to “Camera Live”
  6. Open your video conferencing application of choice and change the webcam to “CamTwist”

Software solutions vs video capture devices

We’ll be honest, the software option is not the most ideal way to go, especially for lower power machines. If at all possible, a capture device would be best. But we also get that it’s a bit difficult to get hardware right now, and if it’s this or nothing, it’s better than nothing for sure.

Final thoughts

While there are hundreds of capture devices out there that work excellent for typical live streaming, they all don’t let you connect your mirrorless or DSLR for use as a webcam. Finding the devices that support UVC protocol may be a bit tricky, but we hope we’ve provided a list for you to get you started.

Do you have any suggestions that aren’t on the list? Questions about a particular capture device that you own? Feel free to drop a comment below, or reach out to us @creatorbeat_ on Twitter.

Lou Wheelerhttps://www.creatorbeat.com
Musician, photographer, and tech nerd in Sacramento, CA. Currently learning audio engineering and video production while spending way too much time on YouTube.

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[…] We now have a full list of UVC-compatible video capture devices to allow you to use your mirrorless or DSLR as a webcam, and it has every major manufacturers’ devices we could find with UVC […]

[…] brands’ video capture devices that are current and support the UVC protocol, allowing you to use your mirrorless or DSLR as a webcam for applications like Skype, Zoom, Hangouts, and […]

[…] in order to use your Canon EOS camera as a webcam, you would have needed to either connect your camera’s HDMI output to an HDMI capture device, […]

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