Nothing ups your Zoom game like a good webcam, but right now, they're a little hard to come by. At the start of the pandemic, webcams flew off (digital) shelves, and manufacturers have struggled to keep up with the new level of demand. If you've had a hard time nabbing one at a stomachable price, there are work-arounds. For example, we have a guide on using your smartphone as a webcam. Another option? Professional cameras.
If you're a shutterbug and you have a mirrorless or action camera lying around, borrow a trick from some professional streamers and YouTube personalities: Use it as a webcam, and you'll get far better video quality than anything else on the market. It’s easier than ever thanks to major manufacturers releasing PC drivers that teach still-photo workhorses, like the Fujifilm X-Pro3, how to absolutely kill it as a PC-tethered webcam. Here’s how to do it.
The Easy Way
As with any PC endeavor, the first step is to download some drivers (the software that tells your hardware how to work on a specific operating system). Which drivers you need will depend on the make and model of your camera. Canon, Fujifilm, Panasonic, and GoPro have released drivers to make this as easy as possible. Nikon has webcam drivers coming soon, too! If your camera isn’t from one of these brands, the instructions are going to be a little different, but we’ll get to that below.
These instructions are going to be the same on both Windows and macOS if drivers are available.
Download the drivers from the links above after making sure your specific camera model is supported. Run it (it should launch an installer), and then plug the camera into your computer via its cable. You should have a cable you can connect from the camera to your computer that came in the original box (it could be Micro-HDMI, Mini DisplayPort, or something else). If you don't, look up your camera model and you should be able to find what cable you'll need. Once you've plugged it in, you're all set. For real. You can skip to the last section of this guide.
The Hard Way
If your camera isn’t on the list above, you’ll need to do some extra work. First, see if your camera's brand has released any webcam drivers. If not, you’ll need to buy a capture card. We've tested and like the Elgato HD60 ($220), but there are cheaper capture cards you can get, like this one for $64. Next, you’ll want a cable that can output the video from your camera to your PC or Mac. For most cameras, that’s a Mini DisplayPort to HDMI cable. Make sure to look at the ports on your camera to see what you'll need.
Once you have your hardware on hand, things get a little easier. Plug your camera into the capture card, and your capture card into your computer. If your computer (Mac) doesn’t have an HDMI port to plug your card into, you’ll need an HDMI to USB-C dongle. (You can also get a hub so you can plug many more devices.)