Hey Everyone! Hope today finds you healthy and safe. Today I want to talk to you about something that I just started doing myself. That's using my photography camera as a web camera or webcam for my computer for video conferencing. This is something that I had to teach myself how to do, and if I can do it anyone can. If you have a modern mirrorless, DSLR, or even an advanced point and shoot, these cameras also have video capabilities that are far better than the camera that is hooked to your computer. With a little bit of lighting that you already know about with your portrait photography, then you should be able to wow your friends and co-workers with professional-looking video when you make your video conference calls. There are two basic ways to achieve this. Software and hardware.
Software: Depending on what brand of camera you own, you may be able to hook your camera up to the computer with no out-of-pocket expense. Since the pandemic, many camera companies have come out with software that will make your camera act as a webcam, at no cost to you. You just download the software and follow their instructions, which is to just hook up your camera with a USB cable and you're in. Your camera works as a webcam. Audio will still be handled through your computer. There are other hacks where you can download third-party software and make your camera work also. There are many to try. YouTube is a place where you can learn about these, and they seem to work. Working with software does have some drawbacks though. Sometimes the video and audio do not sync properly, and you may look like you're in a cheap Chinese Kung fu movie. It might not be that bad, but it may be noticeable. But if your setup works and you don't have a lag, then you're in. All you have to do is choose what video conferencing software you are using and then go to settings and choose your camera for the webcam.
Hardware: Instead of using software to connect to your camera, you can use hardware to do the same thing. This will cost some money but shouldn't break the bank. The things that you will need are a video capture card and an HDMI that will hook up to your camera and your computer. Most modern cameras have an HDMI cable port. You may also have this cable if your camera came with it. If not, or if you're like me and couldn't find it, you'll have to get one. Like with everything else, you can spend as much money as you want on these things, but you don't have to. I spent $22 for the video capture card and $20 for the cable to hook up between my camera and the card. I bought an inexpensive capture card that plugs into my computer via USB port (the regular port, not the USB C port). Then I plug in the HDMI cable to the card (regular full size), and the other end of the cord hooks to my camera via an HDMI MICRO/MINI connector. This is the connection that you have to make sure you get right for your camera because they can be different on different models of cameras. When all is hooked up, you go to the video conferencing app of your choice, go to settings and pick USB camera, and you're ready to go. Your camera can now be used for both video and audio. This can fix all of the audio lag that you may have gotten on the software option. You can use the onboard camera microphone, or you can attach an external mic to the camera. I have another cheap option where I use a $20 LAV mic that I bought a while ago that I can plug into my camera and improve the audio. All of the hardware I use I got off of Amazon.
Now. I'm no expert at this. As I said, I just started to do this myself. But you can really see the difference, and by using your photography skills you can really make a professional-looking video through your computer. You will be able to use a low aperture on your camera and blur out the back. Depending on what type of camera you have, you can have the autofocus follow your face so you are always in focus and the background is blurry, making it look very professional.
So until next week, please stay safe and healthy and explore with your cameras. Get outside!