What Can You Do When the Webcams are Sold Out?
How to Use Your Digital Camera as a Webcam
You’ve looked on Amazon, at Best Buy, you even checked out B&H Photo and eBay, but there just aren’t any webcams available right now. Sure, you can order one, but it isn’t going to be at your door until late May, and that’s just not going to fly with your boss, your clients, or the family you’re trying to connect with.
Fortunately, there are alternatives available and they might even work with the camera you already have. It’s even possible you won’t have to buy anything to get one of those cameras to work as a webcam. Here are a few things to try.
Video Capture Cards
One item to check out is a video capture card. Though they’re usually used to connect a game system to your computer for livestreaming, I’m currently using a video capture card and an old GoPro for my webcam. Here are a few options I like, and one that is my next big purchase.
This is my next big purchase. The ATEM Mini Pro from Blackmagic allows you to connect multiple video and audio inputs. It can then record directly onto a Micro SD Card or connect to your computer as a Video Capture Card to record there. The software packaged with the ATEM is extremely powerful as well. If you’re comfortable with code, you can go Live on Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, Twitch, etc. directly from there, or you can pull the output into OBS or similar software and use that to record and publish your video.
The best thing about the ATEM is the ability to use multiple cameras with HDMI output. So if you have a GoPro, Canon DSLR, Camcorder, etc. then you can use them all as webcams and even create a multi-camera setup. I fully intend to use this to get multiple cameras available for clients.
This is the one I currently use and is what is connecting my old GoPro to my computer. This little plug-and-play device is a great option for almost any camera with an HDMI out and connects to your computer through traditional USB.
If you’re more technically savvy, then you might consider getting something like the Magewell Pro. This installs into one of the video card slots on your computer and will allow you to plug an HDMI out into your computer directly. I haven’t had my A+ certification in a few decades (is that still a thing?) but I’m sure even I could add this one to my desktop.
Ok, I’ll admit this one is a little steep, but it is available for delivery now. So take that as a plus. It also has facetracking software built in, so if you’re a wanderer, you can stay in focus while you pace. There are other great options with the Mevo Plus, so if budget isn’t an issue then jump on it before they’re no longer available.
If you already have a camera that connects to your computer through USB or similar input, then you might look into a software solution like SparkoCam. It will take the output of your digital camera and convert it into a stream for your meetings.
Just Use Your Phone
Whether you’re on Google Hangouts, Skype, Zoom, or any other platform, it likely has an App or Web Portal that you can use to log into for your meeting. If they don’t, then there is also almost always a call-in option. So if you have to, break out your cellphone and join the meeting through it.
You may want to make sure you’re plugged into the wall if you’re meeting tend to go long or your battery is on its last leg, but at least you’ll be able to attend in one way or another. So grab the ringlight tripod we mentioned the other day, and set yourself up.