How to Use your Video Camera as a Webcam

Posted on August 24, 2009. Filed under: webcam | Tags: , , , , , |

Webcams have come a long way over the past few years and now for around $20-50 you can buy a nice 1.3 or 2.0 megapixel unit such as those from Logitech. Meanwhile we have digital cameras and video cameras that get significantly better imagery. Have you ever wanted to plug in a video camera for your web meeting or video conference and use it as a webcam? With a long enough USB cable you could walk around the room and broadcast video live, or mount the video camera on a tri-pod in a conference room and have a quick and easy solution for a large group. In both cases having a high quality external video camera provides an improvement over built-in laptop webcams or even external webcams. It might even replace the expensive hardware based video conferencing solutions.

Fortunately, you can easily add your video camera or digital camera to your computer as a webcam. All you need is a special cable with video capture software. I recently purchased the cable on for under $30. It came with a software installation disk, but since I have a 64bit Vista computer I had to download an additional driver off their web site. One end of the cable plugs into a USB slot on your computer, and the other end plugs into your camera using your regular composite cable.

I tried a Sony video camera, a Panasonic video camera, and a Canon Powershot digital camera as webcams on the Vonei Meeting video conferencing service, and all worked great. The improvement in the image quality was amazing. Since I already had these devices it only cost me less than $30 for the cable, and now I have a high quality, large room webcam solution for my online meetings.  I also used the camcorder to create video mail on the free service.   This private and secure video mail service has a cool self-destruct feature where you can destroy your video after x days or x views.

Being able to use a video camera in online video conferencing services opens up the possibilities for all kinds of online events. Imagine hosting a cooking demonstration on a video conferencing webinar where the video camera shows the chef from overhead and in front. One could broadcast the event live and let participants ask questions of the chef. Or you could hold fantasy football league drafts where remote participants could see the room and commissioner live. Web conferencing takes on a whole new meaning when you can see live video of all the participants. With a video camera or digital camera serving as the webcam you won’t have to apologize for the video quality.

Video fps. There are several factors which impact the frames per second produced by your camera when using video chat.  For a guide to these factors, a free fps test tool, and tips on how to  improve the fps , see the fps test site.

Other factors in reaping the benefits of an improved video source are having sufficient upstream Internet bandwidth at your broadcasting location, and a web conferencing service which can accept the high quality images and 30 frames per second (fps) motion capture.  Services such as Paltalk and Fuze Meeting allow multiple person live video conferencing up to 30fps.  And both of them offer free 30 day trials.  You can select your camera source as an external video camera, and conduct your video conference using standard Flash players for display on participant’s computers. No software downloads. No expensive equipment to buy. A simple  cable with your existing video camera on Vonei service can open the door to a world of possibilities.

Try using your video camera as a webcam and let us know how you like it!

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2 Responses to “How to Use your Video Camera as a Webcam”

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it very good article

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