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How To Use Camcorder As A Webcam (Simple Steps)

by Lisa Hayden
how to use camcorder as a webcam

The webcam is one part of the computer that is taken for granted by most people. Thanks to the popularity of cellphones, video calling on the laptop or desktop became less and less common.

But if you like to play online or even make your own videos to upload to video streaming sites, then you will find this tiny device very important.

If you do not have a webcam or yours suddenly decides to retire, you can use your camcorder as an easy replacement. This means you do not have to run out to the store to buy one immediately and instead, you can use your camcorder.

We have previously come up with some lateral ideas about using your gopro as  a webcam, as a dash cam and even your dslr camera as a means to capture your web camera streaming.

The fact is, tons of people have stuff lying around at home, including gadgets. Some might still see a little usage, but others are just gathering dust. After smartphones became popular, they started making some of your other stuff obsolete.

Forget about a digital camera or camcorder when your phone can record high-quality videos and even edit them. So when you need a webcam, why not just use whatever you have and save money and resources?

Difference Between Webcams and Camcorders

model filmed through camcorder

Camcorders are not necessarily considered hot technology nowadays, as they have certainly had their heyday years ago. Most people had one, including you. In fact, they were very popular when phones were analogue and could not shoot and record videos.

Still, these handheld devices can record clear and detailed videos, especially since the lens and sensors are top quality. This is why they were convenient to have, and you will most likely have one lying around at home.

Webcams, on the other hand, are really used for video calls or streams. Their quality usually is low compared to camcorders and cellphone cameras. For their purpose, though, the quality is enough.

However, they do not have their power source and instead need to be connected to your computer. In addition to the camera lens, some models may have a microphone. Because they do not have excellent quality, they cannot record any videos.

But when you think about it, both devices have the same primary feature, the camera itself. Thus, can you use your camcorder as a webcam and enjoy better video quality?

The Basics

It may be possible to use your camcorder, but you need to figure out some things first. For example, you will need a few things:

The Right Cable

Camcorder models are different, and you need to find the appropriate cable for it. A firewire camcorder needs a firewire card and cable, while an analogue one requires a video capture card and a USB or HDMI cable. Lastly, a digital camcorder needs a USB or HDMI cable.

Software

The next thing you would need is the webcam software. It's a good thing most of them are still free to download, although if you want premium features, you might want to consider investing a few dollars. They do not usually cost more than $50.

Steps On Using Your Camcorder As A Webcam

camcorder webcam filming

Identify the Type of Camcorder

This step should have already been done before you identify the right cable and software for the setup. If you are in doubt, look at the manual to see what is compatible with your gadget.

Needless to say, this is the most important step if you want it to work out.

Charge The Battery Or Connect It To A Power Source

Because your camcorder cannot draw electricity from the computer, you need to make sure it is fully charged or plugged to a power source. The power source is the better choice because the batteries might not last longer than 5 minutes, especially if it's on idle.

If you have not been using your camcorder for a while, make sure you do a test run first.

Connect The Camcorder

After you check whether your camcorder is working normally, you can start connecting it to your computer. Connect either the video capture card or the firewire card to the hard disk of the computer.

This is incredibly important because it will make it possible to transfer the video output into your computer's processor.

Afterwards, you need to connect the firewire or the USB cable from the camcorder to the computer where these cards have been installed.

However, if you are using a digital camcorder, you do not need to do any of these steps. Typically, they only need an HDMI cable, and it will take care of everything. The most important thing is that your camcorder has an HDMI port.

Set Up the Software

After you have set up the connection between your camcorder and the computer, go back to the software. Make sure you download (if needed) and install everything necessary. The instructions and processes should be easy enough to follow and apply.

Try It Out

Once you have done all the setting up, you should be able to use your camcorder as a webcam! Try it out and check out if it works. If not, check the connections and the software again.

Once it does, you can enjoy the better video quality compared to the old-style webcam. If you want to use it for videos, then you can directly create them on your computer.

Pros and Cons of Using Your Camcorder As A Webcam

camcorder webcam filming

Beyond the obvious reason that using your unused camcorder at home makes more sense than buying a new one (which can be expensive if you want one with better quality), you will enjoy the definitive HD quality of a camcorder.

This makes a big difference if you're going to create videos for upload.

The disadvantages include the higher electricity use of the camcorder compared to a webcam. Another issue is the automatic shutoff feature common with many camcorders.

They are usually there to prevent the battery from draining or the components from wearing off. This feature can be inconvenient if you need to use it for a more extended period of time. Lastly, they can be bulkier and heavier than the ordinary webcam.

Conclusion

Your camcorder can be an excellent solution to a lack of a webcam or if you need a video capture device with good quality. Still, it was not designed to be used this way, so you need to figure out how to install it and make sure it does not auto-shutdown while using it.

Originally posted 2020-03-14 12:19:12.

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1 comment

Mike A. May 10, 2020 - 5:47 pm

I have an old Sony TRV525 Digital 8 I am using as a webcam with my Mac Pro 5,1 and it hasn’t really cost me anything except a couple hours of experimentation. The old Sony which was once at the cutting edge of technology when I got it years ago, has what Sony calls an “i-link” port which Sony labels a DV in/out that is really a small port that takes the end of an i-link cable which is really only a Firewire 400 cable with a small 4 pin plug at one end and the usual rounded 6 pin 400 Firewire plug at the other, cost about $10 Amazon or elsewhere. It wasn’t known as Firewire at the time, but IEEE1394. I attached that to the Sony port, and since the Mac Pro 2010 has Firewire 800 ports I took an old adapter I had (costs about $8 on Amazon) that changes a 400 to an 800 plug on the front of the Mac Pro (the two 400 ports are beneath the USB ports on the front of the chassis). A little bit of trial and error but Zoom recognized the vintage camcorder like an old friend. I am going to have to set up a mike because I haven’t figured out audio yet, but I do have an old plastic preamp and mike somewhere just in case. Anyway, the camcorder is auto focus and has some bells and whistles, but must be set back from the monitor as I fill the screen and you will too.

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