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Five months into the pandemic, toilet paper and towels have returned to the shelves, but one thing has remained constant: buying webcams for our video meetings hasn't gotten any better.
Items are still scarce, but you may be able to turn your old camera into a webcam.
Actioncam maker GoPro just unveiled a software update for the Hero8 camera to turn it into a webcam, Canon has similar software tools for EOS Rebels and other models, and live online video maker eCamm has software that can work with Canon, Nikon and Sony models.
Fine print galore: the GoPro update only works with Apple computers and the latest edition of the Hero line, model 8, (not previous models) eCamm is also Mac only, while Canon's software works with both Apple and Windows computers. Canon and GoPro software updates are free.
GoPro's pitch for using the tiny camera is that not everybody wants to be chained to a desk and a traditional over-the-computer webcam. 'It's the personal chefs, art teachers and fitness instructors who will now be able to unlock a world of new perspectives within video conferencing so viewers – be it friends, family or clients – are so intimately involved that they can practically taste, touch or even feel the burn from whatever is being shared,' the company says.
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To turn your GoPro into a webcam, you need to download an update, put the file on a micro-SD card, and insert it into the camera. You also download the GoPro Webcam application for the computer, and then get the choice of broadcasting in 720p or 1080p resolution. You can also choose between the ultra-wide lens that's synonymous with GoPro, or narrow point of views. You can get the download links here.
Canon's software download is similar. Both cameras share this in common: you'll need a cable to connect USB-C on the camera to either the USB-A or USB-C input on your computer. Canon has a way larger list of compatible cameras for the software update, including the recent R mirrorless cameras, and even some point-and-shoots.
Both GoPro and Canon say they are compatible with many of the most popular live broadcasting services, including Zoom, Microsoft Teams and Google Meet.
Meanwhile, software maker eCamm, which many people use for live broadcasting online, offers the ability to plug a Sony, Nikon or Canon camera into the computer and go live that way, but not with Zoom or Microsoft Teams meetings. The eCamm software works with Skype, Twitch, Facebook Live and YouTube Live. The optics of the DSLR or mirrorless cameras will be a vast improvement over the tiny low resolution webcam that comes with your computer, or even one of the webcam models offered for sale, if you could find one.
The monthly charge from eCamm is $15.
If you're looking to buy a dedicated webcam device, they're still hard to come by. Amazon and eBay Monday offered inflated prices for Logitech's top of the line Brio, which offers 4K webcam resolution, in the $275-$300 range. The list price for the Brio is $199.
And on Logitech's website, of the seven webcams offered, not one was available for sale, as all were listed as 'out of stock.'
Not as much software for mac. Or click ”More info” to see details about each update and select specific updates to install. If any updates are available, click the Update Now button to install them.
Logitech had no comment.
Beyond cameras and webcams, many savvy consumers have taken to using the cameras on their old smartphones and tablets, and using them as webcams instead.
Jody Fisher, a vice-president of New York marketing agency Austin Williams, put an old iPad above his computer monitor and uses that for his Zoom calls. “It came down to convenience and cost,' he says. ' When I realized there were no webcams available, I defaulted to the iPad. Investing in a simple bracket mount put the lens at eye height and kept me from hunching over. Ended up being a better solution than a third-party device.”
Readers — have you come up with novel ways to turn an old camera into a webcam? We'd love to hear from you. Drop me a line on Twitter, where I'm @jeffersongraham