How to Set Up Your Canon Camera As a Webcam

Look Good While Live Streaming

Like many of you, we’re facing new challenges of working from home, and trying to stay connected with family and friends—from a distance. But it’s easy to increase the quality of your on-screen image by using your Canon camera or camcorder instead of your default webcam. These built-in “cameras,” found on most modern laptops, are created with very small sensors that result in a low-resolution feed. But you’re in luck if you own a Canon EOS DSLR, VIXIA camcorder, PowerShot or mirrorless camera—read on to find out how to adapt your Canon to your new favorite webcam.

canon camera used as webcam

Why Not the Webcam?

If you’re tired of looking shabby on your conference calls and video chats, it’s probably a matter of lighting. Most webcams are not sophisticated enough to let you select your focus points and sources of light, so in any low-light conditions, you’re bound to be left in the shadows. Most Canon cameras use a Dual Pixel Autofocus technology that allows you to select where the camera should focus—you—but keep the lighting you want in the room. Additionally, many built-in webcams use plastic lenses, making your image appear overly soft. Canon cameras and lenses will provide you with sharper details and richer colors.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Canon camera or camcorder with an HDMI output
  • HDMI cable
  • HDMI video capture card
  • Compatible software
  • Fully charged battery and/or AC adapter

Eight Easy Steps for a Clean HDMI Solution

Step 1: Insert a fully charged battery or an AC adapter into your camera or camcorder.

Step 2: Connect the HDMI cable to your video capture card, then plug in the USB cord from the capture device into your computer.

Step 3: Connect the smaller end of the HDMI plug to your camera’s HDMI port.

Step 4: Turn on your camera/camcorder and put it into Movie Mode, if applicable.

Step 5: Press the [HDMI info disp] menu item and choose the resolution output that your capture device uses.

Step 5A (DSLR/Mirrorless/PowerShot): On a camera that has clean HDMI, press the Menu button, go to the [Shooting settings] (red tab with a camera icon) and find [HDMI info disp]. On a camcorder with clean HDMI, skip to step 6.

Step 5B: From the Main Menu screen, go to your [Function settings] (yellow tab with a wrench icon). Find the [Power saving] setting and select [Auto power off] and set it to [Disable]. After this is completed, skip to step 7. Note: Doing this will not automatically power the camera off, so a spare battery or an AC power adapter is recommended for longer sessions.

Step 6 (VIXIA): Press the Menu button on your VIXIA camcorder and go to [Display setup] then [HDMI max resolution].

Step 6A: Select the desired maximum resolution and then select the back arrow.

Step 7: Set your web conferencing or live streaming software to recognize your capture device and you’re done!

For Windows 10 users, setup is also simple with the new EOS Webcam Utility Beta Software:

Step 1: Download the Webcam Utility Beta and install, here. 

Step 2: Turn on your camera and change the mode dial to video to remove any framing lines.

Step 3: Connect your camera to your computer via USB.

Step 4: Start your conferencing software and select EOS Webcam Utility Beta as your video source. 

Now Available for MAC Users 

Note: Audio is not transferred via USB with this method, so you’ll need to use your computer microphone and speakers or another external audio source. Also, EOS Utility will automatically open when you connect your camera. You’ll have to turn this off so it’s not running in the background while you’re on your videoconference.

A Few Tips and Tricks

  • For smoother video during your conference calls and video chats, use 1080 rather than 4K output. Most video conferencing and live-streaming applications can’t handle the data volume that 4K produces and can actually create lag and glitches due to processing. However, if you’re working on a vlog for upload to YouTube or other social media, 4K is your best bet.
  • Plan your lighting ahead of time—don't just snap open your laptop and join the video conference! Avoid being backlit by sitting facing a window or light. To get good color, use a neutral white balance card where you’ll be sitting or standing and create a custom white balance measurement.
  • If you’re going to be working from home for a while, consider investing in audio. A camera-mounted shotgun mic or tabletop microphone will work great to keep your audio focused on you—not ambient household noise.

You won’t believe the shift in resolution and color your new setup provides—you're now the best looking one in the virtual room!


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