With work from home and video conferences being more and more prevalent in our environment, I quickly realised that I wanted to take this opportunity to really up my game in terms of video quality.
In order to do that, the easiest way for me to share a high-resolution version of my face to my colleagues and friends was to repurpose my mirrorless camera (A Lumix G7) into a webcam for my desk setup.
Unfortunately, I could not find any way to easily rig my “heavy” mirrorless camera to my screen in a clean way. Usually, people trying to achieve the same outcome will place a small tripod behind their monitor or add an extending arm to their desk with a ball head at the top. Due to the nature of my setup however, both of these solutions could not work out with my particular situation.
Hence, the cleanest way to add this camera to my setup was to find a way to attach my camera to my screen, a 24 inches flat panel.
Thankfully, after a bit of research, I found the perfect set of small accessories that enabled me to properly mount my mirrorless camera to my screen and use it as a very high-quality webcam. The setup looks clean from the outside and my colleagues and audience is now getting a nice angled version of myself in high resolution.
So without further ado, I will show you how I have done that.
In order to follow this guide, you will need the following accessories:
- A Mirrorless/DSLR Camera with a video output and a universal thread hole at the bottom.
- A SmallRig Ballhead Clamp
- A Micro HDMI to HDMI Cable
- A USB Video Capture Card . Take the Elgato Cam Link if your camera is able to record in 4K and you want your image to be 4K. Otherwise, a cheaper 1080p capture card will do the job just fine.
- A dummy battery that can be plugged by USB.
Micro HDMI to HDMI Cable
This accessory depends on the kind of video output plug your camera is equipped with. My Lumix G7 offers a Micro HDMI output so I needed to buy a Micro HDMI to HDMI cable in order to be able to plug my camera to my video capture card.
These cables come in a various range of sizes and colours but I went ahead with this red braided 3 meters long one. Of course, you might not need 3 meters or you might not want a red cable sticking out of your camera so I invite you to look for your perfect cable.
The only thing you want to look out for is the quality of the cable. Depending on your desires, you might want to look specifically for a cable capable of outputting 4K 60FPS. While mine only outputs 1080p at the moment, it is rated for 4K output in case I change my video capture card in the future.
USB Video Capture Card
The capture card I suggested is a very cheap dongle that supports input up to Full HD Resolution (aka 1080p) at 60 frames per second. The reason why I chose this resolution is the cost effectiveness of the product. While you can go with something significantly more expensive like the Elgato Capture Card that supports 4K input, it is very unlikely that you will be able to get into a meeting and share your 4K video stream with your colleague.
For reference, Google Meet downgrade your video input to 720p at best while some users can choose to only receive 360p video feeds. For Zoom, users can choose to send their video feeds at up to 1080p, but nothing above.
Therefore, if you are only in this thing for meetings, spending more money on a better capture card will not yield any improvement in video quality.
However, if you wish to start recording webinars or stream on Twitch using dedicated softwares like OBS or StreamLabs and if you have a 4K capable camera, this is when you might want to splurge the additional cash to get yourself a 4K Video Capture Card like the one Elgato offers.
This product is specific to each camera but I want to explain how important this accessory is for your whole setup. When your camera will be attached, it will become very inconvenient to change batteries as the day go by.
To circumvent the issue of batteries, some manufacturers created “fake” batteries that replace your original batteries and have a cable going from the battery to a USB input. This way, you can plug this USB input to any source of power like a USB port on your computer or even to a powerbank.
With this accessory, I never have to change the battery of my camera while I use it as a webcam and can be in meetings for hours on end without having to worry about my camera shutting off.
In order to find one for your specific camera model, simply go on Amazon and search for “Your camera model Dummy Battery”. In my case, I had to look for “Lumix G7 Dummy Battery” and it was sorted.
Now that we have all of our accessories, we can set them up so that it will end up looking like this.
As you can see, this is a really simple configuration that lends itself to a nice angle over the chair.
The dummy battery is inserted into the camera while its USB port is plugged into my computer.
The Micro HDMI ot HDMI cable is plugged on one end to my camera and on the other end to the HDMI input of my USB Capture Card which is then itself plugged to my computer through its USB port.
Finally, the ball head clamp is clamped to my monitor with the camera screwed at the end of the ball head, with each screw tightened to keep it all in place.
The double ball head integrated with the clamp allows for very fine-tuning of the angle of the camera. I adjusted mine so that the camera lens is as far away from the screen as possible so I can get the widest angle of me in my chair as possible. I typically sit very close to my screen but this configuration still allows me to offer a complete view of me and my surroundings to my audience.
And that’s pretty much it. With your camera on and all of the cables set up, you will be able to replicate this image quality and impress your colleagues with your newly improved setup. And if you are teaching classes or recording webinars, this will also tremendously increase the quality of your content and allow you for more versatility as you are now able to point the camera at any angle and have it located anywhere around you.
If you found this article helpful, please consider sharing it around with your colleagues or friends and don’t hesitate to share a picture of your new setup in the comments section!
Thanks again for reading!