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How to set up Nikon Webcam Utility and turn your camera into a super webcam

Watch video: How to set up Nikon Webcam Utility

If you've been asking yourself if you can use your Nikon camera as a webcam, the answer is yes thanks to Nikon Webcam Utility! While using your DSLR or mirrorless camera as a webcam might seem a little much (a bit like using a Bugatti Veyron to do the school run), video conferencing has become an everyday solution for socially distanced business meetings and social gatherings. So you want the best quality possible!

However, the built-in cameras on laptops aren’t known for their image quality. You could always pick up one of the best webcams, but with Nikon Webcam Utility you can use your existing camera and take more control over your image. You can take full advantage of fast glass by creating a shallow depth of field, squeeze the whole family into the frame using a wide-angle lens, or use your camera’s Picture Controls as snazzy filters.

Compatible cameras include the Nikon Z50, Nikon Z5, Nikon Z6, Nikon Z6 II, Nikon Z7, Nikon Z7 II, Nikon D6, Nikon D850, Nikon D780, Nikon D500, Nikon D7500 and Nikon D5600. The software is currently available from the Nikon download center for 64-bit Windows 10 computers, or Macs running MacOS High Sierra (version 10.13) or above.

When it comes to connecting to your computer you have two options. You can use the USB cable that came with your camera, or pair a HDMI cable with a third-party video capture device. The latter will produce better quality video, but for casual users, the former will be perfectly fine.

Top tips

Keep an eye on your camera’s temperature as Nikon states that it “may rise… after periods of extended use.” We’d suggest using a fully charged battery, too, as Live View will drain power fast. The Nikon Z5 can be powered via USB-C, which makes it super handy for long sessions.

Step by step: Nikon Webcam Utility

01. Download it

Go to Nikon’s Download Center. Check that your computer meets the system requirements, then select your region and tick the box to accept the T&Cs, and click Download.

02. Follow the wizard

Double-click the file to start the installation wizard. Simply follow the on-screen instructions and wait until the program has downloaded. You won’t find a desktop shortcut. The software works via your chosen video-conferencing software.

03. Get connected

Connect your camera directly to your computer via its USB cable. You can also connect your camera via HDMI, but you must go through a third-party capture device like the Elgato Cam Link – this enables you to stream the highest quality, and will connect any camera (not just a Nikon).

04. Detect it

When you boot your chosen video conferencing software you may have to tell it to stream via Webcam Utility. Exactly how you do this will depend on your software, so look around for a settings or preferences icon. While using Skype, Webcam Utility was detected automatically.

05. Camera settings

Turn on your camera and switch it to Live View video mode. From here you can adjust the settings, allowing you to achieve a shallow depth of field, push the sensor’s sensitivity, or make use of Nikon’s Picture Control to add a stylish filter to your on-screen footage.

06. Ace your audio

If you use your computer’s built-in mic or a mic connected to your computer, your audio and video might not sync. For casual use this probably won’t matter much, but it is possible to fix this in software. The easiest way around this though is to record audio into your camera via one of the best microphones for video, like our Røde VideoMic Go.

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