Nikon Webcam Utility: how to set it up and make your camera a super webcam

Watch video: How to set up Nikon Webcam Utility

Nikon Webcam Utility enables you to use your Nikon camera as a webcam – making the scratchy, noisy and just plain nasty video that comes out of your computer or laptop's built-in camera a thing of the past! 

By making use of Nikon Webcam Utility, the best Nikon cameras (opens in new tab) – both DSLR (opens in new tab)s and mirrorless cameras (opens in new tab) – you can get the best possible quality for your video calls, online meetings and Zoom chats. 

While this might seem a bit like using a Bugatti Veyron to do the school run, the built-in cameras on laptops and computers aren’t known for their image quality. Another option is to pick up one of the best webcams (opens in new tab) but, if you already own a Nikon that's compatible with Nikon Webcam Utility, you've got everything you need already. 

You can take full advantage of fast glass to create a shallow depth of field and shoot in low light, 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 Z fc (opens in new tab), Nikon Z50 (opens in new tab), Nikon Z5 (opens in new tab), Nikon Z6 (opens in new tab), Nikon Z6 II (opens in new tab), Nikon Z7 (opens in new tab), Nikon Z7 II (opens in new tab), Nikon Z9 (opens in new tab), Nikon D5 (opens in new tab), Nikon D6 (opens in new tab), Nikon D810 (opens in new tab), Nikon D850 (opens in new tab), Nikon D780 (opens in new tab), Nikon D500 (opens in new tab), Nikon D7500 (opens in new tab), Nikon D5600 (opens in new tab), Nikon D5500 (opens in new tab), Nikon D5300 (opens in new tab) and Nikon D3500 (opens in new tab). The software is currently available from the Nikon download center (opens in new tab) 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.

Just make sure to 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

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01. Download it

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

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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.

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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 card like the Elgato Cam Link (opens in new tab) – this enables you to stream the highest quality, and will connect any camera (not just a Nikon).

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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.

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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.

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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 (opens in new tab) for video, like our Røde VideoMic Go.

Read more: 

Best Nikon camera (opens in new tab)
Best cameras for streaming (opens in new tab)
Best video conferencing app (opens in new tab)
Best PTZ cameras for streaming, web conferencing & video production (opens in new tab)
Best streaming services (opens in new tab)
How to use your camera, or GoPro as a 4K webcam (opens in new tab)

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Mike Harris
Technique Editor

Mike is Technique Editor for N-Photo: The Nikon Magazine (opens in new tab), and brings with him over 10 years experience writing both freelance and for some of the biggest specialist publications. Prior to joining N-Photo Mike was the production editor for the content marketing team of Wex Photo Video, the UK’s largest online specialist photographic retailer, where he sharpened his skills in both the stills and videography spheres.  

While he’s an avid motorsport photographer, his skills extend to every genre of photography – making him one of Digital Camera World’s top tutors for techniques on cameras, lenses, tripods, filters and other imaging equipment, as well as sharing his expertise on shooting everything from portraits and landscapes to astracts and architecture to wildlife and, yes, fast things going around race tracks.