Trash that Webcam, Mount a Camcorder

The Webcam Shootout article generated many responses from readers who want to use their camcorders as a Webcam. Many people, for example, have camcorders lying around, gathering dust, that could be put to better use as a Webcam. Others would like to improve the quality of their video chat programs, such as Yahoo Messenger or MSN Messenger.

It is, in fact, possible to use a software solution to transform a camcorder into a high-end Webcam.

For this article, we used a Panasonic GS70 camcorder as the test device. It is a triple CCD MiniDV camcorder that Panasonic no longer sells. The techniques described in this article apply to digital camcorders with a USB or FireWire connection.

Benefits Of Using A Camcorder As A Webcam

Some people would consider it overkill to use a several hundred dollar camcorder as a Webcam, but there are two benefits. The optics in digital camcorders are much better than those that Webcams offer. Modern MiniDV camcorders are designed to take video in 720x480 resolution at 30 frames per second. In addition, camcorder lenses are designed to accurately reproduce color. Webcams, on the other hand, generally top out at 640x480 and 15 frames per second.

Using a camcorder as a Webcam can actually save you money, provided that you have an unused camcorder lying around. Rather than spending $50 to $200 for a decent Webcam, you can use the free USB Webcam drivers for your camcorder or spend $20 for OrangeWare's WebcamDV software and convert the camcorder into a high quality Webcam.

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12 comments
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  • I wowuld like to try to use this but cant see how to hook my cam to computer I havew a JVC GZ-HD3 thanks Richard
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  • thanks for the article. it proved to be quite useful. I even purchased the WebcamDV software.

    i'm having a problem with my Sony DCR-PC5 though. I have it connected via Firewire. the image I get on my computer is squished vertically, meaning everything looks fatter than it should be. It's not due to any settings on the camera, there are only a few anyways.

    do you know of any software or drivers or something that might help fix the problem I am having? thanks a lot for your help.
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  • I have a Sony DCR-TRV 103. I just went to Staples, bought the 1394 Fire Wire, and the Fire Wire PCI Card for about $32 each. Windows XP recognized it immediately and I am on board, see you on YouTube.
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  • I am looking fo info on how to use my sony ccdtr23 as a webcam.It has rca plugs.Thank you in advance
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  • I've recently tried the freeware program, SplitCam.

    Which is excellent! It not only converts my camcorder to a webcam, but even allows you to stream a playlist of video files to your webcam viewer. One tip, if you find tearing on fast movement, tick the option for Filter->Deinterlace which solves that perfectly.
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  • I, too, would like to use my camcorder, but I see a couple of problems. One, my Samsung SMX-F34BN/XAA does not have any drivers or software that allow it to be used as a camera by any computer (there is a mini AV jack that allows connection directly to a TV, and another cable that connects to USB on my PC; the USB allows the PC to copy whatever is in the camera's smart card, but there is no way to use the camera as a camera). And, two, my PC does not have any firewire connections available. So, two questions arise: Will this Orangeware program still work for my camera? And, could I purchase a card that will create Firewire connections out of a PCI Express X1 slot?
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  • Have to wonder whether anyone is paying attention to this article. Since no response was forthcoming from you all, I have tried to contact the Orangware web site, and guess what? email to them gets bounced. So, now I have to ask: what is the value of posting your article, if you can't back it up?
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  • I have an older Cannon MV920 which uses a tape and firewire. I tried usinfg it to vido conference inn Skype. Skype would not recognize my camera ?
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  • I, too, have a Canon that will connect to my PC via Firewire. Try Eagleton's TrackerCam software.........(google it).
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  • Hi..what camcorder can I use that is out now to do this?
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  • i have camileo S10 from toshiba, how can i make it my webcam too ?
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  • The Toshiba Camileo X400 comes with all the leads, software, and printed instructions of how to use as a webcam STRAIGHT OUT OF THE BOX !!!
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