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.