Faced with the need for a webcam which will give me a wide range of zoom, and allow me to change depth of field, I am wondering if I can use my Nikon D7200 as a webcam.

How is it set up? What is the resolution?

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    Hi Mongo, glad to see you participating here. I see you are not a new member here, nor on the stackexchange network in general (17.8k rep on Aviation). I therefore assume you know good questions are best posed while showing some research. Could you edit your question to indicate what you've tried so far? What did you find on this stackexchange? What did you find on the www? Also note that this stackexchange is focussed on photography. Your question might seem to be too video focussed for some members. – Saaru Lindestøkke Jun 29 at 18:39
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    Rolling this back to the original specific version massively reduces its usefulness & makes it "yet another will my specific camera work as a webcam" question. We have lots of those, all almost impossible to search. – Tetsujin Jun 30 at 11:20
  • @Tetsujin I respect your opinion, however, I was looking for a specific answer, which is something I thought Stack Exchange was about. I was not looking for a broad brush generalist guide to using any camera as a webcam, rather I specifically wanted to use the D7200, probably because I have a handful of those handy to deploy for an application. I think a nice generalist response addressing multiple camera manufacturers, with different camera models and styles would be nice, and is a great question to have answered, but that wasn't what I was looking for. – mongo Jun 30 at 11:45
  • @SaaruLindestøkke Thanks for your comments. I did do a search, and found conflicting answers, with some concerns about equipment safety. I have provided an answer to my question, but perhaps there might have been someone with experience who could have chimed in with a short response to a short question. To make it clear, I was not looking for generalized webcam information, rather I wanted to use a specific camera and set of lenses for a specific application where I wanted to stream the resultant images. – mongo Jun 30 at 11:50
  • @mongo: glad to see that you did a search. I would recommend to include that in your question and indicate why those answers don't fit as that can help us give you a better answer. E.g.: you mention equipment safety, which is not included in your original question, but appears to be a concern you have. – Saaru Lindestøkke Jun 30 at 15:43

There are two ways which a Nikon D7200 or similar Nikon dSLR can be configured to be used as a webcam:

  1. Through USB port
  2. Through HDMI port

Nikon has a NEW webpage which covers this, which did not exist until recently. Sources say that COVID-19 work from home has caused a greater demand for cameras usable for webcam use. Here's the Nikon page, with lots of their product advertisements: https://www.nikonusa.com/en/learn-and-explore/live-streaming-with-nikon-cameras.page

The USB approach is pretty straight forward, and depending upon your application may need a go-between package. There are commercial ones, free ones and open source ones. I will not evaluate them here, but when I found an app which needed such a package, I quickly found some options. I tried several, but decided to not attempt to evaluate them.

The capabilities of the so-called go-between packages vary. Some just present the camera output to the end application needing webcam input. Others allow remote camera control, and permit adjustment of exposure, focus, etc. Again, that is outside the domain of the question, but a useful capability for someone who wants remote control of their camera.

The resolution of the USB approach was not determined.

The HDMI approach is a little more complicated, but promises to be HD quality. HDMI is taken from the camera, an unceremoniously converted with an HDMI to USB converter. I did not have one of these to try. The USB input is then treated as a video stream for use as a logical webcam, probably through a similar go-between package (perhaps even the same ones).

With two connection methods established, the remaining issue was whether such use of the camera would damage the sensor. My searches found many such concerns and talk of sensor time-outs and overheats.

The D7200 sensor can be set to not time out, but a normal time limit is about 28 minutes. Nikon tech support, after some research, confirmed that there are not sensor duration limits, and normal sensor use (eg not pointed at the sun) will not cause degradation. As an image scientist, I know that there are many environmental considerations for cameras, and I was able to confirm that Nikon states that the temperature range for the camera is from 32F to 104F. That suggests that thermal gains from being on a tripod in direct sunlight could readily exceed the upper end environmental limits. Protection such as an umbrella on an adjacent tripod is a mitigation approach.

So in summary: Yes, the D7200, and similar Nikon dSLRs can be used as a webcam, for video as well as stills. With the right software focus, aperture, exposure and other parameters may be controlled by camera control software. There are two (perhaps more) methods for data transport, USB port and HDMI port. There are no safety-of-equipment issues associated with long duration capture, such as overheating of the sensor, assuming normal precautions.

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  • Sorry to be so nitpicky, but I feel this answer a) does not add much to the existing answer of inkista and b) will become obsolete in the future. If I find this question in a year and Nikon's link is dead (as marketing links do) how can I find the right software? Or the relevant go-between package? Could you perhaps edit your answer to include names and/or links to at least some examples? – Saaru Lindestøkke Jun 30 at 16:09

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