There are three main methods by which a dSLR/mirrorless camera can be used as a webcam.
HDMI capture requires two things: that the camera can output "clean HDMI"; that is HDMI that doesn't have camera control overlays all over it, and an HDMI capture device to turn the HDMI output from the camera into a USB webcam input to the computer. Most* video-capable interchangeable lens cameras do not output clean HDMI if they are not from the last generation or two (this is written in 2020) of cameras.
Also, at the current time, purchasing an HDMI capture device or card for your computer is likely to be your biggest mountain, since most of the popular ones, like Elgato's Cam Link 4K, have been sold out/on backorder for months. But if you're willing to go with cheap Chinese solutions on eBay, there may be hope.
But HDMI capture does allow for HD resolutions and 4K.
*Canon dSLRs that can load Magic Lantern excepted. See: https://magiclantern.fandom.com/wiki/HDMI_Output.
Tethered liveview translation
The second method is using a camera's ability to do tethered liveview over USB, and using software to translate this to look like a USB webcam input. Resolution may be limited.
Also, a lot of camera bodies can't do this. Canon and Sony excepted, most camera manufacturers reserve this feature for higher-end prosumer models. So you'll need to check whether your specific camera has this capability. You then need some software that can translate this liveview stream to look internally like webcam input. Typically, transforming it into Spout (Windows), Syphon (OSX), or V4L2 (Linux) input, and then software to make that a virtual camera you can select from your video conferencing app.
Many camera companies are rolling their own versions of how to do this (see By camera manufacturer section, below), but there are free and open solutions that can work for older cameras and OS versions (see my personal experience section).
Screen capture streaming
The third method is to use some kind of USB (or wireless, see mjt's answer) connection with the camera and software that can display the camera sensor's data (typically a remote control shooting app from the manufacturer, or freeware like digicamControl or gPhoto) and then using OBS (Open Broadcast Software) to send that display on a webcam stream using obs-virtual-cam or its plugin (Windows), obs-mac-virtualcam (OSX), or obs-v4l2sink (Linux).
This method typically still requires USB liveview capability, but doesn't rely on having a newer camera or OS versions that are supported by the OEM webcam releases.
By camera manufacturer
Since August 2020 Nikon has also released the Webcam Utility Beta for Windows 10.
It lists the following supported cameras:
- Z5, Z6, Z7, Z50
- D850, D780, D500
- D7500, D5600
For Mac users Nikon has partnered with Ecammlive. Nikon provides a promotion code (
NIKONCREATOR) for 2 free months the paid Ecammlive plan.
There's nothing much on the Sony website either, but enthusiasts have published how to do screencap streaming and HDMI translation with Sony cameras. The chances of getting clean HDMI or liveview tethering with Sony is pretty high.
Canon has released the Canon EOS Webcam Utility for Windows 10, OSX 10.13, 10.14, and 10.15 for the following cameras to take advantage of liveview tethering:
- 1 DX II, 1DX III
- 5D Mark IV, 5DS, 5DS R
- 6D Mark II
- 7D Mark II
- 77D, 80D, 90D
- SL2, SL3
- T6, T6i, T7, T7i, T100
- M6 II, M50, M200
- R, RP,
- G5X II, G7X III, SX70 HS
This reddit post lists it as also unofficially working with:
So, if your Canon dSLR isn't listed, try it anyway and see. You may need to be in video mode.
Fuji has released X Webcam for Windows 10 (OSX support pending), and lists compatibility with the following cameras:
- GFX100, GFX50S, GFX50R
- X-Pro2, X-Pro3
- X-T2, X-T3, X-T4
And there's a firmware update for the X-T200 and X-A7, so they can be used as webcams without additional software on Windows 10 and OSX 10.14/10.15.
Panasonic has released Lumix Tether for Streaming, for Windows 10, and lists compatibility with:
- DC-S1, DC-S1R, DC-S1H
Olympus has released Olympus OM-D Webcam Beta for Windows 10. And lists compatibility with:
- E-M1, E-M1 Mark II, E-M1 Mark III
- E-M5 Mark II
They also have a page on using an HDMI capture device, and lists the same models as having clean HDMI output, excluding the E-M1 (Mark I).
Android/iOS smartphone cameras
Apparently, smartphone cameras can also be used as webcams, if you had need for more video-studio style manipulation vs. simply using the conferencing app for your phone. They typically do something similar to the liveview tethering deal, only using a mobile app, wi-fi, and a Windows/OS driver or application to turn the wifi signal into a webcam. See:
My personal experience with an older camera and OSX 10.12 (Sierra)
However, if you're an OSX shooter and your camera and OSX version are so old they aren't on the lists above or can use obs-mac-virtualcam, I've also found Kit Farrelly's free solution for OSX tethered liveview translation, which uses the open source Camera Live to turn the tethered liveview into a Syphon stream, and CamTwist to turn the Syphon stream into a webcam feed. I wrote about that in this answer on a Canon-specific question. Farrelly got it to work with his Fuji X-T2; I use it with a Canon 5DMkII. The resolution with my 5DMkII (confirmed with Syphon Simple) client is 1024x680.
I've also found that the $20 commercial eCamm application, iGlasses, can turn a Syphon feed into a webcam feed and supports basic adjustment controls/effects, if you didn't want to purchase an eCamm Live subscription, deal with Camtwist [abandoned after 2013], or you needed a solution that works with FaceTime [Camtwist doesn't].