Even thoughstill roll out the spread of the means it may be a while before we all get back to our offices and social gatherings as we are used to. That said, you probably still spend a lot of time talking to co-workers, family, and friends such as , and . (If you’re using zoom, here are including .) If the are still or you just don’t want to buy a new one, you can easily use your phone’s camera and create one yourself.
As long as the phone you’re using isn’t more than a few years old, the picture quality should be better than that of your laptop’s standard camera, more functional, and easier to position so you don’t film your double chin or straighten your nose.
Here’s how to turn your phone into a webcam for free.
You don’t even need a webcam app
A dedicated webcam app (more below) has special features, but you don’t need to have one in order to use your phone camera for video chatting.
You can also just start the app of your video chat service of choice, such as, and chat there directly. However, there are steps you can take to ensure that your video quality is the best possible. Continue reading.
Find and download the correct webcam app for Android or iPhone
There are dozen of free and paid apps that can be used to turn your workhorse smartphone into a webcam.
Webcam apps for Android phones
I tried IP Webcam (free or $ 4 for the Pro version), DroidCam (free or $ 5 for the Pro version), and EpocCam Webcam (free or $ 5 for the Pro version) . DroidCam had the clearest instructions in the app, but only works with Windows or Linux machines. The same was true for IP webcam.
Since I use a Mac, I chose EpocCam Webcam.
Webcam apps for iPhones
I tried EpocCam Webcam (free, or $ 8 or $ 20 for the professional versions), iCam ($ 5), and iVCam (free). All of them were pretty easy to set up once you found the how-to pages on their websites. EpocCam and iCam work for Windows or MacOS computers, while iVCam works for iPhone ($ 374 on Amazon) Users who have Windows computers, not Macs. (Update: Another option is the NDI HX Camera App – it costs $ 20 and allows iPhones to be used as HD webcams.)
For every webcam app
Running the app frequently can drain your phone’s batteryor place your setup near an electrical outlet when you need a charge.
Use your phone’s main camera
Your phone’s main camera produces a higher quality picture than the selfie camera and also offers more options for zooming and focusing. the, and many other premium smartphones have a sharper resolution of 1080p than some of the that have a built-in 720p webcam. For the best results when using your phone as a webcam, use this rear camera instead of the front-facing selfie camera.
The webcam apps and video chat apps often let you choose options like video resolution, quality and orientation, as well as focus, white balance and color effects.
Stabilize your phone
Avoid cramping your arm or hitting an awkward angle by stabilizing your phone on a tripod, stand, or table mount. This will give you the least shaky and professional results. (CNET recommends this $ 30 Manfrotto mini-tripod.)
Put up some lighting
Whether you work in the home office,, you need good lighting to make your face look bright, remove shadows, and maybe hide a wrinkle or two. Consider buying a ring light. (CNET recommends this $ 25 base model, which comes with 36 LEDs, a clip stand, and three light modes.)
Invest in a microphone
Your AirPods ($ 119 at Amazon) or other headphones with a built-in microphone will do the job, but if you’re using your new DIY webcam to record something professional, invest in a good microphone. (CNET recommends this Blue Yeti USB Microphone for $ 130 or this Shure MV88 + Video Kit with Digital Stereo Condenser Microphone for $ 249.)
These tips are designed to help you create a better home office and video conferencing setup, since almost every meeting is a video meeting – and may also help you find a new use for your old phone. For more ways to reuse your older phones, see, and .