Although thedistributed nationwide, it will likely be a while before we return to our offices and social gatherings the same way we used to. That means you probably still spend a lot of time talking to colleagues, family, and friends such as , and . (If you̵
As long as the phone you’re using isn’t older than a few years, the image quality should be better than your laptop’s default camera, more functional and easier to position so you’re not filming with your double chin or right up 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 one to use your phone camera for video chats.
You can also just launch the app for your video chat service of your choice, such as, and chat directly through there. However, there are steps you can take to make sure your video quality is the best it can be. Read more!
There are dozens of free and paid apps that can turn your workhorse smartphone into a webcam.
Webcam apps for Android phones
I have 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 most clear instructions within the app, but only works with Windows or Linux machines. The same was true for IP Webcam.
Since I’m on a Mac, I went for EpocCam Webcam.
Webcam apps for iPhones
I have tried EpocCam Webcam (free, or $ 8 or $ 20 for the professional versions), iCam ($ 5) and iVCam (free). All were pretty easy to set up once you found the instruction pages on their websites. EpocCam and iCam work for Windows or MacOS machines, while iVCam works for iPhone users with Windows computers, not Macs. (Update: Another option is the NDI HX Camera app – it used to cost $ 20, but is now free and allows iPhones to use as HD webcams.)
For any webcam app
If you run the app regularly, your phone batteryso you can plug your phone into an external power bank or place your setup near a power outlet if you find yourself needing a charge.
Use your phone’s main camera
Your phone’s main camera produces a higher quality image than the selfie camera, and it also offers more options for zooming and focusing. The, and many other premium smartphones have sharper resolution at 1080p than some of the , which has a built-in 720p webcam. For best results when using your phone as a webcam, use that rear camera instead of the front selfie camera.
The webcam apps and video chat apps often allow you to select options such as video resolution, quality and orientation, as well as focus, white balance and color effects.
Stabilize your phone
Avoid arm cramps or an unflattering angle by placing your phone on a tripod, stand, or table mount. This will give you the least shaky and most professional looking results. (CNET recommends this $ 37 mini tripod from Manfrotto.)
Put on some lights
Whether you work in a home office, ($ 160 at Amazon) mode and three light modes.), you need good lighting to keep your face looking bright, remove shadows and maybe hide some wrinkles. Consider buying a ring light. (CNET recommends this $ 30 base model that comes with 36 LEDs, a clip
Invest in a microphone
Your AirPods ($ 129 at Amazon) or any other pair of headphones with a built-in mic will get the job done, but if you’re using your new DIY webcam to record something professional, you should invest in a good mic. (CNET recommends this Blue Yeti USB Microphone for $ 130 or this Shure MV88 + Video Kit with Stereo Digital Condenser Microphone for $ 249.)
These tips should help you create a better home office and video conferencing setup now that just about every meeting is a video conference – and possibly help you find a new application for your old phone. Check out more ways to repurpose your older phones, and .