Canon releases webcam support - where is Nikon?

Started 3 months ago | Discussions thread
Richard B99 Senior Member • Posts: 2,652
And then I gave it a try...

Richard B99 wrote:

jimhughes wrote:

Meanwhile Nikon connectivity software remains stuck in the 90s.

As someone who uses a webcam about 6 hours per day at present with lockdown and have used it for over two years for 2-3 hours a day before that with colleagues and clients, I have to say that this whole DSLR / mirrorless as a webcam is complete nonsense right now. Sure, go for it if you are vide blogging or streaming but it’s near useless for video conferencing.

Why? Well the most important thing is audio and your regular video mics in or off camera simply do not do ambient noise suppression so any sound from your speakers instantly feeds back to everyone else and you are screwed. Yuck. Use headphones and mic...seriously? So now you look like a gaming dork and your ears become uncomfortable not a good look over your high quality link.

Then there is that great high quality video source that’s gonna get compressed to death over any of the web conferencing connections and, even if you have a great internet you can bet (experience) that some of your counterparties don’t and will get a mushy stuttering feed anyway. But wait, I hear the advocates say, I want the messy background blurred or clean. Sure, hang up a plain background or use a conferencing tool that blurs the background (many do).

And that’s not mentioning camera positioning when looking at a screen (especially 27” plus) You have the fun of deciding whether to show your forehead (above screen) double chins and nose hair (below) or looking like you are disinterestedly staring into the distance (side). Plus, you need to buy a AC battery eliminator and spend several mins switching it all on and checking before beginning - not good when jumping on and off in the course of a normal working day.

Don’t get me wrong, video conferencing is the way I have worked with colleagues for several years and it’s a critical business saver right now with everyone and clients working at home over many countries but high quality video source is simply a side issue as it’s not the key to being effective by a long way.

My frank advice for video conferencing is to use an Apple MacBook. It is really noticeable between those and most any windows machine. The quality of the audio isolation is way better (can’t remember the times we have had to ask windows users to go to mute) and the 720 camera is more than sufficient. BTW my laptop is a 2015 13” MacBook Pro so it’s not exactly a brand new thing here. It’s only recently we collectively realised the difference / cause here and we have checked the difference across our estate.

I was fairly disparaging above on camera vs webcam for conferencing purposes above.  Nevertheless, I couldn’t resist the opportunity of trying it out so I bought a £80 HDMI capture device on-line and waited nearly a week for Amazon to deliver.  Over the weekend it arrived and I plugged it into the camera’s HDMI and into the Mac’s USB socket.  And it worked.  No additional s/w needed for video conferencing, the conferencing s/w just picks up the feed and allows you to select it.  That’s it. 
I played around with it a bit and conferenced back to myself and was a bit underwhelmed.  I thought the quality was marginally better than the webcam at the other end but not really worth the cost and hassle for most.  I did however quite like the zoom ability and found I was able to get a better perspective and the flippy* rear screen helped. Plus, the better camera controls helped get better WB and contrast.

It was still mounted this morning so I used it for a regular call.  30 seconds in, one colleague asked me ‘what I done with my camera because it was so much better’.  I confessed😳  OK, so it seems I was wrong and it is noticeable so it’s going to stay there.  Interesting lesson learnt but the conferencing software still horribly compresses things!

* Full disclosure, I was experimenting with a Sony RX100iii.  It’s small and easily mounts on an arm above the screen and I don’t use it much except for travel on business so it’s essentially redundant for the foreseeable (plus I’d be happy to do much less business travel in future too).  It also has a separate 1080P 60 output and when it’s in use, the camera stays on and doesn’t sleep after its max 30mins power saving mode.  I also already have a battery eliminator that’s USB (5V) powered from a powered USB hub on my desk.  The flippy selfie screen shows over the camera top and is a useful monitor that works in mirror mode (for you). Finally it was mounted using a Manfrotto super-clamp and magic arm above the raised on a stand MacBook screen so it is at sitting eye height.  Without the latter, things would get messy on my small work desk.  
I’m sure the Z6 would do better on subject isolation than the small Sony at 40mm but it’s quite pleasing as is.  
I thought I’d share those slightly unexpected findings.  Hope they are useful.

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