Anyone who has tried to buy a webcam knows they are now expensive or there’s a long wait for delivery. There’s a very cheap alternative to a webcam that you can use today for very little money and the camera could be better than separate camera.
We weren’t surprised to see this WaPo article The hunt for a work-from-home webcam: A story of broken supply chains, ‘sold-out’ messages and refreshing online carts detailing the high prices (100% markups) and long delays in getting a web camera.
Many of the inbuilt cameras on laptops aren’t very good. They have low resolution, poor quality in low light. Being fixed to the screen makes it hard to position in the best way.
Webcams plug into your laptop, should be better cameras and usually have some extra features in the supplied software. However, they are limited to the cable length.
Smartphones as webcams
A cheap app (well under US$10) turns almost any smartphone or tablet (Apple or Android) into a webcam.
Use your smartphone or dig out an old ‘standby’ device and put it to work.
Modern smartphone/tablet cameras are good quality, as good if not better than many stand alone webcams.
Best of all, they are wireless! Position the camera anywhere you like or even move around during the online call.
Use any in-built ‘flash’ which can be turned on to light up your face better.
Setup is easy, try the appropriate app from the iTunes Store or Google Play then install the matching software on your Windows or Mac computer.
Once it’s working OK, buy the full app for a few dollars.
No price gouging, no shipping delays – you’ve got a better webcam today.
We’ve done it ourselves
We’ve turned both an Android smartphone and an Apple iPad into a camera running off a Windows laptop.
DroidCam works great on our Android and Apple devices with either Windows or Linux computers. Look at other apps for Mac computer compatibility.
Another advantage is you can use any virtual camera software that’s available for Windows or Mac.