The other day, while we were discussing the Apple event live, the webcam of a server started to fail. It fell from time to time (and I had to disconnect it to make it work again) and see, for someone who, among other things, is dedicated to doing live shows, having a camera that is fine and offers good image quality is something important.
The truth is that it was the last straw. I had been a bit tired of my current webcam for a while. It has served for a long time, but the image quality it offers is poor, the light control is rather regular and the autofocus is a little bit better. So I started looking for a new one, and after much searching, I found a great alternative: the mobile and an app.
Using an old mobile as a webcam? Yes it’s worth it
I am one of those who think that if something we have at home can be used to give it a second life, go ahead with it. So much so that my PC sound system is an old mini system that I had lying around, and hey, don’t take it away from me. And not something else in my house, but mobiles from previous years are kicking.
There are several, but one of the ones I use the most is the ASUS Zenfone 7 Pro. It’s last year’s model and I like it because of its rotating camera. What does that mean? That I don’t have to use the mobile’s internal camera, but I can simply put the mobile with the screen facing me (to be able to see myself) and turn the camera whose quality, without being the highest, is more than decent.
I use that one, but what I want to tell you today valid with any Android mobile (and even an iPhone or iPad). And it is not only enough to have the mobile at hand, but we need an application that helps our PC detect the mobile camera as a webcam. There are many options, but the one I am using now is Camo.
Camo is a freemium app (and it has been on iOS for a while). However, it was recently released on Android in Early Access and in the meantime, paid features are completely free. Also, something I like is that it works with the USB cable (in addition to WiFi), something that is very good because the quality is higher, it does not depend on the network connection and frame drops are avoided.
The configuration process is really simple: you download the app on your mobile (available on Google Play), activate USB debugging from the settings, download the client on Windows or Mac, connect your mobile to your computer via USB and select “Camo” as webcam. It works on any platform, be it Zoom, Skype, Slack, Teams, Chrome, Firefox or OBS.
The result? Sensational. If you want to see it for yourself, here you have a video using my webcam and here another using Camo and the mobile camera. The difference is more than evident. To put it on the table, to make the mobile stable and to improve the lighting, I used the ring of light that I use to record the videos that we upload to TikTok, but with any small tripod it should be enough.
The positive part? That while the early access lasts on Android, all the advanced functions (among which are the video in FullHD, changing the angle and the control of parameters and focus) are free. The negative part? That when you leave this phase some functions will become paid (subscription or lifetime license for 82 euros). The price is not “that high” if we compare it with the most powerful webcams on the market, but that will depend on each one.
There are many other options, whether mobile or not. For the mobile there are several apps that work the same, but via WiFi (a well-known one is Iriun). If you have a DSLR (compatible) you can also use it as a webcam using the tools of Sony, Canon, Nikon and company, and you can even use a GoPro Hero4 Black or higher as a webcam.