The Ultimate Webcam: DSLR, Mirrorless or iPhone?

So you want to improve your video call quality and use a DSLR or mirrorless camera as your camera? In this extensive article for Reincubate, I break down what’s required, and compare it to using an iPhone with Camo.

Over the past year, I’ve written several articles for Reincubate, the company that makes Reincubate Camo, an app that lets you use your iPhone as a webcam. That seemed like a niche product idea until the beginning of 2020 when COVID-19 turned everyone into remote workers. Suddenly, the limitations of the cameras built into laptops and desktops, and especially standalone webcams, became more apparent. I wrote a comparison of the video call qualities of webcams, iPhones, and DSLR/mirrorless cameras, and then turned around and dug deep into just why webcams aren’t good enough.

Now Reincubate has published another piece of mine, this time looking at the high end of quality and what it takes to get it: The Ultimate Webcam: DSLR, Mirrorless, or iPhone? The idea here was to get a lot of the information out in the open about using a DSLR or mirrorless camera for video calls. Doing so will give you the best image in most situations, but there are tradeoffs in terms of cost and complexity. I compared the results from my Fujifilm X-T3 and a Canon EOS 7D Mark II, and also pitted them against an iPhone SE (the 2020 model) and an iPhone 12 Pro running Camo.

I go into image quality, for sure, but there’s so much more to think about when setting up a DSLR or mirrorless camera as a webcam: lens choice, power, heat issues, physical connection options, software connections, video resolution. You can’t just easily say, “Grab an old DSLR off the shelf and point it at yourself.”

As with my other articles, even though Reincubate paid me to research and write this, it was never in service of making Camo look like the preferred option. Camo is a great option, but may not work for everyone’s situation. Except in a few cases, a DSLR or mirrorless camera will look better. That said, I think Camo on the iPhone holds its own well against the bigger cameras, even with hardware disadvantages like small image sensors and fixed aperture lenses.

Oh, and also as with my other articles, there are many, many example photos and videos of me, but I also managed to rope/talk a couple other people in to break up the Jeff-monotony.

I also had the pleasure of chatting with Chuck Joiner for a pair of MacVoices episodes about the article and the experience of using these cameras. Check it out at MacVoices or in the videos below.

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