Over the past two years, I have spent more time in front of a camera than ever before in my life, video conferencing meetings or virtual events, such as conferences, webinars, podcasts, etc.

I use the excellent Logitech Brio Ultra HD Pro webcam, but even at 4K 30FPS, it lacks the image quality of a Digital Single-Lens Reflex (DSLR) camera.

Therefore, I decided to connect my Nikon D3500 DSLR camera as an optional alternative.

The Nikon D3500 is a popular beginner DLSR, which can be purchased for around £500. Due to some inconvenient software limitations (covered later), the Nikon D3500 is not the best DLSR camera for use as a webcam but is certainly usable in most (non-professional) scenarios.

To get started, you will need to purchase the following hardware, which cost approximately £40.

  1. Elgato CAM LINK 4k
  2. Mini-HDMI to HDMI Cable
  3. Neewer EP-5A for EN-EL14 Power Connector

I selected the Elgato CAM LINK 4k as it offers great quality/performance for the price. However, it is worth noting that it only officially supports Windows and macOS, not Linux.

With the required hardware procured, the setup process is very simple.

  • Step One: Connect the Elgato CAM LINK 4k and install the Camera Hub software.

  • Step Two: Insert the Neewer EP-5A for EN-EL14 Power Connector.

  • Step Three: Turn on the Nikon D3500 and configure the shutter view to 30mins.

  • Step Four: Swith the Nikon D3500 to “Live View” by clicking the “Lv” button.

  • Step Five: Connect the HDMI cable to the Elgato CAM LINK 4k and Nikon D3500.

  • Step Six: Launch the Camera Hub software to confirm it is working.

The camera will now be available to select from video conferencing applications (e.g. Microsoft Teams, Zoom, Cisco WebEx, GoToMeeting, etc.) and streaming software (e.g. OBS Studio, etc.)

Nikon D3500

You will need a separate microphone, either via a headset or a dedicated device. I use a Blue Yeti connected to the Blue Yeticaster, which includes the Compass Boom Arm and Radius III Custom Shockmount.

With everything configured, you should see a dramatic improvement in video quality over the majority of consumer-grade webcams.

One frustrating software limitation is the Live View timeout, which has a maximum preset of 30mins.

As a result, the camera requires manual user intervention (a button click) once every 30mins to maintain the Live View. The good news is that any button click is acceptable and it does display a warning. Even if you miss the timeout, it does not stop the video feed, it simply goes dark (therefore is quick and easy to recover).

To get the most out of the Nikon D3500, I recommend the following settings.

  • Set the Live View timeout to 30mins by clicking “Setup Menu” > “Auto Off Timers” > “Custom” > “Live View” = “30m”.

  • Click the “Exposure Compensation” button, located on the front of the camera to reset the 30mins Live View timeout.

  • Remove the on-screen overlay by repeatedly clicking the “info” button.

  • Enable continuous autofocus by selecting mode “P”, switch to “Live View” by clicking the “Lv” button, click the “i” menu button and select “AF-F” (full-time-servo AF).

I don’t use the Nikon D3500 as a webcam every day, as it is less convenient than the Logitech Brio Ultra HD Pro. However, in scenarios where the extra quality is desired, having this setup available is great!