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CurrentImage[] will capture an image from the webcam. It is even possible to create a live video in the notebook using

Dynamic@CurrentImage[]

After using this function even a single time, Mathematica will not switch off or release the webcam any more, making it impossible to use the webcam from other programs on some systems.

How can I switch off / release the webcam from Mathematica, without quitting Mathematica completely?

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To turn the camera off you could use the undocumented function IMAQ`StopCamera[]. Similarly IMAQ`StartCamera[] will turn it back on again.

Alternatively you can use the On/Off button on the control interface returned by ImageCapture[]:

Mathematica graphics

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