There’s no disputing that today more than ever, because of the Global Pandemic, people and businesses are making use of Online Conferencing and LIVE Streaming platforms such as Zoom, Skype, GoToMeeting, FaceTime, Microsoft Teams, Ecamm and OBS to name just a few, and their use is destined to increase with day to day life restrictions being imposed and the ability for many to work from home.
Being able to communicate ‘virtually’ face to face is proving to be invaluable allowing business to continue and for friends and loved ones to not just keep in contact but to actually see each other.
“Thank God” for Zoom is something I’ve heard said more times than I can remember since having opened up my calendar to Camera Clubs for online presentations and having spoken to many people around the world; recent times would certainly have been a lot harder to deal with without that line of contact with friends, family and loved ones albeit online.
So with this all said and safe in the knowledge that chatting face to face online is becoming part of every day life, let’s take a look at how we can enhance the experience by ditching our webcams and replacing them with our Sony mirrorless cameras.
Sony Imagine Edge Webcam Software or Video Capture Card?
When it comes to connecting your camera to your computer there a couple of options, namely some free software from Sony called Imaging Edge Webcam or a video capture card such as the CamLink from Elgato.
My preferred option is the CamLink and I’ll explain why shortly, but first let’s take a look at the software option…
Sony Imaging Edge Webcam Software
To start off you need to download the free software and you can do that by visiting this link:
When you click to download you then need to find and select your camera model and then choose to download either the Mac or Windows version.
Once you’ve installed the software I’d highly recommend that you then read the ‘How to Use’ section from the page (link above) as there are a few steps involved.
Now although this is most definitely a solution, as with anything free there are of course some things to consider and the main ones for me which aside from the CamLink being quicker and easier to use, are other reasons the software option wasn’t for me…
- Connecting over USB won’t stream at 4K resolution.
- Connecting over USB doesn’t carry audio.
The first point might not be a deal breaker (Imaging Edge Webcam streams at 1024 x 576 pixels) but as for the second this means even though your camera has a microphone input OR maybe you have a microphone you can connect into your camera, the USB won’t grab the audio feed. The only option here is to buy a separate microphone you can plug into your computer via USB or maybe XLR into a mixer.
However one great thing about connecting over USB is that it can also power the camera whilst using it instead of having to buy a dummy battery; you just need to make sure that USB Power Supply I turned on in the settings .
So that’s the software option; not perfect but certainly a solution fo using your Sony mirrorless as a webcam. Let’s now take a look at the CamLink option…
Now it really doesn’t get any easier and better quality than the CamLink which is literally a plug and play option and captures video at up to 4K at 30 FPS (Frames Per Second) or 1080p at 60 FPS.
Of course the ease of set up and quality does come with a price tag, with the CamLink coming in at around £119, but the hassle free connection and quality of video when teamed up with the Sony mirrorless is really quite something.
- CamLink 4K by Elgato
- Micro HDMI to HDMI cable (go for about 3 metres to allow room for manoeuvre)
You’ll notice that no additional microphone is listed here, and that’s because the CamLink connecting over HDMI does carry the audio feed so the microphone in your camera will work. However, it is what it is and the quality of the audio won’t match the quality of the video footage so you might want to look at investing in a microphone too.
Now because the HDMI carries the audio feed you could quite happily use a microphone that plugs directly into the microphone input on your camera; you could plug an inexpensive lavalier microphone into your camera or if you wanted to really go for it you could invest in a USB or XLR microphone.
This couldn’t be easier…
Plug the Micro HDMI into the camera and the other end of the HDMI cable into the CamLink. Then plug the CamLink into the computer (USB) and turn to the Video Mode on the camera (Image: 005); that’s all there is to it!
Incidentally the CamLink is a great way to demo in camera settings on a big screen…
- Head to the HDMI settings (Image: 005)
- Turn ON the HDMI Display info option (Image: 006)
Now when you are in any other model (P, A, S, M etc) you can also record the Info Display and Menu Options.
Using the CamLink with Streaming Software
With the camera plugged in and turned on it really couldn’t be easier to use with your conferencing / streaming platform of choice.
For example in Zoom simply select the CamLink 4K in the Select a Camera Section (image: 007)
If you’re using the microphone on the camera or you have one plugged into the camera then in the Audio settings you would again choose CamLink 4K (image: 008) otherwise choose the microphone you are using.
So there’s just a couple of options for you so that you can start using your Sony mirrorless as a webcam and up the quality of your LIVE streaming whether you’re using it for business or keeping in contact with friends, family and loved ones.
If LIVE Streaming is going to be common place and from time to time the only way we’re going to be able to see those dearest to us then let’s make it crystal clear, enhance the experience and the very next best thing to ‘in person’.
Glyn Dewis: https://glyndewis.com/
Sony UK: https://www.sony.co.uk