For many streamers and content creators, quality is the number one need when it comes to the production side of their operation. Ensuring the content they create is compelling, unique, and entertaining is one thing, but fans also expect a certain level of quality in what they watch.
Webcams are one key component to any great video. Ensuring the webcam quality matches the gameplay quality is key to a successful production. For many, the Logitech C920 is the leader of the pack as the best USB webcam, but what if you wanted a second, high quality camera for another angle as you stream table-top night? The Cam Link can turn an HDMI enabled camera into a webcam. However, it’s not without its drawbacks.
The Cam Link serves to turn your HDMI enabled camera, such as a GoPro, DSLR or any other medium to upper range camera, into a webcam. The Elgato Cam Link can work with Xsplit, OBS, or even Elgato’s own capture software. As of now, however, I have not been able to get the Cam Link to be recognized in either AMD’s ReLive software or Nvidia’s GeForce Experience’s Share software. So if you use those to record or stream gameplay, the Cam Link might not prove the be the ideal setup for you.
Elgato’s Cam Link does encode the video feed at 1080p, 60 FPS, much like the company’s HD60 capture device. When using Elgato’s proprietary software, you really can only have one capture device selected at once. So unless you use OBS or another third party capture software, you’re not going to be able to use both the cam link or the HD60 simultaneously. Though, it can be argued that with the HDMI pass through of the HD60, it may not be necessary to get a Cam Link if you already own an HD60.
Using your DSLR camera as a webcam is kind of a mix bag, though. On one hand, it’s nice to use this incredibly expensive camera you have sitting around collecting dust. However, it is a little annoying to set up and get working, and then depending on the camera, it may or may not be the most ideal device to use. In my case, my Nikon D3300’s wouldn’t show up in the Elgato software unless I was its full digital mode. When doing this, though, the camera outputs the full UI overlay. For some, this may not be an issue, simply crop the footage and get rid of those borders. You can use third party programs, such as Magic Lantern, however us Nikon users don’t really have that option since they aren’t supported by Magic Lantern. For others, though, the hassle of doing so and not cutting out important footage in the process, may turn some away from this method.
Once it’s set up, though, the Cam Link turned my Nikon into a great little webcam. However, it should be noted that Elgato’s solution isn’t going to turn your incredibly expensive camera into a great webcam to rival the other ones on the market. The picture quality can be great, but with my Nikon, the image is sub-1080 thanks to the Nikon’s native output resolution. Since the Cam Link is pulling the image from the output display and not directly from the lens itself, it pretty much hamstrings itself in that department.
That said - second camera options, such as a top down camera on a board game you’re streaming with friends, a camera positioned on a secondary item to cut to and from during a podcast, or simply as a backup in case you need a second rig make the Elgato Cam Link compelling.
In the end, the Cam Link does work. However, at $129.95, it’s a steep price to pay for a solution that may or may not be better than the leading dedicated USB webcam. The potential of the Cam Link is incredibly reliant on the DSLR you hook up to it - and that may not be enough to pull enough people away from their already stellar Logitech’s. But, if you’re looking for a multi-camera rig set up for special occasions, the Elgato Cam Link offers a compelling option instead of buying another dedicated webcam.
- Full 1080p60 output
- Compatible with multiple streaming/capture programs
- Compatible with any HDMI Camera
- Highly Dependent on the camera you own
- Steep Price
- Doesn’t do enough to overtake a traditional webcam setup.
The product discussed in this article was provided by public relations for the purposes of review.