Game capture hardware maker Elgato made streaming a little bit fancier this week with the release of Cam Link, a $US129 ($163) USB device that allows users to use any camera with an HDMI output as a webcam. Plus it also does game capture. It's pretty nifty.
Packaged in a box with a quick start guide and a USB extension cable (in case your USN 3.0 connector isn't in a good space for a dongle), the Cam Link is simple to use. Just plug it in,; run an HDMI cable from your camcorder, DSRL, GoPro or whatever; and now it's a webcam. Better yet, it's a webcam with all of the functionality of a better camera — physical zoom, swappable lenses, rapid focus, lighting adjustment. If your camera can do it, it can do it as a webcam.
I hooked the Cam Link up to the Canon 70D I use for videos and photoshoots and captured the Sonic Mania video below in Elgato's Game Capture HD software. Mind the early-morning Fahey look and the puffiness that comes of waking up and putting your face in a wide-angle lens.
There are a couple of caveats here. In order for the unit to work properly with a video source, the source needs to have an unprotected HDMI output. Since it will be continuously capturing video, the device also has to be able to switch off any sort of auto-shutdown feature. My 70D does not have this option by default (custom firmware might be the answer), so I had to set the camera recording to active. That eats battery, and really the Cam Link shouldn't be used for any extended amount of time without an AC adaptor of some sort hooked to your source.
I like the end result though. Using my DSLR instead of my crappy webcam means I can really see how much I should have shaved before capping the Sonic video. Go me.
The Cam Link (and Elgato's new $US150 [$189] collapsible green screen) are available today in the US at Elgato's online store. Australian pricing and availability has not yet been announced.