The Elgato Cam Link is a small USB dongle with an HDMI port that can turn nearly any camera into a webcam. This new device is $130, and it is available now from online retailers like Amazon. While plenty of video creators and Twitch broadcasters are happy with their Logitech C920 (widely regarded as the best USB webcam on the market), those looking to step up their production quality can now do so without spending thousands of dollars.
Elgato is introducing the Cam Link as part of its recent efforts to expand its product link aimed at game broadcasters. It already has its HD60 capture cards, the Stream Deck command center, and a green screen — and now the Cam Link fills out that lineup.
I’ve spent the last couple of weeks testing the Cam Link. Pairing it with my Canon Rebel T4i DSLR was simple … after I installed the custom Magic Lantern firmware that enables options that are necessary for livestreaming. Out of the box, the T4i’s HDMI output includes the UI overlay, and the software automatically turns the camera off after 30 minutes to protect the sensor. The Cam Link can’t help with those issues, but I was able to solve them on my own with Magic Lantern.
Once I hid the overlay and turn off the automatic shut down — among other tweaks — the Cam Link made it as simple as possible to bring that video feed into OBS or Xsplit. After tinkering with this setup for only a half hour, the potential was obvious. The Logitech C920 is an excellent camera. It’s more than enough for most people. But those with extensive knowledge of cinematography and photography may want more choices, and now they have an inexpensive way of bringing in any camera they want — as long as they can hook up an HDMI cable.
That said, I don’t think the T4i is the camera I want for my setup. I could keep futzing with the Magic Lantern settings to improve the image, but the T4i doesn’t output at a full 1080p. Instead, you get a squashed, lower-resolution picture that has more accurate colors than my normal webcam (the Logitch c615), but it isn’t quite as clear.
And I think that’s important to keep in mind. Don’t assume that the Cam Link is going to magically turn your sub-$1,000 DSLR into a great webcam. Instead, you’ll probably want something like a high-end video camera that features a sensor similar to the optics you’d find in a smartphone camera. Something like the $350 Zoom Q4 could work well.
For most of you, however, stick with your Logitech. If you are using a one-PC setup to stream to Twitch or YouTube, this probably isn’t for you. If you’ve already upgraded everything else except for your camera, however, the Cam Link could enable you to bring a level of production quality that will set your stream apart from the crowd with the help of a fancier camera.
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