pod: Turning your dSLR into a Webcam with Elgato HD60 S+ and a Shure VP83F microphone

professional photo camera taking photos of anonymous businesswoman

pod: Turning your dSLR into a Webcam with Elgato HD60 S+ and a Shure VP83F microphone

OK, thanks to Lucas, he reminded me that I've been using an excellent webcam, the Logitech BRIO, it does produce 4K SDR output, but it has a consumer-grade lens, so off to try to figure out how to get my old Sony A-7R Mark III (ILCE7RM3) and Sony RX-100 Mark VI both of which produce 4K HDR with a 35mm and a 13mm x 9mm sensor which is relatively huge compared with the Logitech sensor. And they both have very shallow depth of field systems, the 50mm f/1.4 produces really nice Bokeh.

Simplest and cheapest over USB 2.0 with Sony App

But getting it working isn't easy. If you want something for Zoom, then Sony shipped (for the Pandemic), a Imaging Edge Webcam driver which works on Mac or Windows that lets you use a USB 2.0 cable and send a 720p video to Zoom or OBS as a Virtual camera.

This works pretty well and even though it is low resolution, the color and picture quality are incredible.

MacOS Setup is mysterious

Well, you can't brew install the Imaging Edge Webcam, it has a Windows and Mac installation and you really have to know the exact product id for each system, for instance the A7R Mark III is the ILEC-7RM3 and the DSC-RX100M6 is the RX-100 Mark VI. The confusing thing is that once you download it and restart, it is not clear where the application user interface is. That's because there isn't one, this looks like a driver installation and just works when you look for a camera in the Mac interface. It would have helped to explain it 🙂

Setting your camera up first

For these older cameras, you set the A7R3 in auto mode and the RX100M6 has to be in movies mode. And you must set the Smart Phone mode to off and then USB Mode to PC Remote.

MacOS Failed to Connect because of Google Drive

Well things aren't super clear but as soon as I got this working, I saw that the camera was stuck on USB Connecting and then in Zoom, I got a popup that came from somewhere deep inside of MacOS that said. The actual Sony help was completely useless, it basically said just wait and try again:

Failed to connect to the camera due to a conflict with the function of another running application

This was really mysterious, but the hint was the function of another application, I basically just guessed that it was because of Google Drive because it did the first time I used this, Google Drive saw the Flash Drive and wouldn't you know it, that when I disabled it, it all worked

Shure VP83F Microphone working

I also have a Shure VP83F that came with one of my cameras, but haven't used it. I also have a Rode VideoMic but the mount broke off and I actually got another one and need to call to figure out where it went.

In any case, the Shure VP83F is a small microphone but there are a few confusing things. First is how to turn it on. It's confusing because the red dot on the right doesn't turn it on, that just starts the record. So that's confusing. Also, you the two AA batteries are behind no less than two covers and then it is really unclear which way the AAs go. But the hint is that when you look into the cover, then the right battery should have top pointed in and the other is up.

For 4K HDR you need a HDMI to USB 3 or TB3 Capture Card

Well the video application is pretty spectacular for the even 720p because of the quality of the lens, but if you are really doing professional video, then you need something called a HDMI to USB system. The reason for the capture card is that PCs have HDMI outputs, but you really need an HDMI input and the way this is done is that the box translates HDMI into a signal that is passed over USB 3.2 or Thunderbolt 3.

There seem to be two systems that work and thank goodness that after three years, Apple Silicon support finally works, but the best capture cards according to How-To Geek and IGN:

Elgato HD60 S+. This is their high end external system with 4Kp60 HDR for recording and it even has an SD card slot, so you can record directly and then play it back later. You can get the HD60 S+ for $188 at Amazon. There is a cheaper HD60 X which does passthrough but only does recording at 1080p. It support 4Kp60 with HDR 10-bit color.

The good news is that they have good compatibility including the HD60 S+, HD60X and Cam Link 4KThe issue is of course M1 compatibility for the S60+ but not the S60.

Elgato Cam Link 4K. This is a small plugin with a USB A plug that is USB 3.2 and HDMI on the input. It is $100 at Amazon. The main limitation is that it is only 4Kp30 but on the other hand, this is all that the A7R3 can produce or the RX100M6 can do

Atomos Ninja V External Monitor. This is not really for webcam but is useful if you want to turn your dSLR into a full on video camera, it provides a huge 5 inches screen at 1000 nits so you can see through more than just the viewfinder and it records the content at full 4K HDR with an include SSD. Not a bad accessory at $400 at Amazon for a full video rig (but way overkill just to get something into OBS). For a Sony A7 Mark 3, you get 8-bit 4:2:2 4K at 30 fps and since it is reading the HDMI output it has a processor that can handle ProRes in LT, HQ and 422 formats. $

AVerMedia Live Bolt (GC555) GC553. This is in many ways the more interesting unit as it uses Thunderbolt 3 which is 40Mbps which is a good match to HDMI 2.0 maximum for 4Kp60 resolution at 18Mbps. Note that none of these support HDMI 2.1 which is an even faster at 48Mbps. So it allows a full HD at 240 fps and 4Kp60 HDR recording. There are still issues in that it doesn't work with M1 Mac and cannot do HDR capture on a Mac. That's really too bad as having Thunderbolt is the right way to do this.

A73 cable or DSC-RX100 cable. As an aside for both the Sony A7R Mark III and the Sony DSC-RX100 Mark VI you do need a 4K Micro HDMI to HDMI connector as the cameras have these tiny ports. You can get a no name adapter for $10 at Amazon.

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