How to Use Your Sony Camera as a Webcam

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Whether you want a professional look for your livestreams or simply to look better on your next video chat, one of the best options is to use a dedicated camera with excellent video specs—such as your Sony Alpha mirrorless or Cyber-shot point-and-shoot camera. You will need a few key accessories to make it happen, but the benefit is well worth it.

Why Use a Sony Camera Instead of a Webcam?

The main reason you want to use a Sony camera over a webcam is for the vastly improved image quality. Sony cameras are already being used on film sets and in many independent filmmakers’ gear bags because they are known for stellar video quality. Now you can harness that quality to enjoy better video for your calls and meetings.

Recommended Cameras and Equipment

Most modern Sony cameras should offer a way to get a clean video feed via their HDMI output and now Sony has a Webcam app that will work with these cameras to produce a video feed compatible with many programs.

Most recently, version 2.00 for the ZV-1 allows users to connect the camera directly to a computer via a USB cable. It allows for standard UVC/UAC transmission that should work directly with most video conferencing programs. It even works with select Xperia smartphones for on-the-go streaming.

The ZV-1 is Sony's best option for webcam use. As of firmware V2.00, the ZV-1 will transmit 720p video and audio via a direct USB connection to a PC using standard UVC protocols.

Here are the cameras we recommend for streaming and webcam use.

Sony ZV-1 Digital Camera
Sony ZV-1 Digital Camera

Of course, this list is not comprehensive; it only represents current models. If you have an older camera, such as the a6300, with a clean HDMI output function you can use this technique.

Simple: USB and Sony Webcam App

Sony has officially launched their Imaging Edge Webcam application for Windows and macOS. It works with a majority of Sony's camera models (37 as on Feb. 2021) and provides a way for cameras to connect via a single USB cable.

  1. Download and install the Imaging Edge Webcam application from Sony on their support page.
  2. Connect the camera via USB cable.
  3. Launch your video conferencing app and make sure to select "Imaging Edge Webcam" as the video source.

It's simple! Just make sure your camera is properly configured, some models require specific settings to function. One note is that the Imaging Edge Webcam app does not support audio, you will need another microphone or audio input for sound.

With the ZV-1 you don't even need the Imaging Edge Webcam app. Just connect via USB and you can enjoy both high-quality 1280 x 720 video resolution with sound.

High-Quality: HDMI Capture Devices

If you desire higher quality, you will also need a video capture device. This can come in multiple forms, as a small USB dongle, a switcher, or even a PCIe card that you install in your computer or an external enclosure. Here are a few of our recommendations.

Blackmagic Design UltraStudio Mini Recorder
Blackmagic Design UltraStudio Mini Recorder

To connect your camera to this device, you will need an HDMI cable. All of Sony’s current cameras feature a micro-HDMI port, meaning you’ll want a micro-HDMI to HDMI cable.

Pearstone HDD-110 High-Speed HDMI to Micro-HDMI Cable
Pearstone HDD-110 High-Speed HDMI to Micro-HDMI Cable

When you have the camera, a capture device, and a cable, you have everything you need to get started.

How to Set up your Camera and Computer

First, you will want to make sure that if your device requires any type of software, driver, or plug-in to work that you install it right away. Then you should be set to connect your camera, capture device, and computer. There is one mandatory setting—you must make sure the HDMI Output settings on your Sony camera match the requirements of your capture device. Some devices only record Full HD, so you’ll want to make sure you are outputting the correct format for this to work. Now for some recommended settings.

    • Set your camera to Movie Mode.
    • Choose Continuous AF (AFC) with Face/Eye Detection enabled.
    • Manual exposure will give you consistent imagery.

That’s basically it, but make sure you are using a standard picture profile if you normally default to something like S-Log3 or HLG. This will make sure the image looks right on your screen.

Once it is plugged in, these devices should allow you to select them as a camera option in your video-conferencing software of choice.

More Info on Streaming

For more information on streaming or learning how to set up another brand or type of camera for use as a webcam, please stop by the B&H Livestream Center. Feel free to leave any questions or comments below.

Items discussed in article

81 Comments

Hey folks, I have an A6400 with a Movo VXR10 as an external mic. I'm running the camera off of a USB power pack rather than battery power as I'm using it exclusively as a webcam/video recording/streaming. Every time I fire up my camera in the morning I find I have to flip it around and adjust the Audio Recording level to 5-7.....any way to set that as my default since I'm always connected to an external mic, or is the Sony automatically switching over from Internal to External every time I turn it on, and that's cause the reset to the default level of 25?

Hi Paul - 

There is no method of setting this up as a permanent default currently.

How do I get the rx100 to work as a webcam? All I see is mass storage or mtp under USB connections.

If you have not already done so, you may check the support page for the Sony Imaging Edge Webcam Software under other supported cameras. 

https://www.sony.com/electronics/support/articles/00247038

Silly question: To livestream with HDMI out—and you don't care if it's recorded locally—do you need to hit the "record" button on the camera to send the clean HDMI signal? And if not, how does the camera know to not sleep?

Also, am I assuming correctly that when running the signal through HDMI that the recording limit (say for the Sony a6000) doesn't apply?

Hi Kirk - 

No silly questions at all. Yes, press the record button. There will be no recording limit via the HDMI port.

I have an A7R M3 as well as an A6500 and would like to have a reference for recommended Movie settings to use the cameras as Webcams. And Vlogging settings would also be useful.

Todd

If I’m using any camera / camcorder as a web cam do I still need an SD card?

Hi Joshua - 

Yes.  A memory card will need to be loaded into the camera.

hello, i've a sony a7 juste the ILCE-7, can i still use remote or an other software for pc

The Sony A7 has clean HDMI output, so you can connect it with software to the Elgato Cam Link 4K, BH # ELCL4KGCD via HDMI.

https://bhpho.to/3bEg0nk

 

thank you I was wondering if I was going to have to sell my a7 but it's a good solution

Is the ZV-1 compatible with the blackmagic design ATEM mini pro iso?

Hi Lars - 

Yes it is. It records and outputs 8-bit video via a clean HDMI output stream.

How about a7c?

Yes the Sony A7C is supported by the Sony Imaging Edge Webcam software. 

We're trying to use our Alpha 9 as a webcam through an ATEM mini. I'm in Movie Mode. However, when the image from the camera comes up on the monitor, it shows the bottom black strip of camera settings. What am I doing wrong?

Thanks! 

You may need to have your camera set to Movie mode on the dial plus make sure the HDMI settings are for clean or that the display settings is turned off.

Thanks Shawn. It is in Movie mode. I'll try your other two suggestions.

Could I use Sony ZV-1 as a webcam with Camlink 4k? I have seen a video on YouTube, that elaborates the issues while using its cam link... Such as it will shut down or blackout screen in the middle of live streaming using it due to the high temperature... Is it true?

Also, I want to know, does it overheat? Because we all know only a few videos are trustworthy on YouTube and I am confused about which one should I buy for recording online courses and live streaming with HDMI Output... Could you please suggest from Sony ZV-1, Canon M6 Mark II, and Fujifilm X-S10?

videos (computer science) the appearance of text and graphics on a video display More (Definitions, Synonyms, Translation)

The Elgato CamLink 4K does support the Sony ZV-1 via HDMI. As for overheating on the ZV-1, you may want to check out the following support page by Sony which touches on this subject: http://bit.ly/3oObplS

As for the Canon EOS M6 Mark II and the Fuijfilm X-S10, those can be used via USB with their dedicated webcam software, but would also be tied down to a 30 minute recording time.

Thanks for this write up. 

I am currently using my Sony DSC-HX90V, but it seems that I can't use it as a webcam.

Is there any ways that you can suggest?

Unfortunately, the Sony DSC-HX90V cannot be used as a webcam either with the Sony Imaging Edge Webcam software nor through an HDMI connection. The following list is for the compatible cameras for this software.

http://bit.ly/3r1a6BH

My pc is not see my SONY camera (usb port)

We're sorry that you're having trouble. You may want to check out Sony's troubleshooting tips here: http://bit.ly/2LoSUqM

Hello, John.

I'm using my a6400 w/ 16-50mm kit lens as my primary webcam in my home studio.  I dial in the zoom to 20mm for my particular setup but every time I turn the camera off, it resets to 16mm when powered on and I have to manually set the zoom to 20mm again.

Is there any setting to retain my manual focus setting so I don't have to mess with it every time I turn the camera on?

Thank you,

Derek W.

Unfortunately, there isn't a setting in which manual focus or zoom settings can be retained when using the Imaging Edge Webcam Software. 

Good to know. Is there a short zoom or fixed lens that doesn't electronically connect to the a6400, and thus will remain at a set focal length? Or is there a hack, for example using a lens adapter, the could break that connection? Thanks. 

There is a prime lens such as the 7artisans Photoelectric 35mm f/1.2 Lens for Sony E, BH # 7A35F12BKSE which has no electronic contacts and offers a normal angle of view due to the crop factor with the A6400.  It is fully manual in aperture and focus. 

http://bhpho.to/3qEQ9jR

 

I have been using A7iii as webcam for livestream. As second camera, I've now added a6000. Both cameras are going through ATEM Mini capture card. The problem I'm facing:
 - the a6000 is defaulting to 'playback' mode when plugged in via micro HDMI, so when I switch to that camera it is showing some picture that is on my SD card, rather than the camera view. Both cameras are set to 'movie' mode, with HDMI display set to off. The a7 works as expected - I can't find a setting for the a6000 to prevent this from happening. Any ideas? Thanks!

Hi John - 

There is one mandatory setting—you must make sure the HDMI Output settings on your Sony camera match the requirements of your capture device. Some devices only record Full HD, so you’ll want to make sure you are outputting the correct format for this to work. Now for some recommended settings.

    • Set your camera to Movie Mode.
    • Choose Continuous AF (AFC) with Face/Eye Detection enabled.
    • Manual exposure will give you consistent imagery.

That’s basically it, but make sure you are using a standard picture profile if you normally default to something like S-Log3 or HLG. This will make sure the image looks right on your screen.
Please contact us via e-mail if you have additional questions: askbh@bandh.com

Hi John - 

There is one mandatory setting—you must make sure the HDMI Output settings on your Sony camera match the requirements of your capture device. Some devices only record Full HD, so you’ll want to make sure you are outputting the correct format for this to work. Now for some recommended settings.

    • Set your camera to Movie Mode.
    • Choose Continuous AF (AFC) with Face/Eye Detection enabled.
    • Manual exposure will give you consistent imagery.

That’s basically it, but make sure you are using a standard picture profile if you normally default to something like S-Log3 or HLG. This will make sure the image looks right on your screen.
Please contact us via e-mail if you have additional questions: askbh@bandh.com

Hi Mark,

Thank you for the reply. I have all these settings in place, and the issue isn't that I can't get a good HD feed from the the camera via HDMI - it works fine once I hit the 'playback' button. It's just odd that whenever I connect the USB, the camera switches from the camera view to the 'playback' view and I have to keep switching it back. I'm using HDMI to ATEM Mini as capture device. So, to clarify:
* step one: turn on camera, I see standard display on the camera

* step two: plug in hdmi (micro HDMI), and the view automatically switches to 'playback', which is what comes through on the capture, and I have to reach around and hit the playback button to turn it off

Same thing happens if I plug in HDMI and *then* turn on the camera. I'm wondering about a setting for standard mode when a cable is connected or some such? Any help appreciated. thanks!

Hi John - 

Please contact us via e-mail: askbh@bandh.com

Hi Mark! I have e-mailed you about the same issue as John is describing. I hope you can answer and provide some help. All the best! /Sofie

I also have the same question. Is it possible to post a solution here if one is available? I want it to immediately output the live video feed when I turn the camera on or plug in the micro HDMI cable, so I don't have to press the shutter button every time to dismiss the playback mode. The cameras are mounted in hard to reach places and it's very inconvenient to do this every time.

Me, too!  Exactly the same scenarion as James.  We need live video feed but can't reach the cameras...   Any help greatly appreciated!  Many thanks in advance!

Hi Giles -

We are not aware of a remote  work-around solution for this issue at this time.

Hi John! Have you found a fix for this problem? I have the exact same issues and I have no idea what else I can do since I have the correct settings already. I hope it has worked out for you already! Thank you in advance. /Sofie

I wonder if I'm missing something - the Continuous Auto-focus for me doesn't seem to actively autofocus without me touching the shutter trigger.  Am I missing something or did I perhaps change a separate setting that may have caused this? (A7RIII & A7III)

If you only have continuous autofocus turned on, that will only focus on the subject if the shutter button is pressed halfway. To maintain a lock on the focus, you must use the Focus Area in the Camera Setting Menu 1 to "Lock-On AF".

According to Sony, they state that by default, when a Sony camera is set to movie recording, the Focus Mode should automatically set to AF-C or Continuous focusing. If the auto-focusing of the camera does not work automatically when recording videos, please make sure that the attached lens on the camera supports auto focusing or switched to AF.
.
Note:
For Imaging Edge Webcam application, it is recommended to set the Mode Dial of the camera to Auto before using the webcam application.

Will connecting this way keep my camera charged while it's being used?

That depends on the camera and method you are using.  Feel free to email us at askbh@bhphoto.com with further details.
Thanks!

But what about settings on the camera?

Like Iso, frame rates, white balance, etc?

Or making sure the camera doesn't power off in the middle of a stream?

I connected my a6400 to my Mac using an el Gato CamLink, and everything's great...except the camera keeps turning off every so often. Is there some setting I need to have either on the camera or my Mac to keep the camera going all day? 

Any idea when Sony will release the software they said would be delivered in July that would allow ZV-1 to be used as a webcam directly?

No specific updates, hoping for any day now.

Any day happened to be today! At least for Windows users at the moment. You can see details here: https://alphauniverse.com/stories/sony-announces-new--easy--high-quality-live-streaming-and-video-call-solution-via-software/

We will be updating this article soon with these links and instructions.

It's awful. Worse quality than my old Logitech SD webcam. Very disappointing.

yes, i noticed that too i seriously thought i was doing something wrong, do i need a capture card for it to get the full quality?

Hi Gabriel - 
Be sure to:

  • Set your camera to Movie Mode.
    • Choose Continuous AF (AFC) with Face/Eye Detection enabled.
    • Manual exposure will give you consistent imagery.

That’s basically it, but make sure you are using a standard picture profile if you normally default to something like S-Log3 or HLG. This will make sure the image looks right on your screen.

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