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

63 Comments

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.

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.

Can one use a77ii?

The a77 II has a clean HDMI option, so you can use that.

Has anyone heard when Sony will actually drop the drivers/software for the ZV-1 to use as a USB web cam?  It was rumored to be out before the end of July... 

So far, we haven't heard an exact date of release for this update. Stay tuned to our B&H E-Mail Newsletter for updates. 

Does the Sont a7 have clean HDMI out?

Yes, the original Sony A7 has clean HDMI output. 

I have a Sony a6100.  I use it with Imaging Edge Desktop and Camtwist in order to provide video to Zoom (on a Mac).  No capture card is needed.  I use a virtual background in Zoom.  The Sony a6100 is cropped so I think that is why I do not get the full background image.  Is there anything I can do to get more of the virtual image to show up (on right and left side at least)?

I use the A6300, but found way to do it without a capture device.

Using Sony's Remote app the sends the clean HDMI to your PC, I then capture it with OBS Studio.  You need to find the free plugin for OBS, called VirtualCam.  

Run Sony's Remote.  When you see the HDMI feed on your monitor, open OBS. 

Go to "Tools" and select VirtualCam, then Start.

OBS allows you to position and crop the video as you want it.

Then, your camera feed is recognized as a webcam.

That saved me the cost of a capture device.

Even better: Amazon has $20 USB HDMI capture dongles that work GREAT. I've got three of them with an A7Riii, an RX100m5, and an old Canon Vixia HD camcorder all connected. Very happy with the setup.

My only issue: my Sonys all inexplicably turn off after a while... not sure exactly, but > 1hr. Can't get through entire day of zoom calls without them turning off at some point. (The A7Riii even has a dummy battery and still turns off...)

Hmm. It's definitely an auto power off setting on the camera, but I'm not sure if there is a way to extend beyond that using built-in options. It might be heating up or just have a timer to auto shut off after an hour.

I also have a camlink and am not impresssd. I now run s Sony Alpha7iii with a roland vr1hd mixer. You can set any audio sunc lag with the mixer you like. Its an awesome piece of kit!

The Roland is a truly awesome piece of kit, but probably out of the budget of many users. Glad you found a solid setup!

Hi, I paid $200 and got the Camlink 4k on EBAY, and it works with Zoom, but there is an approximately 175ms delay. The video lags behind the sound. How does one deal with that?

By the way, I have a Sony A7r4 camera.

Interesting question. I don't have one available to test but I have a couple questions and maybe a solution or two. Are you using the audio from the camera or from your computer/another microphone? If you can use the feed from the camera I think that might help cause it is coming from the same source. If that isn't the problem, I think you can use a software like OBS Studio and add a delay to one of your sources to fix any issues before then feeding that as a webcam.

camera and audio have different latencies. The only good solution is a mixer which offers usb out and can mix your xlr mic and webcam hdmi and apply different sync lag to rach.

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