Introduction & Specification Details and Close-up
If you are a streamer, or if you want to upgrade your webcam quality to something that shows off what you actually look like, then you have most likely considered plugging in a camera to your PC.
Unfortunately, you can't just plug in a camera to your PC and expect to use the camera as a webcam. Luckily, Elgato has a solution for that, and as you may have guessed, its called Cam Link. Cam Link allows buyers to connect their fancy cameras up to their PC to be used in Skype calls Discord calls, and more predominately OBS/other streaming software.
Since Elgato is Corsair's arm of providing solutions for the ever-growing streaming market, Elgato identified a very common issue for streamers and has provided the solution. The Cam Link 4K has replaced the original Cam Link model, and the updated version comes with 4K 30FPS support and 1080p 60FPS support. The Cam Link comes in at the cost of $129.99 MSRP, but due to COVID-19, prices for online retailers have been severely inflated.
First off, we have an image of the front of the box, and from this image, we can see that Elgato has kept to its typical sleek blue packaging with a nice image of the Cam Link front and center.
Moving on to the back of the box, we can see the technical specifications, as well as the system requirements for the Cam Link.
This side of the box keeps things very simple with an Elgato logo and a description 'Cam Link 4K'.
Next, we have the other side of the box, and on this side, Elgato has decided to describe what is included inside the box.
Here we have an image of that USB 3.0 extension cable.
Next, we have an image of the Cam Link, and as you can see, there is no 4K naming on the housing. I would have preferred Elgato to have some 4K naming on the housing so that buyers can distinguish between the old Cam Link and the new one. This problem can be solved with a sticker of some kind.
Lastly, we have an image of the HDMI port located on the Cam Link.
Jak's Test System Specifications
- Motherboard: ASUS ROG Crosshair VIII Hero X570 (Wi-Fi) (buy from Amazon)
- CPU: AMD Ryzen 5 3600X @ 4.4GHz (buy from Amazon)
- GPU: EVGA GeForce RTX 2070 SUPER XC GAMING (buy from Amazon)
- Cooler: be quiet! Silent Wings 3
- RAM: 16GB (2x8GB) Corsair Vengeance LPX 16GB 3200MHz (buy from Amazon)
- SSD: GALAX HOF Pro SSD PCI-E M.2 2TB
- Power Supply: Corsair CX Series 750 Watt (buy from Amazon)
- Case: be quiet! Silent Base 600 (buy from Amazon)
- OS: Microsoft Windows 10 Pro 64-bit (buy from Amazon)
Design & Use Case
The look of Cam Link screams that sleek Elgato minimalist gamer look, and it's all encapsulated in a really clean looking USB dongle. On the rear of the dongle, it has an HDMI slot that will be used to connect to your camera. Before the Cam Link 4K, Elgato released its first rendition of the Cam Link that only supported 1080p at 60FPS max. Elgato has taken the same housing as the first Cam Link and used it in the 4K version, meaning both of the Cam Link's look the same but have different performance under the hood.
There isn't really that much to talk about design-wise, as you can probably imagine what a USB dongle looks like with an HDMI input on the back.
So, why would you want a Cam Link? Well, suppose you are a content creator, looking into shooting video using a camera and recording it through your PC, or are simply looking to upgrade beyond a webcam. In that case, you are going to need some form of capture card that can record a camera output. The beauty of the Cam Link is that it uses the UVC driver, which is Universal Video Class driver. Why is this important? Well, unlike Elgato's other capture cards (HD60 S/4K 60 Pro), and most other gaming capture cards for that matter, they won't work as a webcam if you plug a camera into them.
This is where the UVC driver comes into play with the Cam Link. Since the Cam Link has a UVC driver, once a user plugs a camera into the Cam Link, the PC will recognize that camera as a webcam, which wasn't really possible before the Cam Link, or at least it wasn't this convenient/widely accessible. Additionally, the Cam Link requires no software to run, meaning that it is completely plug-and-play, which only adds additional points to its overall tally.
If you really want to use some Elgato software with the Cam Link there's always the option of heading over the Elgato website and downloading the 4K capture utility; a link can be found here.
Okay, so you've decided to get your Cam Link, but you are unsure what you need to do to set it up. The setup for the Cam Link is more simple than you might expect, but there are some things you may need to make the setup complete.
For this setup guide, I will be using my Canon A5100. Most modern-day cameras come with a micro-HDMI port, so I would advise you to purchase a micro-HDMI to HDMI cable alongside your Cam Link - unless you, of course, already own one. To make my life easier, I also have a tripod to elevate my camera off my desk to give my face a nice angle. Having your camera on a tripod also makes it easier to connect your cables, especially if you are after a specific angle when you are shooting.
Alright, step one is to connect your Cam Link to your PC. As it says on the product details, the Cam Link requires a USB 3.0 port, as USB 3.0 ports have far more bandwidth than the USB 2.0 port, thus granting access to recording in 4K 30FPS smoothly. If you don't want to download any of Elgato's software, then I would jump straight into locating that micro-HDMI to HDMI cord and plugging it into your camera then into the Cam Link.
Once that is complete, I recommend you download Open Broadcaster Software (OBS) to see if it's working correctly. Okay, so how do you get your camera to show up in OBS? It's more straightforward than you might expect.
After you have downloaded OBS and have opened it, you want to locate the + symbol found in the bottom left-hand corner of the OBS window. Click that + symbol and then create a new scene. For the purpose of this tutorial, I have decided to call my scene 'Camera'.
After you have done that, you want to create a new 'Source'. Use the + symbol to create a new source and then locate 'Video Capture Device'. Click 'Create', and then you will be presented with the below window.
In this window, you are going to be choosing what device you want to capture video from. Make sure to have your camera plugged into the Cam Link and turned on for you to use it. Select 'Cam Link' to use your camera. Next, you want to head down to 'Configure Video', and in this setting, you can change your brightness, contrast, hue, and saturation. These settings depend on the camera you are using, the background you have in your room, and the lighting you have. I would recommend fiddling around with all of these settings until you think you have the best quality image displayed in the preview window.
Next, you want to head down to 'Resolution/ FPS Type', and set the 'Resolution' to 'Custom'. Now you want to choose what kind of resolution you want to be shooting in. The same goes for 'FPS'. These settings really depend on what kind of camera you own. For me, I set my resolution to 1920x1080 at 60FPS. For streaming, this is the most common setting.
After you have done all that hit 'Okay', and you should be ready to go!
The Cam Link makes connecting cameras to your PC extremely simple and easy. Since there is no software and the device is literally plug-and-play, it means buyers can begin using the Cam Link within minutes of unboxing it.
The only thing I can really knock off the Cam Link is that the housing is the same as the previous generation of Cam Link, which could confuse someone who owns multiple Cam Link devices.
Elgato has done it once again; they have found a problem in the streaming market and provided a solution that cannot go unrecognized.
In particular, for streamers, I believe the Cam Link will or already has become one of the necessary key components of a streaming setup. If you have been streaming for a while or looking to upgrade from your webcam to a camera that brings a bit more quality to your stream, you really should consider picking up a Cam Link.
Elgato is no stranger to finding common problems in the streaming market and providing affordable easy-to-use solutions -- and the Cam Link is by no means an exception. If you want to toss that average webcam out and move towards recording in glorious 4K, or even 1080p at 60FPS, then look no further than the Cam Link.
Elgato has your back when it comes to streaming gear, let the Cam Link and your new camera deal with your immaculate front.
The Bottom Line
Elgato has provided a solution to the streaming market that cannot go unnoticed. Cam Link brings a world of convenience and utility to streamers, and has undoubtedly become a part of the standard streaming setup.