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The trials and tribulations of turning a real camera into a webcam


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The trials and tribulations of turning a real camera into a webcam


My colleague Dieter Bohn is one of the nicest people I’ve met, but every time I’d hop onto Zoom to record The Vergecast there would be just the tiniest, most minute twitch of displeasure on his face. Dieter was too kind to address the big, camera-obscuring elephant in the room: how for several minutes, instead of my face, he’d see a giant reversed Sony Imaging Edge webcam logo — a huge white W on an orange square set against a not-quite-black background.

Finally, after at least four months of the big W, he politely asked, “Alex, what’s your address?”

“Why?”

“So I can send you an HDMI adapter.” He said it with that unique Midwestern clip that says, “I am being very polite and gracious, but you should know I may also commit a murder in the near future.”

I’d already collected more “HDMI to X” cables than I think Monoprice even knows exists

Dieter, and indeed all my colleagues at The Verge, had been forced to stare at that ugly W because I wanted to convert my very expensive Sony A7 III mirrorless camera into a webcam. I was feeling frugal, and I’d already collected more capture cards and “HDMI to X” cables than I think Monoprice even knows exists; I was sure I could figure out a way to give my Zoom experience a gorgeous boost with minimal cost. Who doesn’t want to control the ISO and aperture and have all their colleagues ask why you’re in high definition when they’re firmly in standard? While some of my colleagues might rather tinker with phone settings or CPU voltages, I could happily spend weeks — months — perfecting my Zoom look.

It’s supposed to be easy. You buy a mount for your camera. (Deputy editor Dan Seifert recommended this $60 arm and $20 clamp, which worked great.) You download some software to your computer. You plug your big expensive digital camera into your computer and you have magic.

Sony’s A7 III had other plans for me.

In the early days of the pandemic, webcam shortages led to many people requesting software that would let them use their expensive cameras as webcams. Camera makers happily obliged. Sony was one of the last, but that…



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