Most of the time, I buy cameras for specific purposes. My DSLR exists to capture vacation photos and product shots for Engadget reviews. When I go on hikes or long bike rides, I pull out a GoPro Hero4. For some reason, however, I just can't bring myself to buy a dedicated webcam for Twitch streaming or YouTube vlogs. I already have a handful of great consumer cameras -- shouldn't I be able to use one of those? In reality, that's easier said than done: Most cameras simply aren't designed to push a live feed out to a PC. It's a problem I've spent hours trying to solve, but never did. Then, I heard about the Elgato Cam Link, a USB capture device that can turn any camera with HDMI output into a functional webcam.
If that sounds familiar, you've probably Googled "how to use a GoPro as a webcam" before. Unless your camera is designed to be used as a webcam, an HDMI capture device is usually your only option. In fact, content creators have been using capture cards to integrate higher-quality cameras into their workflow for years -- but Elgato's take on this idea is just a bit more streamlined.
Instead of finding a workaround to make an HDMI capture device work natively with various apps as a webcam, Elgato's dongle does it in one shot: getting the Cam Link operational is as simple as downloading the latest version of the company's Game Capture HD software and plugging an HDMI output up to the device. That's basically it -- and with the exception of a few hiccups, it actually works really well.