Apparently a lot of folks have issues setting up their Elgato gear.
These are the issues I had to deal with when I tried hooking up my Sony A7 II to my Mac through an Elgato Gaming CamLink. I just wanted 1080p from my fancy camera as a webcam through OBS so I could stream an event. Here’s the problem summary:
- To make the Elgato output 1080p instead of 720p — Install Elgato’s Game Capture for Mac — there modify the CamLink settings to support 1080p60. Elgato provide zero information on their site to explain this.
- Make sure your DSLR camera is in the correct mode (in my case that’s “video” mode as opposed to “A” aperture mode) as this can affect the HDMI output. You might also need to tweak the HDMI out settings in the camera itself.
- In OBS — Select the “high” preset, apparently that means 1080p, even though the 720p setting is called “1280x720” which could make you assume the 1080p setting should be called “1920x1080”. Seems we shouldn’t assume.
Configuring the CamLink To Capture 1080p and not 720p
Macs have no camera configuration settings panel. So every manufacturer makes its own. Going to the CamLink website and clicking the “Downloads” link takes you to a page with ALL the different downloads Elgato offers. It’s impossible to understand which download is useful for which product, or what this download does. Clicking the thing does nothing to give more information. You have to click a plus which gives you just a drop more information than nothing.
Then inside Game Capture you can find the CamLink settings button.
After this reconfiguration was complete, I retested. Capturing a 1080p video with Quicktime, saving it, and inspecting the file (in the finder the shortcut is ⌘+i) proved the resulting video was indeed 1080p.
Pillar Box Because of the Camera Mode
The Quicktime capture was the right resolution, but it had black bars at its side.
I was scratching my head whether or not this was Elgato’s fault. Connecting the camera directly to a 1080p screen and still seeing the bars proved it wasn’t Elgato’s fault. That’s when I started investigating the camera.
This one is my fault. But I wish my tools were better at letting me know that. The Elgato Capture App preview is just a black box without denoting the outline of the capture frame so it’s impossible to notice these pillars. Turns out I had my camera in the “A” (Aperture) mode. This is a mode for taking stills shots. It was causing the camera HDMI to output 4:3 cropped video (1620x1080). Switching the camera to video mode fixed it.
OBS Refusing to Show 1080p
I don’t know why unticking “Use preset” always shows a black screen with my “Video Capture Device”. I also don’t know why OBS doesn’t have a “1920x1080" preset. But it seems that after I reconfigured the CamLink, the “High” setting was in fact producing 1080p because the view was larger now and I had to resize it in all my scenes to fit the 1080p output canvas resolution.
I started out with a system that was broken in more ways than I expected. Luckily I had the tools to inspect and fix each part of the pipeline. I can’t imagine how annoying this would be for anyone less familiar with the parts surrounding the CamLink. Before this adventure, I tried to get the same setup going with Elgato’s HD60S which I had to return because OBS on Mac does not recognize it at all. So I came into this process expecting it to be completely unsolvable. At least this attempt had a happy ending. Thank you Elgato Gaming for making this hardware available, but please fix your website and support resources — it’s embarrassing. I thought your twitter jokes about Jack Black having issues were funny at first, but now that I’ve experienced this first-hand — you folks are out of touch.
Edit 2019–05–28 — I’ve been asked about advice with other cameras and the CamLink. Definitely make sure to check for compatibility. For example I read that some cameras always output video with extraneous display info, or do not support full resolution for their HDMI out.