Can I use my GoPro as a webcam? Yes. But GoPro isn't made for this and they don't really recommend it. But if you want to give it a go, here's how to use your GoPro as a webcam. I include gear, settings and tips.
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Guide to Using GoPro as a Webcam
I understand the attraction. Why not get double duty from your GoPro? It isn't cheap – and it has outstanding video capture. Lots of people are using their GoPro as a dashcam – with seemingly good results.
It's not a bad idea and it can be easily done. In this post, you'll learn the gear, software, and settings to make a webcam out of your GoPro.
But first, I would like to mention that GoPro didn't make their camera to be used as a webcam. And they don't even recommend it.
Over in the Community Support Hub, GoPro Admin, EJ (Aragon1006) advises that “we do not suggest this type of setup”.
This doesn't mean it won't work. Or that it will hurt the camera. They just don't want to have to answer customer support issues when someone can't configure this correctly.
But if you have your heart set on using your action camera as a webcam, this post will give you everything you need.
Setting Up GoPro as a Webcam
To setup your GoPro as a webcam, you'll need a couple of pieces of gear. One you might have kicking around (HDMI ) and the other one you'll probably have to pick up.
Here's how to use GoPro as webcam without capture card.
Gear List for GoPro Webcam Setup
- HDMI Cable: Not just any HDMI cable – you'll want an HDMI to Micro HDMI cable. Like this one. This will connect your camera to the Cam Link dongle (see next item).
- Elgato Cam Link 4K: This tiny USB dongle will connect your GoPro (also most DSLR and camcorders) to your PC or MAC.
- GoPro Camera: From Hero4 (Black or Silver) to the Hero7 Black. For this system to work, make sure that your GoPro has a micro HDMI output jack.
- Small Tripod: Basically any tripod will work, but you'll need something to get it up and stable. Otherwise your camera will just be sitting on your desk at a weird angle. And it will wobble because of the two cables feeding into it. I think that the GoPro Shorty tripod would work best for a webcam. It extends to almost 9 inches in height. Here is our guide to the best tripods.
- USB Cable: You'll want to direct power your camera. Otherwise your battery will konk out after an hour or so – probably less than ideal for a webcam setup. I'm sure you have one – it's the same cable you use to offload your image and to recharge your battery inside the camera. Here's more about GoPro battery life.
Please note: The Hero8 Black doesn't come with an HDMI out port. To use the above system, you'll need to purchase the Media Mod – which adds this feature.
Software for GoPro Streaming
It doesn't take much to make your GoPro feed correctly into your computer. Here are the two things you'll need.
- Streamlabs OBS: Use this free, open source software to connect your camera to your computer. Download OBS here.
- Elgato Cam Link: Your computer will probably auto identify the new piece of hardware and install what it needs to make the dongle work. If not, just download it here.
Settings for GoPro Webcam Setup
- Plug your Cam Link into your USB 3.0 port.
- Connect your micro HDMI cable to your GoPro. And connect the other end of the HDMI cable to your Cam Link dongle.
- Connect your USB cable to your camera and the other end to a powered USB port on your computer.
- Turn on your GoPro
- Open your webcam software (like Skype or OBS) and choose your GoPro as your source. It will often display as the name of your Cam Link dongle. For Skype, go to Settings > Audio & Video > Camera.
- Set for streaming: In the in-camera menu, go to Preferences > Input / Output > HDMI Output. Choose “Live”. This will keep your camera broadcasting the signal. And some users have mentioned that this keeps the camera from going to sleep during recording.
You can now use your GoPro as a webcam.
Here's a video summary of the process:
Watch on YouTube
Which GoPro models won't work as webcams?
Basically, any model without an HDMI output won't work as a webcam.
The incompatible models include:
- All GoPro Session Cameras: Session, Hero4 Session, Hero5 Session. None of these Session models have HDMI outputs.
- All Unnumbered Hero Cameras: These include Hero 2014, Hero+LCD, Hero+. None of these low end cameras have HDMI outputs.
- 360 Degree Cameras: Fusion and MAX 360. These 360 degree cameras don't come with HDMI output. Although if they did, they would make the coolest webcam ever.
- Hero8 Black is incompatible without the Media Mod (an add-on housing).
- Hero7 Silver and White: These entry-level cameras don't have an HDMI port – which means this method won't work.
Which GoPro camera can I use as a webcam?
Basically, any model that has a micro HDMI output. These include the numbered Hero Black models: Hero4 Black through Hero7 Black.
- Hero4 Black
- Hero5 Black
- Hero6 Black
- Hero7 Black
- Hero8 Black: Please note that the Hero8 Black does not come with a micro HDMI output. For this function, you'll need to purchase the Media Mod.
Hero3 and Hero3+: What about Hero3 (Black and Silver) and Hero3+ (Black and Silver)? Because the requirement is a micro HDMI port, both of these should work as a webcam.
Can I Stream GoPro 4K Via HDMI?
No. Despite the capability to capture 4K (and 2.7K) video, GoPro doesn't transmit this resolution via HDMI. Currently, GoPro will only stream up to 1080p at 60 frames per second via HDMI.
This puts your GoPro webcam on par with a standard webcam – as far as resolution goes. Of course, it's likely that this will change in the future. I expect that GoPro will improve the resolution settings that can be output via micro HDMI cable.
But image quality is much more than just resolution. Without question, you'll notice the quality difference between a standard webcam and your new(er) model GoPro.
4 Pros / Cons of Using GoPro as Webcam
- Pro: Better Image Quality. I don't think it would be a stretch to say that a GoPro has a better image sensor than a webcam. And while GoPro only transmits video via HDMI at just 1080p – equal to most webcams, the quality of that footage is going to be much crisper. And GoPro is famous for excelling in daylight – webcams … not so much.
- Pro: No need to buy a webcam. I guess this one is obvious.
- Con: Dongle costs more than premium webcam. You can pick up the Logitech C922 for less than the price of the dongle. Is the image quality as good? No.
- Con: Setup. The GoPro setup is a little more complicated than a plug and play webcam.
Is GoPro the Best Webcam for Streaming?
For the average user, probably not. First of all, it costs more than just buying a decent webcam. For almost every user, a camera like the Logitech C922x will do more than they need. It has good video and audio – and it auto installs.
For more webcam options, check out our post about the best webcams for YouTube.
And because you need to have the port door open for HDMI and USB output, you lose the benefit of the camera being waterproof. You can't use it as a webcam in a wet, salty or dusty environment – because your camera is exposed – and so will your computer.
I can see applications for travel bloggers and other content creators. The Cam Link dongle allows connection of other cameras (not just GoPros). That means that with the same setup as above, you can connect your DSLR or camcorder as a webcam – creating some outstanding video quality for live streaming.
If you want to do this just because it's possible, I get that. And no one is disputing the quality of the GoPro image sensor.
Learn more about setting up a GoPro Live Stream in our Creator's Guide.
Learn more about choosing the best GoPro microphone for your setup.
You might also enjoy: How to use your DSLR as a Webcam
Have you setup your GoPro as a webcam? Have a tip or question? Let me know below. I would love to hear from you.