GoPros with their compact design and wide angle lenses, have the potential to make handy webcams for Zoom, Microsoft Teams or Skype. But only the latest models actually have a dedicated webcam mode. Before this feature was released a few months ago, I wrote an article with an accompanying video about a free way to use your GoPro as a wireless webcam – but it only worked with more recent models.
In this article and accompanying video I’ll demonstrate three methods that between them let you use almost any GoPro as a webcam, even models released over 6 years ago.
I’ll be using an older Hero 5 Black, a brand new Hero 9 Black and last year’s Hero 8 Black and I’ll compare the various methods to each other, a MacBook Pro webcam, and an iPhone 11 and mirrorless camera both being used as webcams.
If you have a Hero 7 Black or newer you don’t have to spend any money to get this working. If you have an older model you’ll need a USB video capture card but the good news is these have come down in price – I’ll be using one I got for less than $10 and comparing it against one from Elgato costing almost 20 times the price!
It is worth nothing although the wide angle lens of a GoPro can be useful, it doesn’t provide a very flattering image, especially when you’re close up.
There are three ways to use your GoPro as a webcam depending on your model.
If your camera has an HDMI output you can use a video capture card and an HDMI cable. This usually provides the best quality and should provide synced audio too. You can use this option with the GoPro Hero 4 Silver and Black, Hero 5 Black, Hero 6 Black, Hero 2018 model and the Hero 7 Black. You can also use it with the Hero 8 and Hero 9 and I imagine any newer cameras with the optional GoPro Media Mod kit. It should also work with older models that have an HDMI output as well but I’ve not tested just how well it works since I don’t have anything older than my Hero 5 Black to hand.
If you have a Hero 7 Black or newer you can use the Live Streaming mode and some free software to turn the camera into a wireless webcam as I covered in detail a few months ago. I won’t go into so much detail – but I will show it working with a Mac this time since I only showed it with a PC previously.
It’s the most complicated option but it doesn’t cost anything and is the only option where you can use the camera wirelessly, and it captures audio too. Apart from being a little more difficult to set up, it also introduces significant delay so it’s not ideal for video calls but it’s still an interesting option.
If you have a GoPro Hero 8, Hero 9 or any newer camera I’d imagine, GoPro has finally introduced a native webcam mode that works with the supplied USB cable. Unfortunately it needs dedicated software that you’ll have to download and it doesn’t currently support audio, but it is available on both PCs and Macs.
You could just mount the GoPro on one of the included mounting buckles and tilt it back but it’s not the most flattering angle. Or you could use a convenient shelf or even a pile of books for a better angle.
Any GoPro tripod would also do the job. The GoPro 3-Way is probably the best option albeit a little precarious. Or the GoPro Shorty provides a little extra height over the basic GoPro tripod.
There’s also the GoPro Magnetic Swivel Clip which could be perfect, but it has a rather too much clamping force for your average monitor or laptop screen and may cause damage.
I’ve tried a few other GoPro mounts too and I’ve also tried attaching it to my Manfrotto Magic Arm and Elgato Multi-mount that I use for my mirrorless camera. Both options are overkill but work fine.
But I ended up designing and 3D printing a mount that clips onto my LG monitor which is far more convenient.
GoPro’s native webcam mode
First you’ll need to make sure you have the latest firmware on your camera. Connect to the GoPro app on your phone to check – you’ll be prompted if an update is available. The webcam feature is not compatible with the GoPro Labs firmware, which is a shame since that has some great features.
Make sure your camera is in GoPro Connect mode under Preferences | Connections. You can change this back to MTP if you want to transfer media from your GoPro.
On a Mac, download and install the GoPro Webcam desktop utility. The software is still in Beta on a PC at the time of filming and bizarrely you have to join a GoPro Facebook group to download it. I’ll provide links to both downloads in the description.
On a PC make sure the GoPro Webcam app is running and plug in your camera, ideally into a USB 3 port which is usually blue. You might need a USB extension cable – if so try and use a USB 3 extension cable, like this cheap AmazonBasics one I’m using here.
The GoPro Webcam icon in your taskbar should now have a blue dot to show the camera is connected. Right click on the icon and select Show Preview. The dot turns red to confirm the camera is active. If you close the preview it’ll go back to blue.
Opening any software that supports a webcam will also automatically activate the webcam and you’ll see the virtual LED again turn red. I tried Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Skype, Google Meet and OBS.
There aren’t many configurable options currently on the PC, although more features should be added. For example, you can’t choose resolution. It’s set at a decent 1920×1080, but it’s a shame you can’t use the 4K capabilities of the camera. And there is a lag of around 350-450ms, but I did get a framerate of 60 fps on my computer.
You can change the field of view using the digital lens option. Linear removes the standard GoPro fisheye look and Narrow crops or effectively zooms in, which is useful for video calls, especially if you have a lot of clutter in the background.
If your computer has a dedicated graphics card it should be selected by default but you can choose your integrated graphics if you want. Unless you’re having any issues with your discrete graphics, I’d recommend leaving this default setting for the best results.
On a Mac the GoPro Webcam icon is in the Status Menu bar at the top right and works in the same way. The Mac version also lets you mirror the camera if you click the Flip or Mirror button depending on which mode you’re on. And under Preferences you can choose 720p as well as the default 1080p which will prompt you to relaunch the app.
On my 2012 Macbook Pro I only got a framerate of 30 fps – you might get more on a newer Mac. The quality is ok with plenty of light but gets worse quickly as light levels dip. These GoPros still have small image sensors and consequently fairly poor low light performance.
Frustratingly, there’s no way on a PC or Mac of adjusting exposure, so you need to be careful about your backlighting if you don’t want to look underexposed, just like on your typical built-in webcam.
On the Hero 8 front LCD screen there’s an icon to show you’re in webcam mode and the red LED above flashes red when the webcam is active.
On the Hero 9 the front LCD displays a live video of what you’re capturing, which means you can hide your self view and free up some screen space. You also tend to look more into the lens of the camera although I’m not sure if that’s a good or bad thing for a video call!
The red LED also flashes when you’re live and the status changes from Paused to Active in red.
By default the screen turns off after a couple of minutes. If you want it to remain on, you’ll need to disconnect the USB cable, swipe down and then left on the rear screen, tap Preferences | Displays | Screen Saver Front and then change this to Never. You can also choose between a full screen cropped view or the actual view from the initial settings screen.
You don’t need the battery installed in webcam mode and if you’re using this feature a lot it keeps the camera a little cooler if you remove it.
At the moment webcam mode doesn’t capture audio which is very inconvenient on a desktop computer that won’t have a microphone by default. You’ll have to use an external mic – perhaps the one that came with your phone or a USB mic. But you’ll get noticeable audio delay with this method.
If you’re happy using OBS, you can add some delay to the audio – I found 450ms about right – to try and bring it in sync with the video, and you could send this to Zoom or another conferencing app from OBS. I’ll discuss both these options further shortly.
Using a video capture card
Video capture devices capture the output from the HDMI connection on your GoPro. Most of the cards available today support the UVC standard which means software like Zoom and Microsoft Teams recognise them as a webcam without having to install any drivers. And you can also capture audio over the HDMI cable, via the GoPro’s built in microphone, although I didn’t find this was particularly reliable.
This used to be a pricey option with cards starting at over £100 or $100. But I got this card from Aliexpress for less than £10 or $10 and it’s available on Amazon for just a little more.
And I’ll compare it to an Elgato HD60 S+ which cost almost £200 or $200. Although the Elgato Camlink 4K would be a slightly cheaper option with exactly the same quality – it just doesn’t have the video pass through for gaming.
They have a USB connection on one end that you should try and use with a USB 3 port on your computer, and an HDMI-in port for connection to your GoPro. You will also need an HDMI to micro-HDMI cable. I’ll have links down below to the exact capture cards and cables I’m using.
Unfortunately GoPro ditched the micro-HDMI port starting with the Hero 8 Black, but most GoPros before this will work with this method. You can add a micro-HDMI port to these newer GoPros with the GoPro Media Mod and they will then work with one of these HDMI capture cards as I’ll show later, but I wouldn’t buy the accessory just for that. The quality is a little bit better than the native webcam mode, and you do get audio, but you could buy a decent dedicated webcam for the price of the Media Mod.
Plug the USB capture card into a USB 3 port on your computer. Allow a few minutes for your Windows PC or Mac to automatically install any drivers needed.
Mine worked via an extension cable which you’ll probably need. Settings may vary slightly on different GoPro models, but on a Hero 5, from the Preferences menu scroll down to HDMI Output and choose Live so you don’t see any of the on-screen camera info. The GoPro Hero 5 Black can output 4K if your capture card can use it. The Elgato can record 4K footage, the cheaper HDMI card will downscale 4K footage to 1080p. The Hero 8 and 9 only output 1080p via their Media Mod.
Connect your GoPro with a HDMI to micro-HDMI cable. I’m using a standard HDMI cable with a micro-HDMI adapter.
Your GoPro can now be used as a webcam. In Zoom go into Settings | Video and select USB Video. This may have a different name depending on the exact capture card you purchase. In Settings | Audio, select Digital Audio Interface (USB Digital Audio). Check it’s working with the Test Mic button. Say something and you should hear it back after a few seconds of silence.
It’s the same idea in other conferencing apps.
In OBS, click the + icon in Sources and select Video Capture device. Again choose USB Video. Under colour range, select Partial otherwise the image will look flat with little contrast.
Audio should be included in the video feed which you can check levels meter in the audio mixer panel. Or you can add audio as a separate source: again click the + icon, choose Audio Input Capture and again select the Digital Audio Interface (USB Digital Audio).
This works the same on both a PC and Mac.
I found audio with the Hero 5 a little temperamental, even with the much more expensive Elgato HD60 S+. Sometimes I got no audio for no apparent reason. I’d be interested to hear how you get on – please let me know down in the comments. If you can’t get the audio working you can always use an external microphone.
If you do happen to have a Hero 8 or later with their GoPro Media Mod, I found audio worked more reliably and was better quality too with the front mini shotgun mic. It’s not immediately obvious how to get the live image with the media mod installed. You need to press the side mode button to cycle to the webcam icon and then press the record button to select this mode.
Then you have to use the side mode button again to cycle to the icon of an eye and press the record button again to turn the on-screen display off.
The advantage of using the built in microphones is there’s very little audio lag so lip sync is pretty good. If you’re using an external mic, depending on your software you might be able to adjust for this delay. In OBS I found adding around 100-200ms to the Sync Offset, under Advanced Audio Properties did a good job, but you’ll have to play around a little with your setup.
Setting up a GoPro as a wireless webcam
There is a final option which works with a Hero 7 Black or newer – basically any camera with the GoPro Live feature. It turns your camera into a wireless webcam and even includes audio.
I covered this using a PC in detail in a previous article, but I’ll cover the setup just briefly here – but this time on a Mac for completeness. For further details, please take a look at my previous article.
This is not a great solution for video conferencing because of the 2 second plus delay introduced by the wireless connection, but if you have nothing else it might still be an option!
But it’s still useful – for example spying on the bird feeder or other wildlife in the garden, or just recording video in a remote or awkward location. It’s the most difficult option to set up but it won’t cost you anything.
You need some software on your computer for the GoPro camera to communicate with wirelessly. On a PC you need to download the free open source RTMP server called Monaserver as I covered in my previous video. Make your Windows PC network profile is set to Private. Check that video for setup on a PC.
On a Mac install Sallar, another free open source RTMP server, by downloading and opening the .dmg file that I’ll link to down below in the video’s description. Then drag this application into the Applications folder as prompted and run it.
A video icon will appear in your menu bar which we’ll come back to. Take a note of the IP address of your Mac which you can find under System Preferences | Network | Status.
Download and install the free open source OBS Studio and then install the free OBS Virtualcam plugin.
In the GoPro app on your phone swipe across to Live and then tap on Setup Live, and then RTMP. Under “Enter your RTMP URL” enter rtmp:// followed by the IP address you just noted down followed by /live.
Choose your resolution and tap Set Up Live Stream. Wait for the camera to beep and then tap on the blue Go Live icon. The menu bar icon for the RTMP server should turn red and if you click on it shows details of the now active live stream.
Click on the copy icon next to the URL to copy this URL to the clipboard.
In OBS click on the + icon as before and this time add a Media Source. Leave Create new selected and provide any name you like. Then click OK. Untick Local File and under Input enter the same address you just entered in the GoPro app or you can paste the local address you just copied to the clipboard.
Click ok and you should see the feed from your camera appear in OBS. You could now record this video feed, or even live stream it.
To send the video to Zoom or any other software that supports a webcam, click on Tools | Start Virtual Camera. Unfortunately by default you won’t get the audio in Zoom but there’s a workaround. Install VB-Cable which is a virtual sound card. Again I’ll provide a link down below. It’s free to use, but they ask for a donation if you find it useful.
We need this virtual sound card to monitor the audio output from the GoPro and then we can select this as our sound source in Zoom.
In OBS go to Settings | Audio | Advanced and change the monitoring device to VB-Cable.
Now go to the Advanced Audio Properties of the media source in the Audio Mixer and turn on Monitor and Output in Audio Monitoring.
Now in, for example Zoom, choose OBS Virtual Camera in Settings | Video. You should get your GoPro cameras video. Then go to Settings | Audio and choose the VB-Cable as the microphone which will pass across the monitored audio from the GoPro camera in OBS. The video and audio should be mostly in sync, albeit both delayed by at least a couple of seconds. It’s nice that this is possible, but the delay is a little too long to be truly useful. I tried dropping the resolution all the way down to 480p but that made no difference. And both Monaserver on a fast PC with a wired connection and Sallar on this Mac with a wireless connection have the same delay.
I thought it’d be useful to compare the quality of a few of these options with the GoPro cameras I have as well as a 2012 MacBook Pro’s built in webcam. I’ve also added my iPhone 11 camera used with iVCam as I showed in another article and my Panasonic G80 mirrorless camera with both HDMI capture cards as a benchmark. Take a look at the video for a better comparison.
I found the best option overall was the cheap USB capture card. And it’ll work with any camera with an HDMI output and even works great with my mirrorless camera. Even if you can’t get audio working, you can use an external mic. There is a small amount of delay – around 100ms – but it would be acceptable for a video call. And you could use OBS if you like tinkering to reduce this – and even green screen your background! And with its UVC support, it works with all the video conferencing apps I’ve tried without having to install any additional software.
The only real advantage the Elgato has for over 10 times the price is that it can record 4K footage, but only the Hero 5 supports this out of the GoPros I tested, and it’s no use for video calls anyway. The HD60 S+ has other features too like passthrough, but they’re not relevant in this discussion.
The results using my iPhone 11 were also good – it handles low light far better. Also the longer focal length of a smartphone camera is more flattering. So take a look at my video on setting that up if you’re interested.
The native webcam feature works fine, but it’s frustrating you have to install additional software and I’d like to see audio support added very soon – that would make it far more useful.
Don’t forget to take a look at my YouTube video at the top of the page, and subscribe to my YouTube channel where I’m releasing videos every week on the latest technology and how to get the most out of it. If you tap the bell icon when you subscribe you’ll get a notification as soon as I release a video, and there’ll be a link to my site here for the written article. YouTube is also the best place to leave a comment. I read all of them and respond to as many as I can!
Budget USB capture card: https://amzn.to/33XmaLl (looks similar to the one I got from AliExpress but not 60fps: https://geni.us/aliexpresscapturecard)
Micro HDMI adapter: https://amzn.to/3lKXICZ
USB 3.0 extension cable: https://amzn.to/3lGUkIV
Elgato Cam Link 4K: https://amzn.to/3lys4Zf
Elgato HD60 S+: https://amzn.to/33DUI4S
GoPro Hero 9 Black: https://amzn.to/3mJ2lPe
GoPro Hero 8 Black: https://amzn.to/3mDIfWt