If you have came to this article chances are, you’re setting up your stream on a budget. First off, that’s the best way to do it! Your personality will attract visitors not your camera gear or nano leaf in the background.
However what if I told you that you didn’t have to fork out $150 on an Elgato camlink to get an amazing DSLR image on your stream.
Over the past week I have been testing out a cheaper $20 capture card that has shocked me in its performance.
I also put together a video below breaking down this camlink alternative.
The Camlink Alternative
This little beauty right here is the most popular cheap camlink alternative. When I first saw it on Amazon I probably scrolled right past it and completely ignored it’s existent.
I went straight to the Camlink and honestly haven’t had any problems however it would have been nice to save $130.
Since I started this blog I thought it would only be right to test out some of the cheapest capture cards on the market and see how they hold up against the competition.
So I ended up ordering this $20 HDMI Video Capture card from Amazon. There is a ton of sellers selling the exact same capture card under different names but ultimately they’re all selling the same Chinese made Capture card.
My initial thoughts were that this thing is going to be horrible. Honestly I didn’t even think it would work but I had to test it out for you.
Setting Up The HDMI Video Capture – $20 Cap Card
When you open the capture card you will be presented with a USB like device. It’s the only item you will receive in the box. You will also need an HDMI to HDMI mini to connect your camera to the capture card.
Connect your HDMI mini cable to your camera and the input side of the capture card then plug the USB into your computer.
Fortunately there is no long drawn out software installation process. You can instantly jump into your streaming software such as Streamlabs or OBS and get this into your scene.
Once you have opened Streamlabs you can select: Add Source –> Video Capture Device –> USB Capture Device
You should now see your HDMI input form your camera on your Streamlabs scene.
Elgato Vs $20 Capture Card Video Quality
Honestly when I plugged this thing in I wasn’t expecting much from it however once my camera popped up in streamlabs I was shocked. Right off the bat this capture card looked great.
Let’s just show you a side by side with the Elgato Camlink 4k vs the $29 Capture Card.
On the left we have the Elgato Camlink and on the right the $20 Capture card.
The main difference we can see is the image on the right is a little more saturated than the one on the left but other than that it’s hard to tell which is which.
The camera quality looks amazing on both. I would say that the Camlink represents a more true color palette the $20 card but not by much. You could likely just add a LUT to your stream to get the same style as the Cam link.
If you’re using this camera as your facecam in a small box on your stream 90% of the time then this $20 Capture card is more than enough to get you started on a budget.
Your stream probably won’t even notice the slight difference in color on your stream. When I was streaming to test out the cheap capture card I didn’t apply a LUT and nobody noticed any difference.
How Does The $20 Capture Card Perform
With most capture cards you will find there is usually a slight delay between your mic audio and what’s happening on the screen.
I fully expected that this capture card would have a large delay compared to something like a Camlink. On the camlink I have a 130ms delay on my microphone so it syncs up with my voice.
I plugged in the $20 Capture card, didn’t adjust anything and was shocked to see that my voice was syncing perfectly with the settings I had setup for my Camlink.
So in terms of sound delay there was no issues.
Game Audio/Camera Audio
If you don’t have a microphone and want to use your camera microphone or want to receive audio from your console this capture card will also allow you to do that.
When I first plugged in I didn’t notice there was no sound as I was using my external microphone. However when I plugged in my Xbox series X I wondered why there was no Audio.
With a bit of help from google I finally figured it out. You have to add the capture separately as an Audio source as well as a video source.
Once I did this everything was perfect and the audio synced with the gameplay without any adjustments.
Can I Use The $20 Capture Card For My Console
If you’re looking to use this capture card with your console instead of your DSLR it will also work for this purpose however you will also need another piece of equipment.
As the capture card doesn’t have a pass through you will need to get an HDMI Splitter. This allows you to send the signal from your console to both the capture card and your monitor/tv.
You never want to just try and play by watching the preview in your stream labs. There will be a huge input lag making it impossible to play competitively.
I plugged in my Xbox Series S straight into the capture card and fired up streamlabs. My Xbox Dashboard instantly fired up giving me a 1080p input from the capture card.
It looked great and while testing it out on games I had no issues with screen tearing, lag etc.
HDMI Video Capture Specs
Input Resolution: 4K
Max Output Resolution: 1080p
Supports 8/10/12bit deep colour
Supports Windows, Android and MacOS
Should You Purchase This Capture
To wrap this one up, for the money this capture card is great. It’s hard to knock it when it comes in at less than $20.
Personally I’m going to be using it for a secondary camera on my stream. If you are upgrading from a webcam to a DSLR I would definitely start with this little device. There really is no need to spend the extra $130 which could be spent elsewhere on your stream.
Unless you’re concerned with streaming in 4k this is the way to go.
If you’re interested in getting your own $20 Capture card click the link below to grab yours.
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