Best Budget USB HDMI Video Capture Card | How to start streaming on Youtube, Twitch, Facebook

Today a new business is catching on, and believe it or not, it is bringing in significant gains: streaming. One in particular is the streaming of video games, but also the streaming of various activities, which are recorded live and with thousands of people interacting with the streamer.

What to buy at the beginning

If you are interested in trying this activity, I recommend that you do some tests first, and avoid spending hundreds/thousands of euros to buy expensive devices that they recommend on blogs (cameras, microphones, lights, etc.). Instead, I recommend that you first test for a short period: if you like it, if you can juggle the thousand technical aspects that are required, if the material you want to publish has followers, if you have the consistency to do it at least once a day/week, etc.

Video-camera, photo-camera, webcam

To be able to stream we need a video-camera. The quality of a video-camera is basically measured in Mega-pixels, like photo-cameras. For example the 720p format, which is also called HD, produces images of 1280×720 pixels (note why it is called 720p: the image is 720 pixels high).
Another parameter for quality is fps (frames per second), which is how many images are generated in a second. As in cinema, a sequence of images produces the effect of movement, or what we call “video”.
In videos a fps of 30 is sufficient, but in some cases, such as in video games where the speed/movement is noticeable, 60 fps is best. If we had a too low fps rate, we could see the images with “jerkily”.

The cheapest solution is to use a webcam, which is very often already built into laptops, which are usually also of good quality. But this solution has a major limitation: the camera is not easily adjustable.
Another solution is to buy an external webcam, which however, requires a cost of at least 60 euros, even more for higher quality (1080p for example). A 240p/360p webcam does not allow for good streaming, because the images would be too small and the video would be “pixelate”.

Streaming with the camera

However, both of these solutions cannot compete with the solution I want to talk to you about today: using a normal camera, which we may already have (therefore without extra initial costs).

In order to do this we need a few things:
1) a camera that can output video (video output)
2) a software to configure the video output mode
3) a video capture card (in this case HDMI)
4) a computer with a USB input (preferably USB 3, the blue one)
5) a cable that can connect the video output to an HDMI video capture device
6) a software to send the video stream to the streaming channel (Youtube, Twitch, Facebook, etc)

In our case, for the point 1) we used a Canon EOS M100, which is the best camera, in terms of quality/price ratio, to take photos and videos.

Unfortunately this specific Canon model does not meet the point 2) and we had to follow a procedure a little complicated, I would say not within everyone’s possibilities. If you have a Canon, here you will find compatible models (eg Canon EOS M200) that supports Canon’s video format configuration software: Canon EOS Webcam Utility. In practice, without this software, in the video outut you would also see the information boxes that the camera shows on the display (battery life, fps, iso, zoom, color configuration, etc.).

Now we come to the main point of this article: the video capture card, point 3) . Usually a video capture card, which in practice allows you to convert the HDMI video signal compatible with a computer, costs hundreds of euros (even thousands for professional ones). SOme acquisition cards have recently been on the market, which have excellent quality and a very low cost, in the order of 20 euros! I didn’t think they were actually as good as they reviewed them, but I have to say I can confirm everything. Very easy to use, no driver needed, practically plug & play, in the attached leaflet they also explain how to use it with the most common streaming software (OBS). They do not have a specific name, rather generic “HDMI Video capture”, I recommend the USB 3 version. In practice it is this here:

Our notebook has a USB 3 input, so point 4) is satisfied. But now I need a cable to connect the camera with the HDMI video capture card.
So for the point 5) I buyed a micro-HDMI cable (camera) <-> HDMI (capture card). Be careful in your case to buy the right cable, based on your camera (eg micro-HDMI, or mini-HDMI, or micro-USB, etc), and it must be male-male. Mine looks like this:

Now that everything is connected, as per point 6) I need a software to transmit the video stream of the camera to a streaming channel. In our case we used “Streamlabs OBS – Live Streaming Software” which is very easy to use and supports the most common streaming channels.

So, in summary, we were able to get started with our streaming project with only 30 euros!

Well, I hope I have been useful, and… good streaming!

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