Sony has released an app that turns 35 of its most popular cameras into webcams, as at-home workers and remote students find themselves needing better quality video for their calls. The Sony Imaging Edge Webcam app follows similar software from other camera manufacturers, allowing USB connections rather than needing complex HDMI input boxes.
If there’s one unexpected thing that the pandemic has taught us, it’s that you can’t necessarily count on laptop webcams being any good. Low resolution sensors, middling light sensitivity, and a tendency to blow-out the background are all common issues with even webcams on expensive notebooks.
The obvious alternative is plugging in an aftermarket webcam, but supplies of those have been rare since more people started working from home. Tapping the bigger sensors of standalone cameras was the other solution, but generally they’re not designed to be connected directly to PCs and Macs. Instead, you typically needed an HDMI input box, stock of which also rapidly dwindled.
Sony’s answer is an app that hooks some of its recent cameras up to PCs. A free download, all it requires is a USB cable; select camera models will also charge as they are connected, while others will rely on their own battery power. For the moment, at least, it’s Windows 10 (64-bit) only, which means Mac users are still left wanting.
For camera compatibility, Sony says its app will work with the Alpha 9 II, Alpha 9, Alpha 7R IV, Alpha 7R III, Alpha 7R II, Alpha 7S II, Alpha 7S, Alpha 7 III, Alpha 7 II, Alpha 6600, Alpha 6400, Alpha 6100, RX100 VII, RX100 VI, RX0 II, RX0, Digital Camera ZV-1, and the Alpha 7S III. There’s a full compatibility list for all 35 of the models supported at launch below.
The advantage is being able to use things like the cameras’ native autofocus, which is invariably going to be better than what most dedicated webcams offer.
“Given the growing demand for live streaming and video communication,” Yann Salmon-Legagneur, Director of Product Marketing for Digital Imaging at Sony Europe, said today, “we’re excited to share a new application that give so many loyal Sony’s customers the ability to quickly and easily transform their camera into a highly effective webcam for live streaming, video calls and so much more.”
If you have an E-mount camera you’ll need one of the following in order to use the Imagine Edge Webcam app:
If you’ve got an A-mount camera, it’ll need to be one of these three models:
Finally, if you have one of Sony’s DSC cameras, it’ll need to be one of these: