Tips & Tricks

Tips & Tricks

Tips & Tricks

Four ways to connect any camera to your Mac

By

Frank Emous

on

January 30, 2023

So you want to step up your video game but you don’t know where to begin? In this post, we’ll talk about four ways to connect a camera to your Mac using Detail. This guide should get you up and running in no time, and we’ll even share some pro tips at the end. Spoiler alert: Detail supports almost ANY camera. Let's dive in!


Continuity Camera

The first method is probably the most straightforward and an easy way to start recording great looking video. And, the good news is, you don’t need to do anything special or buy additional hardware — all you need is an iPhone.


The only requirement to connect your iPhone with your Mac via Continuity Camera is, that you are running the latest version of macOS and iOS.


We did a previous video on continuity camera, but we’ll go in a bit deeper on the how and why you would want to use continuity camera.


Apple is constantly working on making their devices work better together and one of their latest additions is “continuity camera”. Despite its limitations, continuity camera is probably the easiest way of converting your iPhone into a high quality webcam for your mac.


The cool thing is that this works via USB connection but also wirelessly and the experience is really smooth.


In order for continuity camera to work, both devices need to be logged in with the same Apple ID and you need to have two factor authentication enabled. It works so well that if you bring your iOS device near your computer it will sometimes automatically switch to continuity camera which can be a bit annoying. 


If you want to switch this on or off you can go to Settings—>General—> Airplay & Handoff



The quality of continuity camera is surprisingly good and it works in all of your favorite recording or streaming tools.


Then there are some downsides of continuity camera; Actually there are not so many, but if you insist; As mentioned before, continuity camera requires you to be logged in to the same Apple ID, so using your friend's new iPhone will not work.


Next downside is that you can only select the main camera lens, so no selfie cam or wide shots with continuity camera.


Finally continuity camera does not seem to enjoy portrait mode. The camera will rotate, but it will result in a cropped version (that still will be sent to your computer horizontally). It looks like Apple needs to work on this a bit, and probably they will.

Continuity Camera


Detail for iOS

Next up is to connect your iOS device using detail for iOS. It works similar to continuity camera but you first need to download the Detail for iOS app, which you can do from the iOS App Store.


Open the Detail app on your phone and launch Detail on your Mac. Detail will detect your Mac and automatically connect to your iPhone, this can be done wirelessly but to ensure higher quality we recommend connecting via USB.


The cool thing about using Detail for iOS instead of continuity camera is that you now can use ALL lenses of your iPhone. Do you have an iPhone 14 Pro, boom enjoy ultra wide lens to capture the whole room or telezoom to get that more cinematic looking shot.


But wait there's more; with Detail for iOS you can connect multiple iOS devices at the same time AND you can use your friends iPhone or even that older iPhone you decommissioned*


Ok I get it, when you started reading, your intention was to REALLY step up your video game, not playing around with iPhones? No worries we got you. Let’s take a look at the next two ways of connecting your camera to your Mac.


USB connection

The third method is to use any camera that supports USB out. What this means is that essentially your (pro) camera now becomes a webcam but one with stunning quality. Most current cameras with a USB port support this. Camera brands like Canon, Fuji, Nikon and Sony support this.


What you get in return is a really quick way to connect (multiple) cameras to your Mac that instantly boosts your image quality. The cool thing if you use hybrid cameras - like for example this Sony A74 - is that you can change lenses to get that truly cinematic feel.


Most camera brands will let you connect their camera directly to your Mac. But some manufactures require you to download a plugin first to let your camera work as a webcam.


Another big benefit to connect (multiple) cameras via USB is that you don’t need to record in camera and need to think about offloading SD cards because Detail will capture all cameras at the same time.


Last benefit before we continue on is that using USB to connect your camera to your Mac will keep your camera juiced up so you can stop thinking about battery life.


Capture card

The final way to connect your camera to your mac is to use a capture card. It’s very likely that your older hybrid camera might not support a USB connection to your Mac but it probably does have a HDMI port and therefore you can capture that output in Detail.

There are a plethora of capture cards and they come in various price ranges. Important to note; while some of them claim to capture 4K they are more likely able to input a 4K signal but will only be able to  capture FullHD.


Our pick for a capture card is either the Camlink 4K or a generic one from amazon the first one goes for $120,- and the last one is roughly $20,- The Camlink is more pricey but has the best image quality.


If you really want to go crazy and capture even more pro cameras use a Blackmagic Design Recorder 3G to SDI your studio camera over SDI.


Speaking of PRO; one of the limitations of connecting your camera via USB is that you often only can record in REC709.


If you are unfamiliar with this term; REC709 is basically the color standard for HD Television. When you record REC709 color grading options sometimes can be a bit limited. If you record LOG, the options are broader. We won’t go in too deep on this subject because it’s a whole other can of worms. For most of us REC709 will be just fine, for the video-connoisseurs out there this trick might be welcome.


When recording via HDMI you can output LOG video from your camera and Detail will record that in LOG also so more options for color grading.


And there you have it; four ways to connect your camera to your mac. With these tips you can hopefully start creating cool content, from super easy using the continuity camera to more “pro” if you will by using a capture card.



*Detail for iOS, our companion app that lets you use your iPhone or iPad camera as a camera in Detail, works on the iPhone 11 and up. Some camera features like 4K video support and blur work best on recent iPhone models, like the iPhone 12 Pro or iPhone 13 Pro. On older devices and/or in some conditions like higher temperatures, you might experience slower performance.

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