How to use an iPhone as a webcam (EpocCam Review)
After moving into a new place with my girlfriend and COVID-19 restrictions hit, we both found ourselves needing webcams to use for our day job. As a streamer, I had a couple of Logitech C920s that we ended up dedicating to our day jobs. This meant I no longer had access to those webcams for other OBS scenes like my dog cam.
After looking at what another C920 webcam would cost (at the time $150+ when they are normally $60-$70), I started looking around for other options that didn’t cost so much. Research led me to an iOS app called EpocCam by Elgato. I dug into EpocCam, and I came away quite impressed.
Before we get into the post, I just wanted to say that if you need any help getting EpocCam setup or you have any questions about it, go ahead and ask us questions in the StreamSounds Discord Server. We’d LOVE to help you improve your setup!
What is Elgato EpocCam?
Elgato EpocCam is an app for iPhones and iPads that allows you to use the device as a webcam on your computer (both PC and MacOS). There are two versions of the EpocCam app (EpocCam and and EpocCam Pro) in the App Store. The basic EpocCam app will allow you to try out the main features of the app before you pay for the EpocCam Pro app. The pro version of the app is what you’d want to actually use if you decided to actually incorporate this into your setup.
What features are available in the EpocCam app?
As mentioned before, there are two versions of the EpocCam app. When you look into EpocCam app, realize that the basic version of the app is pretty much only for you to test out the features and decide if you should pay for the pro version.
Here’s a list of features found in the basic EpocCam app:
- Stream video from your Apple device at a resolution of 640x480 at 30 Frames Per Second.
- Horizontally flip your video.
- Switch between using the front and rear cameras on your Apple device.
- Automatically connect to your computer via USB or WiFi. You don’t get to choose the connection type, though.
The very basic list of features should get you just enough to figure out if the app will work for your use case(s). The cost to purchase the EpocCam Pro app is $8 USD.
Here’s a list of extra features you’ll find in the pro version on top of the features you find in the basic app:
- Choose the “quality” of your video feed to your computer. “Best” quality is 1920x1080 (1080p), “Good” quality is 1280x720 (720p), and “Fair” quality is 640x480 (480p). All resolutions stream at 30 frames per second.
- Choose the type of connection you are using to connect your phone to your computer. Choose between USB, WiFi, or NDI (a special IP-based connection over WiFi).
- Specify the zoom level if you have multiple cameras.
- Add in the audio from the Apple device with your video feed.
The pro version also allows you to put a really, really bad chromakey behind you. Please don’t buy the pro version expecting to use this instead of a proper green screen/chromakey. It is not worth it.
Who’s the app for?
The EpocCam app is for anyone looking to add a higher-quality webcam to their computer and has an iPhone or iPad. EpocCam is easy to use and straightforward to set up. I think it really shines for streamers who are just starting out because this could very well be the best budget webcam for Twitch. It will allow you to have a cheap webcam that is good quality without investing a ton of money into your streaming set up. I often hear about streamers who have invested hundreds or even thousands of dollars into their setup, only to stop streaming entirely just a few months later.
What about Android?
This article is about EpocCam, which is currently an Apple-device-only app after Elgato acquired the software. I don’t have access to a newer Android device to test Android apps that do the same thing as EpocCam, but I am aware of a few apps that you may want to try. I’m going to link to a couple, but be warned that I can’t vouch for their quality.
Here’s a few Android apps that I’ve come across in my search:
(Flav might be able to test some of these out and do a write up on them at a later date.)
What do I need to use the EpocCam app?
In order to use the EpocCam app, you’ll need at least an iPhone or iPad that can run iOS 13.0 / iPadOS 13.0 or later (at the time this was written). This means the following devices are supported:
- iPhone 6s/6s Plus, iPhone SE, and newer. Basically, any iOS device from 2015 or newer.
- iPod touch (7th generation)
- iPad (5th generation and newer), iPad mini 4 and newer, iPad Air 2 and newer. Pretty much any iPad device from 2015 or newer.
If your device is older than this, you may not be able to run the app. However, my very old iPad Mini 2 (Model A1489) was able to pull an older version of the app from the app store and it worked the exact same. At the very least, look it up in the app store, try to install it, and see what happens.
The app also requires you to install drivers on your PC or Mac in order for your Apple device to show up as a webcam, which you can find on Elgato’s website. We’ll link to them in the next section.
How do I install and start using the EpocCam app?
The EpocCam app is easy to install and begin using. It consists of four main steps:
Launch the app and connect your phone to your computer via USB or WiFi.
Set EpocCam as your webcam of choice in your desired software.
If these instructions don’t work for you or they seem out of date, click here to find the latest instructions on Elgato’s website.
What is it like to use the EpocCam Pro app?
For the remainder of this article, I’ll be talking about pro version of the EpocCam app.
The app is easy to use. It’s simple to set up, it opens quickly, and automatically connects to your computer if it can connect via WiFi or USB. It remembers the settings between launches of the app. When you add all of this together, it makes getting a camera up and running on your stream very easy.
It’s nice to be able to choose the quality of the video feed I’m sending from my phone to the computer. Having the option to quickly flip the image horizontally also makes it nice to be able to use this app outside of streaming as well.
I greatly appreciate the ability to use the cameras on the back of the Apple device. This takes the quality of your camera up a notch by being able to use those nicer cameras on the back.
I greatly appreciate the ability to use this app over USB. USB establishes a more reliable connection for the EpocCam app while also keeping the device powered up, so I don’t have to worry about running out of power while I’m on the go. If you set the app to automatically switch to WiFi if you disconnect it from USB, EpocCam gives you the ability to keep a video connection going without any hassle when you want to show something else around your house/studio.
I was honestly surprised by the quality of video feed that I got from the camera on my iPhone XS, which was way better than my Logitech C920 cameras. The quality on my iPad Mini 2 was even a little better than the Logitech C920, and the iPad Mini 2 came out in 2013!
It wasn’t all smooth sailing though and I hit a few bumps and bruises while I was figuring out if this app was something I wanted to use as part of my streaming setup long term.
If you navigate out of the app on your phone, your camera disconnects completely. It does leave a small spinning image indicating it’s trying to reconnect on your screen. The spinning image does not have a transparent background, so it will leave a big black box, covering up gameplay or whatever else you have going on.
The chromakey (green screen) functionality in EpocCam Pro is very bad. It cut out large portions of my bald head even with a darker background and solid lighting on myself. I wouldn’t use this feature at all.
I could not get the EpocCam app to connect my iPhone via USB to my Macbook Pro until I rebooted my Macbook Pro after installing the drivers. My PC didn’t have this problem. I still recommend rebooting your PC after ANY driver installation.
NDI lagged badly when connected over WiFi. The video alternated between smooth for a couple of seconds then very choppy for a few seconds. EpocCam Pro sometimes lost connection completely with the computer when connected over NDI.
If you are going to use WiFi to connect the phone to your computer, make sure you have a solid signal. An unreliable WiFi signal will cause your video to be choppy or cut out completely if the EpocCam app can’t get a solid connection to your computer.
My phone got very warm after about 15-30 minutes of using the Pro app. I’d recommend you not use a case on your device while using the EpocCam app.
There is no ability to control the finer features of your camera, such as white balance, ISO, shutter, etc. Whatever your camera looks like is what you get. You will be relying on your environment for the quality of your image, so make sure you have good lighting (as always, but especially so here). With most webcams, such as the Logitech C920, you WOULD get finer control for things like white balance, saturation, etc.
It isn’t clear how to make the app choose between autofocus or “on tap”. Focusing may just be whatever the default camera functionality of the phone decides to do.
You’ll need to figure out a mounting solution for your device, while most webcams can sit on your monitor easily. I found a decent phone holder that attached to my 2.25” desk on Amazon.
EpocCam is a great, cheap addition to just about any streamer’s setup, as long as they have an Apple device. It’s a cheap alternative to buying a much more expensive webcam that may or may not be as good of quality as what you’d find in your device. If I had just upgraded to a newer device and had a different Apple device lying around, I’d give this app a try.
As I mentioned earlier, if you have any questions about getting EpocCam setup or deciding if it’s right for your stream setup, go ahead and pop in the StreamSounds Discord Server. We’re there to help out and discuss ideas with to make your stream the best it can possibly be!