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Question: Can I connect a video camera to Mac using HDMI port?

I have a video camera that I wanted to try some things out with by attaching it to the Mac mini via the HDMI port.

I've plugged it in on this port but nothing seems to be happening on the computer.... (I was expecting it to recognise a device had been attached and show in Finder). Even if I go to iMovies it doesn't recognise that a camera is connected.

Am I doing something wrong or is it just something not right with what I'm trying to do?


Mac mini, OS X Yosemite (10.10.5)

Posted on Feb 2, 2016 10:30 AM

Question marked as Apple recommended

No. The HDMI is video OUT only.

You can get a Thunderbolt-connected device/video capture device that support HDMI in.

Posted on Feb 2, 2016 10:36 AM

Feb 3, 2016 2:17 AM in response to Denniknak In response to Denniknak

If it was a HDMI connected camcorder then it might be able to record from the Mac, but the Mac cannot record from the HDMI port.

Note: Historically digital camcorders would have been connected via FireWire, unlike HDMI FireWire is a bi-directional interface.

As Illaass says you need a HDMI capture device which in this case would be connected to the Mac mini's Thunderbolt port. See this as an example https://www.blackmagicdesign.com/products/intensity

Note: Some HDMI devices e.g. TV set-top boxes will use HDCP protection and likely prevent you 'recording' them. A camera outputting via HDMI should not have this problem.

A slightly different scenario would be wanting to capture the video from the HDMI port of a games console. Again in this case HDCP should not be a problem and this USB device might be an option. https://www.elgato.com/en/gaming/game-capture-hd60

Hypothetically the above USB device could also be used with a HDMI camera but the Intensity product is specifically aimed a that market.

Feb 3, 2016 2:17 AM

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Jan 2, 2017 2:28 PM in response to Denniknak In response to Denniknak

I Have a similar question, which he may also be asking.

I just want to WATCH the output of my dslr video though my hdmi camera output to be displayed on the mac (using the hdmi to thunderbolt adapter)

Recording not needed. This is a simple function any hdmi TV can perform, this imac 5k 2015 must surely be able to DISPLAY my hdmi output device!

Jan 2, 2017 2:28 PM

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Jan 2, 2017 2:49 PM in response to iflyinmymind In response to iflyinmymind

HMDI is a single direction interface that is it is either an input or an output but cannot be both, so a TV has a HDMI input only interface and a Mac if it has an HDMI port is an output only interface. Therefore you cannot plug a video camera in to a Macs HDMI port and view the camera on the Mac screen.

Thunderbolt is however a bi-directional interface it can both send and receive so you can both connect it via a HDMI output adapter to a TV for example, or via a different HDMI input adapter capture the output of a video camera. These Thunderbolt to HDMI adapters are again only able to operate in a single direction because that is the limitation of HDMI. After all you cannot output from a TV via its HDMI port either.

iMacs of various models have in the past offered a 'Target Display' mode where either the Mini Displayport or Thunderbolt port can be used to receive a video signal as well as the normal output mode. Remember this is because Thunderbolt and Mini Displayport work in both directions but HDMI does not.

For some older iMacs you could also get a special Mini Displayport to HDMI input adapter from Kanex. See http://www.kanex.com/xd this does not work on newer Thunderbolt iMacs. You can connect two Macs together and use the iMac via a Mini Displayport cable to use the iMac as a display or for a newer Thunderbolt iMac via Thunderbolt. See Use your iMac as a display with Target Display Mode - Apple Support

As I indicated in my previous reply you can get various Thunderbolt to HDMI input interfaces such as the BlackMagicDesign Intensity or the Elgato Game Capture.

Jan 2, 2017 2:49 PM

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Question: Can I connect a video camera to Mac using HDMI port?