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Thread: Web Cam for Mac? Where to find?

  1. #1
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    A few of my friends and a Sister have been pushing me to get a web cam. One friend uses my ol' 7500 - G3/400 and chats with her sister via yahoo and she sends a live stream - kinda cool. I did not even realize I could receive it... I assumed I needed some special software?

    I see them advertised for 20 to 40 bucks all over. I did some searching and see FW (expensive but fast?) and USB (affordable and good nuf.. I assume) This is all for fun and games and the "fun" will probably not last long.

    I found a few that said PC/MAC but in the tech specs only listed PC specs/etc. I must need a Mac specific software I assume?

    Any experiences? Ideas? Places to search?

    Randy

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    You don't want USB 1.1, you NEED FireWire. iSight/iChat is $30 extra for software and requires 10.2.9.9.9.9... or Panther I assume. No OS 9.

    The Pyro WebCam FW was $149 and there is a driver. BTV or BTV Pro doesn't come close to Apple software but allows using in OS 9.

    As long as you have, say 512K DSL (seems like it 'reserves xxxk for up, another xxxk down, plus so 768K might be better).

    I wish more family members had cable and dsl for just this kind of application.

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    I would run a cam on my QS 733, 10.2.8... Will 10.2.8 cut it? I was just surprised how easily via the internet/yahoo a "slow unclear" live stream came in. I also have a decent 512K down DSL. So iSight hummmm... Randy

    [This message was edited by rwm on Mon January 26, 2004 PT at 15:11.]

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    rwm,

    10.2.8 will cut it. On the iChat page, it lists 10.2.5 (or higher) as the requirement (link below). (Apple released a beta of iChat, but it expires on you or has expired.)

    iChat (non-expiring version) is included in Panther.

    Otherwise with 10.2.8, you may need to purchase it separately for $30. The iSight requirements lists iChat which is *not* included.

    iChat

    iSight

    Still haven't used it yet -- I need to get the DSL. Since I run Panther, I did test it with iChat.

    [This message was edited by Eric on Mon January 26, 2004 PT at 23:04.]

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    OK that sloves my software questions - thanks. All I need is Panther or spend $30 to buy iSight/Chat.

    Now a cam... Which cam? The iSight/Chat info at Apple sez "While iChat AV works best with iSight, you can use any FireWire DV camera or Web cam for video chat." The iSight cam runs ~$150 and TZ I think I found the "Pyro WebCam FW" you mention for ~$80. I see a big price range from around ~$50 - $150. Just not sure exactly what to watch for. If 80 bucks will do the same job why spend 150?

    Thanks
    Randy

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    Seems the 3 main specs are the frames per second, Color Depth or Bit rate, Video Capture/Resolution?

    The "iSight cam" is - 30 frames per second (all are), Color Depth: 24 Bit, Video Capture Resolution 640 x 480 and a.... "autofocusing autoexposure F/2.8 lens"

    The "Pyro WebCam 1394" is... - 30 frames per second, Color Depth: 32 Bit, and the Resolution is also 640 x 480.

    Most searches like this one for a Mac and FW product have simalar results? as far as prices, specs and such. Is the iSight cam that much better?

    Thanks again
    Randy

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    TZ does ADS make the "Pyro WebCam" if so it looks to be a popular one. Some people at Apple discussions are a little down on the iSight. Something like this seems popular. I just dunno.

    Anyone ever see or use a specfic cam working?

    Still researching
    Randy

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    Specs seem the same to me. Something like the PYRO looks to be a better deal than the iSight. It appears to work with OS 9 too.


    Randy

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    When I look at the 'clarity' and focal length, the Pyro looks real good using Apple's iChat - gotta hand it to Apple for that, they seem to know what to do. BTV hasn't been updated in two years, but lets me capture a single frame at any size (1024x768 even) but the faster the G4, the better.

    What I don't like is having to manually change and adjust the focus. i would guess the optics of the lens are the only real cost and important factor.

    I wonder how that inexpensive StealthFire does?

    This from MacFixit:
    quote:
    Troubleshooting the iSight: FireWire conflicts

    Yesterday (macfixit) noted a number of reports of iSight cameras contributing to problems with other FireWire devices. (We also noted that this was a problem we have covered in the past.) Since yesterday's coverage, we have received a large number of replies providing further confirmation of these issues. These reports aren't limited to just the iPod, or just FireWire hard drives. In fact, we've received reports of issues with iPods, hard drives, and even optical drives.
    FireWire sure solved all the SCSI conflicts!

    [This message was edited by TZ on Wed January 28, 2004 PT at 5:53.]

  11. #11
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    Randy,

    Let me toss some stuff out to see if we can figure out based on specs what might be a good option. Again, I have an iSight, but it was gifted to me -- if someone hadn't have done that I would just used my Sony FW camcorder. I dabble a bit in photography (with film still), so some of this means something to me from that perspective.

    You tossed out "autofocusing autoexposure F/2.8 lens" from the iSight specs, along with a puzzlement icon.

    The iSight is an autofocus webcam -- move forward and backwards, and the iSight will automatically do its best to keep up with you, and keep in you in focus. Some of those other webcams -- and TZ's comment makes it pretty clear -- aren't not autofocus. You have to manually focus them to yourself (or whatever your going to stream) in focus. Autofocus makes life easier, but it's mechanism that no doubt increases the price.

    The iSight is also autoexposure. So it does it best to set the proper exposure given the lighting conditions -- you can always trick it or put in a difficult siutation. So if you're under intense lighting conditions -- outside in the midday sun -- the iSight since its autoexposure will compensate for that you don't become a huge white blur. Likewise, if you get into low light conditions, the iSight will adjust as necessary to try to get a useable image, so you don't became a black square.

    If a webcam isn't autoexposure, then you'll need to do your best with the ambient light to hit the sweet spot. With an autoexposure you'll still want to insure good lighting conditions for best images, but a less work for you do to remain in the sweet spot.

    Speaking of low-light conditions, of course there's a limit as to how low you can go while still getting a useable image. (Think of the nasty grain you get with film and digital images if there's not enough light.) Low light situations bring up the iSights' lens rated at F/2.8. That number typically signifies for you the 'speed' of the lens; on a camera lens that's with the aperature or diaphram wide open (at its biggest settings).

    Roughly, the faster the lens (the smaller the F/ number) the more light the lens can let in (at its most wide open setting). One advantage with faster lens is that in low light situtations. Compared to a slower lens, with a faster lens you don't have to resort as quickly to say additional lighting (lights or flash) to get a useable image. (There's also using faster film as well, but there no anology for that with a webcam.) That's why you'll see pro's walking around with lens with huge diameters -- they let in much more light than your typical consumer lens, they're faster.

    On a camera lens you use the aperature or diaphram to adjust how much light gets in to set the proper exposure -- so you don't over expose and blow out the image. I haven't looked closely at the iSight to see what happens, but my guess is that there's one inside which is used during the auto-exposure.

    With F/2.8, the iSight should be good to pretty good in lowlight conditions. That said, the digital equivalent of film speed would be in play -- how sensitive are those CCDs or whatever being used to get the images? If they're in junk, putting the fastest lens in the world probably won't help.

    The other thing that comes into play with F/ numbers is depth of field -- the area in front and behind the focal point that remains in focus. Probably comes into play with webcam as well. If you want me to continue on with that I will.

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    Nice Eric.

    We have tested a couple iSights at work, and compared to several cheapy USB webcams - there is no comparison. The USB webcam pictures were like looking through smudged, greasy glasses: worthless IMHO. A real test is what you all have mentioned about other firewire cameras.... have not done that yet.

    As Eric covered, a telltale sign of image quality in most cameras (of any kind) is the size of the lens, and the iSight lens is several times larger than every other webcam I have looked at so far.

    One thing we did notice with all cameras tested was that for optimal image quality, you need light on the subject (you). Overhead flurescent lighting like most office-type buildings have is about the worst. Saw this at MacWorld. Pretty slick.

    I love the fact that it fits nicely on the iSight and is FW powered.... otherwise you need a desklamp or something like that pointed at you to get some decent light. Kinda like a police interogation.

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    [This message was edited by unclemac on Wed January 28, 2004 PT at 8:58.]

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    TZ, Eric and Unc thanks! With all your info and insight and all my reading/researching yesterday I feel a lot more comfrontable in making a decsion I'll post back if this project really takes off and let you know how things work.

    Thanks
    Randy

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    I went and ordered the Griffin iSightlite ($39), seems like it would help anyone. (I have to turn up halogen lamp to get good color etc as it is now, and bounce light off wall to remove shadow etc).

    I may just get an iSight anyway - looks like its two months before I see any rev B G5 my way.

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    I was using iChat just to watch the cats in another room, or take photos - capture video as jpeg image.

    today, I wanted to use iChat. the Beta has expired, I have Panther, but it won't let me until it confirms that I am "me" and have .Mac or AIM. Neither of which I want/need. .Mac use to filter email perfectly. People complained. Now they let in all the garbage and trash.

    So I can't use iChat my way, only Apple way. This is what "Think Different" really means - we do the thinking for you so you don't have options or choices, except to not use "our" software, the software is not "yours."

    If you want to do what I use my FW webcam for, BTV works but really poor video, not well written, hogs cpu, etc etc etc. Maybe with G5-2DP developers don't notice that what they do in real time video, we take hours to do.

    Just a word to the wise.
    ?

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    So now, I've got iChat 2.0 working again. Seems that my old home directory gets around Apple's new Preferences maybe, or I needed to enable "Local Rendezvous."

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    TZ

    What cam are you using?

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    Pyro FW webcam.

    On a clean install of 10.2.7, I had to go through either setup Dot Mac account or have AIM account.

    Once I got booted from my old system transferred from my B&W, and my old (3 yrs) home directory etc, everything was working again.

    Sort of "false alarm."

    Still trying to install hardware and software into MDD...

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    I see 3-4 different model numbers for Pyro. Do you know which Pyro yours is? or which part/model number starts to works good? 200 203 207 other?

    What does it look like? clear? or black?

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    API - 200 Black Pyro WebCam

    But I want something with better focus and lense. I have to try to watch on the monitor while my hand is around the tightening adjustment that pretty much blocks the view unless you are careful and keep your fingers clear.

    They should have gotten much better in the 4 yrs since though.

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