Friday, January 22, 2010


Update Jan. 22.--I got a reply from Logitech about the Webcam. They didn't have the specifications for the Zeiss lens. They said the camera was developed for Internet chats and video conferences, meaning people within a reasonably short distance from the lens, hence the blurry distance focusing (besides being only 2 Megapixels in a very small sensor) and exposure problems and the lack of any applications software or driver.

Update Jan. 18.--I played with the camera's location and got a better view where the autofocus and lens seems to capture more of the distant scene, like the power line tower. Mt. Rainier has been obscured for days from storms, so I'll have to wait untill a good sunrise or sunset to test it.

Original post.-- Well, I finally broke down and bought a Webcam for my Mac (an older PPC G5, and yes a new Intel Pro is on the list this year). It turns out Apple only recommends one, the Logitech QuickCam Vision Pro (for Macs), see their Web page. The Apple store in Seattle had one for $30 cheaper than retail, so it's came home with me.

Well, as the reviews and information about it says, it's plug and play because it doesn't have any driver or application to install. It relies on existing Apple or third party software, which is mostly Apple's iChat, Photo Booth and QuickTime Pro. That's all the software Logitech and (obviously) Apple recommends to guarrantee to work with it. Oh well.

So, what's my opinion? Well, remember I'm a photographer (not of note or achievement by any stretch) but I wouldn't rank it great. And good is relative. Why? Because the view you see in the image is out my office window I see my just looking up beyond the computer monitor. I have a direct comparison with the image and real life itself.

And that's why for 2 Megapixel and the Carl Zeiss optics, it's won't win awards for quality or technical merit, but it's good for a snapshot, minus all the intricate details in the scene. For one, there is a tall transmission tower between the large gap of trees on the left and Mt. Rainier between the gap of trees on the right. While visible through the lens, neither show up on the image, which means the 640x480 (jpg) image loses a lot of detail.

For another it's looking through a double pane window, which is seen in the reflection (yellow circle). I will try to find a location where it can see better because I'm wondering if it's effecting the autofocus. And for the last piece, it sees the real-time image in reverse because it's expecting a reverse (mirror-like) image, so it reverses it. You can set the auto-flip to correct it.

Anyway, I bought it capture snapshots for people to see what I see from my (home) office. The next test is use the digital camera (Canon 5D) to capture the same image for comparison. And to that I'll keep you posted, and in the meantime, that's the Narrows Strait in the background with Tacoma across the strait.

It's a neat view, not just because of Mt. Rainier is out the window (on clear days), but I get to see all the boat and ship traffic passing under the Twin Narrows Bridges just off to your right in the image, all the Seattle to Portland train traffic on the tracks at water level (1+ mile) across the Narrows Strait, and the outgoing and incoming flights into SeaTac airport and McChord AFB across the sky in the distance from the southwest to the southeast.

A small microcosm of the world economy just outside in view, and now I can snap a picture of it.

Conclusion.--My personal view (not it of me) of this Webcam is simple. If you need one because your monitor doesn't have a built-in one or you want a better one, this is a good choice, besides being one of the few for Mac's and being plug and play. The limitations really preclude it from other uses, although I'll keep mine pointed out the window for now.

I haven't tested third-party software yet, but I did buy QuickTime Pro to test it with the Webcam. If I want better images out my window, I learned to tether the Canon 5D to the Mac, and presently (this week) it's been sitting alongside the Webcam to compare images (unfair but so what), and will be when it's not in use elsewhere.

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