In search of a webcam

I had a look on eBay for used iSights a while ago. Hundreds of dollars! That is crazy talk.

Looking further I of course found the Macally icecam, the iMage and the Agent.

At the time, I wasn’t aware that UVC specification cameras work with built-in drivers on Mac OS X.
I knew that macam has support for a growing list of cameras, and it worked on the Logitech, however it seemed to be slow and I couldn’t use it to record a movie using the provided capture software.

The iMage has a downloadable app to test if your computer is suitable! That’s nice. The icecam seemed to be coming out with a new version so I chose not to wait. I bought the aGent instead.

Now it does look quite nice, it’s got a chrome finish. However the audio is not integrated. The cable splits into a mini phono and USB cable at the end. This is no good for my Powerbook, as it needs a powered mic. They do provide a USB audio adapter, but there goes another USB port unless you get a hub.

Orientation

Well one problem is that you can’t actually rotate the aGent on all three axes. You have Pitch and Yaw but no Roll. See this article on Flight Dynamics to see what I mean. The USB cable sticks out at a funny and awkward angle like it has been poorly designed.

Software

iMovie 5 did not recognize the camera. I upgraded to iMovie HD, but that doesn’t work either. Why? iMovie only recognizes FireWire cameras. So the software that ships with the aGent includes iVideo. Nice name, but this is unfinished- that is to say buggy freeware that has a number of interface elements in French and worst of all it crashes routinely under OS X 10.4.11. The developers have given up on it and gave away the code for their last version but no one has taken the project on.

Luckily there are other choices, even though you shouldn’t really need to go hunting for software after you have already shelled out for the cam. The one I found that work are iVeZeen and DreamCapture. I bought DreamCapture because it was on special, so why not.

The last problem with the aGent is that is was flickering every once in a while on my G4. This was under 10.4.11. I haven’t tried it with Leopard yet.

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~ by connectionfailure on 11 October, 2008.

One Response to “In search of a webcam”

  1. The UVC standard is really helping the Apple market – there’s an ever growing number of Mac compatible webcams to choose from. Some, like cams from name-brand manufacturers, perform great – and alot of cheap import ‘driverless’ web cams which may be lousy (like the MacAlly IceCam2) – or surprisingly good for not alot of money. USB Video Class web cameras are the solution for not just Mac owners – but for Vista and Linux users as well.

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