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Old Feb 3, 2013, 10:53 AM   #1
Wildy
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720p webcam for PowerBook G4

I'm looking to buy a webcam to use with Skype - my only requirements are that it handles low light conditions well and has a reasonable image and build quality.

While I would go for an iSight, it's really just too expensive (even now). My budget is around 20.

Does anyone know if my 1.67 GHz PB G4 would be able to handle the 720p feed from a camera? QuickTime just about manages to decode 720p videos, so I'm a little worried about how it will handle the webcam.

Any comments would be appreciated - thanks.
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Old Feb 3, 2013, 10:56 AM   #2
simsaladimbamba
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It would probably struggle to encode a 720p livestream in order to upload it.
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Old Feb 3, 2013, 11:39 AM   #3
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No, you're out of luck. The processor stands no chance of handling that, especially since it'd be a USB webcam instead of Firewire in your budget. Try to find an iSight, they can be easily had for 20USD depending on when and where you look. It's not 720p, but again, it's Firewire, so you can give the CPU a little breathing room.
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Old Feb 3, 2013, 12:21 PM   #4
Wildy
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Hmm I thought as much. I shall have a look on the UK version of Craigslist to see if I can score an iSight - but like I mentioned, they're quite a bit more expensive over here.

Failing that, anyone have a good alternative?
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Old Feb 3, 2013, 12:37 PM   #5
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You can use most DV cameras as a webcam. Just connect them to the Mac with FireWire and open iChat to try it. You may have to get the settings right on the camera before it'll work. You can also try using a 720 or 1080 DV camera as well.
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Old Feb 3, 2013, 12:42 PM   #6
Wildy
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Heh, that's a neat tip - unfortunately one of my cameras is film, and the other is a DSLR - not exactly ideal for traveling!
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Old Feb 3, 2013, 12:45 PM   #7
Intell
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Heh, that's a neat tip - unfortunately one of my cameras is film, and the other is a DSLR - not exactly ideal for traveling!
Only video cameras with a IEEE 1394/FireWire/iLink port can do that, not still cameras.
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Old Feb 3, 2013, 01:01 PM   #8
Wildy
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I know many of the newer DSLRs support video pass-through (DSLRs are becoming a popular option for filming), so if all fails I might try and see if I can get that working.

That said, I just found a couple of reviews for 720p webcams from owners of PowerBooks saying that it works fine. I should really check out a datasheet - but is the encoding not done on a chip in the webcam? Granted this might then have to be decoded again for the preview.
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Old Feb 3, 2013, 01:02 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by Wildy View Post
I know many of the newer DSLRs support video pass-through (DSLRs are becoming a popular option for filming), so if all fails I might try and see if I can get that working.

That said, I just found a couple of reviews for 720p webcams from owners of PowerBooks saying that it works fine. I should really check out a datasheet - but is the encoding not done on a chip in the webcam? Granted this might then have to be decoded again for the preview.
I discourage you from doing that if you plan to use the webcam for any extended period of time, or you'll risk burning out your sensor.
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Old Feb 3, 2013, 01:11 PM   #10
Wildy
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That's some good advice actually - fortunately it auto-poweroffs if the sensor gets too hot. But thanks for the heads up.

Anyway, I should have done this first. The Apple USB video driver will only take uncompressed video streams - thus it is impossible to pipe 720p over USB 2.0 without some form of compression (which we've established already). In this case, the camera defaults to something lower, like 480p. To get 720p, proprietary drivers need to be installed to handle the decompression.

Bottom line, I'm really not bothered about the resolution so 480p will be just fine.
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Old Feb 3, 2013, 01:14 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wildy View Post
I know many of the newer DSLRs support video pass-through (DSLRs are becoming a popular option for filming), so if all fails I might try and see if I can get that working.

That said, I just found a couple of reviews for 720p webcams from owners of PowerBooks saying that it works fine. I should really check out a datasheet - but is the encoding not done on a chip in the webcam? Granted this might then have to be decoded again for the preview.
DSLR's will do that over USB. You need something that will do it over FireWire. Only mini-DV cameras can do that.
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Old Feb 4, 2013, 04:15 AM   #12
Jethryn Freyman
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Oh man, I have an original FireWire iSight with all the original packaging in perfect condition, one day this sexy baby will be worth something more

Random FYI: The resolutions and codecs Quicktime records at with it depends mostly on the version of Mac OS X installed.

EDIT: The FireWire 400 to FW400 cable has proven awesome over the past decade
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Old Feb 4, 2013, 02:07 PM   #13
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Well I have your same powerbook and I used for years the Logitech Quickcam Vision pro for mac, it's a usb webcam and it works great with both ichat and skype.
The only thing it will be find one used under 20. if you can find it you're done!
Cheers
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