~$50 Webcam That Handles HIGH Light?

Discussion in 'Mac Accessories' started by Makosuke, Jan 29, 2008.

  1. Makosuke macrumors 603

    Aug 15, 2001
    The Cool Part of CA, USA
    I'm trying to set up a little webcam pointing at a solar array (webcam as in once-a-minute images, not live chat), and I'm having trouble finding one that handles bright sunlight without washing out the image.

    Lots of cameras brag about low light, but since they're all designed to be pointed at somebody lit entirely by their monitor, they either blow out if you point them out the window, can't focus on anything more than three feet away, or both. I could get a security camera, but I'm trying to keep it cheap and spend in the $50 range.

    I bought a Creative Live!Cam at Staples to try, and while it does have a manual focus ring that'll let me get distant objects in focus, it doesn't appear to be working in sunlight. The Logitech STX and Microsoft Lifecam VX-3000 both cost the same (and I can exchange for either) and claim to have a manual focus ring, but I'm not optimistic that either will handle bright light any better.

    Anybody own either of those or have another recommendation? (This is going to be plugged into an OLD Windows box running XP, by the way, but I don't care about the software since I'm just using a freeware webcam app.)
  2. harcosparky macrumors 68020

    Jan 14, 2008
    Try acquiring a Neutral Density filter from a Photo supply house.

    It cuts all light passing through it and was designed for this purpose.

    They are marked ND-2 ND-4 MD-8 ( not sure if they have higher but you can stack two or more to increase effect. )

    4 blocks 2X light of the 2
    4 blocks 2X light of a 4

    I would start out with an ND-8

    attachment might be tricky, but you could just use tape to hold them on.
  3. Makosuke thread starter macrumors 603

    Aug 15, 2001
    The Cool Part of CA, USA
    Good suggestion, harcosparkyand maybe that's what I'll end up doing.

    Not quite ideal, since it'd be nice to have some sort of aperture adjustment so it will also give an image when it's mostly dark (it is a webcam, after all, and there are streetlights nearby), so if anybody does have an alternate suggestion (or has either of the two other cameras I mentioned and doesn't mind pointing one out the window), please let me know.
  4. zirkle2007 macrumors 6502


    Sep 25, 2007
    Indiana, USA
    Just curious? What kind of project is this for? I don't think I've ever seen anyone wanting to point a webcam at a solar array.
  5. Makosuke thread starter macrumors 603

    Aug 15, 2001
    The Cool Part of CA, USA

    Basically the lab I work for is re-doing our website, and since I'm also re-doing some of the control software at the solar-hydrogen system described at the link above, we're going to put some live data from it on the web. Figured it'd be cheap to add a little camera pointed out the window at the array to add some "reality" to the numbers (not to mention it would explain why it's pitch black at noon during a storm), except for the bright daylight issue.

    Ironic, given that just about every other type of camera in the world looks best when you're photographing things in bright sunlight. Too many underlit kids in their dorm rooms buying the things, I guess.

    I'll link the proof of concept page (with spectacularly crappy webcam image) later, if you're really curious.

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