Apple's webcam mess

Discussion in 'Mac Accessories' started by Saladinos, May 4, 2009.

  1. Saladinos macrumors 68000


    Feb 26, 2008
    I'm known as the technical person in my circle of friends and family (quite appropriately, as I'm a nanotechnology student and do quantum physics). I'm usually the first port of call when a computer breaks down or something just plain stops working, and every time, I recommend a Mac. Now, however, somebody actually is considering a Mac. Their machine broke down again, and they've just been pleasantly surprised about the price of a Mac Mini. One of the activities they do on their computer quite frequently is video conferencing (I think you can see where this is going).

    Macs have appalling webcam support.
    - Lots of webcams just plain aren't compatible with the Mac, but are compatible with Windows.
    - Of those that are compatible with OSX, nearly all require a driver from a 3rd party. Wasn't OSX this OS where everything just worked?
    - Some of those 3rd party drivers are shareware and require you to pay for compatibility that should have been in the box (e.g. IOXperts).
    - iChat doesn't support USB webcams unless you buy the shareware IChatUSBCam

    The state of webcam support in OSX is simple: There are large holes in the platform and 3rd parties are plugging them but charging you for it.

    Here are some things Apple can do to fix the problem:
    - Bring back the external iSight. They still go for a bit on eBay, so there is clearly a market for cameras that work seamlessly with the Mac. I'd buy one.
    - Acquire Macam. Ship it with OSX to improve built-in driver support. Apple can get the documentation needed from 3rd parties to expand compatibility, and have shown with WebKit that they can run an open-source project. Having it built-in would provide plug&play compatibility with webcams, something Apple sorely needs.
    - Work with 3rd parties to include drivers written by the manufacturer with OSX, in much the same way as they do for printer drivers.

    In any case, they should free iChat to accept external webcams with out iChatUSBCam.
  2. Hot Snowboarder macrumors 6502

    Jan 2, 2009
    Behind you...!
    Apple offers an external iSight option.

    It just costs $1000 in the form of the LED Cinema Display.

  3. TheNightPhoenix macrumors 6502

    Dec 16, 2005
    That should probably be some webcams
  4. rjt1000 macrumors newbie

    May 4, 2009
    You want a UVC compliant USB webcam. These will work without further drivers with recent versions of OS X 10.4 and 10.5. This link has more info.

    I believe that if the packaging says its Windows Vista certified, then it will be UVC compliant.

    I recently bought the Logitech Quickcam deluxe for notebooks from a local Walmart for $30 and it works perfectly with iChat and Skype on an iBook G4 1.33 running 10.4.
  5. Saladinos thread starter macrumors 68000


    Feb 26, 2008
    Thanks for the info. I maintain that Apple's made a mess of webcams and needs to sort it out to help switchers.

    There's a sense of needing to replace everything you're used to when switching to the Mac. You have to switch applications, change how you use the machine...etc. The great thing about the Mac Mini is that it doesn't come with a new monitor or peripherals, so it kind of slots in to your existing setup. It's just like buying a new windows machine in that sense.

    The fact that so many webcams are incompatible out of the box is a real issue. As switchers are preparing to re-learn how to use a computer, they learn they have to replace some hardware. I know that it's an inexpensive change, but it's hard to tell people on the one hand that switching isn't that difficult and on the other hand they'll need to buy all this additional hardware.

    If you do find a compatible webcam, there's a good chance you'll need to go through the familiar driver hunt routine. In that case, how is Mac OS better than Windows? The freedom from driver hunting is one of the reasons people switch to OSX, and by not including many webcam drivers, Apple isn't driving that point home as well as they could do.

    The best solution for Apple would be to acquire macam, commit to further its goal of webcam compatibility (i.e. develop it further by chasing up manufacturers), and include it as a built-in driver in OSX. It's not a difficult thing to do, but it would help switchers a lot. Also, being part of OSX, it won't carry the risk of breaking at the next OS upgrade or transition. Video chats are a heavily advertised feature of OSX, and Apple could do a lot better to help people use it.
  6. MTI macrumors 65816

    Feb 17, 2009
    Scottsdale, AZ
    Of course, you're only referring to systems that don't already have an iSight system . . . the mini and the MacPro towers[/quote]

    On my PC, Mac and Linux (Jaunty Jackalope, thank you) I use Office (MS and Open) . . . Firefox . . . and other application software that isn't really that hard to learn to use across platforms.

    Why aren't you directing this to the makers of all the third party hardware? How about having those folks design their products to be cross platform compatible?

    BTW, you don't seem to mention how the PC world left a lot of legacy hardware "high & dry" after Windows98 . . . XP . . . Vista . . . by failing to either provide drivers shortly after the MS release, or never releasing drivers at all.
  7. zer0tails macrumors 65816


    Mar 23, 2008
    i've actually been very happy with my Apple webcams, external iSight on my mac pro and built-in iSight on my MBP.

    Don't think there's a big problem really
  8. MisterMe macrumors G4


    Jul 17, 2002
    Nonsense. As has already been pointed out, UVC-compliant webcams work with Macs out-of-the-box. Logitech supports UVC for some of its webcams, but not for others. As I type this, my UVC-compliant Logitech webcam staring me in the face. When I installed it, no additional software was necessary for it to work. It worked out-of-the-box. As has already been said, it is up to the manufacturer to support the UVC standard. For those that don't, there is macam.

    You yourself admit that many webcams can be made operational on the Mac with the installation of macam. macam is an opensource webcam driver. This might come as a surprise to you, but many webcams don't work on Windows unless you install a proprietary driver. I recently purchased a Logitech Quickcam Pro for Laptops for my Windows laptop. It was an expensive piece of decoration until I installed the driver.

    Your position is that it is an appalling failure on Apple's part not to develop drivers for third party webcams. However, you seem to have no problem with the fact that webcams on Windows require drivers to be installed. Is this an accurate representation of your position?
  9. PrincessPeach macrumors regular

    Mar 9, 2009
    I think more and more webcams are moving over to UVC (thank heavens!) though I don't believe that Vista Certification actually requires it, so buy with care. I use a Hue which is currently driver-based but the drivers aren't at all obtrusive and they seem to take Mac users seriously so it's fine. I hate third party software which makes a mess all over my tidy machine or works illogically!

    My personal webcam wish for Apple is just to add an input selection box in Photo Booth. When you have two cameras plugged in you have to dance all over the place to get it reading the correct one because there are no settings! Proper USB support in iChat would be nice too but at least UVC sorts that problem out as well.
  10. Saladinos thread starter macrumors 68000


    Feb 26, 2008
    No. My position is that since Apple makes such a big deal of being compatible with 3rd party devices without hunting for drivers, it should include macam with OSX and use its influence to get the documentation required from certain manufacturers to expand support for more cameras.

    The windows driver hunting experience sucks. Apple claims that it's better on a Mac, but it isn't. By integrating and developing Macam, it could be.
  11. Consultant macrumors G5


    Jun 27, 2007
    Most Firewire camcorders can also be used without drivers.
  12. MTI macrumors 65816

    Feb 17, 2009
    Scottsdale, AZ
    You say "a lot of webcams" aren't supported on Apple hardware . . . but perhaps you could provides some details?

    Also, I still notice no response to my query that it's the makers of the devices, who know all the ins and outs of their products features, who neglect to include the software to make their product "Universal", so why no outrage at them?
  13. datastream8 macrumors newbie

    Oct 13, 2009
    I've got the same one that I bought brand new for over $100 a few years ago and it DOES NOT work with 10.6 Snow Leopard. I downloaded macam and it is still not working alone or with skype. Only the microphone works... Please, help - this is outrageous - I spend close to $5,000 for the Mac Pro alone without display and cannot use a webcam!!!!????!!!!

    The original installation CD offers .dmg file for Mac - but it is no good since the computer cannot recognize the camera...
  14. momavujisic macrumors newbie

    Apr 12, 2011
    Well here I am, anyone know of an official list for supported webcams under Snow Leopard? Would be great to get one.... My Microsoft webcam doesn't work at all.....
  15. GoKyu macrumors 65816


    Feb 15, 2007
    New Orleans
    There are at least 2 Logitech webcams that are known to work on Macs:

    Logitech Quickcam Vision Pro - specifically made FOR Macs, runs about $100 (or less on eBay sometimes.) I have this camera, and it really has a good quality with good lighting.

    One of the newer webcams, Logitech's Webcam 910 Pro, is also Mac compatible - I don't own this one, but I may buy it pretty soon, as it has a higher resolution than my current cam.

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