How should an iSight work with a Clamshell?

Ariii

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Jan 26, 2012
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Once my Clamshell has 512 MB RAM and a Panther/Tiger upgrade, I think I might want to get an iSight webcam, which would also mean I could use it with my other Macs. I would use both Pidgin for my Debian partition, and iChat/Skype for my OS X partition. Would this be laggy if it was all I had up? And how would it run with maybe a couple light websites open at once?
 

eyoungren

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Aug 31, 2011
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I don't know how it would go on your Mac, but on my PowerBook it takes very little in the way of CPU or RAM and has great picture.

I had a USB cam for a while and anytime I used it with Skype my CPU pegged between 90 to 100%. And that was with everything shut down except Skype.

All the way around it's just a better cam.
 

Ariii

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Original poster
Jan 26, 2012
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Chicago
I don't know how it would go on your Mac, but on my PowerBook it takes very little in the way of CPU or RAM and has great picture.

I had a USB cam for a while and anytime I used it with Skype my CPU pegged between 90 to 100%. And that was with everything shut down except Skype.

All the way around it's just a better cam.
Oh... thanks! I'll try it. And a USB camera probably would be really, really slow anyways since I don't have USB 2.0. I'm going to try it. I hope I can get a good price for it on eBay. I already have a $20 USB camera that couldn't even work well on a 1.5-ish GHz Mac Mini.

Does anybody know if there's a mount for it though?
 
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eyoungren

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IIRC, if you get a complete package you'll get a clamp for your LCD, a magnetic mount and some other sort of mount.

I got a bare bones iSight from eBay for about $58 (never used, university surplus). It came with the clamp (I lucked out), but it also came with a standard FW cable. The problem with that is that to route the cable through the clamp you need the thin FW cable type. So, I had to go down to my local Frys Electronics and buy an Apple one.

I have no idea if the clamp would work on your Clamshell or not as originally the iSight was designed for the Aluminum (Titanium?) PowerBooks, but I wouldn't get one without the clamp unless you find a really good deal.
 

B S Magnet

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Dec 5, 2018
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Here’s a thread revival, since it's topical:

I just bought a used iSight kit in pretty immaculate shape (the seller even threw in a thunderbolt-to-fw adapter, all for $40, so it was a good buy regardless).

I've long known there are processor clock speed limitations on iSight firewire use.

For my key lime 466 clamshell, I want to find a workaround, but I could use input from anyone who’s successfully managed to run said iSight camera, even as a still-frame-capture camera device (vis-à-vis something like Photo Booth), on G3 architecture whose clock speeds ran under 600MHz (which I guess would include, inter alia, iMac G3/500s, G3/400s, and Pismo PowerBook G3s).

For G3 processors, the product box specifies at least 600MHz if running a G3 processor. What it less clear is which background process check is involved in interfacing the camera with the machine. Is, for example, the iSight camera/interfacing app (like iChat AV or Photo Booth for Tiger) checking Open Firmware, or is there some plist buried which does a call-and-check flag on minimum requirements for the camera to respond on the G3/466 architecture?

Yes, while there’s a no-longer-supported iChatUSB third-party shareware app (which probably ignores minimum hardware requirements), I nevertheless want to find a way to at least try via Apple software.

[postscript: I do know that macam 0.9.2 fails to recognize the iSight on the firewire bus.]
 

Slix

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Mar 24, 2010
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In case anyone was still wondering, I booted up my 366 MHz Clamshell G3 with FireWire running 10.3.9 and tried my iSight with it. It auto-opened iChat when the lens was opened, but it says "This computer does not support video conferencing", though the green light indicator came on briefly.

I did try the iSight with Comic Life (v. 1.5.5) and it works in that application, so I guess iChat just doesn't support it for video calls? Might be worth trying if you have a faster Clamshell than me, or if it's running Tiger.
 
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B S Magnet

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In case anyone was still wondering, I booted up my 366 MHz Clamshell G3 with FireWire running 10.3.9 and tried my iSight with it. It auto-opened iChat when the lens was opened, but it says "This computer does not support video conferencing", though the green light indicator came on briefly.

I did try the iSight with Comic Life (v. 1.5.5) and it works in that application, so I guess iChat just doesn't support it for video calls? Might be worth trying if you have a faster Clamshell than me, or if it's running Tiger.
I'm not familiar with Comic Life. I'll look for it and give it a go.

Otherwise, this is exactly what mine did, except that somewhere along the way I de-selected the box for opening iChat 3.1.9 when plugging it in.

After I posted, I did some things:

1) I looked through more obvious plist files relating to iSight, and then looked through the contents of any relevant kexts. So far, none of those have a MHz/GHz minimum call-out that I could find. There may be a place, but I'm not aware of it yet.

2) Macam was a no-go (actually, I've never gotten macam to work, like, ever). So then I opened the version of Photo Booth which was written for the iMac G5 with built-in iSight running Tiger. That activated the iSight LED, but on screen, it was black. That version of Photo Booth only offers (by design) making a snapshot (versus Leopard and later versions which also record video). I was slightly surprised by this, but also mindful that the code base for the Tiger version of Photo Booth may have been written solely for the iMac G5 with built-in iSight camera.

3) Lastly, I opened QuickTime 7.6.4 and tried opening a New Movie window. After some spiking of the CPU (no surprise), a frozen image did appear on screen (updating maybe every 10-20sec), while the VU indicator for audio showed, more or less in real time, the audio it was picking up (i.e., my voice). I tried to record. I let it run for about a minute. It did save a file, but it appeared to be only a half-second of the start of the recording. Opening QuickTime's prefs, I changed the record quality away from a small MPEG4 (i.e., requiring on-the-fly compression which stymies the G3 without AltiVec) to a larger raw DV format. This time, the record window opened to the native 640x480 of iSight, but the image was distorted with vertical RGB lines, and only a hint of the image the camera's CCD was receiving (i.e., my face) appeared on screen. As with the MPEG4, the minute-long test only saved, again, for a split second (likely the first moment it began to record).


So as to these efforts, there leaves several unanswered questions I hope to explore in earnest as I'm able. Unrelated, but something I have planned anyway for the iBook is to move the transistors to overclock it a half step to 577MHz, once I'm able to use a suitable thermal paste for it. This still keeps it below 600MHz, but it might ease that bottleneck ever so slightly in QuickTime.
 

AphoticD

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I don't have an iSight to test this, but I found that an app named Vidi will run my Firewire ADVC video-in device smooth with near zero lag/latency and low CPU overhead. Grab the last version (v0.4.7) universal binary here: https://www.mitzpettel.com/

I have tested this on the G4 and G5, but it may also work on the G3.
 
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B S Magnet

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I don't have an iSight to test this, but I found that an app named Vidi will run my Firewire ADVC video-in device smooth with near zero lag/latency and low CPU overhead. Grab the last version (v0.4.7) universal binary here: https://www.mitzpettel.com/

I have tested this on the G4 and G5, but it may also work on the G3.
It seems the application requires one of three classes of firewire DV devices — Formac Studio DV, Studio DV/TV, or StudioTVR — for it to function. I tried the two cameras I have (the iSight and a USB endoscopic cam) with a dialogue box notifying that it couldn't find a compatible connected device and a singular quit button.
 
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AphoticD

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It seems the application requires one of three classes of firewire DV devices — Formac Studio DV, Studio DV/TV, or StudioTVR — for it to function. I tried the two cameras I have (the iSight and a USB endoscopic cam) with a dialogue box notifying that it couldn't find a compatible connected device and a singular quit button.
Worth a shot at least. I had been using the ADVC + Vidi solution to play older console games over s-video (Mostly PS2) hooked up to the G5 with ACD. No other apps came close to this one in terms of latency.
 
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