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Help! - How to choose???

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Joined: 26 Mar 2008
Posts: 1

PostPosted: Wed Mar 26, 2008 12:16 pm    Post subject: Help! - How to choose??? Reply with quote

Hi, I want to set up a web camera for my fish tank. Currently I have a USB camera attached to my home computer. I am using EarthCam to broadcast it on the web.

The problem is that the EarthCam SW has to be up and feeding images for the website to work. This bogs down my CPU to a grinding halt.

Two questions...

1) Is there some way to fix this current problem without upgrading to an IP Camera?

2) Can I solve this with an IP camera under $100?

Thanks, John
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Joined: 28 Mar 2008
Posts: 2504

PostPosted: Fri Mar 28, 2008 10:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've pondered the thought myself, what to get. I think the problem with a USB camera is that it's sending a full uncompressed feed to your computer's USB port and your USB drivers and webcam software do have a lot of work to do. So there 2 other types of cameras, if you go with an network camera, you have to pay a lot for a good one, heck the ones that are good enough are $500-600, over my budget for a hobby. Why won't a cheapy work? Because they have cheap firmware implanted in them on top of cheap optics. At least on your PC you can control the software, you don't like it, download a different one, on a cheap webcam, what you bought is what you get you are stuck with is my understanding. Don't expect a cheap network camera to work with a bunch of people looking at it at the same time, it has a weaker CPU than any PC built in the last 10 years. Most people will take the feed from the network camera and rebroadcast it from their PC. Also, the feed you get from the network will be pre-compressed and sent over IP and if you have a cheap $50 router, the quality may suffer. I may be all wrong but that's my understanding. So what I'm leaning towards is a CCTV camera because they are dirt cheap for the same quality network camera. I figure a really nice one with a high end Sony CCD and Sony chipset and .1 lux will set me back about $200 depending on lens and if I go with some chinese camera off ebay, they can run $100 for similar thing but maybe .5 lux and generic chipset. Chipset is important because Sony chips have good image optics. It's like shopping for an LCD TV, many use the same LCD panel but you can sure tell a high end Sony, LG, Panny from a cheap one and that's the electronics, not the panel. So for me to get an equivalent network camera, it's $600 and for a name brand like Axis, it's $900. See where this leads, big bucks. Then to couple the CCTV camera to a PC for broadcast, you need a DVR PCI board, takes in 4 cameras and there's varying quality but some are just $10 without audio, maybe $80 with audio, and do the compression to mpeg4 on the board, not using PC cycles. Also, because you are getting a full uncompressed direct feed to your computer, I expect the quality to better. Then on your PC, you can decide what software to run, what frame rates to present on the web, and have more control.

Don't know if my babbling makes sense but the more I read about network cameras, the more online webcams I see that use them, the less appealing they are unless you can afford to get the real deal, the $900+ cameras.

Also, consider a dedicated PC for for the webcam. For example, you can probably get a used Pentium 4 desktop for $100 and dedicate it for just this. Just use a KVM switch so you don't even need an extra keyboard, monitor or mouse.
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Joined: 11 Mar 2008
Posts: 16

PostPosted: Tue Apr 01, 2008 2:02 pm    Post subject: cheap ebay Reply with quote

Sorry to burst your bubble, That's what I did I ended up with a chinese IP PTZ IR ebay camera for all in all 700.- $.
It started out with 550.- unti it showed up. The quality was so bad it was a disgrace. Shipping took so long the 30 days return was almost over. Until finding all the problems and trying to return the 30 days where way passed. Then I upgraded because at this point I could not really return it anymore but they where willing to send me the next bigger one. +100.-. Old one back cheapest way $50.-.
The new one is not any better then the one I just had except more zoom. The colours are disgusting, Trees look like they are snowed in (82F) right now and sunny. Grass looks gray and the house on the screen is now pink. (Glad I am color blind Laughing Laughing )
Software is a special one, homemade in a china back alley most likely. Really bad too. Time recording happens in 10 minutes interval and when you want to convert to avi it does not work. would not even save the clips.
Do yourself a favor spend more money, buy a good brand name camera. I also have a X10 for the money good enough but of course time moves on.
So this are my 2cents to the issue.
However I turn the stuff, If I want the decent IP PTZ IR camera with housing/software I end up with ~$1600.-.
Now I count my 700.-m on top and I am up on 2300.-.
Leave and learn.
Laughing Good luck
P.S. I researched for about 2 month before I decided the ebay was good enough because it also is "just as a hobby" Rolling Eyes
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Joined: 23 Sep 2006
Posts: 12
Location: Long Island New York

PostPosted: Wed Apr 02, 2008 10:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I would suggest the Y-cam White which is newly available in the U.S. It's a little more than $100, but it's a great starter IP camera. They are great cams for the price.

You could also try the Panasonic BL-C1 ($119). Using an IP camera is a way better solution to your problem than dedicating a whole new PC to the job. With an IP camera you can place the stream directly onto your website or have the camera FTP its images up to your website directly.

Network Webcams - The IP Camera Specialists
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