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Why are WebCams so poor?

Discussion in 'Electronic Design' started by Joerg, Mar 29, 2007.

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  1. Joerg

    Joerg Guest

    Hello Folks,

    Just got a web cam, the "Logitech QuickCam Communicate". Long story
    short it certainly isn't good enough to aid in SMT soldering as I had
    hoped for. Even the capture of scope screens produces blurred results.
    Nothing to write home about. Ok, it's only 0.3MPixels versus the
    1.2MPixels of the digital camera in the lab. But the difference is so
    stark that even this doesn't explain it.

    Is there a hack that can make such a web cam perform? Couldn't find any
    for this one via Google. Or are CMOS sensors simply too inferior to CCD?

    Oh well, it was from an overstock sale, under $10. At least I've got a
    USB microphone out of it :)
     
  2. Gibbo

    Gibbo Guest

    Joerg if it's anything like the one I pulled apart it has plastic lenses
    which isn't going to help.
     
  3. Probably the lens.
     
  4. Guest


    No two ways around it, you need to spend a few hundred dollars on an
    actual stereoscope with real lenses.
    Or if you want to take pictures after the fact, a bridge camera with
    super macro mode is a good idea.
     
  5. Joerg

    Joerg Guest

    Since their normal retail price is $50 I'd assume so :-(
     
  6. Joerg

    Joerg Guest

    No problem, it's just that I don't work well with microscopes and some
    of the boards are too big to fit underneath. With 3x glasses it's no
    problem down to 0402 and even smaller. But when you have to look up at a
    scope in between it is a hassle.
     
  7. John Larkin

    John Larkin Guest


    $10 doesn't buy a lot of optics. Get a Mantis... it will change your
    life.

    John
     
  8. Guest


    Hm, I don't know what you mean. Here's what we use:
    http://www.carton-opt.co.jp/image/products/m3693.jpg

    With an illuminator.
     
  9. Joerg

    Joerg Guest



    Hm, I don't know what you mean. Here's what we use:
    http://www.carton-opt.co.jp/image/products/m3693.jpg
    [/QUOTE]

    You can work with those if you provide a pedestal for the board so it
    can glide over that black base in the back. But besides not liking
    microscopes that much I was also looking at something less monstrous.
    The lab here at my consulting office isn't very big.

    Light is key to all that stuff. That's why I've got pretty elaborate
    halogen lighting here.
     
  10. Joerg

    Joerg Guest

    Normally it's $50 retail. But that still doesn't buy a lot of optics.
    That's why I was asking whether a hack would work. IOW equip it with a
    really nice lens. However, if the CMOS sensor can't hold up that would
    be a waste of time (this camera is glued together as if prepared for the
    next world war).

    I had to use a Mantis at a client once. It's too wobbly IMHO, almost
    made me sea-sick. Well, maybe because lots of people in the plane had a
    hacking cough and I was working up a flu. But it was definitely to
    wobbly for me.
     
  11. AZ Nomad

    AZ Nomad Guest

  12. TT_Man

    TT_Man Guest

    Isn't that just a bitch.... I have the same problem....... Old age and too
    much SM work :(

    Martin S.
     
  13. Marcus

    Marcus Guest

    Perhaps one of the "toy" usb microscopes from Toys R Us or equivilent would
    work.

    Mark
     
  14. Jim Yanik

    Jim Yanik Guest

    they are not made for close focus.
    Probably a minimum of 2 feet(or greater).
     
  15. John Larkin

    John Larkin Guest


    That link doesn't work for me. But I think Joerg wants something to
    work under, not necessarily a camera. The Mantis is superb for rework,
    soldering, and inspection. It has brilliant lighting, sharp images
    (billions of pixels!), super adjustable stereo effects, and lots of
    working distance for soldering irons and tools. I was just now using
    it to replace some 0805's (huge) and US8 ic's (really tiny) and it's
    great.

    I do take pictures through the regular Mantis, for eco's and such,
    with a regular digital camera. I posted some to abse a while back.

    John
     
  16. Joerg

    Joerg Guest

    I held a lens in front of it and, actually, with that I could even get a
    better picture for larger distances. But then there was lots of blurring
    and smear with or without it. So I could hack the thing and put a top
    notch lens in front but I don't want to go that route if in the end the
    CMOS sensor isn't going to work right. I grew up with image sensors and
    even designed a camera but these were all CCD.
     
  17. AZ Nomad

    AZ Nomad Guest

    Could you give me a link to one? Or a brand name?
    I searched on google for 'mantis camera' and got nothing.
     
  18. MassiveProng

    MassiveProng Guest


    Most webcams are CCD as CMOS arrays are NOT cheaper.

    The better webcams are better in quality. Remeber that most are
    keyed toward std 640x480 NTSC aspect ratio and array size. Mine is a
    higher lever, but that also carries a higher bit rate and these things
    are meant for live video streaming/conferencing applications.

    My Olympus 3.5 (thereabouts) REAL digital camera hooks up as a
    webcam/PC cam, but again, the data rates go up if one chooses a higher
    array size.

    So it all comes down to a compromise between desired detail level,
    and useable bandwidth on a conference type connection.

    I remember this being Billy's dream way back in the early NT OS days
    when the protocol first came out. Failed miserably through servers
    and firewalls though. NOW, with Vista, it is back, and it even work
    very well on a good, high bandwidth connection connected to same.

    So, so far, the makers have seen no need for them to be any more
    fine grain than they are.

    My Logitech tracks movement and everything, and was well worth the
    $100 plus I paid. I have yet to actually use it though as it requires
    me to turn off the firewall in my router/switch.

    The "poorness" level is all a matter of perspective. You can't have
    8Mpixel per frame "video" passing back and forth over the net... yet.

    People just need a more correct perspective as to why, how, and for
    what purpose these products are meant.
     
  19. Lionel

    Lionel Guest

    No. The best digital cameras on the market use CMOS sensors:
    You've just answered your own question. What sort of optical &
    electronic quality would you expect from a device that costs a few
    dollars to make?
     
  20. Lionel

    Lionel Guest

    I use an ugly but cheap stereoscopic magnifying headset & plenty of
    light.
     
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