_     _             
                        _ __ | |__ | | ___   __ _ 
                       | '_ \| '_ \| |/ _ \ / _` |
                       | |_) | | | | | (_) | (_| |
                       | .__/|_| |_|_|\___/ \__, |
                       |_|    ...2017-08-06 |___/ 

Gopher compatible inline images

So, I've put off the grand test of cheap chinese webcams, and today I want to do it.. Might not happen anyway, but I realized that for the HTML version of the phlog, I'd like to include images, not just link to them or add them as attachments. So I will implement the keyword "See: " so that if that appears on its own line, with a string that matches a file in the phlog directory, then it will inline the image. I'm going to use this entry as a test.
So, nothing changes on the gopher-side of things, it looks fine still, and it is easy to understand what is being referred. On the HTML side, this should thumbnail the image and insert it into the HTML as a link to the full image. Looks good, now, on to the cams..

Webcam test

So, I have some analog meters around the house, and I don't want to move my lazy self to read them (I'm also paranoid of constitution and want to record if anyone enters uninvited upon my domain), so I went about looking for a reasonable webcam that was also next to free.. There are an almost surprising lack of tests/reviews of these webcams, and those that I could find were clearly sponsored and wanted to sell the product. So, I decided to buy a bunch and test them out. They all work in Linux, so I assume they all present themselves as USB video devices. Short story: V4L2 picks them up: Awesome. I'm going to test them against my cup, in my low-lit office. Against a flower with a sunlit background. And present here, a list of the resulting images, together with a picture of the webcam, and (if I can find it) the price and seller that I bought it from. I'll also note down pros/cons in the physical construction and the ease/possibility/range of focusing the lens, some are very good at this, while others can't be moved at all. None have automatic focus, which I consider an advantage in my use-case. Arrival dates were not noted but I think anywhere between 1 week and 4 months.

Reference picture from my CoolPix P510:

I will also reference my Logitech HD720P camera.

Bus 003 Device 032: ID 046d:0826 Logitech, Inc. HD Webcam C525

My main webcam. Autofocus can be weird so I turn it off and use v4l2ucp to fix focus. It's a pretty good camera, but cost several orders of magnitude more than the cheap cameras I'm testing here. Well, pictures say more than words in this case. Indoor:

Bus 003 Device 037: ID 1908:2311 GEMBIRD

Mechanics is okay, mounting solution is like most. Unstable, strange artifacts when moving it around. Interesting artifact when very dark. Button does nothing. Very easy to focus both very far and close. Very narrow FOV. Seller: colortop9 Price: 23.19 DKK

Bus 003 Device 036: ID 1908:2311 GEMBIRD

Nicer camera overall, easy to focus, fair FOV, still less dynamic range than the Logitech. Sturdy base, pretty stable for what it is. The LEDs in front seem to be white, but they are dim to the point where they do nothing at all. The button does nothing. Seller: fulllove365 (yes, really) Price: 25.37 DKK

Bus 003 Device 040: ID 1e4e:0102 Cubeternet GL-UPC822 UVC WebCam

Good picture. The base has a long neck that can be bent, and a mechanically assisted suction cup witch seems to work pretty well even on my desktop. Base is very sturdy, even when suction cup is not engaged. Easy and stable to focus. The framerate is higher, and it has a good sensitivity to light. This camera has more controls available in UCP, and even has adjustable exposure time. Overall this is fairly good. Seller: finetech007 Price: 25.42 DKK

Bus 003 Device 049: ID 1908:2311 GEMBIRD

Base is pretty okay, even when not clipped on, due to the low center of gravity of the camera. Very narrow FOV as well, easy enough to focus, but slightly uneven/lose. The little red LED does not light up. Seller: 040765 (birthday? datecode? wtf..) Price: 25.15 DKK

Bus 003 Device 050: ID 1908:2311 GEMBIRD

Wow, another GEMBIRD, how lucky am I ?! Clouds vanished here, so there's a reflection in the top of the image, it's not due to the camera. Seems to perform like the other GEMBIRDs, maybe this one is a bit better, maybe the lens ? Base is reasonable enough for a clip type. It can balance on it without tipping over. Seller: 15oceanshop Price: 28.76 DKK

Bus 003 Device 053: ID 1908:2311 GEMBIRD

Yet another GEMBIRD.. Maybe a bit nicer to focus than the other GEMBIRDs so far, it's good at turning up/down exposure time. Base is stable enough. Seller: luckapen Price: 25.33 DKK

Bus 003 Device 055: ID 1908:2310 GEMBIRD

A different GEMBIRD it seems. The base is good enough, it also works without being clipped onto anything. This is better than the other GEMBIRDs, way way better FOV (the first picture is taken at the same distance that I've held the other GEMBIRD cams.. Maybe the optics are just better ? There are no more controls, there's a switch at the back of the camera that turns on LEDs that are actually sharp enough to light up the inside of my drawer. The LEDs are not bright enough to light up things at any larger distance, but for something like a water meter underground it's perfect. The focus is tight and even but very sensitive and the range is very wide. Seller: bitb99 Price: 26.36 DKK

Bus 003 Device 058: ID 1908:2311 GEMBIRD

First of all, this has an annoying base that arcs, so the camera can't be used nicely without being clipped onto something. I don't know if this or the first GM i tried had the worst FOV, but this was as far as I could hold it back without standing up from the chair (arm stretched completely) It's slow, and that alone makes focus a bit hard. Seller: onered33 Price: 23.79 DKK

Bus 003 Device 059: ID 1908:2311 GEMBIRD

Another GEMBIRD, this case has been used for a long time, I remember having at least one which was in actual metal, this is in shiny plastic. The metal one may have been the original for all I know, I _THINK_ it was a "music king", but it actually had lower resolution than this one. The LEDs on this one are not working, and from my initial inspection, they are actually fake/empty LEDs, the original camera had functioning, fairly bright IR LEDs. Focus is smooth, a bit on the light side, but precise and the optics seem to be pretty good. Somehow this seems to have a bit nicer color than the other GBs. The base is really good both for clipping on and standing. Seller: shallwe-dream (no!) Price: 25.68 DKK

Bus 003 Device 066: ID 1908:2311 GEMBIRD

Another GEMBIRD, most china chams seem to be. Seller: helishop2015 Price: 25.53 DKK

Bus 003 Device 067: ID 1908:2311 GEMBIRD

This one has a good base, very solid and flexible, it can be adjusted in height, used as a clip and as a stand. The camera itself has a small body that seems well put together. It mechanically very difficult to focus, I was able to momentarily get the outside picture in focus, but it "crept" back to the less focused position. Seller: topnewfrog (quack quack) Price: 25.18 DKK

Bus 003 Device 068: ID 1e4e:0110 Cubeternet

Something that's NOT a GEMBIRD :o :o :o Interesting indeed. So, the LEDs are unusably dim, there's no reason they are there at all. The stand is okay. The focus is super-lose, so while it's possible to adjust, vibration would unfocus it again in a short amount of time. There's an interesting overlay effect that's more pronounced in dark areas. Despite the overlay, this camera has better colors than the others, the automatic exposure control does not work at all, but there is a manual exposure control which is quite nice. Seller: ddl2012 Price: 27.86 DKK

Bus 003 Device 070: ID 058f:5608 Alcor Micro Corp.

The button is not a button. Stand is oaky, same as some of the others, they generally lack the spring for using as a clip, they might work fine anyway, but I've not tested any clips. This has reasonable framerate, and was easy enough to focus, though the focus was a bit hard. The fov is okay, but not great. There are no interesting controls in UCP. Colors are nice and the dynamic range is good as well. It should be noted that when focusing this camera, the picture actually rotated along with the lens, so there's something a bit off in the construction, my guess is that the PCB is not fixed inside the case. Seller: be2myguests Price: 16.94 DKK

Bus 003 Device 072: ID 1908:2311 GEMBIRD

A well made GEMBIRD, the stand has a flexible neck, and a mechanically assisted suction cup that works well, like the other cam. Mechanical difference between this and the other tall cam being that you turn a ring on this cam to engage the suction cup whereas you flip a lever on the other one. There are 4 high bright LEDs and they are bright enought that you can see things in total darkness, but not at a long distance. The clouds were gone when taking the outside picture, so it's slightly more exposed than some of the other GEMBIRDs. I teaked the shot a bit in UCP, but there is not exposure control, and the dynamic range seems to be too low to fix with brightness alone. But still, it's a fine enough camera. Focus was a bit on the loose side. Seller: sayhello2015 (to my little friend!) Price: 25.68 DKK

Bus 003 Device 073: ID 058f:5608 Alcor Micro Corp.

This is NOT a gembird! :o There's a switch on the back that control the 6 LEDs, they are bright enough to be usable at shorter distances. Focus is loose, but it works, for now at least. Colors seem a bit better than the GEMBIRDs. No interesting UCP controls. The FOV is reasonable. The artifacts near the top of the images are reflections from inside the room (pictures are taken through a window) Seller: topshop222 Price: 24.54 DKK

Bus 003 Device 078: ID 1908:2311 GEMBIRD

Pretty terrible FOV like some of the other bad GEMBIRDs, could just stretch my arm far enough to take the indoor picture without standing up. Focus and stand are fine enough. The automatic whitebalance and exposure are good. Seller: bitb99 Price: 26.31 DKK

Bus 003 Device 079: ID 058f:5608 Alcor Micro Corp.

I think this is the smallest camera, the body is solid and small, the USB cable is maybe a bit too thin, but it seems to work. It has a spring-loaded retraction mechanism for rolling in the cable while not in use, that may be nice for some uses, but is of no value to me. Focusing is super loose and mechanically unstable, placing the camera free-standing is very difficult as it is so light and there is no base, but for mounting it's perfect. The image taken has some reflections form the room and bottom part of the window-frame, but the image was pretty nice, above-average for this test at least. The framerate at low-light was very low, but good in bright situations. Seller: kool-diy Price: 14.98 DKK

Bus 003 Device 081: ID 1908:2311 GEMBIRD

Let's end with a GEMBIRD. Note that the light dipped, some dark clouds came, this influenced the amount of light leaking into my office for the indoor picture. The light was very bright when taking the outdoor picture, so there are some reflections from within the room. The base is not well suited for standing though not as bad as the arcing one. Seller: 2013bestbuybest Price: 20.26 DKK

Post-test rant

Manual exposure control is awesome, and makes the camera much more versatile for my uses, I'd prefer it over any automatic system, in any camera, and for some situations, I don't care if there's even automatic at all. The same goes for focus.

I should have been more careful with positioning and lightning, I didn't do a

very good setup rig (read: none) so there is much variance in the pictures, there were also situations where the sun was shining brightly onto the window, making it obvious that I hadn't washed it recently, this may look like artifacts of the camera, but are indeed just difference in light. I think I received one defective camera (the black one, 8th picture from the top), but all arrived. That was already more than I hoped for. Obviously the text describing the cams are complete lies, and I knew that from the beginning.

I've written prices in DKK, because my ebay was configured for that.

I'm often converting between EUR, USD and DKK, and have a reasonable feel for their value, since it's so easy to convert, using an online converter, like google, I see no reason to do the conversion for you if you need it.

Here's the original order list from ebay.



2017-08-06_test.png (15 KiB)
2017-08-06_cams.JPG (5 MiB)
2017-08-06_cam_ref.JPG (5 MiB)
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2017-08-06_cam_3.JPG (494 KiB)
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2017-08-06_cam_2.JPG (507 KiB)
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2017-08-06_cam_12.JPG (505 KiB)
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