_ __ | |__ | | ___ __ _
| '_ \| '_ \| |/ _ \ / _` |
| |_) | | | | | (_) | (_| |
| .__/|_| |_|_|\___/ \__, |
|_| ...2017-08-06 |___/
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..
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.
I will also reference my Logitech HD720P camera.
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:
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.
Price: 23.19 DKK
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
Seller: fulllove365 (yes, really)
Price: 25.37 DKK
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.
Price: 25.42 DKK
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
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.
Price: 28.76 DKK
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.
Price: 25.33 DKK
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.
Price: 26.36 DKK
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.
Price: 23.79 DKK
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
Another GEMBIRD, most china chams seem to be.
Price: 25.53 DKK
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
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.
Price: 27.86 DKK
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.
Price: 16.94 DKK
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
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)
Price: 24.54 DKK
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.
Price: 26.31 DKK
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.
Price: 14.98 DKK
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.
Price: 20.26 DKK
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.
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'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.