Quickcam windows FAQ

Andrew Germaine (andrewg@ims.advantis.com)
Wed, 13 Sep 1995 12:22:33 -0400 (EDT)


ripped straight from the pages of http://www.connectix.com

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Frequently Asked QuickCam (tm) for Windows Questions

6/1/95

Sales Related Questions

Q: When will QuickCam for Windows ship?

A: QuickCam for Windows was first shown at COMDEX Spring in late April. We =
are
in the midst of submitting test results to the FCC for approval, and antici=
pate
shipping as soon as this approval is received. We expect to receive final
approval some time in July and will ship cameras into our distribution chan=
nel
at that time.

Q: How much does QuickCam for Windows cost?

A: QuickCam retails for $149. Many mail order and retail outlets will sell =
it
for about $99.

Q: How do I order QuickCam for Windows?

A: Connectix does not sell its hardware products directly to customers at t=
his
time. Most mail-order houses carry QuickCam for Windows for about $99 Try:

* PC Connection
* PC Warehouse

QuickCam for Windows is also available through Tiger Software, CompUSA, Egg=
head
Software, Computerware, Computer City, Micro Center, Fry's Electronics, and
virtually every other place you find Windows software. Your local dealer ca=
n
order it through Ingram or Merisel.

Q: I don't live in the US. How do I order QuickCam for Windows?

A: QuickCam is distributed worldwide by distributors who are affiliated wit=
h
Connectix.

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Hardware Technical Questions

* QuickCam is a Video for Windows compatible video camera.
* Having a QuickCam attached to your PC is like having a PC that has a v=
ideo
digitizer card with a camcorder connected.

Q: Which PCs are compatible with QuickCam? Other requirements?

A: QuickCam plugs into any standard parallel port, and works with any PC th=
at
has a 386, 486, Pentium or equivalent processor, and is running Windows 3.1=
,
3.11, Windows for Workgroups 3.1, or 3.11. You will need a SoundBlaster or
equivalent sound card to record and playback audio in movies you create wit=
h
QuickCam.

Q: Will QuickCam work with EPP parallel ports?

A: Yes, QuickCam adapts to unidirectional, bidirectional, and extended para=
llel
port configurations automatically.

Q: I only have a single parallel port on my machine, and it is already bein=
g
used by my printer. Does this mean I can't use QuickCam?

A: No. There are several strategies you can use in this situation: (1) buy =
an
interface board with extra parallel ports (LPT2, etc); such boards are
available at very low cost. (2) unplug the printer when you use QuickCam. (=
3)
purchase a low-cost parallel port switch box (make sure it switches all 25
pins). (4) purchase a low-cost parallel port "pass-through" device (which
allows multiple devices to be connected to the same port). When we ship the
camera we will provide a list of switch boxes and pass-through devices that=
are
known to work with QuickCam.

Q: How is QuickCam for Windows different than QuickCam for Macintosh?

A: There are only a few modest differences:

* The PC version uses parallel ports, the Macintosh version uses serial
ports
* The PC version captures 6-bit grayscale stills, the Macintosh version =
does
4-bit grayscale
* The PC version uses Video for Windows, the Macintosh version uses
QuickTime
* The PC version does not include a microphone, the Macintosh version do=
es

Q: Is there a limit to how long I can extend the cable from the CPU?

A: Yes. Since power is derived from the computer, the cable should not exte=
nd
beyond 15 feet.

Q: How many frames per second (fps) can QuickCam achieve?

A: QuickCam will produce about 15 fps on most PCs in a window size of 120x1=
60.
Saturday morning cartoons are twelve frames per second. A few PCs will only
achieve 10-12 fps. At smaller window sizes, frame rates are higher (e.g., 3=
0
fps at 80x120), at larger window sizes frame rates are lower (e.g., about 4=
fps
at 320x240).

Q: What else do I need?

A: Nothing. QuickCam comes with everything you need to make movies and take
pictures.

Q: Does QuickCam work on non-US machines?

A: Yes, because QuickCam uses direct digital video instead of NTSC or PAL,
QuickCam will work on all PCs that have the proper port and processor. Sinc=
e it
draws its power from the computer, you do not need special power adapters.

Q: What is meant by fixed focal point? Can I not focus the camera?

A: Fixed focal means that anything greater than a fixed distance is in focu=
s.
With QuickCam anything at a distance of greater than 18 inches is in focus.
There's no need for you to focus. Connectix is investigating supplying a
low-cost close-up focus accessory; stay tuned for further information.

Q: How hard would it be to come up with a case enclosure so that I can moun=
t
QuickCam outside?

A: QuickCam has a tripod mount on the bottom and is spherical. It would be =
easy
to build a case in which it fit (remember to leave room for the cable to
escape). Mount the camera to the case via the tripod socket.

Q: What temperatures can the QuickCam operate at?

A: The CCD is probably the most temperature sensitive element and is rated =
by
its manufacturer as being capable of working from -10 degrees C to 40 degre=
es
C. In the course of Connectix' testing for various certifications, the came=
ra
was subjected to extended testing from 32 degrees F to 90 degrees F. Basica=
lly,
if you're comfortable working indoors, so is QuickCam.

Q: Can the CCD get an image "burned in" by leaving it pointed at the same
subject for long periods of time?

A: No.

Q: How sensitive to light is the camera?

A: The usable light range is from 2 EV to 11 EV. Expressed differently, the
camera is capable of taking pictures at 10 lux. However, movies taken at su=
ch a
low light level will have a slow frame rate and substantial motion blur wit=
hin
frames due to the long integration times on the CCD. To maintain frame rate=
at
the highest possible level and keep motion blur to acceptable levels, the s=
cene
should have approximately 120 lux of illumination (that's about what you'd =
find
in a typical office).

Q: What do those sensitivity figures mean in photographic terms?

A: In our offices during the day the typical illumination (flourescents
overhead with a little daylight from windows) is about 7 EV. At the default=
CCD
integration time of 1/60th of a second and the full aperture value of f/1.9=
,
the camera has the equivalent of ASA 200 film.

Q: How can I take closeups with QuickCam?

A: We are looking at providing some sort of close-up kit that would allow y=
ou
to use QuickCam at less than 18". In the meantime, if you are willing to
experiment, there are any number of close-up lenses that you purchase at ph=
oto
shops that will work if you can figure out a way to mount them to the front=
of
the camera. The lens assembly from a Peak 8x loupe (available at many
professional photo stores) can be easily strapped to the front of a QuickCa=
m
and provides closeups at a distance of a few inches (it even corrects the
inherent barrel distortion of the QuickCam's lens). We have had reports of
astronomers managing to attach QuickCam to their telescopes and scientists
hooking them to microscopes. In fact, we've even had an opthamologist send =
us
pictures from his cataract machine taken with a QuickCam. In short, if you'=
re
willing to do a little experimentation, you're likely to find an acceptable
solution to close ups.

Q: Why do straight lines at the edges of the picture appear curved?

A: This is a very common problem in wide-angle lenses, and is called barrel
distortion (fisheye lenses are special really wide angle lenses that take
advantage of this effect). The problem is most noticeable if a line is near=
the
edge of the picture and if the camera is not perpendicular to the line. We =
had
a number of choices to make during the development process of QuickCam,
including which of many lenses to use. We actually chose the most expensive
one. The lens we picked is a glass, multi-element, fast (f/1.9),
color-corrected, multicoated one with very little flare and exceptional
resolving ability. It's one fault is visible barrel distortion. An alternat=
ive
choice would have had no barrel distortion, but would also not had the
resolving power or speed of the current lens, meaning you would need to hav=
e
significantly more light to get the same clear, sharp pictures you get toda=
y.
We continue to examine alternative lenses, and when we find one that does n=
ot
sacrifice quality and improves the distortion, we will switch to it.

Q: What is the full width of field when you are 18" away from the object?

A: Imagine a triangle and use trigonometry to solve the problem:

Tan 32 =3D opposite('x')/adjacent (18")
x =3D Tan 32 (.625) x 18"
x =3D 11.25
multiple by 2 =3D 22.5 inches

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Software Technical Issues

* Any application that correctly supports the Video for Windows API shou=
ld
be compatible with QuickCam.
* At this date, the software package for QuickCam for Windows is still
evolving, but it is expected that any application that accepts BMP or =
TIFF
files will be compatible with the still photo software supplied with
QuickCam, and any application that supports the Movie AVI format shoul=
d be
compatible with movies recorded with QuickCam.
* Video for Windows 1.1e is included with QuickCam.

Q: Will there be some form of "developer's kit" for QuickCam?

A: QuickCam is a standard Video for Windows device. Any software that write=
s to
Microsoft's published API should work with QuickCam. The Video for Windows
Developer Kit comes with the Microsoft Developer Network CD collection. The
current version 1.1e.

Q: I need access to the low-level stuff QuickCam's software is doing undern=
eath
Video for Windows. Is there any documentation on this?

A: Under special cases we will release this information. You must demonstra=
te a
need to know, sign a non-disclosure and non-compete agreement. Connectix do=
es
not provide engineering support for the low-level protocols, and these
protocols are subject to change. Send your request to quickcam@connectix.co=
m.

Q: What affects my fps (frames per seconds)?

A: Several items affect frame rate:

* A movie records faster at a smaller frame size than a larger frame siz=
e.
For instance a movie recorded at 160x120 will be faster than a movie
recorded at 320x240.
* The setting you choose for fps. With QuickCam you can select your fram=
e
rate.
* The speed of your hard drive
* The type of parallel port you have (unidirectional being the slowest, =
EPP
being the fastest)
* Whether any applications are running in the background (File Sharing a=
nd
networks, for example)
* The amount of light where you point QuickCam (in low light situations,=
the
shutter speed slows down frame rates)

Q: How much hard drive space would be required for a still picture file? Fo=
r a
10 second video?

A: It's going to be different with different frame rates, compression types=
,
CPU speeds, etc..., but here are some examples:

* 320x240 BMP ~ 40k
* 160x120 10 second movie (uncompressed) ~5MB
* 160x120 10 second movie (compressed) ~1MB

Q: If you point QuickCam at a computer screen will the feedback cause any
danger?

A: No.

Q: What video conferencing software is QuickCam compatible with?

A: We are still trying to determine the full spectrum of videoconferencing
software QuickCam is compatible with and will update this FAQ as further
information becomes available.

In the meantime, you might want to check out CU-SeeMe from Cornell Universi=
ty.
CU-SeeMe is a freeware product available by FTP to:
cu-seeme.cornell.edu/pub/video.

Q: Will QuickCam work with OS/2?

A: Not at this time. We are exploring making the camera compatible with OS/=
2 in
a later version.

Q: Will QuickCam work with Windows NT?

A: Not at this time. We are exploring making the camera compatible with NT =
in a
later version.

Q: Will QuickCam work with QuickTime for Windows?

A: No. QuickTime for Windows is a playback-only mechanism and has no facili=
ties
for capturing information or movies.

Q: Will there be a color version of QuickCam for Windows?

A: Yes. There will be a "no penalty" upgrade path for current users when it
arrives later this year.

[RAM Doubler] [QuickCam] [Retailers] [Support] [Connectix] [Exit]

Copyright =A9 1995 Connectix Corporation. RAM Doubler and QuickCam are trad=
emarks
of Connectix Corporation. All other trademarks are property of their respec=
tive
holders.
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now you know....

Andrew J. Germaine=09=09=09=09=09Advantis Intermediate Technical Staff=09=09=09=091311 Mamaroneck Ave. OpenNet Network Support Center=09=09=09=09White Plains, NY 10605 Internetworking & Multimedia Services=09=09=091-914-684-4433