Editor's Blog: Roman's Gone Blind Without iSight

Editor's Blog: Roman's Gone Blind Without iSight


The next new Apple product that'll put the Mac faithful in a frenzy isn't the iPhone. It isn't an eight-core Mac Pro, a flash-based sub-MacBook Pro, or spiffy new features in the operating system.


The next new product the Mac community is waiting for with bated breath is iSight: The Next Generation. Since the iSight was discontinued last year, no one has come up with a mic-equipped replacement. True, iMacs, MacBooks, and MacBook Pros have iSight built in, but the Mac Pro and Mac mini don't. Plus, there are still people out there using iSight-less PowerBooks and iBooks who either have just discovered the wonders of iChat AV, (such as Mac|LIfe's marketing department), or have an iSight that was crushed during a trans-Atlantic flight.


The rumor mill grinded out one whisper of iSight-equipped Cinema Displays in Apple's future. But how many people really want to buy a new display just to get the webcam? There's a demand for Mac webcams, so it's not like there isn't a revenue opportunity for someone. Just do an eBay search for Apple iSight. As I write this, a brand new, unopened iSight (originally priced at $149) is selling for a ridiculous $255. On Amazon, you'll find the iSight for over $300.


MacAlly's IceCam requires additional software for use with iChat AV.


MacAlly's IceCam and Ecamm Network's iMage USB webcam work on the Mac, but they don't include microphones, which means you have to pack yet another piece of hardware in your notebook bag. Also (and not that big a deal), you have to use additional software to make these and other USB webcams work with iChat AV.


The Mac OS 10.4.9 update includes support for USB video class webcams. I haven't seen any third-party mic-equipped USB video class webcams that tout Mac compatibility, but USB video class is part of the specification for Windows Vista compatibility. Theoretically, a Vista-compatible webcam will work on Mac OS 10.4.9. So I'm on the hunt for a Vista-compatible webcam to try this out. In the meantime, I have a couple of old PC webcams created before the USB video class standard. I'll need third-party software to make them work on Mac OS X.


An interesting solution lies with macam. This palindromically-named free software lets you use a wide array of Windows webcams in Mac OS X. The compatibility list include several Creative, Logitech, and Phillips webcams, working with various degrees of success. I tried out macam with two Windows webcams, Intel's CS331 Home PC Camera and Logitech's QuickCam Pro 3000. I had low expectations for both of these cameras, because they're several years old.


According to macam's compatibility list, the Intel camera isn't supported. Here's a screenie of what I got when I plugged the camera in and launched macam.


A whole lotta nothin' going on.


I was successful with the QuickCam Pro 3000, as you can see on the next page.




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It took a LOT of searching to get any camera of mine to work on ustream.tv. My students and I are going to record our caterpillars turning into butterflies, and I wanted to stream the video. What I found useful to have was a cheap software called USBVision in order for Flash to get the video to the ustream.tv site. I tried an XBOX camera because it was really cheap - but I really wanted an iSight for this project.



Has anyone tried the Macally? They seem to be relatively easy to come by. My folks are looking to get a webcam so that they can talk to our son and their other grandchildren, and since they aren't particularly computer savvy, it would seem that something where they only had to install one third party software item would be wiser. Oh yeah, they're also on 10.3.9 which rules out the iMage, which requires 10.4.3.

Any words of wisdom on the Macally would be much appreciated. We don't have high expectations; we know it's cheap and the picture might be a bit choppy.



I purchased an iSweet Firewire Webcam for use with either an iBook or iMac. It is "plug and play" without driver or compatability problems. It works flawlessly. Unlike the iSight, there is no microphone; so you have to use either a headset (you can use a USB or bluetooth headset for a cellphone) or the built-in mic. Be sure to choose the input and output options in iChat preferences if you use a headset.



I bought the iChatUSB cam software for my sisters computer and it works great....

I dont know for sure but with the release of 10.4.9 didnt apple build in support of USB Cameras?



Good point, Scott. The 10.4.9 update adds support for USB webcams that are USB video class compliant. Any webcam that has Windows Vista support is a USB video class camera.

The QuickCam Pro 3000 I used wouldn't work without the IOXperts driver. I think the QuickCam Pro 3000 was made before the USB video class specification was created.

I will update my article to reflect this. Thanks for pointing that out.


Madd the Sane

Beware the Logitech QuickCam name. A lot of cameras were made with that name. In the macam compatibility list, there are multiple types of QuickCams. I got one from a Pesario 7478 that works just fine, but your mileage may vary.

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