“High-Def” Webcams

(The term High-Definition appears to be able to be applied to anything these days, so why not webcams?)

For the past few days I’ve been obsessing watching this webcam over at the Red Rock visitor center, and just now I wrote a quick script to fetch the latest image and update my desktop background with it. It’s almost like having my desk near the window back. (OK, not even close.) But, truth is, it makes a pretty crappy background at 1920×1200. Look at this other one in comparison — now that’s a webcam.

Then I remembered. Since buying a used 20D, I have an old D30 just sitting around. With a bit of Canon software magic, that can easily be setup to take a shot at any interval and automatically transfer it to the PC. I just have to write a little plumbing to get it up on the web.

I want to do this!

3 Comments so far

  1. andrew on July 16th, 2008

    So, thinking about this a bit more, I came up with a few problems.

    1) A lens. I own exactly one that’s suitable/wide enough for a webcam application, and it just so happens to be the one I probably use the most.

    2) Longevity. Shutter and mirror mechanisms in SLRs are rated to a certain number of actuations. For the D30, estimates are in the 5-digit range. Taking 1 exposure every 5 minutes for a single year would result in 105,120 actuations — well over the estimated lifetime.

    It might just be easier/better to use a cheap point & shoot for this type of project.

  2. Mr T on July 16th, 2008

    That second one is a section of Oslo the capital of Norway. You would be amazed at how many views there are in Norway that are that pretty.

  3. Matt on July 16th, 2008

    Utsikt fra Voksenlia is gorgeous!

    Though you could do some work with “smart” capturing—if there are 0 viewers, or if it’s between, say, 9pm and 6am, don’t take pictures. And for a fixed-use thing, you don’t need a good lens at all — in fact, you’d *want* a small aperture, and you could even get away with manual focus. (The problem is that “old” lenses got expensive when they were wide?)

    Or, instead of writing code to determine whether to take a picture, you could just, as you say, buy a P&S. 😉

    Pet peeve: don’t put it behind a dirty window/enclosure that gets hit with direct sunlight!

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