Saturday, May 23, 2020

The great webcam shortage of 2020...

So, among the plethora of missed opportunities that arose for the wise investor (like investing in 3B, Clorox, Moderna, Zoom., etc...)  I found another stock that would have been great to buy in March: Logitech.  Everywhere you look, all their webcams are sold out.  It actually got me to thinking about my own webcams that I've bought over the years...

I have a few laying around the house... I actually noticed that most of my webcams are logitech cameras, and it just turns out that I still have a few of them laying around the house.

In the early days of this blog, I had and old Logitech Quickcam.  I say old, but I have the thing I went digging in the garage and I found it.  You can see here the photo that I dutifully took in my photobox (affiliate link at the bottom...)

I tried digging for any of the old webcam photos or timelapse videos I used to have, but I can't find anything.  Maybe I'll loop back around and fill in more details.

It was an okay camera at the time, but the photos are complete garbage by today's standards.  I had some trouble with it because I think the USB cable is going bad after all this time 20+ years, 12 of which have been in a box wrapped up in a ball.

The next camera I managed to dig out of storage is a Logitech QuickCam S5500 (I think?)  As it turns out, Logitech doesn't put labels on these things, so I am just going by what my computer thinks it's called.

This is a better camera.  It has a higher resolution and a built in privacy guard that slides down over the camera sensor.  Honestly, it's about as good as the built in webcam in most laptops.  However, it's still pretty lame compared to more moden webcam.

I think I got this camera 12 or 13 years ago.  I replaced the QuickCam with it, and I continued to make timelapse videos out my window and save still images on a schedule with the program motion.  I just verified that it is still available in Ubuntu's repository too... good old apt install motion, and you are on your way.

It's funny to think that back then, I would save a still photo into a folder every second.  Those photos were stitched into a 14-hour timelapse, and every 5 seconds, the image was copied into a folder synchronized to dropbox and shared publicly.  Then I had a simple javascript utility that would refresh the 5 most recent right here on this blog.  ahh, those were some interesting days of manually writing HTML and XML documents to generate my resume with XSLT.

Finally, these days, I have a Logitech C922 on my computer.  I actually had a C920 at one point, and I got the corporate/lync/skype certified C930e for my Mom when she threw a baby shower for Renmin and I.  This form factor was used with a number of webcams.  This one supports 1080P video, and the corporate one has the same sensor, but a wider angle lense.  I also had one that was nearly identical to this camera, but it only supported 720P.

It's a pretty good camera, and in addition to video quality, the audio quality of the stereo microphones is pretty good too.  Some people have even told me it's better than my Plantronics headset, but I tend to use my Bose QC35+ headset during video calls, and people tell me that sounds great!

So I didn't just want to show you the cameras, I also setup a little photo shoot to compare them...
15+ year old QuickCam

The QuickCam has low resolution, has trouble dealing with the brightness of the lightbox, and you need to manually focus by turning the ring around the lense.  I also had trouble because I think the cable is going bad, and most photos I took turned out blurry even though I had the camera on a tripod.

12 year old QuickCam S5500

The QuickCam S5500 is a little better.  It actually has auto focus, and it had no trouble dealing with the bright lights in the lightbox.  You can even see the angle is wide enough to get the back corner of the box.  The two QuickCam models are actually in about the same spot, so you can see how much wider the angle is on the S5500.
5 year old Logitech C922

Next, I get to a more modern webcam.  Now, this camera has such a wide angle compared to the other two, that I had to move the camera in closer, and I still couldn't get rid of the back corners.

I guess just for good measure, I'll add a photo from my phone...

7 month old Pixel 3 XL smartphone

It really is amazing to look at how far digital cameras have come in the past 20 years.  I remember in 2000 it has a huge deal when we had a digital camera that saved BMP images is a 1.4MB floppd disk.  It was so cool that we could just carry around this "small" 3.5" disk and save a few pictures on it.

Now I'm not happy if a camera doesn't support 4K video or HDR.  How times have changed.

Anyway, It's time for me to get some sleep, so Goodnight...