[lug] Linux Compatible Webcam

Ed Hill ed at eh3.com
Fri Feb 4 08:37:37 MST 2005

On Fri, 2005-02-04 at 06:41 -0700, Stephen Queen wrote:
> I would like to keep an eye on my back field with a
> webcam.(This is for keeping an eye on the stock.)
> I would use a window in my computer room for the webcam to
> look out, so it need not be weather proof or wireless. I
> tried it with my present webcam, a Logitech
> Quickcam Express. Looking out into the daylight, it is
> completely white. Plus it is old enough, that if it did
> work, the resolution is so poor, I probably wouldn't
> recognize the horses from the cows.
> Does anyone have a suggestion for a webcam that is linux
> compatible, can be used in broad daylight, and has
> reasonable resolution?

Hi Stephen,

To distinguish animals at a distance you'll probably be better off with
a digital camera.  There are some models that support "host-based
capture" which means that you can connect them to your computer through
USB and then use software (eg. gPhoto2 & shell scripts) to automatically
shoot photos, download them to the computer, delete them from the
camera, and repeat.  And you can buy AC adapters for basically all
digital cameras.

I've taken literally thousands of photos with a half-dozen different
cameras including these Kodak models:

  DC260, DC265, DC240 (w/PTP), DC3400, DC4800

and the commands are really simple.  For instance, heres a shell script:

  while test 1 = 1 ; do
    gphoto2 --capture-image  &&  sleep 20
    gphoto2 --folder /DCIM/10K100 --get-all-files  &&  sleep 20
    gphoto2 --folder /DCIM/10K100 --delete-all-files
    sleep 360

The hardest part is locating a camera that supports host-based capture.
You can search through the list of gPhoto2-supported cameras with
commands such as:

  gphoto2 --list-cameras
  gphoto2 --camera='Kodak DC3400' --abilities

and this will tell you (for the most part--some cameras actually have
the functionality and are not listed or require a bit of extra coding)
what gphoto2 does and doesn't support on individual models.  Old units
like my ~2MP Kodak DC3400 have been very easy-to-use and reliable work-
horses for these tasks.  Perhaps you can find one on eBay.


Edward H. Hill III, PhD
office:  MIT Dept. of EAPS;  Rm 54-1424;  77 Massachusetts Ave.
             Cambridge, MA 02139-4307
emails:  eh3 at mit.edu                ed at eh3.com
URLs:    http://web.mit.edu/eh3/    http://eh3.com/
phone:   617-253-0098
fax:     617-253-4464

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