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March 28, 2005

Network Camera Advice

I am looking for a new camera for the veiled chameleon webcam page. My intention is to place a webcam inside the chameleon's enclosure and then give it access to the Internet. The attributes for the camera which I seek, roughly in order of importance, are as follows:

1) Pan, tilt, and zoom. I don't want the camera to just be sitting there staring in one spot hoping that the chameleon will be in sight.

2) Optical zoom. A real zoom is important, not merely blowing up of a static photo which becomes more and more pixelated as the zoom increases.

3) Auto focus (with a variable focus lens). Focusing and re-focusing a camera can be one of the most frustrating aspects of using a camera, and auto-focus tends to work remarkably well.

4) Motion detection/tracking. If the lizard moves, I want the camera to follow it. When people log onto the webcam page to see the lizard, I'm pretty much hoping that the lizard will be in the picture for them to see.

5) Internet controllable. Motion detection isn't perfect, and sometimes people want to see things up a bit closer than what the camera may be set at when they find it. Ideally, any user would be able to take control of the camera from the webcam page (which means that the motion detection should be temporarily interrupted) and do with it as they choose (except change settings, of course). When they're finished, the camera should return to a pre-set position, zoom, and focus, and the motion detection should resume.

6) IP Network camera. I want this thing to have its own operating system and its own software. Ideally, it would come with additional software for a remote server (linux) with which it would connect, allowing one data stream from the camera to the server, and then the server would branch the video off to an unlimited number of viewers.

7) Wireless. Although I can deal with a network cable, I'd prefer not to, and I'd get additional use out of the camera if I could skip it. I'd like to move it out of the chameleon cage occasionally, such as to keep an eye on my bird should I be out of town for a day or two.

8) 802.11b. 802.11g would be fine, except that I'd have to replace my D-Link 614+ wireless router with a new 802.11g capable router - and that costs money. The only reason I'd do that would be for the new camera, so the cost of the new router would be added to the cost of the camera - making it lesser of a value for the price.

9) Simultaneous FTPing of a JPEG and video streaming. I don't want to have to choose between these, but I could if an abundance of the above features were available.

10) Two way audio. This one is for the bird watching, again. Birds are very social animals, and it's difficult on my cockatiel when I'm away. If I could at least interact with it via voice and see its reactions so I'd know how to respond to it with voice, that'd go a long way toward making the bird more comfortable when I'm away.

11) An infrared mode for nighttime viewing. This really isn't entirely important for a lizard that sleeps at night, but the alternatives are to have a dark image and/or video showing up on the webcam page or to shut the thing off before nightfall. I'd prefer something a bit more interesting, even a sleeping lizard.

12) Good user reviews, such as through epinions.com. This would help, but it's at the very bottom of the list. If I can't find any reviews, so be it, it wouldn't stop me from buying the camera. Significant credible negative reviews, however, are probably a deal killer.

A thirteenth option would obviously be price, but including it or ranking it is somewhat silly. Price always offsets the value that you purchase for that price, and I'm not quite sure what value I'd place on any single feature (listed above), nor combination of features. The best I can do is to look at every camera model which reasonably approximates the features that I want, and then use my subjective judgment to decide which is the best value for me at that price. I don't want anyone ruling out a camera by assuming that it costs too much to be mentioned, or through assuming that one is too cheap.

Posted by Jeff at March 28, 2005 01:24 AM


Is this an ambitious project, Jeff? And what will it cost you in bandwidth and maybe $$ to keep a RT cam link running? Sounds cool, though.

I could adopt your lizard-beast as my virtual desk thing!

Will the camera spook the beastie?

Posted by: kenny at April 1, 2005 09:04 AM

Did you ever find a camera that could follow a moving thing in a relatively small enclosure? That would be so great... Let me know, will ya? :)

Posted by: CVD at April 28, 2005 04:25 PM

I'm trying to find PC Webcam with autofocus. It is year 2006 and I cannot find one. Unbelievable. I'm also trying to find Digital camera with autofocus with web-cam feature, no success yet. Please inform me if you find one. Cheers

Posted by: Tofu at April 2, 2006 01:40 AM

I've been evaluating several network cams with similar needs; I've finally settled on the Panasonic BL-C10A Network Camera (ip addressable, web interface, pan, tilt, wired, no zoom, no sound) for $199, but they have the KX-HCM110A for $350 (pan, tilt, 10x digital zoom, wireless, 2 way sound). Neither does the auto-track that I can see.

Posted by: Eric at April 19, 2006 12:53 PM

auto track is cheap with i-catcher which will record whatever network cam you have, but pan tilt is only for certain cameras like axis.

Posted by: asr at May 2, 2006 05:28 AM


This one has everything you want except the infrared night view, I think. ;)

Posted by: Sherri at May 4, 2006 08:15 AM

Sorry man - Creative ! Motion:
The bad: Images have a convex appearance; fast movement is blurry in video; still images show digital noise; camera clicks when moving.

The bottom line: The Creative Live Motion offers an innovative set of Webcam features and an extensive software package, but it falls short where it counts: photo and video performance.


It is not worth that money. If the price is half I would purchase it... Still waiting for my webcam with autofocus (doesn't have to move)...

Posted by: Tofu at May 21, 2006 10:37 AM

If you're still looking for a cam...
There are web cams and network IP cams. the latter are stand-alone server type IP cameras. I have looked at and used many IP cams for surveillance at work. The best I have seen (and now cherish)is the Toshiba IK-WB21A PTZ cam. It is smooth, quick, and has superb picture quality at 1280x960 resolution.

Posted by: Richard Wendt at September 27, 2006 09:48 AM

Jeff, just wanted to add my 2 cents on the comment from Eric, in regards to the blc-10a. It does have tracking features. (You can see it in action, although tracking is currently turned off, at http://www.yegcam.com). There is an option, if you choose to do so, to have it detect motion and turn to wherever the motion was detected. I'm not sure how well it would work in a small area, but it might be worth looking into.

Good luck with your project (if you're still working on it)


Posted by: realm174 at April 26, 2007 09:42 AM

Tofu asks about PC webcams with autofocus. There's *finally* one, years after Apple introduced the autofocus iSight. The camera is the Creative LiveCam Optia AF.


Posted by: Patrick Tufts at May 21, 2007 01:52 PM

It is not worth that money If the price is half I would purchase it

Posted by: Sanjay at February 16, 2008 04:35 AM

Try the site below. The prices are inexpensive and they have all that you're looking for.


Posted by: Janelle at March 18, 2008 01:11 PM

Webcams like this are available from many online shopping portals and in market also. You search major online sites that deals in such kind of computer accessories and webcams.

Posted by: Cheap Webcams at June 12, 2008 01:48 AM

checked out all the cams but seems like not one would work with detecting the face of your chameleon...tough luck!

Posted by: zurah at March 10, 2010 07:10 AM

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