Purchased Dec 18, 2009 $79.99
This camera is made by a company that produces a series of professional USB microphones. BlueMic.com
The camera is basically one of their snowflake microphones with a webcam added on the side.
If you are interested in creating great quality audio for YouTube posting or any purpose, then this is an exelent choice. It is certainly built better than most. The microphone part is very rugged. I could probably drop this on a concrete floor many times before the mike would be damaged, but I wouldn't try it as the camera may not be that rugged. The camera pops out from the left side of the microphone and can be pushed in for privacy. I did have some initial trouble with the camera failing to start when I first popped it out but after moving it in and out a number of times that problem went away.
Here is my sound test. Audio (Windows Media, 232k). I now wear a partial denture for 3 top front teeth which I did not have when the recording was made, that's why my speech is a bit slurred.
Sometimes my capture software had difficulty getting an image from the camera, especially with large resolution images, when I tried changing resolutions a number of times. After shutting down my software then restarting it I usually got the image back. Not sure if this is a problem with the camera or with Windows 7 and my software, but I have not had that problem with any other camera.
This is the first camera I have purchased that does not come with ANY software or drivers. It is USB Video class, so doesn't really need any. I found its microphone to be quite good; however, as with most USB microphones I have tried, I had trouble getting enough volume out of it. I suspect this is due to problems with the software I used and my lack of experience with computer microphones, rather than the devices themselves. Yup, I have lots of experience with cameras, I just never use the microphones, which is also why I don't usually include sound in my reviews.
The camera itself is very good but not fantastic. In bright light, the image is sharp, though just a bit grainy, probably due to the lens. The major drawback is the shutter speed appears to be rather slow. Anytime I move or turn my head, even in fairly bright light, the moving image is blurred. There appears to be a bit of what I would have to call crystallization on and around my gray beard and hair, especially at higher resolutions.
When enlarging the capture resolution to 2mp the shutter speed slows way down, along with the frame rate, which I would expect. Don't get me wrong, the image is very good, it's just not quite up to the Logitech cameras of the same resolutions that I have been dealing with for the last few weeks.
I have to commend their package designer. The front of the package and the instruction manual are designed to look sort of like an eye chart, a cute idea, but I wonder how many people will actually notice that point.
Where this camera falls down (literally) is with the stand. I have found it does not sit on top of my flat panel monitors at all well. The problem is the mike ball is heavy and puts the center of gravity just over the front of the monitor. Even with the cable attached it was continually falling over the front of the monitor. They include a piece of rubber that is supposed to solve the problem but I found even with the rubber piece the camera still was front heavy and in my case was unstable. I eventually gave up and just let it sit on the desk. It does sit on my notebook monitor fairly well. The hinge that connects the ball to the stand has a part that sort of roles around the pivot and occupies a fair amount of space under the stand, so the stand doesn't want to sit all the way down on the edge of my flat panel. That whole thing is a bit difficult to explain in words so I hope I get my point across.
The above photo shows the stand without the lower part of the case attached. With the full mount in place the camera sits pretty well on a desktop or shelf. But to mount on a flat monitor you have to remove part of the base, then the front becomes too heavy. If you buy one, you may have to use the camera either sitting it on a desk, or having to add some weight or something to hold the camera on a monitor.
I suspect the design works very well for their similar looking desktop microphone, but they need to go back to the drawing board with the camera stand.
Good choice for high quality sound recording.
|Sample images showing how this camera performs under different lighting conditions|
Image resolutions available on this camera