Logitech QuickCam Pro 9000
Purchased July 27, 2007 $99.99
How to disassemble the 9000
Logitech has done it again! Another fine camera.
This is the first of the "thousands" series cameras by Logitech (3000, 4000, 5000, 9000) to break from the eyeball style. (I wonder where the 6000 and 7000 went?) The 9000 looks very much like the Fusion, except there has been a change in the stand. Instead of being bendable rubber, the 9000 has a stand similarly shaped to the Fusion, but of hard plastic, with a center tongue which can be used to stabilize the camera on a flat panel screen, or flipped up to allow the camera to sit on a desk or shelf.
The image sensor is a true 2 mega pixel device. The built-in microphone has been redesigned to offer background sound reduction. I tried testing the microphone and sound system but for some odd reason which must have something to do with my setup, I couldn't get any sound from the camera.
The 9000 has an orange circular LED to indicate when it is on rather than blue like the Fusion models.
As in the new Pro for Notebooks camera, the 9000 camera has a true automatic focus Tessar lens which uses a VCM (Voice Coil Motor). Essentially there is a tiny spring which pulls the lens towards the infinite focus point, then a small electromagnet, similar to the coil found inside loud speakers, pulls the lens against the spring to the required focus point. Here are a couple of pages from Logitech and Wikipedia explaining these remarkable lenses.
Reported sharpness issue (Aug 20, 2007)
There has been a lot of buzz going through the support forums about an issue with focus on the left side of the image. Thanks to a visitor who sent me a decent resolution test chart I was able to take some test focus shots last night. In my case, when the camera is focused correctly in the center the upper left corner is definitely out of focus. Knowing only the basic theory of how the VCM motor works, I am going to assume this is where the spring may be connected to the lens, (technically it may be the lower right corner) and that spot is being pulled just a bit out of alignment from the rest. It is also apparent that the lens is not perfectly flat across in its focus field. While this is a bit annoying, I say, "Get with it people!". You have a new camera where the fuzziest areas on the image are about the same as the sharpest spot of most of the older cameras, the primary focus areas are crystal clear. What do you want for $100.00? If you are going to be that picky, buy a digital camera. Here are my test images. Center focused (171k), top left corner focused (178k). For the history and fairly high resolution copy of the Indian Head test pattern check Wikipedia
Update on left side sharpness issue. (Jan 27, 2008)
When I first noticed the focus issue, it was fairly minor and only affected the upper left corner on my camera.
Last September I mounted this camera in my truck as what I call the Windshield camera. Over the next several months as the weather got colder, I began to notice the left side focus issue getting worse. In the last week the problem reached a point where it was quite noticeable and I have decided to remove the camera from my truck replacing it with the QuickCam Ultra Vision. See the problem in the popup on the right. I will set up the 9000 in the house, where the tempeture is relatively stable, and over the next few months will monitor the problem. Keep an eye out on the cameras under test on the webcam index page to see how it does. My guess at this point is that Logitech has had a quality control issue in the manufacturing of this camera. Hopefully when they begin their next run this issue will have been resolved. Stay tuned....
Continuing with original review
The 9000 seems to have a tendency to overexpose just a hair during the evening, but I don't think this detracts from the overall score by much. I did notice one odd point, when I sit at my computer in my red long johns, this camera wants to make them slightly purple or pinkish. The color balance on my face is just about perfect and this odd variation doesn't seem to be present when I am wearing regular clothes. Could be a peculiarity of my setup, but the Pro for Notebooks didn't seem to suffer from this minor affliction.
Without doing precise tests, it would appear that the 9000 uses less CPU resources than the Ultra Vision I tested earlier. During my testing phase, I had the 9000 producing a 960x720 image, the Pro for Notebooks producing an 800x600 image, and the new Creative Live! Cam Optia AF at 640x480, all running at the same time on my main computer. Together they were using only 35% of the processor. The Ultra Vision with the v10.5 drivers and a 960x720 image took 45% all by itself.
My only disappointment is this camera can't produce the wide frame format (864x480) that the earlier Fusion and the first version Orbit could. I really liked that format. After some considerable effort, I figured out a way to have any camera appear to display a wide format image using some tricks with Cascading Style sheets. See this page for details.
If you just purchased a Logitech Ultra Vision, then you got a good camera. But if you are still looking, this is one to look at. Overall I am impressed and this camera now replaces the Fusion as best overall. This is another great camera from Logitech which leaves the competitors dragging their cables in the mud.
Update, December 7, 2008.
As of today I have discovered Logitech has a MAC version available. According to one source who claims he got his info from Logitech support, the Windows version uses software in the computer to achieve the auto focus and RightLight2 features. Those don't work with Mac so Logitech now has a version available specifically for Mac which uses hardware to achieve the focusing, but it is a bit more expensive. Mac version goes by the name "Logitech 960-000254 QuickCam Vision Pro for Mac", (see Amazon link below)