Logitech has done it again! A most superb camera all around.
I am most impressed with the quality of the image. For some time now most of the camera lenses have been plastic. I had suspected that a lot of the poor quality images were coming from the lens rather than being totally the fault of poor image sensors. Logitech has now hit a winner with their Carl Zeiss lenses. Figures, if you want the best optics, go to the company that makes some of the best lenses in the world.
The camera comes with a 12 inch stand which you can clamp the camera onto to use it without a notebook computer. At the current time, my main notebook is a Dell Inspiron 9200, with a 17 inch screen. When I ordered this computer a couple of years ago they had some plastic covers which snap onto the back of the screen. Mine is a red burl wood color and because it is a snap-on it makes the screen a bit thicker than most notebooks. Those of you who have screens with a slightly rounded edge will be happy to see the rounded back side to this camera clamp. The camera mount clamp fits perfectly on my notebook. It holds securely and won't slip like many of the earlier models.
I was fiddling around with the vertical stand today and took a closer look at the grove in the back. What I thought had been strengthening points turned out to be a series of slots to hold the cable. Pressing the cable into these slots down to the bottom, gives the stand much more stability and makes the setup look a lot better too. Kudos to the Logitech engineers.
The camera has a built in microphone which I have not tested yet. It comes with a small cloth carrying case. Enough about the shape and accessaries.
The 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 infantine 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.
The focus performed very well in normal room and bright light. I have noticed occasional focus problems in very low light. At 11:00 pm my computer tuns off the lights in my study, leaving only the computer monitors and cowboy lamp on. On several evenings after the lights went off, I noticed this camera seemed to loose track of where to focus. It apparently decided to focus at minimum distance which appears to be about 1 inch. However this was after running perfectly, untouched all day. After turning off my capture software and restarting the program the camera immediately found its focus point and had no further problems that evening. I have had a couple of people write me saying they had some difficulty with their camera not focusing evenly across the field of view. The left side of the image was out of focus. Apparently this is a random problem in manufacture as both these people said after exchanging the camera, the replacement was better.
(Aug 20, 2007) 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 left side 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, 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 entire image 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 (245k), top left corner focused (198k).
Within the camera controls, Logitech has included complete control with both automatic and manual focus. Just about every other aspect of the camera, brightness, white balance, contrast, hue, etc, etc, can be left on auto or manually overridden to set it where you want.
I'm also pleased that for the first time I have been able to use a camera's total auto settings to get a very good picture without having to tinker with manual settings. That made capturing of this camera's images very easy and only took a few minutes once I had my lighting setup. My only disappointment is that Logitech has dropped that nice wide format image (864x460) that the first generation of Fusion and Orbit MP cameras had. I really like that format and I would think it would be popular with all the new wide screen monitors that are beginning to show up. I've had quite a few visitors write me asking how to achieve the wide format like I use in my mobile truck webcamera. Unfortunately, I have to tell them the newer cameras just can't produce it.
The bottom line. The image is excellent. The color, using the automatic Right Light 2 software is excellent, the exposure is excellent, the mount is excellent, the design is excellent, the camera is just plain excellent!
|Sample images showing how this camera performs under different lighting conditions|