Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Consumer Camera Streaming

I've been looking for a decent cheap camera for a long time. Hooking into a consumer Camera is apparently close to impossible. This used to be a simple and common tasks. Almost all digital camcorders used to provide firewire ports and would feature a demo mode allowing you to get a cheap high-quality video stream for your PC. Firewire now has been abandoned, and for a while camera manufacturers (in particular Sony) provided USB streaming. This is now a thing of the past.

One alternative is to use a standard digital camera. Again, previously Cannon provided good support for remote capture and USB streaming, but this is something they seem to have dropped again.

There are a few options out there for those who are looking for tethered camera capturing via USB:
  • CHDK the Cannon Hack Development Kit supports a number of cannon cameras with a range of possible features. Again, difficult to find support for a current model.
  • BreezeSys provide a number of software tools for Cannon cameras, again only older models but if your really looking to do some specialized setup then this might be worth the effort.
  • Canon Official Camera SDK is a good option, but unfortunately only the older models are supported.
  • Olympus SDK supports a good range of cameras, unfortunately the only currently supported cameras are the more expensive DSLR range.
  • Pine Tree Camera Controller is a Windows GUI for the Olympus interface.
  • Nikon Camera Control (Windows) provides tethered control for Nikon DSLR cameras. (See also DIY Nikon)
  • SofortBuild is Mac OSX software for remote capture with Nikon cameras, but unfortunately only for the more expensive "D" series.

  • GPhoto is some linux software for remote capture from a wide range of Cameras. Unfortunately, none that I own. This is probably the best bet though.

  • Entangle a front end to Gphoto for Linux.
You can sometimes still get a Camera that supports component out - so if you get yourself a frame-grabber, then that might be a good option. A cheap firewire camera can be purchased from The Imaging Source, so that might be the best option, but is still likely to be out of the range for an amateur VJ or hobby robotics project.

If anyone has any suggestions for a cheap camcorder/camera that can provide firewire or USB streaming, please let me know!


Adrian said...

Like Sony, Samsung provide USB streaming on some cameras:
unlike the Sony's, you can still buy them

Adrian said...

Only $289 and supports USB streaming

Adrian said...

Camera Electronic also still sell the A480, supported by CHDK: