I have a webcam page on my website since 2007 or so; the first camera I used for this page was a Sony EVI-D30 PTZ camera with a Convision V200 video server. You could even move the camera around but this was rarely used and the Convision wasn’t really efficient, it got really hot so I wanted something else instead; so I bought a Axis 206 Network camera and used that one for a couple of years. A couple of months ago the Axis stopped working, so I had to find a new camera. The requirements for this new camera were not that hard, cause all this camera had to be able to do was showing a LED bar reasonably well, it should have wired Ethernet and the housing should not be too big. And of course it should support all browsers, with or without a little ‘help’.
I decided to test a Foscam FI8918W. Some highlights:
- Image Sensor: 1/4″ Color CMOS
- Image res. 640 x 480 Pixels
- Minimum Illumination: 0.5 Lux
- Built-in Microphone and Speaker
- Resolution and fps: 15 fps @ 640×480 (VGA), 30 fps @ 320×240 (QVGA)
- Ethernet: 10/100Mbps RJ-45
- Wireless: IEEE 802.11b/g, WEP & WPA WPA2
- Protocols: HTTP,FTP,SMTP,DHCP,PPPoE,DDNS,UPnP
- Pan/Tilt Angle: 300° /120°
- 11 IR LEDs, night visibility up to 8 meters
- Dimension: 110 x 100 x 108 mm
- Net Weight: 418 gr.
- Power Supply: DC 5V
- Power Consumption: 5 W
- Price: <100 euro.
The time between unpacking and actually using this camera is very short; you should be able to get it up and running in a matter of minutes. Connect the Ethernet cable, start the IP Camera tool that’s on the setup CD, double-click on the camera found and you’ll find the login page:
Device configuration is very straightforward; all settings are categorized into 15 pages for Network settings, DDNS, Wireless, Mail, FTP, PTZ etc. so it’s very easy to find the setting you’re looking for; and it’s all there – all the settings you may expect to be on a camera in this price range. Some pages (FTP, email) have their own test buttons, so you can instantly test if your settings are correct.
I removed the old Axis 206, assigned the IP address of the old Axis to the Foscam , mounted the camera to the ceiling (upside down), and in 15 minutes I was good to go 🙂
Since the webcam page worked with a Java applet, I had to change that page a bit. But with a SDK manual I found, this change was very easy to do; all I needed was a <img> tag in the page, like this:
<img src="http://cam2.hekkers.net/videostream.cgi?user=guest&pwd=guest" />
name="foscam" id="foscam" width="320" height="240" onload='reload()'>
This <img> tag and the Javescript below creates a constantly reloading snapshot on the webcam page:
Add some browser detection to the page so that each browser (IE vs. non-IE) gets its own ‘version’ of the page and everybody can view my new Foscam camera without the need for ActiveX! And that’s exactly what I wanted.
Conclusion: this new Foscam camera gives excellent value for money, provides a decent image, has all the features you can expect considering the price (of which many aren’t even used by me…) and certainly worth considering when you’re looking for a new webcam.
Another thing worth mentioning is the good support I got from the people at ipcam-shop. Although I haven’t bought any camera there yet, the quick response to my questions was astonishing; these people still know what customer care means. I know where I will buy my next cameras, that’s for sure!