Webcams that work with Mac OS X Leopard 10.5

Posted on November 29, 2007 by Chris Duke

Apple puts their tiny “iSight” webcam into the monitor of every computer they make, except for those of us who have purchased a Mac Mini or a Mac Pro and have opted for a non-Apple monitor solution. Personally, I’m rocking a 27″ DELL Widescreen that does not have a built in camera. It has everything, but that! After much research and futzing around with the latest webcams, I found a few that work with Leopard.

I started doing some research on Google and in newsgroups for webcams supported by Leopard. Essentially, there are none. Apple used to sell an external iSight camera, but they discontinued it. So now if you search the popular webcam manufacturer’s websites, you will find absolutely nothing that supports Mac OS X Leopard. Nothing. I did pop into Best Buy a few weeks ago and found some non-name-brand webcam that touted OS X compatibility, but low-and-behold, it did not. Fooey!

Last weekend I went to an Apple store to see what they had available. They sold no webcams there. I talked with two Apple “gurus” and one said that they don’t sell the external iSight in the store, and that I should go online to the Apple.com Store to buy it. Ha, if only he knew it was discontinued he wouldn’t be recommending such rubbish. Now, there are a few 3rd party drivers in existence such as macam that reportedly allow Windows webcams to work on a Mac, but details and testing are sketchy at best.

So, I took matters into my own hands and after reading that the newer Logitech QuickCams may work on Leopard, I gave it a shot. Their website doesn’t say anything about Mac support, but that didn’t stop me. I promptly went out to Best Buy and bought a QuickCam Pro for Notebooks with the intent to test & return. I took it out of the box, plugged it into my Mac Mini, and ba-blam — it worked. It wasn’t the webcam I wanted, though, but someone mentioned that it might work so I started there to confirm what they had suggested. Success!

I returned the Notebook version and ordered the one I wanted, the QuickCam Pro 9000 — their latest and greatest. It retails for $99 but I found it at Amazon for $83, with no sales tax and free shipping. Score! I ordered it Monday and it arrived here today, Thursday.

The QuickCam Pro 9000 works great, just as well as its Notebook cousin did. I can use it with Skype for video chat, as well as Apple’s QuickTime, Photo Booth, and iChat apps. Audio works as well, the clarity is awesome, it sits snugly atop my monstrous DELL monitor, and its wide angle captures quite a bit. There are no drivers to install (because they don’t exist), so it’s just a matter of plug and play. Ah very niiice!

Here are the problems, though, since there are no Mac OS X drivers specific to these cams. The cam is capable of recording video at 960×720 pixels which is awesome, but again since there are no drivers, using the maximum resolution of the camera does not appear possible on the Mac. It seems to stay at 320×240 for iChat and Skype, but Photo Booth does kick it up to 640×480 which is not too shabby. It also can capture 8MP still images with its 2MP camera (go figure), but that’s also something that doesn’t seem possible. Photo Booth captures stills at 640×480. Hardly 2MP or 8MP.

The cam also supports autofocus, but I can’t seem to get that to work on my Mac (it does work on my PC). It focuses just fine on me sitting in front of my computer, but if I move an object close to the lens, it does not change focus. Again, not a huge problem since my goal is to not film my eyeballs close-up, rather a few feet away.

There are all sorts of features this webcam includes that I cannot access as well, such as their video effects (which are super cool) and filters which are all strikingly similar to Apple’s Photo Booth effects. No big deal, since Apple has quite a few cool ones built into Leopard. The all work fine, BTW.

As I use my QuickCam Pro 9000 more I’ll update this post with my findings, but that’s it for now. These two late-2007 model Logitech QuickCam cameras work great, without drivers. I’m impressed that they work so well without drivers, actually. Hopefully this post will help other people out there who are struggling to find an external webcam that works with Mac OS X Leopard.


25 Replies to "Webcams that work with Mac OS X Leopard 10.5"

  • Michael S
    December 1, 2007 (10:19 pm)
    Reply

    Nice picture Chris.

    lol

  • Chris
    December 2, 2007 (11:48 am)
    Reply

    In today’s ads, Best Buy is selling the both for $69, and Circuit City is selling the 9000 for $59 after rebate.

  • Chris
    December 2, 2007 (12:13 pm)
    Reply

    Looking online now, and I see that most online retailers offer rebates as well, including Amazon (where I bought mine)–they are offering a $15 rebate, bringing the price down to $68.

  • Teddy
    February 25, 2008 (7:33 am)
    Reply

    I’ve just visited Logitech website and it appears that this webcam is only for Windows. I know that there is Macam software that can solve the problem, but I’m not sure if it will works properly with my Mac Pro and Skype.

  • James A-J
    March 9, 2008 (5:36 am)
    Reply

    Amazing, laughed when I found your site. Am running a Dual 1.42GHz PPC G4 with X 10.5.2 & an NEC 1880sx monitor. Bought the Pro 9000 from Amazon for £43 three weeks ago after a brief search for webcams that quickly became frustrating and unbelievable. Sad that the iSight is discontinued, found a few for sale somewhere, one guy was asking £200! They were an investment by all accounts.

    Anyway, I too have done a bit of research .. because I have a £43 camera with about £10 worth of functionality. Originally it worked with the native Leopard drivers in, as you say, iChat at 320×240 and PhotoBooth at 640×480 resolutions but am sad to say that lately, the video window in PB & iC is flickering badly. Am trying to find out which are the native driver files with their associated prefs etc so that I can replace/rebuild them if possible. Have just downloaded LeopardGraphicsUpdate1.0 from Softpedia but that has not helped. Anyone got any ideas? I have to sort this before I can get back to the more interesting stuff.

    To come to the third party drivers out there that are being developed for Leopard & webcams ..

    Incidentally, Logitech TS were not much help, confirming that all the cool features of the camera were software driven and that there were no plans to develop code for the Mac. So I delved further ..

    It turns out that there are two potential drivers that will unleash many of the Pro 9000’s features. These are from Macam and IOXperts. I think Macam (available from the Apple website) is probably mature for Tiger but the latest version (0.9.1) will not recognise the Pro 9000 here.

    IOXperts are a very different matter and you should take a look at Steve Sisak’s site (http://www.ioxperts.com) his the beta version is currently at 1.1.2b3 until April 1st – versions change every month or so. It works for free but costs $19.95. The beta testing is interactive and the whole issue of ‘Leopard & webcams’ is very much work in progress with some pretty high tech stuff going on that’s often over my head but a lot of it is useful also.

    You will need to join the mailing list to get the best out of it (and probably pay as well) but I reckon it’s worth it (no I don’t work for him) but am a tad peeved that Apple & Logitech have not got their heads together (they are both culpable in differing ways) and so I totally support the efforts of the smaller developers who use their skills to help a relatively small corner of the market.

    Think have blurbed enough by now, g/f is calling, she has been a bit of a computer widow lately, sorry honey :(

    Get back to me if this has been helpful or if you have any idea how I can fix the flickering PB window … where are those pesky files …

    Cheers all,

    James A-J

  • michelle
    March 11, 2008 (2:28 pm)
    Reply

    Chris,
    Please advise.
    I have a mac laptop-powerbook and have Leopard installed and running. I have been searching high and low for a webcam and bought the Logitech QuickCam for Notebooks.

    How do I get it to run? And, can I use it with Ichat?

    GOin off the deep end in CT.

    Sincerely,
    Michelle

  • Chris
    March 11, 2008 (2:34 pm)
    Reply

    Michelle, you just plug it in and it works. Works with iChat, Photobooth, Skype, etc.

  • michelle
    March 11, 2008 (2:45 pm)
    Reply

    No worky! Do I need to turn something on in Ichat or anything?

  • James A-J
    March 11, 2008 (2:54 pm)
    Reply

    In iChat – Video Menu – Video Preview .. window should be it ..

  • Keith M.
    March 12, 2008 (5:15 pm)
    Reply

    Anybody know if this 9000 will work with Tiger. Just tried out Logitech Quickcam for Notebooks and got nada. I’ve got a 3 yr old PowerBook G4. Just upgraded the HD and Apple replaced the LCD and Logicboard last year under Applecare. Not going to buy a new notebook for the webcam. Any ideas?

  • James A-J
    March 13, 2008 (1:53 pm)
    Reply

    Just tried the 9000 it with 10.4.11 (incl v. latest security updates etc).
    iChat video window works fine.
    iMovie & ImageCapture don’t but I don’t think they’re supposed to anyway and PhotoBooth not there.
    Havn’t installed IOX or Macam for other apps because don’t want to debug on the Tiger side.

  • michelle
    March 13, 2008 (3:53 pm)
    Reply

    I just installed the macam for my powerbook and have Leopard. I have the “Logitech Quickcam for Notebooks” the round little one that clips-on.

    I can’t get squat to work.

    On the Macam site they have a list of installs and I think I tried them all.

    Chris says, “you just plug it in and it works”
    NO CAN DO!!!!!!

    What am I doing wrong?

  • Chris
    March 13, 2008 (4:20 pm)
    Reply

    A friend of mine brought his brand new Mac Mini over a few days ago so I could load it up with some files… I simply disconnected my Mac Mini, connected his, and during initial setup of the OS my Logitech webcam fired up and worked great.

    So I can add that even a brand new version of Tiger (not even Leopard) works with this cam, without any additional software.

    As for what to do for your Powerbook, I have no suggestions, however I can tell you that you don’t need to use macam so if you did install it and it’s not working, maybe that “solution” is actually the problem? Try uninstalling it… you really don’t need it.

  • James A-J
    March 14, 2008 (3:53 am)
    Reply

    Mmm, Macam shouldn’t have anything to do with it. It might be the cable or the camera – check it works at the shop or on a friends machine – if it’s ok elsewhere, it is just vaguely possible that the Powerbook does not supply enough power to the USB feed (my 9000 would not work off the keyboard USB port for that reason). Try another desktop first.

  • Brad
    April 11, 2008 (3:33 pm)
    Reply

    Read your artical on quickcam 9000 with great interest, as I am also running Lepard on my Mac Book Pro lap top. I have as you know a built in Isight cam but wanted an external cam and found the same info as you did on the 9000 and bought it.

    It works great on Ichat but does not show up on Yahoo even when selected in the cam preferences of Yahoo, any ideas?

    Thanks in advance, Brad

  • Bill Carter
    April 16, 2008 (8:43 am)
    Reply

    Hello,
    Came across your blog after a google search for webcams for Leopard.
    Running MacBook Pro with Leopard and don’t like the low level built-in camera looking up at me, so wanted an external.
    Would you believe I found a USB2 cheapo which works with iChat. Once it is plugged in iChat gives you a choice of built in or USB camera.
    Again, you don’t get all the advantages of the supplied Windows software, and PhotoBooth doesn’t immediately seem able to locate it, but for £18 from Argos UK you can’t really grumble. Fits OK on top of my 17″ Apple Studio display
    It is the Mikomi 1.3 MP USB PC Webcam (on page 576 of their current catalogue – more expensive version on the next page).
    HTH?

  • Chris G
    April 30, 2008 (1:54 am)
    Reply

    The 9000 worked fine on my MacBook with Lepoard for Skype, Quicktime Pro movie record, and I presume iChat (I don’t have an account to test). However, PhotoBooth seems to be hardcoded to use the built-in iSight camera if available which may explain why it does work for you on a Mac mini . Also, the Flash player can’t find it for video conferencing (the yahoo problem). It just lists DV, firework, and USB camera (iSight) inputs. That seems more of a Macromedia poblem, though.

  • mark
    June 14, 2008 (3:12 pm)
    Reply

    re: Tiger compatibility: as of 10.4.9 USB cameras that are UVC (USB Video Class) compliant are recognized.

    Also note, not all current logitech cameras are UVC.

    New models are rolling out, of particular interest is:
    Logitech 960-000217 1.3MP (software-enhanced) Effective Pixels USB Interface QuickCam Connect – Retail

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16826104226&Tpk=UVC%2bWEBCAM

    @ $30 this seems most reasonable, and includes a mic. Since most people are looking to sit a fixed distance from the screen and chat manual focus shouldn’t be an issue.

    Lastly: OP mentioned about not being able to set the Mac to get the full res. NOTE: Apple’s software will decide optimum res up to max and depends on your connection (down and up), as well as CPU / GPU…so they optimize it for clarity and smoothness, though I agree it would be nice for them to have default and custom overrides. Ohh, and alot of people are bent out of shape on max res, realize that alot of cameras advertise interpolated resolutions, not there actual resolution…

    good luck all

  • Steve
    July 7, 2008 (7:13 am)
    Reply

    has anyone tried the webcam and video effects on a mac in an windows virtualmachine ? does this work ?

  • ocdude
    August 1, 2008 (1:45 pm)
    Reply

    I actually have both the 9000 and the notebook version. I’m running 10.4.11 on a mac mini with the 9000 version and it works just fine. Quicktime doesn’t seem to like it too much (it commits sepuku when I try to record something), but the 9000 is actually picked up by Final Cut Pro.

    The notebook version is hooked up to a last generation iBook G4 12in, and it also works pretty decently. However, on the iBook, the camera gets a ridculously low framerate, so while it does technically “work” it doesn’t work as well as the 9000 on the desktop. Unfortunately the owner of the iBook, my girlfriend, is now on the opposite coast so I can’t test the 9000 on the notebook.

    For both I did not have to do any additional steps to make it work. It was just plug and go.

  • Ramji Narayanan
    August 13, 2008 (5:45 am)
    Reply

    Hi everyone! I was gifted a Logitech Quickcam Communicate STX which officially does not run on a Mac. I downloaded Macam as some of you have suggested and it appears to work with my Mac mini. Thank you, one and all. Ramji

  • Mary
    December 29, 2008 (12:32 pm)
    Reply

    This was a useful set of comments.

    I found myself looking for a webcam for my MacMini (running Leopard) and Apple monitor that I bought a year ago that appear to have come with no iSight. (If you think I’m missing something, let me know, but there is no lens anywhere and a search on my hard drive for “iSight” turns up nada.) It’s always something. I will try the one you recommend but wish Apple had not sold me a monitor wthout the builtin camera.

  • Ray
    August 6, 2009 (4:20 am)
    Reply

    I have been reading about it and people say that the frame rate is very low, maybe even at 5 for a PowerBook because of incompatible drivers or something. Is that true?

    G4 PPC
    1.33GHz
    2GB RAM

  • yash
    September 26, 2009 (9:13 pm)
    Reply

    I am using a 2007 macbook pro with 3 gigs of ram and 2.16ghz core 2 duo processsor with snow leopard and still logitech webcam can give only 5 frames per second on every video recording app. SUCKS!


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