iSight at a first glance
- Apple QuickTime Broadcaster (free)
- Boinx iRecordNow ($15 shareware)
- BTV ($20) and BTV Pro ($40)
- SecuritySpy ($50)
I hesitate between iRecordNow and BTV. QuickTime Broadcaster does a reasonably good job but is tricky to configure if your goal is simply to record on disk (its primary use is to broadcast a live feed). As one can suspect when digging deeper into the advanced settings of those programs, they are all based on the QuickTime layer, which makes me think that as time passes, we will see a freeware for simple recording.
During those tests, I've had several, repeated problems such as conflict with iChat AV (fix: quit it or uncheck the preference that launches it each time the iSight is turned on or plugged in), frozen video, spinning wheel, weird images (loss of color, synch, zebras), and twice the iSight would stop working after a while. One strange symptom was that after some time, the images started to slow down or freeze and the green light on top of the camera would flick on a regular basis. I first thought of a software problem, related to the use of QuickTime compression, but after Googling for iSight problems, I think I have found the culprit in the FireWire cable that Apple ships with the iSight. It's a light and thin cable (with handles that are extremely hard to unplug from both ends because they are too small and flat) which seems to be very sensitive to interferences. That would explain why so many people are relating their iSight problems with wireless networks (I have an AirPort network). Once I replaced the cable by a "regular", properly isolated cable, all those problems disappeared.
Interestingly, the iSight is recognized by Macromedia's Flash plugin, and I was able to broadcast video and sound through a Flash Communication server (precisely with Breeze Live) to a Windows-based colleague.
My first impression is that the camera is quite good, it requires good lighting (or you'll get lots of noise), its auto focus is fast and works well, the automatic white balance is easily fooled by artificial light and/or poor lightning condition, the microphone is decent. The cable is problematic, and you won't be able to use the provided mounts with a FW cable that has bigger handles that the one that ships with it (but you can check for alternative mounts or build your own).
If you have similar, or diverging, experience with the iSight, I'd love to know. I'm also curious about how to use it to IM with people on Windows -- and not necessarily with AOL's AIM (which is reported by a co-worker as causing lots of issues suspiciously close to spyware behavior) -- and drivers to use it on other platforms.