What is the lowest priced IP camera with optical zoom for use as webcam to display a mountain to the public?
September 16, 2009 12:55 PM   Subscribe

What is the lowest priced IP camera with optical zoom for use as webcam to display a mountain to the public?

I would like to set up a webcam for only one use: to display a mountain that is a few miles from my house for anyone on the internet to see. I need this webcam to be independent, i.e. not attached to my computer (I've heard terms like IP camera, network camera, or video server to describe this). But I also need an optical zoom feature, as 1) the mountain is too far away for the picture to be interesting with no zoom, and 2) the digital zoom on another webcam I've tried (Panasonic BL-C111A) yields very poor picture quality. Alternately, I could use a potential optical zoom lens accessory that attaches to a camera -- I won't need to be adjusting the zoom once I have achieved the level of zoom I want initially. Finally, this webcam would need to allow anyone on the internet to access it and display basically a window that only has the picture -- I don't want members of the public to be doing pan/tilt and such (the camera doesn't need pan/tilt at all), and I'd rather there not be any other superfluous text in the window that the public would see.

There are so many different options that I am lost. Can someone point me to a low-cost option that would solve my problem? I would love for this to be $100-$200.
posted by fenwaydirtdog to Computers & Internet (4 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
There are a lot of options, it's hard to say what would be the cheapest. I've played with Axis cameras in the past and deployed two Mobotix cameras in a very rugged environment. They're good options, but probably out of your price range.

You could also look at a site like Alibaba and find something direct from a manufacturer, but no assurances there really.

What might suit you well would be to use a second-hand video camera, and a small IP video server to get the picture, but the limited resolution from the camera might be an issue.
posted by sycophant at 1:35 PM on September 16, 2009

I would suggest a regular IP camera, mounted or glued to binoculars, as they are potentially much cheaper and have better optics and zoom than a budget zoom lens.

the results-to-money&effort ratio looks pretty amazing
posted by -harlequin- at 2:17 PM on September 16, 2009 [1 favorite]

I had an Axis 207 with a medium lens, and needed a wide-angle view from it, so I unscrewed the stock lens, ordered a wide angle lens with the same fitting and screwed it in. Likewise, I could have got a lens with more zoom instead of less.

However, the $20 lens I brought was designed for cheap security cameras so (a) probably wasn't of the highest optical quality and (b) I don't know if they do ones with really high zoom.

Do you know how far away the target is, and how big it is? That will give you the angular field of view, which is what you need to know to work out what lens you need.
posted by Mike1024 at 4:03 PM on September 16, 2009

It doesn't sound like you need video

Cheap Canon digital camera + CHDK (free) + EyeFi card. Have CHDK take shots every x seconds/minutes/hours. The EyeFi will upload to your computer and optionally online automatically via Wifi.
posted by wongcorgi at 5:12 PM on September 16, 2009

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