What would be a good camera to set up a stream from out of my window? And is this legal?
November 8, 2011 9:51 AM   Subscribe

What would be a good camera to set up a stream from out of my window? And is this legal?

My goal is a playful one... I live near a pretty popular and major part of town, and a lot of funny stuff goes on outside of my window. I thought it'd be cool to set up a stream of it, and down the line make time lapses and whatnot. Of course, questions abound.

0) I don't think this is illegal, but I thought it'd be worth checking.
1) What is a good camera to use for this? It would have to be able to record ok at night (there is street lighting), and well during the day.
2) Do I put it inside or outside my window? I imagine outside would be a better image, but then it'd have to be more weather resistant? (mainly a little rain, no snow)

I appreciate any help in this endeavor!
posted by wooh to Computers & Internet (10 answers total)
 
You'll need to give a location for people to comment on the legality of photography and publishing without intent to profit of a public space where a reasonable person would not assume any privacy.
posted by Brian Puccio at 11:04 AM on November 8, 2011


The Castro in SF
posted by wooh at 11:19 AM on November 8, 2011


Do you intend to record audio and video, or just video?
posted by nomisxid at 12:16 PM on November 8, 2011


I was thinking of just taking an image at some predetermined interval. I think video might get too space intensive.
posted by wooh at 12:23 PM on November 8, 2011


What is your budget? I've done something similar for work with a Axis P1347-e camera.
posted by kaszeta at 1:10 PM on November 8, 2011


Oh wow, that's pricy, but I bet it'd do an admirable job. I think it's a bit more intense than what I'm looking for :)
posted by wooh at 1:30 PM on November 8, 2011


There's other cameras in that line as well that are cheaper.

The Axis ones are nice since they've got their own webserver, and are trivial to script (you can just periodically fetch a URL to get the current screen version).
posted by kaszeta at 2:12 PM on November 8, 2011


This might be involved but it will be cheap (under 100bucks). If you happened to have an old computer lying around I would go the webcam route. Something like a logitech quickcam pro 9000 shoots up to 1600x1200, has decent enough quality and will run forever. Use booru cam http://lumai.se/bc.html or fswebcam on linux if you are tech savy like that. These programs will output JPGs from the camera on a fixed time interval of your choosing. Build a small black cardboard box around the camera and stick it to the window, this will reduce glare from the glass. Also tape over any lights on the camera.

The individual jpgs, or just the interesting bits can be stitched together using Virtual Dub http://www.virtualdub.org/index.html to make your movies. Figure on about 16 Gigabytes a day or so if you are taking shots at 1 second intervals depending on quality of course. You could should about 2 months worth at that rate on a 1tb external drive.
posted by Pink Fuzzy Bunny at 2:38 PM on November 8, 2011


My (non-lawyer) understanding is that taking and distributing pictures of public places (or stuff that's immediately visible from public places) is generally OK. Sound recordings are apparently a different matter. People have been doing things like this since the internet became cheap enough to move photos over; I haven't heard of it being a legal minefield.

If you have an always-on computer handy, I think a decent USB webcam is the way to go.
posted by hattifattener at 9:01 PM on November 8, 2011


Seconding hattifattener that pictures of people in a public place is OK. Audio, I believe, varies state to state and I'm not familiar with CA, I live in NY. Since you're in the US, I'll refer you to The Photographers' Rights and the ACLU's position on the rights of photographers.

In short, from a legal perspective, if you're taking photographs of a public place, you're OK. I know in many European countries, it isn't as clear cut and "street photography" is an issue in some places.

Moving on, I'd opt for a Canon camera with CHDK and an Eye-Fi card so you images will get uploaded in real time. Stick this on a mini-tripod and plug it into the wall and you can take a picture every two seconds from now until the end of time.

If you want to do video, you can stream a webcam (and simultaneously records it, I think) but have no experience with that.
posted by Brian Puccio at 3:04 AM on November 9, 2011


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