[clug] Elphel Open-Source Video Camera

Ben shadroth at gmail.com
Wed Jun 21 01:24:47 GMT 2006

After reading about the Linux Learners Group, I've been inspired to
take up a project I was thinking about a while ago: Instructional
Videos, for computer basics (that only use open-source software).

I've tutored a few people in computers, and I've found the biggest
problems to overcome is a poor grasp of basic concepts, eg. what a
hard drive, cpu or motherboard is. These things take a very short time
to teach, but from what I've seen, a bit of understanding in these
basic areas gives a anchor point to comprehend the more complex issues
from, but I digress - this thread is about the video hardware I'm
interested in.

I was about to go out and buy a regular video camera from some
department store, until I happened across the Elphel 333:

>From what I've read it's open-source on both levels (hardware and
software), so you can redesign it and produce your own, if you wise.
It apparently fills a market gap as well, without even taking FLOSS
issues into account. You can try the AJAX web interace for the camera
camera4.elphel.com or camera5.elphel.com

The interface is excellent, I recommend you check it out just to gawk
at the feature set and ease of use (I think it only works in
Firefox/Mozilla with the mplayer plugin... the tides are turning :-D )
To avoid users of other operating systems having difficulty, the
camera is shipped with a LiveDVD featuring a capable browser.

I've emailed Elphel, and they are willing to sell me a camera. (they
do have prices listed on the website, but I don't know if they're
available in general/en mass, as yet and the site doesn't really look
setup to sell them).

The camera is designed for fixed focus high resolution use, eg.
security camera use. However, I think with a bit of fiddling and
perhaps a different lens, (along with a camera person who is willing
to use manual focus), it should be ok. Without optical image
stabilisation, a tripod will be mandatory, but I was planning on using
one anyway.

I'm going to be getting a camera wired for 12V (only shown on the
wiki: http://wiki.elphel.com/index.php?title=333_prices ), which
defies the PoE standard, but will be more practical for portable use.
(the standard cameras are 48V, perfect for PoE - 802.3af compliant).

The camera will give you Ogg Theora or JPEG/MPJPEG at very high
resolution and frame rate. What's more the video is progressive, not
interlaced, so the camera's recording capability is around 720p30 -
only available on video cameras worth $2K+

Are there any alternatives more suitable for video shooting, that
anyone is aware of? or any other good info on the Elphel camera (other
than what's on their website and wiki)?


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