How good is a webcam for spying at 10 meters?

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Erm... OK... this is a weird question.     : )
My friend has had their car damaged in the exact same place 15 times in
the last few months.
The car is parked outside of their house.

I wanted to know how good a webcam is for spying at 10 meters?

I've never tried this before... and thought I'd ask before buying a
webcam for my friend!

The idea is that they would put the camera discretely in the front room

Or should we get serious and get more sophisticated hardware?
If so... what?
Any recommendations would be useful.



Re: How good is a webcam for spying at 10 meters?

The highest resolution you can afford.  Many are 640x480.  I've seen people
use cheap digital cameras as webcams that would get you more detail to zoom
in on the freaks(s).

- Prometheus Xex

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Re: How good is a webcam for spying at 10 meters?

I wouldn't answer such question. There was no need to use word "spy" if
the OP truly wanted his friend to "monitor" the condition of a car, he
would consider this a security issue, and he wouldn't use the word
"spy" in the subject line.

Just look at the first line "Erm... OK... this is a weird question. :
)" My guess is that he was asking about how to "spy" on his  neighbor
daughters, or worst children for sexual reason, and after rereading it
he edited it. Are you going to tell me that his friend is a nincompoop,
and needs to be told "What's good for the goose is good for the
gander."? Or do you really believe 90% of the people do what they do
b/c media tell them so?

His writing style verify mysuspicion, as I said, I am assuming orginal
poster attention is to spy on his neighbor's girls, children, use you

Spying & Security are two different things. English is not my native
langauge, but I don't have to be a rocket scientist to smell a pervert.

Re: How good is a webcam for spying at 10 meters? wrote:


Wow man, some police force should hire you as a pervert sniffer.

Re: How good is a webcam for spying at 10 meters?

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friggin heck dude...!
if i wanted to buy a 'spy' camera, all i have to do is do a few simple
searches on the net and spend a few hundred dollars and i'd have all
the equipment and sophistication to spy on anyone i wanted.
i was only asking about a webcam because it seemed liked a cheap

i think u r a pervert in denial.
get some help.

Re: How good is a webcam for spying at 10 meters? wrote:

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Once your house has been broken into, or your car vandalized (twice),
you won't jump to this conclusion.


Re: How good is a webcam for spying at 10 meters?

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I've tried focussing a 640x480 to cover outside my house,
and the head of a bystander is tiny in the picture. The
lense in that case was a fixed focus and fairly wide

Some possible approaches:

1) 640x480 fixed focus. You get to see the height, and
   general features of the perps.

2) 640x480 adjustable zoom. The scene is framed better
   this way, but there is still a compromise in terms of
   field of view and ability to identify the individual.

3) Camera with large number of pixels:

This device has a Firewire interface, and dumps 5 frames
per second at 2208 x 3000, in monochrome. 5 frames per
second is sufficient to collect a number of samples
when the vandals are at work. Note the price:

4) Two cameras. First camera takes in the whole scene,
   as in (1). Second camera has adjustable pan, tilt,
   and zoom. A computer controls the second camera,
   and uses the first camera to detect scene changes.
   The second camera tracks the detected disturbance in
   the picture. I expect the software for this would
   cost a small fortune.

5) Place four cameras inside the car (compass points).
   The subjects are now closer to the camera, so a
   640x480 resolution is not as much of a problem.
   (To disguise the cameras, they might have to be the
   pinhole type, as you don't want expensive lenses poking
   every which way.) There are wireless transmitters that
   can remote the signals, for recording or analysis.

Now, the other element to a solution like this, is
illumination. For the 5 frame per second camera, the
target wouldn't be too impressed, if an electronic
flash went off 5 times a second. The solution is a steady
source of infrared illumination. Silicon based cameras
can see into the infrared, and as long as the illumination
source is strong, and slightly outside human response
wavelengths, you can pour a lot of light on the subject.

This one is an example of a simple filtered light source.

There are other, perhaps weaker illuminators, that use arrays of
LEDs. They are invisible, as the wavelength selected would
be slightly longer than the above example. The tradeoff is,
as the light becomes more invisible to humans, it is
also becoming more invisible to the camera. So, there is
a limit to how long the wavelength can get and still be
effective. Do not underestimate the need for illumination.
The two CCD cameras I own, need direct halogen illumination
to tame the video noise in the CCD chip. Frame averaging
works wonders for these cameras - averaging just two adjacent
frames is enough to eliminate most of the noise. In that
experiment, I was dealing with static images. With movement,
you could always do averaging as a post-processing step, like
when the subject stops moving for a few frames, snip out those
frames and average them.

When the target is illuminated with an infrared source like
the one above, there likely won't be a lot of color information.
That is why a monochrome camera would be as good as anything. You
can still use a color camera if you want, assuming there
is plenty of light on the illuminator. I think the color
camera still responds to infrared, just like the monochrome
camera. (The color camera has the benefit of giving a color
image during the day, but with the IR illuminator at night,
I wouldn't expect to see much color information in the image.
Color cameras generally require more lux than a monochrome

Hope that gives you a few ideas. To do this right, will
cost a few bucks. You can simulate the camera coverage, by
using a digital camera, and downsampling the collected
pictures to 640x480. That will give you some idea, for
a given field of view, distance from subject, and resolution,
exactly what an object the size of a human would look like.
One of the fun tasks, is trying to figure out what kind
of lense to use, what kind of lense mount, to get the
same effect from your surveillance camera.

I've given up on my cameras and put them back in the box.
So far, the only thing they were good for, was interior
photography under ideal lighting conditions. And even then
they needed frame averaging to get a usable picture.

If there was some way to hook up an ordinary digital camera,
such that it would take a picture, and immediately the picture
would be downloaded, I bet that would give better results
than the kind of cameras I've got. (Just trying to do it
cheaper than the Pixelink camera.)


Re: How good is a webcam for spying at 10 meters?

(Paul) wrote:

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It turns out that one color camera, has a filter on the CCD
to remove infrared. The FAQ claims it prevents the color
pictures from looking washed out.

IR illumination source

Question: Do the IQeye cameras work with IR light sources?

Answers: Our cameras are not designed to work with IR light sources.
Color cameras are particularly affected by IR light - the image gets
a sort of "washed out" look. To avoid this problem, we affix an IR
filter directly to the surface of our CMOS imaging chip, thereby
blocking IR from the imager.

Tip: If you need to use an IR light source, you should consider
a monochrome camera

Just for the record,

Re: How good is a webcam for spying at 10 meters?


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Get a car alarm.

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Unless this is a really rough neighborhood, I'd expect it's
more likely happening at night.  Shine a floodlight on the
car.  That alone might be enough.  If not, you may need some
extreme illumination like infrared to pick up anything
without disturbing neighbors (you don't mention specifics of
the surroundings).

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A webcam is meant for short low quality video with low
bandwidth.  You're wanting the opposite, a real surveillance
camera, focused on the car, high quality and higher
bandwidth.  That is, unless you already have a list of
suspects narrowed down and can just make out who it was by
what color shirt or hairstyle they were wearing on a
particular day... but that's not enough for court, it'd have
to be pretty clear for evidentiary value.

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How warm is it this time of year where you are?  A rocking
chair, a radio, and a shotgun might do the trick.
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Re: How good is a webcam for spying at 10 meters?

I bought a small B/W security (not SPY) Camera that fitted under my outside
Passive infra red driveway light.
It connects directly to either a TV or in my case to my video.
The light comes on when it detects motion and illuminates the driveway and
gives excellent vision for the camera.
It only cost me 30 and since my tyres were costing me more to replace a
valuable asset.
Since I installed it I haven't had any more occurrences with the little
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Re: How good is a webcam for spying at 10 meters?

Mike wrote:

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Not to give anyone ideas, but I don't see how this could stop someone
throwing rocks at your car (or your windows) if they were so inclined.

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