In December 2005, I
converted a Logitech Fusion webcam for astronomy use. Prior to
that, I had been using a Philips Toucam for astro imaging. A comparison
made between those two webcams and test results can be seen HERE.
Since then, I have been
using the Fusion for planetary, lunar and solar imaging. I have
also been using the Fusion for autoguiding since it can take up
to 10 second exposures via software and no hardware hacks or extra
cables are needed.
In June 2007, Logitech
released the Quickcam Pro 9000. I bought one of the first
units to test its usefulness for astro imaging. The retail cost
of the Pro 9000 is $99.
The Fusion's imaging
sensor is 1.3 Megapixels; the Pro 9000's sensor is larger
at 2 Megapixels. The Pro 9000 has a maximum video resolution
of 1600 X 1200 pixels resolution at an uncompressed capture speed
of 5 fps.
*1280x960 video resolution
with non-vendor software
Video resolutions and
available frame rates for both the Fusion and Pro 9000:
As can be seen in the
above table, the Pro 9000 has fewer video resolutions available.
The primary advantage of the Pro 9000 over the Fusion is the availability
of the higher 1600 X 1200 pixel video resolution. Using third
party video control and capture software it may be possible for
the Pro 9000 to capture in other resolutions, such as 1280 X960,
but I have not located software yet that would enable such.
Pro 9000 Indoor
Using the shareware
Video Capture, I captured an indoor image (BMP) using both
the Fusion at 1280 X 960 resolution and the Pro 9000 at 1600 X
1200 resolution. For the image below, I reduced the 1600 X 1200
Pro 9000 image to 1280 X 960 resolution for a comparison.
The following image is a "mouseover
images". You will need to have scripting allowing in
your web browser for this to work. Move your mouse cursor over
the Pro 9000 image and you will see the Fusion image of the same
scene. Move the mouse cursor off the image to go back to the Pro
on and off image:
The image comparison above was
made using the auto settings of both web cams followed by manual
adjustments made for the best resulting image under limited indoor
ambient lighting. The better quality of the Pro 9000 was obvious
in video mode. The Pro 9000 had better low light sensitivity than
the Fusion and gave better color rendition with less noise. Some
of the improved Pro 9000 image performance may be due to the better
lens of the Pro 9000. Logitech is advertising a benefit of the
Pro 9000 webcam to be its Carl Zeiss® optics. For comparisons
between images taken with the Pro 9000 and Fusion after the lens
has been removed see the web pages beginning HERE.
The software driver
provided by Logitech for the Pro 9000 gives the following controls
for "Device Settings" and "Advanced":
control in the above ""Device Settings" will be
disabled when the webcam is modified for astro imaging. I noticed
that the "GAIN" setting slider is usually positioned
more to the right under the "Advanced" Tab than for
the Fusion to get a good image. If the Fusion's "GAIN"
slider is set to the same area (more to the right), noise is much
more noticeable. The Pro 9000's video is less noisy under similar
Pro 9000 Stream
I also made a comparison by testing
both the Fusion and Pro 9000 in the 960 X 720 video resolution
mode at 10 fps. The results were similar to those discussed above
at the higher resolutions.
Capturing to Hard Drive:
For a detailed discussion of high
resolution capture speed tests and sustained write speeds for
hard drives needed for the Fusion web cam CLICK
Capturing high resolution video
at 1600 X 1200 pixels with the Pro 9000 requires a fast
computer system, USB 2.0 and a hard drive with a fast sustained
write speed capability. Using Open
Video Capture, I captured one-minute videos at 1600 X 1200
and 5 fps both uncompressed and using the Huffyuv v2.1.1 codec.
My newer notebook (Toshiba Satellite A 105-S4134) with an Intel
Core Duo Processor (T2400) had no problem capturing the videos
in both cases with no dropped frames. My older notebook (Toshiba
Satellite 2435-s255 ) with a Pentium 4 Processor (2.80 GHz) had
some dropped frames and struggled to capture at 4 fps. The Logitech
web site recommends a "Pentium P4 (or compatible) processor,
1.4 GHz (2.4 GHz recommended)".
Long Exposure Mode:
I was hoping that long exposure
mode via software would be available for the Pro 9000.
For a discussion of how this long exposure mode is enabled with
the Logitech Fusion CLICK HERE.
I tested a few capture software programs with results as follows:
AstroSnap Pro 2.2 beta 8: AstroSnap's largest video resolution
is 1280 X 960 and cannot display 1600 x 1200. Using the "WDM
Advanced Control" I was able to adjust the exposure slider
but it did not allow longer exposures than that of the Logitech
driver. Longest exposure is 1/5 second.
WcCtrl Control Vr. 1.5.46: Shutter (exposure) slider does not adjust
the Pro 9000. All other sliders work well.
NeroVision Express 3: Operation is similar to that of WcCtrl;
all sliders work except the exposure slider....it does not even
appear for use with the webcam.
Results so far are that long exposure
mode may not be possible with the Pro 9000.
Disassembly and conversion
for Astro Imaging:
Because of the high video capture
resolution of 1600 x 1200 and USB 2.0 along with the ability to
capture uncompressed and lossless frames at 5 fps, I am converting
the Pro 9000 for planetary, lunar and solar imaging. Detailed directions are posted beginning
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