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An external iSight on top of a MacBook Pro, next to a built-in iSight.

Manufacturer Apple Inc.
Camera type Motion picture camera
Image sensor type Digital CCD
Image sensor size 1/4-inch; 640x480 resolution
Recording medium Attached to computer via FireWire
Lens system Glass, internal auto-focus lens system
Focus type Automatic (50 mm - ∞)
Shutter speed(s) Continuous up to 30 fps
Aperture value(s) 2.8

iSight is a webcam, both external and internal, developed and marketed by Apple Inc. The external iSight was sold retail for US$149, connected to a computer via a FireWire cable and came with a set of mounts to place it atop any current Apple display, laptop computer, all-in-one desktop computer, or flat surface. The term is now used to refer to the camera built into Apple's iMac, MacBook, MacBook Air and MacBook Pro computers and to the LED Cinema Display.

Apple introduced iSight at the 2003 Worldwide Developers Conference, intended to be used with iChat AV, Apple's video-conferencing client. iMovie (version 4 and later) could also be used to capture video from the device. In April 2005, Apple released a firmware update for the iSight to improve audio performance. As of December 16, 2006, the external iSight was no longer for sale in the Apple online store or in retail locations.



Apple iSight webcam

The external iSight's ¼-inch color CCD sensor has 640×480-pixel VGA resolution with a custom-designed three-part F/2.8 lens with two aspherical elements. It features autoexposure, autofocusing from 50 mm to infinity, and video capture at 30 frames per second in 24-bit color with a variety of shutter speeds. However, the iSight has an image delay of approximately 120 ms. The iSight incorporates internal microphones with dual-element noise suppression. The actual camera only takes up one-quarter of the unit; the remaining space is primarily occupied by its two microphones and mounting socket.

The iSight camera weighs 2.3 ounces (63.8 grams). It uses a single FireWire 400 (IEEE 1394a) cable (included) for audio, video, and power. The camera runs hot even when inactive. Four camera mounts, a plastic tube carrying case, and a FireWire camera mount adapter are also included. The user can select the mounting bracket most appropriate for their monitor or other mounting surface. It is fully compatible with its native Mac OS X as well as partially compatible with the Microsoft Windows and Linux operating systems.

The iSight has a small green LED that illuminates when the camera is in use. It also has an iris that closes by twisting the front of the camera.

Built-in iSight

A built-in iSight on a White MacBook.

Although external and internal iSights have significant differences, Apple has used the "iSight" name to brand its built-in video camera found in their MacBook, MacBook Air and MacBook Pro notebook computers, iMac desktop computers produced since late 2005 and the LED Cinema Display. While the external iSight is similar to the built-in iSight, the built-in iSight uses an internal USB 2.0 interface and not the FireWire 400 (IEEE 1394a) interface used by the external iSight camera.[1] Further, the built-in iSight has a plastic lens, is fixed-focus, and uses a CMOS Active pixel sensor, rather than the CCD used in the external iSight. With the LED-Backlit MacBook Pros, Apple has moved to using a sensor capable of 1280x1024 pixels, but when accessed using provided APIs, the image is re-sampled to 640x480 pixels. However, Quartz Composer allows access to the 1280x1024 pixel video stream. The built-in iSight can also be used in the Photo Booth application.

iSight on Windows


External iSight

Windows XP, Windows 7, and Windows Vista will autodetect an external iSight camera as “1394 Desktop Video Camera”, but no specific iSight driver exists for Windows. Nevertheless, most Instant messaging clients are capable of using video from the camera and adjusting brightness and other settings (the image will appear to be overexposed until the settings are altered). Windows is not capable of receiving audio from iSight’s internal microphones, as no Windows driver exists.

Built-in iSight

Version 1.1 of Apple's Boot Camp added Microsoft Windows XP drivers for the built-in iSight. Version 1.2 implemented support for the built-in iSight in Windows Vista as well.


External links


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