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DIY: Making a Very Wide Angle Webcam on the Cheap

February 17, 2010

imageAfter I made my Webcam Cart and blogged about it a package I’d forgotten about arrived. It was a cheap "Zeikos ZE-WA37S 37mm 0.45X Wide Angle Lens." Only $10. I’ve looked all over for wide-angle webcams and they just don’t exist. Over the counter webcams have a very narrow field of view.

I started with my favorite webcam, an amazing value, the Lifecam Cinema HD. I’ve got 4 of these. Now, the wide angle lens has a large opening, about an inch and a half, while the Lifecam is maybe an inch in diameter. I needed something to build up the diameter in such a way that it’d hold the wide angle lens in position while avoiding ruining the camera itself.

How? Electrical tape. Lots of it. I wrapped it around and around until it could offer enough outward tension to keep the lens on tightly.

Zeikos ZE-WA37S 37mm 0.45X Wide Angle Lens Lifecam with Wide Angle Zeikos Lens

Here’s a still shot taken with the Lifecam Cinema HD with the lens it came with.

Lifecam HD Sample Photo

Here’s a still shot taken with the same Lifecam Cinema HD with the cheap Zeikos Wide-Angle lens attached. Note the blurriness in the periphery and the slight fish-eye warping in the shelves.

Lifecam HD with Zeikos Wide-Angle Lens attached

The Lifecam is ideal for this kind of hack because it has a built in AutoFocus that REALLY works hard to keep things focused. I’ll be using this for meetings and "getting a sense of the room" since I can’t afford a $3000 "Roundtable" camera. I haven’t measured it, but I fell I’m getting at least 100 degrees or more of field of view (my gut) so I think it’s a good tradeoff of visual acuity for seeing a LOT more of the room for only $10.

Thoughts?


© 2009 Scott Hanselman. All rights reserved.


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