Forums > Jitter

Is the Unibrain Fire-i Digital Camera just as toy ??

February 2, 2010 | 12:03 pm

The Fire-i Digital Camera seems often to be referred to as a camera of choice for Jitter work in this forum. I understand the benefits of the firewire 400, uncompressed video and a CCD, but I’m having difficulty understanding why it’s still desirable when the picture is said to be so bad – soft focus, noisy and washed out.

Why would I choose to buy one over a used apple isight ?

Is there anything else < $400 that will produce a better picture, comparable or better than the firewire feed from a camcorder?

Any advice would be greatly appreciated. THANKS!

February 2, 2010 | 12:25 pm

Well it depends upon what you wanna do: tracking or image treatement.
If you just want to do some tracking you don’t need a such camera, that’s dor sure.
Ps3 Eye camera is amazing for tracking 120 fps at 320 240 (see video tutorials to Remove the IR Blocking Filter : ).

That’s the way I use this camera, I can not tell you about the image quality of the unibrain.


February 2, 2010 | 2:38 pm

Thanks for the reply Ad

I was previously using an analogue PAL Sony block camera through a Canopus 55. The feed was split in Max, one channel going full quality for image treatment while the other is downscaling for the tracker – I was creating an ‘augmented reality’ piece. The Ps3 Eye looks very interesting – maybe I’ll use it as a separate feed for the tracker – thanks!

I would still need another camera with a good picture from image treatment – any suggestions??

February 2, 2010 | 2:55 pm

The more I read about it, the more amazing the Ps3 Eye looks. Have you had it running with Max on a Mac?

February 2, 2010 | 3:21 pm

@letraset Catalogue.

Yes I’m on Max/Mac/cv.jit.library.

There’s a little bug, which could come from my computer;
every time I change the source video, max writes:

CoreAudio: WARNING: An audio device has been added or removed to the system. You may need to restart MaxMSP. "

Wich, causes some sound interruption sometimes !
But it mays be caused by macam drivers, I don’t know…


February 2, 2010 | 8:44 pm

hmm, I’ve used the BW version of that camera tons of times (daisychained to other cameras, and on thier own) and had good luck, with a decent picture and low latency. The latency thing combined with its price is why its always recommended. Similar options (like the guppy from Allied / AVT) are considerably pricier. Uncompressed (not DV) over firewire is always best.

I dont have any experience with the sony cam so i can’t compare on that one.

Maybe you have a bad camera…or f’ed lens or something.

if you need a really pretty picture, then I’d suggest either breaking the bank for an AVT or getting yourself a DFG1394 ( + a decent analog camera with a good lens.

February 2, 2010 | 11:08 pm

Thanks mbiederman,

I don’t have a Fire-i, I was just referring to what I’d read and seen in reviews. The Canopus’ DV output was a problem – the DFG1394 you suggest looks perfect though – thank you.

Something that really interests me about the Fire-i is that it’s progressive – is it ‘true progressive’?.

February 4, 2010 | 4:27 pm

what do you mean ‘tru progressive’? if you mean does it send all the fields from the camera out at once, and is not interlaced,then as far as I can recall, yes. the camera I have isn’t in front of me at the moment – Maybe I can dig it out and double check. Just to be sure we are talking about the same thing, I’ve used the OEM version (color and BW) but I only have a BW version to check progressive scanning. Its the one listed here: and then I just bought the case myself. The tripod + mount is pretty hokey, I ended up finding where the center of the lens was in relation to the case and epoxyed a 1/4-20 nut there and it worked well. For the price, the camera can’t be beat if all you need is reliable tracking. Plus once the IR cut filter is removed you can ignore the light from the projector by adding an IR pass filter (edmund scientific) and the same with some lights. I’ve even used quartz worklights + 3x ruby red and 3x or 4x deep blue rosco gels and its worked ok as an IR source. it makes the room glow in a weird purple light, but maybe its OK for your application.

good luck

February 16, 2010 | 7:15 am

@Ad. re: sony eye.
How have you been able to get 120fps? I can get 60fps at 640×480, but no matter what I change the frame rate to for 320×240 I always max out at 40fps! What version of the macam drivers are you using (i.e. what’s the creation date).


February 16, 2010 | 11:10 pm

@David Beaudry. I’ve had no end of problems with the Macam quicktime component – I don’t mean to sound ungrateful to Macam. My experience is that the current release does not support PS3eye 320×240 at 120 – however ‘cvs-build-2009-09-25′ does! at least it appears to. The problem is that this cvs build is very unstable, randomly loosing 640×480 capability – after which one has to put a fresh copy of the component in the library and reboot. I must have replaced that quicktime component two dozen times already.

February 17, 2010 | 6:42 am

I seem to always be doing the same dance you describe with the different cvs builds. Eventually mine just stopped working until I deleted the "" file in the prefs…that was hours of fun figuring that out.

I’m currently using 9-25 build as well (which I think is also the release version now), but maxes out at 40fps at 320×240. I have found it to e pretty stable, however…certainly not experiencing the issue you reported.


February 17, 2010 | 9:40 am

Thanks for the ‘’ tip. I believe the current version is 0.9.2 which appears stable but doesn’t have the shutter & black/white level controls of cvs 9-25.

Loosing 640×480 is my main problem – I can still select 640×480 in the UI but it won’t display.

How are you measuring fps?

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