Skype & Logitech QuickCam Pro 9000

I’ve some thoughts on the Logitech QuickCam Pro 9000 and Skype.

I bought the camera in order to send video over Skype in “high quality,” i.e., 30fps (frames per second) at a resolution of 640 x 480.

For the life of me, I couldn’t get the camera to record (or send video) at more than 15fps. You can find out your framerate in Skype by clicking on Tools –> Options –> Advanced –> Display technical info during calls (tick the checkbox). About the fifth line from the bottom you’ll see something like “Video send” and the frameright just to the right of it. Mine would not go over 15fps, no matter what.

I found out later in the evening, by testing my Internet speed, that my upload speeds were below 384kbps, Skype’s minimum requirement for “high quality video.” You’re going to have to meet that minimum requirement to send at more than 15fps. I chatted with Qwest at about midnight, to whine about my slow upstream speeds (about 200 kbps – which seemed very low) and the tech said, “You’re right. Let me powercycle your circuit.” I waited, tested my speed again, and my upstream speed was 749kbps, and all of a sudden, my camera was sending in glorious 640 x 480 resolution at 30fps. Amazing!

But back to the Logitech camera. I also wanted to record at 30fps for videos I make with the Logitech software. Do not, I repeat, do not waste time reading the Logitech forum if you’re trying to get your camera to record at 30fps. I wasted about 3 hours there last night. The moderator continually directs people to this post, which is titled How to get 30 Frames Per Second with your Logitech Webcam but it doesn’t tell you anything of value. It says stuff like:

  • Manual adjustment of the Camera Settings is possible.
  • In QuickCam, Exposure = Shutter Speed. In order to get 30 FPS, you need to set the “Shutter Speed” to at least 1/30 sec. (Exposure). The current adjustable range is 1/1000 to 1/5 second. For earlier versions of QuickCam, the adjustable range is 1/10,000 to 1/10 second.
  • In QuickCam, Gain = Aperture.

It says much more – and it all sounds very technical – but no matter how hard you try, you will not be able to get your Logitech QuickCam Pro 9000 to record at more than 30fps. I know; I tried everything. It doesn’t work. I also called Logitech’s technical support this morning. The technician was quick to tell me that their software does not allow you to record at 30fps. Period. “You must use third-party software,” he informed me. I asked him to recommend some third-party software. He refused to do so.

It amazes me that in the forums the moderator doesn’t just say it:

The Logitech software will not allow you to record video at more than 15fps!

But he goes to great pains to tell people that it is possible and to read his thread carefully. He tells you to search the forums carefully for a variety of different keyphrases, and to sort the information by date, etc. If you read through the different forum posts (which I did for a long, long time) you will continually find the moderator directing you back to the post I mentioned previously. Also, he (and others) will give tips, like, “Turn Right-light off. Move the exposure slider to the left. Turn off flicker.” It reminded me of the Matrix:

You take the red pill — you stay in Wonderland and I show you how deep the rabbit-hole goes.

And let me tell you – it never ends.

Just realize now: your new camera will not record video at 30 frames per second with the Logitech software. I finally was able to record a beautiful high definition video with my camera at 30fps using Windows Media Encoder. It’s a complicated program, but very capable. If you want to know how I used it, ask in the comments and I’ll tell you.

So, I hope you learn from my wasted time. Your new Logitech QuickCam Pro 9000 can record at 30fps, but only if you use third-party software. And it will produce very sharp 640 x 480 resolution video at 30fps with Skype, but only if you meet Skype’s minimum requirements. And those requirements are: a dual core computer with a constant Internet speed of at least 384kbps (upload and download speeds).

As a side note, a small hack will get your older camera sending 640 x 480 video in Skype. It’s very easy, but I refuse to take any responsibility if you screw anything up. Add the following lines of code to your config.xml file (in Vista you’ll find it here:   C:\Users\yourname\AppData\Roaming\Skype\username):

<CaptureHeight>480</CaptureHeight>
<CaptureWidth>640</CaptureWidth>
<Fps>30</Fps>

Add those lines right after this line:

<Disable>0</Disable>

In the context of the document, it’ll look like:

<Video>
<AdvertPolicy>contacts</AdvertPolicy>
<AutoSend>0</AutoSend>
<Device>Logitech QuickCam Pro 9000</Device>
<Disable>0</Disable>
<CaptureHeight>480</CaptureHeight>
<CaptureWidth>640</CaptureWidth>
<Fps>30</Fps>

</Video>

I’m using Skype 4.1 and the “fps”  line doesn’t seem to affect anything.  It may work on older versions of Skype.  When my Internet speed was slow, I couldn’t get Skype to send at more than 15fps regardless of what I put in the config.xml file. If your Internet connection can handle it, you can set your video height and width to be 1280 x 720 and you can send video in high definition.  My speeds (1.5mbps download, 750kbps upload) couldn’t handle it.  I was able to send the video, but my frame rate dropped so low that the video was choppy and the audio out of sync.

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5 responses to “Skype & Logitech QuickCam Pro 9000

  1. This is annoying. I hate it when companies don’t have a way to do something, but then won’t recommend another way to do it. This is bad for customer relations.

    • Yes. And you should have seen the response I got from Skype when I sent a support request to them. I sent them my computer specs, etc. and explained the original problem, and they sent me back a generic email telling me to check my computer specs., etc. – it was as if they hadn’t even read my original email. I wrote back and said, “Did you even read my email? You just told me to do all the things I said I already did!” That’s not support … I don’t even know what to call it. An insult to my intelligence, maybe?

  2. OK, I’ll bite: what’s the trick to using Media Encoder to record 30 fps HD with the 9000?

  3. At least with my version of the camera and drivers (Logitech QuickCam Pro 9000) the Logitech software actually records at 30 fps in 640×480. The file header of the wmv says only 15 fps. But if I play the file in Windows Media Player it shows in the statistics section actual frame rates of slightly below 30 fps. Also the video looks smooth, so I assume that it is just the file header giving a wrong information. At 1280×720 the Logitech software will record with an actual frame rate of 25 fps (again the header of the file says only 15 fps). Anyway, it seems that Windows Media Encoder is doing slightly better than the Logitech software, allowing also for 30 fps in 1280×720 under good lighting conditions.

  4. Sorry I made a mistake in the posting above. My camera’s name is Logitech Webcam Pro 9000.

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