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ATPM 9.10
October 2003





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Review: iSight

by Robert Paul Leitao and Clayton Spayer,


Developer: Apple

Price: $150

Requirements: 600 MHz G3, Mac OS X 10.2.5, iChat AV

Recommended: fast Internet connection

Trial: None.

The Challenge

It suddenly became a dilemma. My Mac-using protégé, Clayton Spayer, and I finally had a chance to meet up after a year of online conversations. Clayton lives in the Central Illinois Valley, and I live in Southern California. Due to a wonderful happenstance, we needed a way to enhance the communication between our homes and we needed to do so quite quickly. The Apple iSight has proven to be an exciting solution to our sudden dilemma.


Clayton and I became acquainted in The Mac Observer forums. He’s a high school student and I’m a former technology director at an LA-area prep school. We’d spend hours discussing Macs via Apple’s iChat over AIM. This worked well because all we really needed were text and voice capabilities to talk about Macs. But this summer an extraordinary thing happened that challenges reason and still stuns the senses.

Call it fate, destiny, or even divine providence; Clayton and I met one another in person in an against-the-odds encounter that has changed both of our lives and the lives of our families. Clayton and his mother, Sue, were heading west this summer to spend time with family members in California. I had plans to take my kids to visit family in Connecticut. Unaware of each other’s travel itineraries, we planned to meet up at the Apple Store at The Grove during the week I knew he’d be in the LA area. The rendezvous at the Apple Store didn’t happen.

Instead I met him, he met me, I met her, and she met me as we all boarded the same Amtrak train from LA to Chicago. Unknown at first to all members of the traveling parties, Clayton and Sue and me and my kids were scheduled on the same train—a happenstance that defies the odds. Clayton and Sue were on their way home to Illinois while my kids and I were traveling east from Los Angeles through Chicago to New York.

I was bewildered when Clayton told me his travel itinerary and I checked his train reservations against my own. Why in Heaven and on Earth had events conspired to bring about this encounter? I soon discovered the answer. It was that moment when Sue and I first gazed at one another upon meeting at the train station in Los Angeles. Yes, we were riding on a train, but we both felt like we had just been run over by one too. It’s that maybe once-in-a-lifetime encounter when one astonishingly meets a soul mate.

After two days together on Amtrak’s Southwest Chief as it rambled across the desert, mountains, and plains, even the 10,000 cell phone and land-line minutes of conversation between us didn’t seem like enough contact to comfortably close the 2,000-mile gap between Burbank and the Illinois Central Valley. We needed more and we wanted more. It’s one thing to talk; it’s another thing to be able to look at one another while we communicate.

The Solution

Enter the Apple iSight. I don’t know who thought of it first. It might have been Clayton. After all, he wanted one and it might be a chance to get his mom off his cell phone. On weekends after Sue’s cell phone battery is exhausted from our seemingly constant conversations, she grabs his cell phone until her phone’s battery has a chance to recharge. No matter who had the idea first, we both trekked to our nearest Apple Store on the same Friday night. It took me all of 20 minutes to arrive at the Glendale Apple Store. I was all set up and waiting when they returned from their four-hour round trip to the Oak Brook Apple Store.

The iSight

The iSight took no more than ten minutes to set up. That includes time opening the box and staring curiously at the three stands included in the package. I use a 15" Titanium PowerBook so the choice of stands was an easy one. One of the stands is designed to fit on the TiBook’s sleek display enclosure. The package also includes a plastic tube to store the iSight when it’s not in use, and it comes with all the FireWire cables and adapters needed for easy setup and operation. There’s no power adapter needed because the iSight is powered by the Mac’s FireWire port. The diminutive video camera is only about 3 1/2 inches long and less than 1 1/2 inches wide, so it sits unobtrusively on any of the included mounts.

My First Impressions

OK, so it’s not the same thing as being there. No way. No how. But at least with the iSight we can look at one another when we talk. I can dispose of one piece of geek paraphernalia during our conversations—my alien-style cell phone headset. Thanks to the iSight’s video capabilities I’m no longer at a loss to keep myself visually occupied during conversations. The downside is that the other party can tell when they’ve lost your attention if even for a moment. I can no longer surf over to a Mac Web site or read the editor’s beta copy of ATPM while engaged in conversation without being nabbed. Not that I’d do that any way. Really, no I wouldn’t! Not ever!


The $149 price tag for the latest Mac gadget pays for itself quickly. No more watching the clock and worrying about long distance charges per minute or awkwardly arranging call times to be sure conversations start during the “unlimited” hours on the respective cell plans. Conversations are carried over the Internet via iChat AV. Considering the two-hour time difference between Burbank and the Illinois Central Valley, this has allowed us to converse before 11 PM Central Time without concern for cost.

iChat AV

The iSight works in conjunction with Apple’s iChat AV software currently in beta release. The first commercial version of the product will be included in the OS X Panther upgrade.

Curiously, iChat AV puts a small window of one’s self inside the displayed window of your iSight partner. Though the self-view window can be sized and moved around inside the larger window, it still takes away from what can be seen of the other party. To my knowledge this small window can’t be turned off. In my opinion users should be given the option to turn it off.

iChat AV can be used for one-way video. Hooking up a digital video cam or iSight to your Mac allows one to send digital video to other iChat AV users. But that’s not nearly as much fun as a two-way video conversation.

Video Quality

Depending on processor and Internet connection speeds, video quality may demand that the iSight window remain small. There is an option to display the image full-screen, but one pays a price because there is a significant loss of quality when that option is selected. The user can resize the window from the default 352 x 288 pixels to just about any dimension on the screen. But in general, the smaller the window size the better the video image quality.


Again, performance will vary based on processor and Internet connection speeds. Dialup users are not able to use this product. However, with a powerful processor and fast Internet connection, iSight will deliver up to 30 frames per second (fps) of 24-bit color digital video. The lens auto-focuses to provide the sharpest picture possible.

I admit it. I’m enamored with the iSight for several different reasons. But how might a high-school-age Mac user describe the product?

Clayton’s Impressions

“Hello, Mister Spayer!” someone says to me from behind as I am walking around Los Angeles Union Station. It’s Robert Leitao. From that point on, life has changed drastically for my mom and me. As you can tell from Robert’s elaborations on our meeting, things are happening quickly and have brought about many changes in our lives for the better.

We needed another form of communication along with the phone. After all, Robert lives 2,000 miles away. I suggested we purchase iSights for each of our homes. The iSight is known as the “eyes and ears of iChat AV.” We both researched the product and determined that it made an ideal communications solution. In another strange twist, Robert had upgraded to DSL from dialup the week before we had the first iSight conversation. Because the iSight requires a high-speed Internet connection, this made video communication between our homes possible.

As Robert mentioned, we both made our way to an Apple Store on the same Friday night and we both came home happy. Almost immediately we were up and chatting. It took Robert only around ten minutes to set his iSight up, compared to my 20-minute setup time. I can explain, honestly!

First I had to stare with awe at the box and then delicately open it. After I “ooh-ed and ah-ed” for a while, I finally decided it was time to set it up. The actual installation was surprisingly simple—pick out the stand for your particular Mac (in my case an eMac), affix the stand with the provided adhesive, thread the FireWire cable through the stand, and plug it into the Mac’s FireWire port. iChat AV automatically opens as soon as it senses the camera. I was video chatting with Robert within 30 seconds of plugging in the camera.

The quality of the iSight is amazing. It uses a 1/4-inch color CCD image sensor and has 640 x 480 VGA resolution. Focusing isn’t a problem, because the iSight has a built-in auto-focus mechanism. It can even capture full motion video at up to 30 fps. Of course, such high fps requires a massive amount of bandwidth.

The iSight uses the FireWire cable to carry power, audio, and video—one cord for everything you need to video chat. The integrated, dual-element microphone touts noise suppression abilities, which proves useful with an eMac.

From the moment you open the box and see the iSight, the three enclosed stands, the plastic storage case, the FireWire cable, and the FireWire cable adapter, you know that you are getting nothing but the best. $150 for a digital camera for the Internet may seem high, but the quality of the product and its unique design makes it worth the price. A 2,000 mile gap between families is difficult, but the iSight has proven to be a perfect solution to our long-distance communication dilemma.

A Couple of Points

In the tens of hours we’ve used the iSight and the iChat AV beta, we’ve had only a couple of minor issues usually resolved by restarting iChat. These include a couple cases of a loss of sound and occasionally jittery or slow-moving video. Internet connection speed will impact video quality and these issues may have had more to do with the Internet connections than the iSight or iChat AV.

Although the iSight can capture images at 640 x 480, at 15 fps over iChat AV the camera delivers images to the viewer at 176 x 144 and scales up to 352 x 288 at 30 fps on a very fast connection on a high-performance Mac. The iSight does not capture video for iMovie, although there is third-party software available. The iSight can be used as an external microphone for iChat AV or iMovie for audio-only conversations.

The camera does tend to get hot if it’s left plugged in to the FireWire port for hours at a time. I’ve chosen to routinely remove the iSight during times I anticipate it will not be in use.

In Conclusion

Is the iSight the same as being there? Heck no! But for people who would like to communicate in sight and sound across great distances it’s an extraordinary product. In this case, after a train trip we’ll never forget, the iSight allows Sue and me to share moments we hope to always remember. In Clayton’s case, he gets his cell phone back and all parties save big dollars on telephone and cell phone charges.

Reader Comments (87)

Henry Snyder · August 11, 2004 - 18:38 EST #1
What kind of luck does anyone have using iSight and a Mac G5 (e.g., mine) to videocommunicate with someone with a PC and a Logitech Orbit? I'm having a rough time. My audio and video get thru to my son in France in great shape, but his transmission to me is fine for audio, but while the video is relatively sharp, my Connection Doctor function on iChat says he's only got a frame rate of l fps, which of course makes his video extremely jerky.

Any clues???
Lee Bennett (ATPM Staff) · August 11, 2004 - 20:09 EST #2
Henry - it's highly unlikely that the specific cameras are the root of your problems. You didn't mention, but am I correct to assume your friend is using the latest AIM client that works with iChat videoconferencing? Have you tried conferencing with another Mac user over iChat? If doing that works fine, then the issue is probably with the AIM software on the Windows computer. Your connection speed has much to do with it, as well. Are you using a high speed broadband line or a modem?
Henry Snyder · August 13, 2004 - 20:27 EST #3
Re your questions about my problem: (1) We both use AIM. My version on my Mac G5 is 4.7. My son in France is also using the latest version on his PC. (2) No, I haven't yet tried to conference with another Mac user over iChat/AIM, but will do so. My son in France was successfully able to get a video chat with another PC user here in the Twin Cities where I live. (3) We've both checked our actual upload and download speeds on DSL Reports (my nominal DSL connection is 256x256; his is 512. The actual speeds are well under the nominal speeds, but still quite high enough for video transmission.
iGreg · November 28, 2004 - 22:26 EST #4
iSight is notorious for interfering with vartious other firewire devices such as firewire external hard drives or iPods. I had terrible problems until he removed iSight. I think iSight uses too much power.
Robert Leitao (ATPM Staff) · November 30, 2004 - 23:03 EST #5
Greg, I haven't experienced any of the issues you describe and that's with many, many hours of use.
iKevin- · December 16, 2004 - 09:57 EST #6
Does isight work with Yahoo Messenger? I tried it on my Powerbook, but it keep jerking and not smooth as Ichat. please help!
Lee Bennett (ATPM Staff) · December 16, 2004 - 13:41 EST #7
Kevin - Yahoo Messenger's frame rate is far lower than that of iChat. If you're getting a picture and it refreshes at about once a second (often works a little faster, though), then you've already got it working as best as it's going to.

If you're really doing that much videoconferencing, you should definitely consider signing up for an iChat account. Besides, the Mac Yahoo Messenger client only does video...not sound. Stupid, Yahoo. Stupid.

If you're talking to a Windows user, if they have the latest version of AOL Instant Messenger, you can video chat with them as well.
Wallace · May 6, 2005 - 12:40 EST #8
Hi. I want to buy a isight and use it to import video into imovie. Has anyone been able to do this? If so, what version of imovie is most compatible? Thanks!
ATPM Staff · May 6, 2005 - 19:56 EST #9
Wallace - the ability to import directly from an iSight was added to the most recent version of iMovie -- version 5 (aka iMovie HD). If you have iLife '05, then you should be all set.
S.Kung · July 20, 2005 - 15:39 EST #10
i'm going to college in the fall and i'd like to stay in touch with my family in another state and i was wondering if there were any problems with me, a mac user buying an isight and my family using logitech quickcam pro 4000 for windows. will they have to download ichat? will the conferencing be clear? i'll have high speed internet and they have dsl. pleeeeeeeease help.
ATPM Staff · July 20, 2005 - 17:35 EST #11
S. Kung - the challenge you'll have will be finding a client that both Mac and PC platforms can use. There is no iChat for Windows, however the recent versions of AOL Instant Messenger for Windows support videoconferencing that is compatible with iChat. I have successfully done this and it had acceptable results. So have your family using the Windows machine install the most recent AOL Instant Messenger and you should be good to go.
imran · September 7, 2005 - 00:06 EST #12
Hi, Can Isight be used with windows XP, some one at the retail store was not sure of it, if there are certin drivers available in the market to run this product with windows xp ? Do u hav any clue ?
ATPM Staff · September 7, 2005 - 00:47 EST #13
Imran - the iSight is functionally the same as attaching a DV camera to your FireWire port, so it should work just fine on Windows XP with the native FireWire drivers—no special download necessary.

The iSight's microphone, however, may not work. A forum I scanned through seemed to indicate that Microsoft's most recent driver updates for FireWire may enable the iSight's microphone on a Windows machine, but we cannot confirm that.
Andrea · September 13, 2005 - 16:30 EST #14
im doing a project for skool pweeez can u tell me if u have 2 log on to a certain website to use the Isight cam or how do u do it
ATPM Staff · September 13, 2005 - 17:28 EST #15
Andrea - no special web site needed. If you're using an iSight and have the newer versions of iChat instant messenger, you can video conference with another person if you have their name in your buddy list, and they, too, have an iSight and iChat. You simply click the little green camera icon next to their name to request a video chat.
Alicia · September 15, 2005 - 17:32 EST #16
Most of my friends use MSN Messenger. The computer store where I am buying my iBook said that iChat and Messenger are not compatible but there may be a patch that can be used between AOL and MSN Messenger?? I know nothing about software... what is the deal with compatibility between these programs?
Lee Bennett (ATPM Staff) · September 15, 2005 - 17:43 EST #17
Alicia - there's a trick to getting Yahoo and MSN Messenger buddies to show up in iChat 3.0 but I'm not aware of any way to videoconference to an MSN Messenger user while you're on iChat.
Sharon · September 19, 2005 - 00:45 EST #18
Hello Guys... I wonder if you know what kind software that I can use videophone on this iMac and iSight too... like you dial the phone number on D-Link ieye2... Can you tell me where I can find the Videophone not iChat AV... Thanks...
Lee Bennett (ATPM Staff) · September 19, 2005 - 10:12 EST #19
Sharon - from what I can read, the D-Link i2eye is a standalone product that does not require a computer to operate, and seems that it requires an i2eye unit on each end. In other words, it wouldn't be compatible with other computer-based video telephony hardware. You should study over the i2eye web site for more information.

If you'd rather use your computer, there are various videophone applications available, some of which are able to connect Mac users to Windows users. here is a list of many choices. iVisit is one that I've personally used a small bit that works cross-platform and seems to work fairly well.
Vyla · September 23, 2005 - 10:52 EST #20
I have just purchased a IBook G4 and my boyfriend has an HP laptop, but since he's leaving overseas soon I was thinking about purchasing the ISight for me and a logitech for him. However, I've heard complaints of how MAC (IChat) is not compatible with a PC. I read the earlier comments and it helped but I'm still confused. So do I need to use IChat to connect with him through AIM? however he can't use IChat so do we just connect on yahoo? I'm so confused so can u please explain to me?
ATPM Staff · September 23, 2005 - 12:06 EST #21
Vyla - the most recent version of AOL Instant Messenger for Windows has a videochat function that is compatible with iChat's video chat. Yahoo Messenger for Macintosh only displays video and no sound, and is also much lower frame rate than AOL IM. Also, you have to use the Y!M client and not iChat. Your boyfriend should download and install AOL IM and create an account if he doesn't have one already, then you'll be able to video chat with him through iChat and your iSight.
matt · October 3, 2005 - 18:22 EST #22
i am beating my head against a wall trying to get iSight working on my pc. i am a mac person, but company is making me use pc.
ATPM Staff · October 3, 2005 - 19:48 EST #23
Matt - as a Macintosh venue, ATPM cannot support Windows-based videoconferencing software. We can, however, say that the iSight should appear to your PC as a standard DV source just like a digital video camera. In all likelihood, the problem will lie within your software and/or FireWire drivers and not with the iSight camera.
Walter Nusbaum · October 10, 2005 - 17:41 EST #24
I just got the iBook G4 laptop and the i-sight. I-sight works great via DSL at my house as I talk to my son in another city. However, I have hotspots through t-mobile and seem to have trouble getting any video reception with him. Any suggestions or thoughts?
Robert Leitao (ATPM Staff) · October 19, 2005 - 01:06 EST #25

Please check the connection speeds on the wireless set-up. It's possible constrained bandwith may be creating issues.
Jim McMullin · November 13, 2005 - 10:16 EST #26
I just plugged my iSight into Windows XP. The Wizard wanted to load a driver (of course there isn't one). But I went ahead and tried with with Yahoo Messenger and I did get video. I'm going to try it with Movie Maker and see what happens.
Jim McMullin · November 13, 2005 - 10:24 EST #27
Okay, it works with Movie Maker. The video quality isn't as good. There is noise (might be hardware interance somewhere) It does work.
ATPM Staff · November 13, 2005 - 14:48 EST #28
Jim - there is no specific driver for the iSight. What you may be needing is a Firewire driver that handles incoming DV signals.
Cristiano Capasso · November 16, 2005 - 14:21 EST #29
I discovered that the iVisit software is quite powerful (peer-to-peer) to setup a videoconference between Mac and PC platforms. The free version appears to be quite reasonable but has a limit of 160x120 pixels. The pro version goes up to 320x280 pixels. Both versions can work with a 28K modem.
Khurram · December 1, 2005 - 19:06 EST #30
I'm really interested in buying the iSight. Although, I have PowerBook G4 .. which should work fine with iSight. I'm just wanting to make sure that if iSight works with Windows XP with generic Firewire DV Signals .. all I'd need should be a program call to use the camera .. for example through msn or yahoo for windows ..

also, any experience about quality issues when plugged into a PC ? .. my pc has a Firewire 400 and Firewire 800 port .. do you think Apple would be updating iSight in the near future .. I won't mind buying it as long as they don't update it till summer 06 ..


ATPM Staff · December 1, 2005 - 23:24 EST #31
Khurram - we'll probably have to allow other readers to answer, if anyone knows. I don't believe anyone on ATPM staff has ever used an iSight on a PC, nor do any of them want to.
YC Wong · December 5, 2005 - 03:32 EST #32
I hope to use the Mac G5 with isight to talk with my cousin who has a PC windows XP . However, aim does not work on her computer, and we don't get sound but only images from Y! im. We can talk with skype on and off periodically. Is there any other program that we can use aside from AIM??? It crashed many time on her computer and fry her sound card already. What can we do? Will yahoo im get the new version out for sound and video chat?

Please advise.
ATPM Staff · December 5, 2005 - 09:52 EST #33
YC - try iVisit.
Robert Paul Leitao (ATPM Staff) · December 5, 2005 - 23:54 EST #34

I first suggest your cousin get a new PC. If her computer is giving her the kinds of problems you describe, I doubt any solution will work well.

If AIM is not working on her computer there are serious issues. I suggest making sure she is using SP2, has all of the incremental Windows updates installed and that the disk has not been compromised by viruses or intrusive spyware. Further, be sure there are no port blocking or firewall issues involved.

The best solution might be for her to invest in a Mac. Mac to Mac you will have many hours of happy video chats.
Robert Paul Leitao (ATPM Staff) · December 6, 2005 - 00:00 EST #35

There are various purported claims on the 'Net of an iSight camera working on a Windows PC. I'll believe when I see it.

The Apple iSight solution is not designed with Windows in mind. If you wish to use a video camera on Windows, I suggest purchasing one for that purpose. However, the quality will most likely not be anywhere near that achieved by the iSight working on a Mac.
Andy Mathason · December 6, 2005 - 22:31 EST #36
Okay, one more time please,
My wife and I just bought a G5 and want a iSight. We want to use it to visit with her parents who of course have a PC. Let me make crystal clear before I go blow $150. If I buy an iSight, sign up for iChat (which is free?) and use iChat my end will work (or do I have to use AOL IM too),
And then my wife's parents buy a PC web cam, sign up for AOL IM (which is free?), and use AOL IM, we will be able to visit with video AND audio working? I think both our connections are (fairly fast) DSL. Am I missing anything? Please fill me in!
ATPM Staff · December 7, 2005 - 00:32 EST #37
Andy - the recent versions of iChat with a Firewire-based camera (such as, but not limited to, the iSight) will videoconference with a PC running recent versions of AOL Instant Messenger. I have personally done this.

So yes, your only expenditures are the web cameras. As a Macintosh venue, we prefer to not get into the PC side of things too much, but let me repeat that you may use any Firewire-based video source with iChat. It doesn't have to be an iSight. If you already own a video camera that uses Mini DV tapes and connect it via the Firewire jack to your computer, it should also work, as will most any other Firewire web cam.
Robert Paul Leitao (ATPM Staff) · December 7, 2005 - 01:38 EST #38
I do recommend the iSight if you are seriously interested in video conferencing with a Mac. I have used DV cameras from time to time but the iSight is the best solution for the Mac I have found.

With both parties using AIM (iChat running on AIM), you should be able to connect without a problem.
Lee Bennett (ATPM Staff) · December 7, 2005 - 09:28 EST #39
Ah yeah, I didn't indicate what Robert said—if you use iChat, you'll need to be sure to be using an AIM-based account and not ICQ or Jabber.
Dashiell Morrison · December 11, 2005 - 23:41 EST #40
I am using a G-5 with iSight and my daughter has a Logitech Orbit MP web cam for her windows pc.
She attached and installed the software today and after some fumbling we were able to connect. However, she has video and audio of me but I am only able to get audio. The two screens on my display show my image only. When I went to Connection Doctor, it indicated that I was receiving 100% audio, with 0% video. Do you have any recommendations?
pk · December 19, 2005 - 23:27 EST #41
Ok, I have a family member I am trying to connect. They have a PC laptop with a Logitech cam and I have the isight with my G4 17" powerbook 1.3 ghz- internet through a airport wirelesss.Yesterday we each hooked up our cameras; got accounts ( them:AIM / me:dot mac ) and started IM-ing. That was easy. Then we gave the video conference thing a try. Well, no go. We have tried open ports and the firewall things. Basically we seemed to have tried everything... Nothing, nada, zip. Can someone please elaborate on what we need to do? We are getting nothing but a black screens and insufficient bandwidths. thx
ATPM Staff · December 20, 2005 - 01:41 EST #42
PK - the videoconferencing function of AIM for Windows only works with Windows XP. If your family is running XP, you may need to search other forums, since ATPM endeavors to only cover Mac subjects.
Hal Shuler · December 28, 2005 - 02:41 EST #43
My son-in-law called from another state last night and said he wanted to try out iSight, just purchased. I turned on my PC (windows XP) with AOL and Hi speed cable and after clicking the right icons he was feeding my IM (AOL) with audio and video, very good quality picture, not as good as DVD movies but quite good. I have no camera or microphone so he couldn't hear or see me and my pip said no canera, but every thing else worked perfect. Can I run down and get an iSight camera, plug it in and get two way A/V? What is "firewire"?
ATPM Staff · December 28, 2005 - 11:59 EST #44
Hal - in theory, it should work, but people have chimed in to the contrary. Since the iSight is specifically designed to work with Macintosh computers, it may be safer to find a good USB camera and microphone for a PC. As a Macintosh venue, we really have no other information about Windows to provide.

As for what firewire is, it's another type of interface connection, just like USB. Before USB 2.0 was available, firewire was a faster connection. There's now a faster firewire protocol than USB 2.0, but it's not in widespread use yet. You'll find that virtually any MiniDV camera uses firewire to carry the audio/video signal when capturing to your computer. Some webcams, like the iSight, use firewire instead of USB.
Joe Berlin · December 29, 2005 - 23:09 EST #45
I found this knew program called iglasses. It's a program where you can add effects to an ichat video chat. The only way for the program to work, however, is if you are using an isight, but I use my video camera, and I don't want to pay for a new isight. Is there some way I can trick my ibook G4 into thinking that the attached camera is an isight?
ATPM Staff · December 30, 2005 - 00:34 EST #46
Joe - since the iBot firewire camera is also listed as compatible, my suspicion is that it's not necessarily those two cameras that are the only ones supported, but rather that not many cameras are capable of allowing the type of color adjustment that iGlasses creates. We may have to let other readers chime in here with their own experiences, if any.
Tom Hicks · January 1, 2006 - 20:58 EST #47
Each of our five collage aged children received an isight for Christmas. They are all in different schools throughout the states, all have the same model ibook G4 running Tiger and all have high speed broadband. We realize that only 1-3 can video conference at once. However, do each of them have to purchase a dot Mac account ($99 per year) or can they use a free AOL account? At this point it's use is to simply communicate with each other.
ATPM Staff · January 1, 2006 - 22:07 EST #48
Tom - no .Mac account needed. iChat operates over AOL Instant Messenger protocol. You can even plug the login information for an existing AIM account into iChat if you already have one and don't want to create a new one.
John Estrada · January 12, 2006 - 23:41 EST #49
My friend is studying abroad in Mexico and he purchased a webcam for his Dell. So I am able to see him through Yahoo. I want to purchase iSight so he is able to see me. I understand that we both have to use AIM/iChat in order to see each other. He tried to use his webcam with AIM and it didn't work. Do I have to have iSight first in order to see him as well? I also read on this sight that there is something called iVisit. If AIM doesn't work for either of us, would we both have to download it to see each other, or just him since he does not have a Mac?
ATPM Staff · January 13, 2006 - 00:48 EST #50
John - you can actually use Yahoo on your Mac as well, but the Yahoo videoconferencing feature for Mac does not include audio. Why they've chosen to support audio the the PC but only video on the Mac is a million-dollar question.

iChat does have a feature to do a one-way videoconference. Since your friend is using AIM on a PC, it's possible the one-way feature isn't supported, so yes, you may very likely need a camera, too.

iVisit is a completely different conferencing application. You'd both need to have it installed if you wished to use it instead. There are versions for both platforms.
John · January 13, 2006 - 01:47 EST #51
Would you trust webcams, like the logitech quickcam zoom, that are compatible with apple and windows? Do they work as good? If so what would I need with them to use for my ibook. If not is the iSight my best bet?

Also when using the webcam for yahoo, does it run a bit slower then it would for iChat when chatting with those on a PC? Regardless it still would work as well, correct?
ATPM Staff · January 13, 2006 - 16:24 EST #52
John - the iSight is certainly one of the better cameras out there, which is why it is also one of the more expensive ones. But you don't have to use an iSight. For Macs, any Firewire-based camera will work. If, however, you want to use a Mac-compatible USB-based camera, it will not work with iChat by itself. Good news, though, there are plenty of hacks and instructions to let iChat work with USB cameras. Just do a Google search for "use USB camera with iChat" and you'll turn up plenty of links.

Regarding Yahoo, I don't know what you mean by "slower." Maybe you're talking about the frame rate, in which case you are correct. Every time I tried using Yahoo videoconferencing, I could only get a little better than a frame per second, and don't forget you won't be able to speak to the other end—only see them.
KJ Smith · January 23, 2006 - 18:23 EST #53
Is it true that you cannot use iSight with a dial-up internet connection?
ATPM Staff · January 23, 2006 - 18:46 EST #54
KJ - only audioconferencing is officially supported over dial-up connections. You may be able to initiate a video chat through your modem but, in all likelihood, the frame rate you'll get will make it hardly worth using.
KJ Smith · January 24, 2006 - 20:30 EST #55
Thank you for your quick response regarding isight and dial-up.
Can you recommend a webcam I can use (with Yahoo Messenger) connected to my PowerBook.
ATPM Staff · January 24, 2006 - 22:17 EST #56
KJ - on a Macintosh, a Firewire-based camera is ideal and virtually any one will work. They do, however, cost more than a USB camera. Since there are limited choices of USB cameras that that come with Macintosh drivers, it should be fairly simple to compare the features on the few available to you. Conversely, you could check out others that are supported by the iOXperts universal driver.

Something to keep in mind, because most people don't realize this, but the Macintosh version of Yahoo Messenger can only do video conferencing. For reasons that completely evade us, Yahoo has never yet chosen to include audio conferencing with the video. Just as bad, and this applies to both Mac and PC versions, Yahoo's video frame rate is only about a frame per second even over broadband.
John Hancock · March 8, 2006 - 21:15 EST #57
I can use my iSight on a PC with MSN Messenger, Yahoo or Sightspeed. Along with a bluetooth dongle and headset for the audio side of things, I'm very happy. The only problem is a lack of specific drivers, 'Generic 1394 Firewire Video Camera' works fine but requires you to ignore occasional error messages on reboot from the Apple iSight camera that doesn't have proper drivers. Small price to pay for using such a quality camera.
Mark Waits · April 28, 2006 - 16:50 EST #58
I am going to India in July for six months. I have been researching Vonage to be able to talk with my parents in the US. A friend mentioned, why don't we just buy webcams. Through researching that, iSight seems to be one of the better webcams. We both have PC computers and I've read a lot about how iSight has trouble with videoconferencing with PCs. If we were to buy iSights, what is the best software to use to video chat (with sound)...AIM with iChat?, iVisit, etc. Are there too many potential problems with using iSight on a PC and should just buy a regular USB PC webcam? It seems that PC webcams aren't as good as the iSight. What are your thoughts on the best way for me to talk to my parents while in India.
Lee Bennett (ATPM Staff) · April 28, 2006 - 17:21 EST #59
Mark - as we've indicated several times above, there are no guarantees the iSight will work on a PC. It depends on whether the native firewire drivers in your PC will recognize it and the only way to find out is to try it. And even then, the iSight's built-in mic may not be recognized and you'd have to use another audio source. ATPM has no additional help to provide on this topic since we focus on the Macintosh platform. The final word is, you are probably better off buying a USB cam specifically designed for Windows.

I have successfully videoconferenced with a PC user who had a USB cam and the latest AOL IM client while I used iChat (which only is available on the Mac platform). The issue seems to be whether the camera itself work on a PC and not whether a Mac user with an iSight and a PC user with a USB cam can connect.
John Hancock · April 28, 2006 - 20:37 EST #60
I have a working iSight under WinXP - it will pop up a driver error every time windows loads (just click cancel), but as I only restart my pc every couple of weeks it seems like a small price to pay. The iSight has a far superior to any logitech/creative offering and the autofocus is mostly excellent. As a '1394 Digital Video Camera' it works with MSN Messenger, SightSpeed (for multiway conferencing) and Yahoo! Messenger. I use a bluetooth dongle and headset for audio as there is obviously no driver for this under windows.

The only problem is the juice of your firewire port, make sure it is a regular 6 pin because mini-firewire ports don't produce the voltage needed to get a picture from it.
shant Hagopian · May 29, 2006 - 21:03 EST #61
i've read all these questions and anwsers but i'm still a little confused. here's my problem. I am trying to get my isight to work with my mac msn messenger (and having trouble). Is there anyway i can get my isight to work with my msn mac messenger? or is there any program i can use to video conference with people who have msn messenger for pc other than having them downloading something new. Is there anything i can get?
Lee Bennett (ATPM Staff) · May 31, 2006 - 02:14 EST #62
Shant - Microsoft Messenger does not do videoconferencing. The reason your iSight won't work with it is because there is no function in the Mac version to even recognize any camera.

While some people have claimed difficulty, you're supposed to be able to use your iSight and iChat to videoconference with Windows users if they have a current version of AIM. You can also use Yahoo Messenger, but it's video only (no sound in the Mac version) and very low framerate. iVisit is another choice with clients for both Mac and Windows.
alexandra Henao · June 4, 2006 - 17:22 EST #63
Hi, I use Imac G5 with an isight. Yesterday it stopped working. I allways use it with yahoo! messenger. I see myself but my friends are not able to see me and I cannot see them. I really dot'n know what happend. It was working perfectly and now I am not sure what happened, can somebody help me? thanks Alex
Laura S. · August 4, 2006 - 15:15 EST #64
I need some serious help getting isight to work with msn messener...its the only messenger that my friends use and have...and i dont really think i can convince ALL of them to download ichat just to see me.PLEASE...HELP!!!!
ATPM Staff · August 4, 2006 - 16:55 EST #65
Laura - the Macintosh version of MSN messenger does not support videoconferencing.
Oliver Irwin · September 17, 2006 - 10:32 EST #66
I just got an iSight from a friend, but everytime I try to use it with OS X 10.39 panther iChat AV, i get a view screen of myself, status goes to starting connection, and then it tells both parties that the other refused. No one did any refusing, it just wont connect?! I have an ibook G3. And Cable Modem! Do I just need a new computer? bummer.
Jasmine · October 5, 2006 - 21:49 EST #67
why does my built in iSight come up blank/black screen? It was just working but now it won't show anything even when the green light comes on.. any suggestions?
Paul Muhlbach · October 16, 2006 - 19:09 EST #68
Hi, folks:
For another cross platform full video product, take a look at the newest Skype beta 2.0 for the MAC. This newest version supports full video conferencing. I have tested it between my mac and PC laptop, but have not had an opportunity to test it with others (yet). Skype will also access the camera specified. On the MAC for me, it is isight, but I have successfully used a previous version of a Logitech Webcam with other applications. Have not yet had time to experiment with the other cam on Skype.

That may be of assistance for people who have difficulties getting on AOL IM (or who do not want to :) ).

Paul M. Muhlbach, A+, CNA, MCSE, MCT
Alex L. · November 2, 2006 - 02:19 EST #69
Another alternative would be MERCURY MESSENGER which uses MSN messenger accounts and allows activity with Isight. Only draw back is, it eats up memory and delays once in a while. Also it is prone to pinging out on you. After much search to make my iSight camera more universal with all programs. I just hope Adium will do the same with iSight.. making it optional to use. Does anyone know of a independent chat software that cycles between Ichat/Msn Messenger and accesses the Isight connection for webcam. I beseech anyone to lend a hand. Running 10.4.8 on Powerbook 17" 1.67 GHz G4 512 RAM
Phyllis Singler · December 31, 2006 - 17:05 EST #70
I just cannot get my ISight to work between my IMACG5 and my daughter's windows XP computer. She downloaded the newest Aim, Downloaded the previous copy, and still no luck. What can the problem be? Any help would be greatly appreciated since I want to be able to speak with my grandaughter.
Lee Bennett (ATPM Staff) · December 31, 2006 - 17:56 EST #71
Phyllis - In the past year or two, making successful video conference chats through iChat has become increasingly a hit or miss operation. Video chats in iChat was supposed to be easy, but even between to Mac iChat users, I often have trouble.

Lately, I've had far better luck using Skype instead. Download the latest beta versions on both sides and use your camera over Skype instead. I've not once yet had a problem connecting to someone's video over Skype.
Susan Garra · January 15, 2007 - 19:49 EST #72
I am trying to set up my isight. I am receiving a message that this computer does not support isight. I have an imac OSX 10.3.9 400 MGh. Will my camera work?
ATPM Staff · January 16, 2007 - 02:24 EST #73
Susan - your computer is does not meet the iSight's minimum requirements for video.
Matthew Seilback · May 16, 2007 - 13:54 EST #74
Jasmine (or anyone else),

did you figure out why you were just getting a black screen with your isight? i haven't been able to get mine past the black screen either (though my ibook g4 has more than sufficient power to do so).
Katy Dee · June 14, 2007 - 00:07 EST #75
I've Googled about my problem and have read through these now-aging comments, and I am still hesitant to buy an iSight camera for my G5, OS 10.3.9. My daughter is on a PC with a Logitech, signed onto MSN. I am now on MSN 6.2 for Mac. Can I just plug and play the iSight, now that we're well along in 2007 and that this is the latest version of MSN? And if so, will I be able to video-chat? If not, can we both move over to iChat/AOL respectively? If it won't work no matter what I do, I don't want to shell out the $200 for the iSight (they're getting MORE expensive instead of less.... go figure.)
Lee Bennett (ATPM Staff) · June 14, 2007 - 00:25 EST #76
Katy - the Mac version of Microsoft Messenger does not support videoconferencing. It's not a matter of iSight support. iSights probably would be supported IF Microsoft Messenger for Mac even had videoconferencing built in.

Theoretically, with you on iChat (which, by default, runs over an AOL Instant Messenger account) and someone else on AIM for PC, you can video chat, but I was only successful doing that a few times.

I'd suggest both you and your PC-using friends/family try Skype instead. The client is fine on both Mac and PC and support very nice video conferencing. If you do use Skype, however, I might advise you to not leave it running 24/7. You're supposed to be able to—especially if you pay for SkypeIn service to allow people to call you with a regular phone number. But a friend of mine noticed that Skype's network likes to randomly pick people to act as some sort of peer host or something, and if he left Skype running for days, Skype would direct huge amounts of packets through his connection...and probably anyone else's. These packets are small and normally you'd not have any issue with it. It just happened that he had an old router that would only handle a few active connections at a time. So his poor router was getting overrun with all the connections. Newer routers shouldn't have any problem with whatever Skype is doing. But it makes no difference to me because I only launch it when I need it. I don't use SkypeIn.
Jessi Juart · July 1, 2007 - 14:38 EST #77
This seems to be the best place to get answers on the iSight. So I hope someone can help. I bought an iSight to use with my G4 Titanium Powerbook a few years back. I haven't used it in a year or so, but last time I did it worked great.

My husband is in Iraq, so I tried to hook it up last night so that I could talk to him (he has an Acer Ferrari with a built in camera and is using AIM 6.1). I hooked up my iSight, iChat AV opened (so far so good), the green light came one, Skype even got excited and notified me that I could now video chat with Skype, but all of the preview screens were black. I tried to connect to my husband and he got an error. He tried to connect to me and I got an error that said that I failed to connect. The green light goes off after a few minutes and Skype quits detecting the camera, if I unplug it and plug it in again, everybody sees it, but it's still not working. I am running OS 10.4.10 and don't see an iSight update for it.

Will my iSight work? Is my cable bad? Is my firewire port bad? I have searched the internet for this and can't find the issue.

I also tried to just voice chat using my internal microphone to no avail. I then tried to voice chat using the iSight microphone and he still received errors. Any advice? I haven't "seen" him in over a month and I'd really like to.
Moez Mhedhebi · September 15, 2007 - 01:15 EST #78
I am running a G4 10.2.8, I would like to video-chat with my family overseas, but they are using a PC machine. I was advised to update my system to the 10.4 which I bought( but did not install yet). since my machine does not supprt USB 2.0, the only option left for me is to hunt around for an i sight on e-bay because the apple stores don't sell no more. my question is : is it worth it for me to go through all this trouble and shell out all this money just to end up with a shaky setup? My other option is that I am willing to get the cheapest PC machine out there and just use it for video chatting if that would guarantee me a seamless application!

I would really appreciate the advice.
Thanx everyone!
Lee Bennett (ATPM Staff) · September 15, 2007 - 01:18 EST #79
Moez - Any firewire-based web cam should work in lieu of an iSight. Try and

As for software, if you can't get iChat on your Mac and AIM on the PC working to video chat, try Skype instead.
anonymous · September 19, 2007 - 23:58 EST #80
thanx for the advice I tried skype and it works well. I am actually using a mini dv camcorder and my family tells me that the picture quality is awesome. The only problem is that audio is not recognized via the camcorder, so I used a standard microphone that I use for recordings, audio is great also but I have to be holding the mic at all times... not very convenient. would you recommend a certain microphone that I could get to work with my G4?
Again thank you very much,,, you guys been great help!
Lee Bennett (ATPM Staff) · September 20, 2007 - 00:17 EST #81
Anonymous - I have no experience with such microphones because I use Mac laptops and their built-in mics. My understanding, though, is that a decent brand USB mic would probably do just fine. Try Logitech.

Actually, with videoconferencing, a headset mic is best so that the sound of the person you're talking to doesn't come through your regular speakers and pick back up into the mic, causing feedback. I've got the Logitech Premium USB Headset 350 on my Amazon wish list.
anonymous · September 20, 2007 - 00:19 EST #82
thanx very much Lee
Nick Robinson · October 3, 2007 - 14:00 EST #83
I'm considering buying a IMac over my Windows PC right now.

But my question is, does the Inbuilt iSight work with MSN Messenger for Mac, if we both have it, could it be used on that instead of just iChat, Yahoo, AOL.

Thanks in advance
Lee Bennett (ATPM Staff) · October 3, 2007 - 16:14 EST #84
Nick - It's not a question of whether the iSight will work with MSN Messenger. It probably would except that MSN Messenger for Macintosh does not even have the videoconferencing function built into it. Gripe to Microsoft since there's little Apple can do about it.

I recommend using Skype instead. There are clients for both Mac and Windows, and the videoconferencing works great. Yes, it's free unless you use it to call standard 10-digit phone numbers.

I have once been successful using iChat to videoconference with someone on Windows since iChat just uses the AOL IM protocol. But I couldn't reliably make it work every time. On the other hand, I vidchat with my parents and my brother's family over Skype without trouble.
justin · January 2, 2008 - 19:46 EST #85
Im currently running on Windows XP whereas my friend is using Apple, we webcam quite frequent and notice the quality is quite poor.
What are some suggestions/advice to improve this? or is there a program/software that i can download that is compatible with the ICHAT.
Lee Bennett (ATPM Staff) · January 2, 2008 - 20:33 EST #86
Justin - I've been quite satisfied with the videochat quality of Skype, which works on both platforms.
Moez Mhedhebi · January 3, 2008 - 01:33 EST #87
hey there. definitely try skype, i have been using it for the past 8 months and I am very satisfied with it, although i get disconnected sometimes but that is because my parents do not have a high speed internet. Otherwise video and audio is great.

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