I’ve yet to find such a webcam but machine vision cameras seem well built for such a task (and then some).
The machine vision cameras I'm most interested in (Point Grey Research's Firefly MV or Lumenera's Lw115) are USB based color (~30fps) cameras that should require very little human interaction to operate long-term (the way it needs to be). I.E. once the camera is mounted, the manual lens adjusted/locked down and the cables are setup between the cameras and the computer; the cameras should passively turn on and off as the computer does and allowing for a very efficient system.
The only issue is these cameras are expensive and designed to capture video that is far more accurately then is really necessary while being used as a webcam. Hence I refer back to my statement above, I need an indoor USB webcamera that supports a manual lens. A prefect product would be the equivalent to a high-end Logitech webcam with a CS-mount designed into it and hopefully costing around $150a piece for a VGA camera or $250 a piece for a 1.3 Megapixal camera (USD).
I don't think this prefect camera really exists but I would like some video experts to confirm or deny this fact and let me know where or not I’m making a good investment to use machine cameras as webcams.
Thanks for reading,
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Some of the USB web cameras use M12 lenses, see http://www.webcaddy.com.au/astro/M12Cameras.htm. You can partially disassemble these cameras and replace the lens with an M12 lens of your choice:
With a bit more effort, you can modify pretty much any USB camera to work with a C-Mount lens,
There are consumer reviews posted for particular cameras. I would use a search engine and type in the particular manufacturer or model number followed by the word review. To get more technical information about a particular manufacturer or model number, type in the name followed by something specific like camera sensor size. You should be able to locate specs like
Of the web pages that I visited, CNET seems to have the most information. The specifications of the camera's sensor will tell you something about its performance. I would look for a low density CCD sensor. A 1/3" format CCD with 640 x 480 pixels will usually outperfom a 1/4" format CCD with the same number of pixels. CCD sensors will tend to outperform CMOS sensors.