Creative Live! Cam Optia
The Live! Cam Optia has a remarkable, stylish exterior thanks to the white translucent trimming of the case elements. The cylinder with the lens is turnable by 270 degrees. The ring in the cylinder base has a transparent insert highlighted with a blue LED. When the lens is turned to the extreme position, facing the bottom of the camera, the LED goes out, indicating that the camera is off.
The transparent base of the camera has rubber “shoes” that prevent it from sliding along the desk. There is a spring-loaded piece in the base for fastening the camera on an LCD monitor, but I think it is rather insecure and needs a reinforcement in the form of a piece of scotch.
The Live! Cam Optia doesn’t need additional drivers and is ready to work as soon as you connect it to your PC. The downside of this connection method is that the camera does not support VFW and, more importantly, TWAIN, which is the interface necessary for the camera to communicate with various image-processing programs. The Live! Cam Optia supports the Windows Driver Model (WDL) only.
The camera has a rather good lens with a ring for manual focusing. To remind you, web-cameras with manual focusing permit to set a very small distance to the object, which is not even declared in the specs. This feature helps discern details that would not be visible without a magnifying glass. For example, here is a fragment of a coin shot with the Live! Cam Optia at its minimum focal distance.
The camera connects to the PC via USB 2.0. The maximum video resolution is 640x480 pixels at a frame rate of 30fps. This ensures a smooth reproduction of movement.
The kit includes a cute pouch for carrying the camera, a CD with exclusive software, earphones with a clip-on microphone. By the way, the Live! Cam Optia costs almost two times as much as the Cam Video IM described above, but does it yield a better-looking picture? Let’s examine the test shots.
So, the Cam Optia is head above the Vista IM and Video IM cameras in the quality of the lens system. Note that there is almost no degeneration of sharpness from the center to the borders of the chart; all the characters are readable. There are no geometrical distortions, either.
When it comes to color reproduction, there is a problem with cold colors: the blue cap of the pen is almost indistinguishable from the violet one. It shows a lack of color saturation. Perhaps it makes sense to add $20 more to get rid of this drawback? Let’s examine the next web-cam, which is the most expensive model in this review.