The aGent V5 Full HD Webcam Review
- Sunday, 23 May 2010 17:50
- Last Updated on Monday, 16 May 2011 06:06
- Written by Marc Spess
First off the company name is Liquid Digital Solutions. The brand of camera is called the aGent V5 HD webcam. The box it came in was surprisingly sleek, clean and simple. If you want to store the camera back in the box after use, it should hold up really well since it has lots of rubbery styrofoam material with different compartments for the parts.
Before I went to work doing this review I sent an e-mail to James at the company, asking if the camera would work on my Vista 64 bit operating system. He mentioned that these cameras were designed for 32 bit. So basically any PC running on Vista 32 or the still popular Windows XP will not have a problem. The camera will also work on Mac computers with OSX10.4.3 or greater.
Luckily my wifes PC still runs on XP, so I decided to test it out on her laptop. But first, lets discuss what the camera looks like and what it can do.
The lens itself is a German made five layer glass lens that you can twist to focus. The camera also has a pouch to keep dust off of it when it's not in use, some clips to attach the camera to different LCD displays and a cable turtle to wind the excess USB cable up in.
The USB cable isn't exactly very long, its only five foot eight inches. So if you plan to use a motion control rig with this camera - you need to keep your computer nearby. It would be best to use a laptop for that purpose since a desktop computer would restrict its movement.
The camera also comes with some basic software where you can adjust all the different settings, like the exposure. This is another plus for this camera since in stop motion you don't want to have the exposure set to auto - or you will get some really bad flicker. So over-all the software does the job.
Now if you are using this camera as a webcam it does have an inbuilt microphone, but I didn't test that since it doesn't really apply to using it for stop motion. It is a nice little extra though for the times you're not animating or talking to your friends on Skype.
Ok, so the real test with the aGent V5 is how well the image looks. The official site http://agent.liquiddigital.com.au/ says the image on this camera is full HD quality video at 1920 x 1080 and up to 8-megapixel still shot images. The live image is 5MP that you would be capturing into the stop motion software that well talk about later.
Thats a great image for a webcam, and the site shows stills of comparable quality. Only the stills on the site were most definitely not taken with the aGent V5, but probably with a digital still camera. The first thing I noticed when I viewed some live images off the camera in the Stop Motion Pro demo was that in low light, the picture has lots of stray purple pixels. That is to be expected on just about every webcam out there. Low light and webcams just dont mix, and the aGent V5 is no exception.
The good news is that if you have lots of light on your scenes - the quality is actually really good! My personal webcam that I bought before I saw the aGent V5 is the Logitech Quickcam Pro 9000. It has a Carl Zeiss lens and has a similar look to the images of the aGent. I couldn't compare them side by side since the aGent doesnt work on my Vista 64 bit machine. But I really liked the sharpness the aGent camera offers for the cost.
As for price, the aGent will first be sold at about $99.00. For that you cant really get a higher quality still camera brand new, and it is more expensive than cheaper webcams with much worse quality. Most likely the price of this camera will not drop below $70.00 a few years in the future as the wholesale costs probably wont allow for that. And by that time newer cameras may appear on the market at cheaper prices with higher quality. For now this camera is good for the money.
Finally, there is a great warranty that the company offers that lasts for two years. So if you invest in this camera at least you know that if something happens, your hard earned $99.00 will not go to waste.
Does it work with the current stop motion software?
A very important question is if this will work on the current popular programs out there. If you cant capture stop motion with the camera its pretty useless for making films, so I tried the camera with three different programs. The first I tried was the free program called Helium Frog Animator. We offer this program for free on our sites for beginners with no budget. It works well for a lot of people, but our findings were that the aGent V5 will not work with Helium Frog.
Helium Frog ran so slow on my wifes Windows XP system that it wasn't useable at all. Every four to five seconds would create a newly refreshed live image, and no buttons - especially the grab frame button would do anything. I needed to Alt Ctr Del out of the program to shut it down. It was just not responsive at all.
Next came the Stop Motion Pro 7 demo. The aGent worked very well with it, even with the largest image settings. It refreshed the images quickly and did not lock the software up at all. It was like night and day compared to Helium Frog. Capturing images was a breeze.
Finally I tried out the new ZU3D program that we just started carrying in our online store. Did the aGent work with it? Actually the aGent and ZU3D seemed to be the best match as far as camera and software. The images within ZU3D refreshed, saved and played back the captured frames faster than the SMP 7 program which is higher priced. Most likely its simplicity helped it to run better as it has less features and a smaller memory signature.
-If you have a low budget and want the most quality for your $99.00 that the aGent is slated to sell for.
-If you would like a webcam for capturing reference next to DSLR still camera, utilizing a much higher image size.
-If you want a webcam that you can mount to a real tripod as this is one of the only web cameras that allows for that.
-If you want a webcam with all manual settings to eliminate flickering images for your stop motion films and tests.Where to Buy: Currently you can buy the aGent V5 HD webcam here: http://agent.liquiddigital.com.au/
written by sleeper, February 01, 2011