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Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Replacing the lens of your IP camera


This very simple tweak cost 5€ and was suggested by a Spanish reader of this blog (thanks Villamany!).

The pictures he posted were not only demonstrating a much wider angle of vision but also a much better image quality than with the original lens (in the case of the Foscam fi8908w). So it convinced me to do the same.


I bought a 2.1mm 160-degree lens from DealExtreme.com (M12x0.5 thread) (same can also be found on eBay) which finally arrived today.

The procedure below applies to many other ip and web cam models, as long as they use the M12x0.5 thread standard. It can of course also be used with other 2.1mm lenses if you don't want the fish eye effect. DX also has a 6 lens pack deal ranging from 2.8 to 16mm. They can be fitted but their lens ring is of smaller diameter than the hole in the casing, so, beside being unsighty, it will also allow dust to get in the camera.



First, a small disclaimer: this kind of change, even so small will not be covered by your camera guarantee, and I won't send you any of mines if you screw up!



The first thing to do is to unscrew the original lens completely. 


The next obvious step is to screw the wide angle lens all the way in but with caution: 

First, as the thread is fine, you should ensure that you don't force it while screwing in.

Then, once roughly in place, you should re-connect the camera to do the fine-tuning with the "Live Video" page openned and stop screwing as soon as the image is sharp.




Once in place, not only the field of vision will be much larger, making the PTZ function almost un-needed, but you may find that the image is also much sharper and brighter.




Below are comparative examples (click to see in full size)







There's been reports that some lenses would get blinded by the IR leds. 
I didn't have that problem with the sku 15237 from DX but maybe some others lenses might be affected.



63 comments:

  1. Could you post your own pictures to see the improvement of this replacement?

    ReplyDelete
  2. @max
    here you go. Pictures are taken with my two (modified and unmodified) ip cams side by side using the same brightness and contrast settings (4).
    The jpeg is exported with very little compression but there's some artefact from it though.

    Villamany got his lens from eBay and I got one from DX. Both appear to give good results.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Bubbah...thanks for your feedback on the utility to view on moto phone but cant seem to find the utility...appreciate link if possible.

    I now have about 8 of these ip cameras...and there appears to be no consistency at all...the foscam cam...has one set of firmware/software that is not at all compatible with the foscam clone (maygion)..and in fact neither software in either camera will support multi cams unless they are identical...

    I found that werbcam xp is the only softwrare that will support both of these cameras in multi view even though they have differing firmwae/software...and webcamxp does support smart phone as well...

    only draw back is that webcamxp will not support pan/tilt for the maygion (foscam clone)..but will support ptz for shentzen (which is the original foscam)..

    Too bad not one package that will support them all and have all the functions......

    I notice now on the myagion site they have a firmware/upgrade that will only support what they term "newer cams"...mine is only few weeks old but doesnt fit the bill..

    bottom line is that it seems even within individual clone cams..there is no consistency in terms of being to upgrade firmware/software...

    bit of a mess....appreciate hearing any other experience or workarounds...

    ReplyDelete
  4. @Nick,
    the link to the utility page was on the word "here" in my last comment, but here is it again:
    http://www.gadgetvictims.com/2009/07/foscam-ip-camera-part-two.html
    Direct link to the utility:
    http://www.drivehq.com/file/df.aspx/publish/bubbah/PublicFolder/IpcamViewerForMobile.zip

    There is an contact email at the bottom of the www.maygion.com web page.
    You should try and see if they can provide you with some technical doc. like SDK ref,...
    One good thing about Foscam is that they reply to questions and take suggestion into account to improve their firmware. Hopefully Maygion would do the same ?

    ReplyDelete
  5. I did the same based on the original post, it works well, but I would add that the night vision gets a bit messed up. The IR leds were shining on the front of the lens causing it to white out, the simple solution was to fit a cardboard collar round the new lens to give it a few mm of shade.

    ReplyDelete
  6. @Steve,
    I updated the post with a night picture taken with my new lens from DX. It doesn't show that problem. Once screwed in, there is still enough of it outside so it is not affected by the leds. Some others are probably shorter ?

    ReplyDelete
  7. Could this lens be used on this model?

    http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=180417639498

    ReplyDelete
  8. @rparent
    I don't have one myself. On this model the lens is behind a waterproof glass. So you would need to open the camera casing to do this. If you ever give it a go, try the night vision before closing the case, with some wide lenses the IR leds tend to shine too bright on them. I don't have the problem with lens from DX on the FI8908W though.

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  9. @Bubbah
    Thanks for the help. I think I will order it and give it a try. The color is really off on the camera so I'm hoping this may help.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Anyone know if this lens fit?

    http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/2-1mm-Len-Lens-for-CCTV-Camera-160-Angle-Wide-Vision_W0QQitemZ280415587907QQcmdZViewItemQQptZUK_CCTV?hash=item414a124e43

    ReplyDelete
  11. @SteveS
    I've been close to buy the exact same one. The only reason I took it from DX is because I did a grouped order. But with that lens, I don't have the problem that some reported where IR leds would tend shine on the lens.

    ReplyDelete
  12. I just realised it seems to be free delivery from DX to UK? or am i missing something :S

    ReplyDelete
  13. @SteveS
    It is. The only drawback is that DX is terribly slow to prepare and send the orders (up to 2 weeks before actually shipping). Also if you're tempted to group an order, check that the total value is not too high or the customs will intercept and sit on it for a few days on top of that.

    ReplyDelete
  14. seems all these 2.1mm lens are from China or Hong Kong, very slow delivery :(

    ReplyDelete
  15. Has anyone changed the lens in a 8903? is it the same procedure and lens as 8908? Can you get a replacemnt lens that is not wide angle?

    My 8903 shows green in trees as brownish. going to try and adjust first.. Read you remove-unscrew outer ring and can then move lens-will post if that helps

    Thanks-

    ReplyDelete
  16. Hello.

    Do you know if is it available a 2.1 lens without wide angle?

    In fact, a clear image with right colours is a good thing, but with a wide angle lens, objects are more little than the original.
    I'm not interested into avoid the PT movement.

    Many thanks and happy week end.

    ReplyDelete
  17. @zanzarame
    there is a 6 lenses pack on Dealextreme.com (SKU 15774) ranging from 2.8mm~16mm for 15$.

    ReplyDelete
  18. How does the different lens work.. are they not different physical sizes? (stupid question im sure)

    ReplyDelete
  19. @bubbah

    Odd I also ordered 15237 (on 10/07) and I've just checked again and it does need a collar on it (it being a dx fake foscam).

    With
    http://tinypic.com/r/dm8zyg/6
    (I may be able to trim the collar 1-2mm more)

    Without
    http://tinypic.com/r/34fjzae/6

    I've tried changing the mode/brightness/contrast, without luck, as you can see the leds are just flooding it. I'm using 11.14.1.42/2.4.8.11.

    Not really a problem, perhaps some difference between real and fake, or the lens dx is shipping.

    ReplyDelete
  20. omg, what a difference, i want! no doubt u got it in US or China?

    ReplyDelete
  21. @rparent
    I have the same FI8903-- How did the lens upgrade go? Which lens did you go with? Tired of me green trees looking brown

    http://webpages.charter.net/fishnbil/index.htm

    Thanks

    ReplyDelete
  22. replaced the lens with one from DX. Good result.
    No collar needed!

    ReplyDelete
  23. Right, im trying to get a lens now, but i dont want that round affect (fish eye?) just a normal. does that mean i need M12x2.1mm?

    ReplyDelete
  24. @SteveS
    I'd say a M12x0.5 between 5 and 8mm

    ReplyDelete
  25. what does the 5 and 8mm stand for?

    ReplyDelete
  26. Hey Bubbah,

    I also ordered my wide angle lens from DealExtreme ( http://www.dealextreme.com/details.dx/sku.15237 ) last night. How long did you have to wait for this shipment to arrive from Hong Kong? I am in Toronto, Canada, so I know it's not going to be same. Sometimes it can be sooner, sometimes even later... but at least something as ballpark would help. I just don't know what to expect, how long it will take to get here.

    ReplyDelete
  27. @Ment
    it took just 2 weeks for Ireland, I can't say for Canada. Most of my eBay orders take between 2 and 4 weeks.

    ReplyDelete
  28. OK, thank you. It's just I didn't go through eBay, I ordered and paid directly at DealExtreme web site. I am sure it will take at least a couple of weeks. It is so annoying that we can not find anything like that here in North America... or can we? Maybe there are some companies that are selling these, who knows.

    Did you have to pay COD or VAT, whatever is called in Ireland ? Some kind of customs related thing. I mean, it would be ludicrous to pay $20 for COD, for the product that's $6 only.

    ReplyDelete
  29. @Ment
    DX is another story: they can be slow for processing the order, so that add to the overall shipping time...
    I'm never charge any tax for low cost items (eBay or DX), for others, like GPS or Ip Cam, it can happen that the customs collect the VAT on arrival. Depends how picky they are in your country.

    ReplyDelete
  30. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  31. Hmm... I'm following (package tracking on their website) this whole thing, and they update it on a pretty regular basis. This is how far my order came:

    [img]http://i.imgur.com/vkEcv.jpg[/img]

    And these are all the steps in this whole process:

    http://i.imgur.com/7cNMv.png

    We'll see how long it takes for actual shipping overseas :(

    ReplyDelete
  32. Gooday,

    I am an authorized US Foscam Distributor and our products ship directly out of New York City and Texas. Visit our site at http://www.foscam.us

    We are listed as official USA distributors on the manufacturer's website under the "Contact Us" page. You can also Google "Foscam USA" and check us out.

    We offer step-by-step after sales support and update our website with tutorials on how to setup the camera and use it with a variety of applications.

    Best Regards,

    Team at Foscam.us

    ReplyDelete
  33. Hi,

    Thank you for your information. Finally we can order from within NA, without the need to order-wait from Asia.

    How long it would take to ship it to Toronto, Canada ? Are there any fees or anything like COD applied? In short, what would be the total price I'd have to pay when ordering this camera (Foscam Wireless Indoor WPA Internet IP Camera (FI8908W) ?

    Since it's original, I'd be very happy to order another one for one of my other rooms.

    Thanks in advance!

    ReplyDelete
  34. Now, if you would also be able to sell these wide angle lenses from the article above, that would be perfect. I ordered mine from DealExtreme on March 17th, and all I can say is, it takes forever. It's not even shipped out. After whole week of waiting, status of my shipment was "in packaging, ready to ship". Now, two and half weeks after, status says "not in stock". Horror, how unprofessional this service is. The price is nothing, but I wish I've never ordered from them. If there is any source here in North America, I would gladly place another order.

    Thanks.

    ReplyDelete
  35. Hi bubbah,

    Here remco from the netherlands i have a question for you :) i am looking for a good night view cam to record my car at night + - 6 a 8m from my house.

    Which cam can you advice me FI8908W or FI8908W ? i place the cam inside the house.

    Another question can you see the IR-LED`s at night?

    Thanks for your help and good advice ;)

    Greetz remco

    ReplyDelete
  36. Sorry i mean FI8908W and FI8904W

    ReplyDelete
  37. Yes, you can see IR-LEDs at night. They glow red. You can not turn them off since that would immediately disable night vision function. They don't throw any kind of light on the subject, nor you can see any kind of light beam or anything like that, but if you look directly at the camera, you would see a red ring of IR-LEDs glowing.

    ReplyDelete
  38. Wow this is a good view by night http://tinypic.com/r/dm8zyg/6 which cam FI8908W or FI8908W is the best option for what i wanna do?

    ReplyDelete
  39. Not sure which cameras you want to compare. For the second time you are asking same (wrong) question. You asked this:

    "...which cam FI8908W or FI8908W is the best option for what i wanna do?..."

    You mentioned same camera twice. Is there some other camera you want to compare to FI8908W?

    ReplyDelete
  40. Sorry i mean FI8908W and FI8904W

    ReplyDelete
  41. OK, im confused and too dumb to work it out myself obv.
    I want a wider view, but not fish eye, what do i need?

    ReplyDelete
  42. You need wide angle lens only, not the one that will give you fish eye effect. That will be pretty difficult to achieve on such a small size of lens like it's on this camera. Plus, even harder to find it. Google searches won't give a lot of results, so I am pretty happy with fish eye version. It even gives sharper image than the original lens attached to this camera, plus viewing area is quite wider. It's not like I am going to record a professional grade movie with this already mid-quality image camera. This camera was meant to be security camera, so the only important thing is to be able to see if someone is intruding your space. I believe fish eye lens won't be in your way of catching a bad guy if needed.

    ReplyDelete
  43. Hello
    I have bought the same thing and accidentally have disassembled it.
    Can you help me to assemble this puzzle back please.

    ReplyDelete
  44. I've just noticed one of my replies on this page was removed by the author (Posted on March 19, 2010 5:10 AM). Is it possible to find out what's the reason? Was there anything offensive inside my reply?

    Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  45. @Ment
    Your comment @5:10 was actually a duplicate of the one @5:14, so I just did some house cleaning.
    Double-posting is like crossing the streams with a proton pack (Ghosbusters)...it's bad!
    Cheers!

    ReplyDelete
  46. Hi,

    I buy a Foscam fi8908w and it works fine :).

    But i have a question, i want to secure my car at night time only , and only record to avi by motion detection.

    Is there some program that i can use for this?

    Thanks a lot for you help.

    greetz remco

    ReplyDelete
  47. @r
    there are a few you can choose from in the "Third-Party software for Foscam IP Cameras" post.

    ReplyDelete
  48. quite a few on ebay now.
    is there something for me to look out for to stay away from this fish eye effect.

    ReplyDelete
  49. @SteveS
    You'd need to select a lens with a focal length from 6mm and up. The higher the focal length, the narrower the Field Of Vue. The diagram from this external article gives a good overview.

    ReplyDelete
  50. This will also "zoom" in too wont it?
    Do we know the focal length of the current lens on the camera?

    cheers

    ReplyDelete
  51. @SteveS
    It's a 3.6mm according to their specifications here.

    ReplyDelete
  52. @all

    Here's a greate link for orderign lenses !!

    http://cgi.ebay.de/CCTV-IR-Lens-2-1-3-6-4-6-8-12-mm-For-Security-IP-Camera-/320541947136?cmd=ViewItem&pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&var=&hash=item76beb586c1

    I't from Andy.Lig. Nice overview how the diff. lenses look and what pic you can exspect.
    He is also a GREAT source for ordering ORIGINAL Foscam cams!! I got my cam from him. He delivers fast and has good prices!

    Have fun.
    Stefan

    ReplyDelete
  53. i ended up buying this one, came within a week! pennies too.

    http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=170431749075

    picture is better but "cooler" sun Ir is reduced not so much purple. at night Ir reflection is reduced too but still bounces off the window but no surprise.

    img: http://imgur.com/xc8Sq.jpg

    ReplyDelete
  54. Just found a new website with IR Cut Off filters!!
    They look promising! I ordered 4 of them today so i think, I will get them next week.
    I will inform ya'll ASAP, as I installed them.

    Here's the link:
    http://www.vd-shop.de/smountircutfilter-p-188.html?osCsid=jjmnv4n8otko9r0njbopf1id386qnmrq

    ReplyDelete
  55. Hi I bought on ebay these lenses.
    And I have two problems. On the box from foscam is written that it contains 6 mm lens.
    After replacing the 3.6 mm lens from ebay, but the picture is the same. Now I do not know if my original foscam 3.6 mm, or from eBay sent wrong lenses.
    The second problem is the lens certainly has the better color, but it does not work at night: (
    Is a label night lenses? I bought a next time right!
    Thank you for your answer, Tremor.

    Ps: I can send scans of my lenses to compare 6 / 3, 6 mm vs. 2.8 mm

    ReplyDelete
  56. There is a link to my lens from Ebay.
    http://cgi.ebay.com/Lot-6Pcs-2-8-3-6-6-8-12-16mm-Board-Lens-CCTV-Camera-/250681081674?pt=AU_Security_Equipment

    ReplyDelete
  57. @castek
    The lens that comes with the camera is 3.6mm. From what I understand you fitted a 3.6mm lens? Then the zoom will be exactly the same. This article says to fit a 2.1mm lens not 3.6

    ReplyDelete
  58. I made a small demo page of what i did with my foscam. I mounted a IR Cut-Off filter. If you like to see the result, please visit the page at: http://www.swiss-design.com/foscam/index.html

    C'ya there

    ReplyDelete
  59. Stefan, where did you get the dome? And is it working at night? Or do you still get the ir reflection?

    ReplyDelete
  60. @Jurjen

    I bought the Dome and the cam from ebay user "andy.lig". He also has lenses, original Foscam's and othe cool stuff.
    http://shop.ebay.de/andy.lig/m.html?_nkw=&_armrs=1&_from=&_ipg=&_trksid=p4340

    I covered my IR LED's because the cam is on top of the house and I dont need them. And, they do not reach to the ground anyway, I think.
    My goal was, to get the color as it is in "reality".
    But i think you will get the reflection! There's probably no way arround that.

    Stefan

    ReplyDelete
  61. I did this with a lens from china or hong kong (Can't remember which) listed on ebay. It works fine. You can usually see the camera on my website http://benellis.info/ if you want to see what it looks like with the lens on.

    ReplyDelete
  62. The threads are super fine on lens like these. Most times you can spin an item slowly backwards and feel the click when the male and female ends meet up and then start to tighten. It is very, very hard to feel this in this thread size, still I would do it. I have read people complaining they had to really use force to screw one of these on. If you are having to do that, you are cross threading the thing..

    Interestingly I had a hard time unscrewing the original lens, seems they put some kind of rubbery like cement on the threads. My guess is to stop someone from trying to refocus it. Not good.

    ReplyDelete