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Author Topic: Ir lights and wide angle lenses  (Read 10674 times)

DRZ

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Ir lights and wide angle lenses
« on: January 14, 2014, 06:01:52 AM »

Ok I was going to post a question to the forum, but I just figured our the answer, so I will post my experience instead. I have a couple 942 cameras and recently got a couple of wide angle lenses (the el cheapo version from China, around 8 bucks a pop). So I put them on with the supplied magnetic rings. I was amazed on the quality (I had tried some for the same price but with awful clarity). My view field increased dramatically, but I still had some distortion in the cornrers. When I checked at night, the picture was pretty dark. Manual IR and such did not work. I went in front of the camera and watched it while I toggled the IR. I saw the red LEDs switch on and off. I then thought that the electronics were fried, since I powered off the camera to install the lenses and powered it back on, after a couple of years of nonstop use. I was about to post and ask a question on the average lifetime of these cameras.  Then I checked the other camera, and noticed that it too had the same problem. I removed the magnetic lense, and boom, the camera worked fine. What happened is that the magnet on the lense prevented the relay switching in full IR mode, even though the LEDs would turn on or off. So, there is a benefit to increase the viewing angle of the camera, but the side effect is killing the IR relay. Unless, of course, you find another way to attach the lense (I am about to test superglue)
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JavaLawyer

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Re: Ir lights and wide angle lenses
« Reply #1 on: January 14, 2014, 06:08:35 AM »

I performed a similar test some time back using a magnetic lens I had from a FLIP camera on a DCS-932L and had a similar experience. The viewing angle was increased by ~10-15 degrees with the particular lens I was working with. I vaguely recall having an issue (of some sort) transitioning between Day/Night Mode while the lens was attached, but never made the correlation between the magnet and IR relay switch since I was just testing the lens for a brief period to see if it worked.

Thanks for sharing.  ;)
« Last Edit: January 14, 2014, 07:42:35 AM by JavaLawyer »
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JavaLawyer

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Re: Ir lights and wide angle lenses
« Reply #2 on: January 14, 2014, 06:17:09 AM »

Related thread: DCS-932L - Add-On Lens?
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DRZ

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Re: Ir lights and wide angle lenses
« Reply #3 on: January 14, 2014, 07:37:26 AM »

Related thread: DCS-932L - Add-On Lens?

Thanks. Interesting test. It seems that some of these magnetic lenses have variable strength magnets, and of course image quality. The ones I tried at the end, were very impressive and cheap. They are keepers. If anybody is interested, I can ate them to the source. Two issues at the moment. One is the lack of image in the corners. I think the way to handle this, is to move the add-on lens closer to the camera lens. This would require some carving of the camera plastic in the front, or taking apart the camera front. Does anybody have any instructions/schematics on how to do this? I am not interested on advice not to do it because I would be voiding the warranty  :D
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ReverendTed

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Re: Ir lights and wide angle lenses
« Reply #4 on: February 08, 2014, 08:40:25 AM »

Which add-on lens did you have?  From my brief Amazon search, most of the add-on Iphone\Flip lenses look like they're made in the same place and simply labeled with different branding.
Did it seem like the magnet in the lens would be removable to avoid interference with the IR relay?
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belvedere

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Re: Ir lights and wide angle lenses
« Reply #5 on: February 19, 2014, 08:11:22 PM »

I removed the magnetic lense, and boom, the camera worked fine. What happened is that the magnet on the lense prevented the relay switching in full IR mode, even though the LEDs would turn on or off. So, there is a benefit to increase the viewing angle of the camera, but the side effect is killing the IR relay. Unless, of course, you find another way to attach the lense (I am about to test superglue)

There is no relay in the camera.  There are two glass filters glued to a little plastic shuttle.  One glass is clear and the other filters IR.  At either end of the shuttle is a magnet.

The shuttle is captive inside a plastic outer enclosure, almost like a sliding shower door in a frame.  At either end of this outer assembly are two coils driven by the circuit board.  The camera energizes the coils in one polarity or the other for a brief instant to pop the shuttle back and forth.  The click you hear is when the shuttle slams against the end of its travel.  The mechanism is plastic sliding on plastic.  It's extremely cheap but effective as long as the camera isn't in a dirty environment and nothing else interferes with it.

The magnets are each about 2mm across and maybe 8mm long, and not terribly strong. Any magnet outside the camera is going to push the shuttle in toward the camera or pull it toward the front.  Either way, that's going to increase the friction between the shuttle and its housing and keep it from moving.

Warning: don't ever try to clean the camera's "lens" with a Q-tip, or anything for that matter.  You can't touch the lens through the front of the camera--what you're actually touching is a small piece of glass glued to the shuttle with a dab of silicone.  It's very easy to pop it loose, and then you have to take it all apart and reattach it--and we're talking very small pieces of sharp glass and a flimsy piece of plastic that has to be perfectly clean and straight for the mechanism to work.  (Don't ask me how I know so much about this.  Heh.)
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ReverendTed

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Re: Ir lights and wide angle lenses
« Reply #6 on: February 19, 2014, 08:18:59 PM »

I'm glad your (apparently unfortunate) experience could serve to illuminate (pun intended) what's going on with the magnets in these lenses.  I'd be interested in trying one out if it seemed like the magnet could be removed from the add-on lens.  I guess $6 isn't too much to gamble on it, though.
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belvedere

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Re: Ir lights and wide angle lenses
« Reply #7 on: February 20, 2014, 09:57:49 AM »

I'm glad your (apparently unfortunate) experience could serve to illuminate (pun intended) what's going on with the magnets in these lenses.  I'd be interested in trying one out if it seemed like the magnet could be removed from the add-on lens.  I guess $6 isn't too much to gamble on it, though.

Okay, I'll tell.  I had two of these in the garage.  Not sure if dust got into it or what, but the IR cut wasn't moving reliably in one of them.  After about 6 months the shuttle would intermittently stop halfway through its travel so that half the image had the IR-cut and half had no IR-cut.

Removing the magnets from the add-on lens is one approach. If you're feeling brave, you could also pop the camera apart, slide the shuttle to the non-IR-cut (night time mode) position and disconnect the solenoids from the board.  As I recall, they connect with a 2-wire plug that you can just pop off.  Just set the camera to night mode before doing it.  Then, once the camera is back together, allow it to switch between day and night automatically.  This will make the colors weird during the day but that's about it.  Just make sure you don't smack the camera hard enough to dislodge the shuttle to the wrong position.
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ReverendTed

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Re: Ir lights and wide angle lenses
« Reply #8 on: February 20, 2014, 07:29:37 PM »

Sounds like it might be possible to just put the magnetic wide-angle lens on while it's in Night Mode and leave it at that, if it would just mean dealing with "weird color" during Day Mode.
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ReverendTed

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Re: Ir lights and wide angle lenses
« Reply #9 on: February 26, 2014, 08:36:27 PM »

I went ahead and purchased one of those Fisheye+Wideangle+Macro iPhone lens sets (they all seem to be the same product sold by different distributors) and was able to use a very small flathead screwdriver underneath the inside edge of the magnet to pop it out of the lens frame of the Fisheye lens.  The Wideangle+macro lens magnet seems to be set closer to the actual lens, though, so that might take a new approach.

If I purchase one for my other camera, I'll probably look into the clip-on version of the lenses, since those seem to screw into a plastic frame, which would probably make it easier to affix to the DCS-932L without interfering with the IR filter operation, or having to pry magnets off of the lens frame.
« Last Edit: February 26, 2014, 10:49:52 PM by ReverendTed »
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ReverendTed

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Re: Ir lights and wide angle lenses
« Reply #10 on: March 04, 2014, 12:41:50 PM »

Since I got the lens attached to the camera, I figured I'd post a before-and-after shot.
On the top is the original view, on the bottom is after attaching the lens to the camera (via a thin adhesive disk):



As you can see, there's a considerable increase in the field of view, but some loss of fidelity especially around the periphery.   In case you were wondering, the white blotch on the lower right is not the lens body occluding the view, but a wall that was not previously visible.

The Fisheye lens, on the other hand, works alright on my phone camera, but the picture got very blurry when used on my DCS-932Ls.    I presume this is due to my phone being able to focus through the lens, while the DCS-932L doesn't have a focusing feature.  (Right?)

Here's what the lens looks like in place:

I'm curious how well the adhesive will hold.  If I'm satisfied with the function of the lens and the adhesive fails, I may opt to more permanently attach it with some superglue.
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JavaLawyer

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Re: Ir lights and wide angle lenses
« Reply #11 on: March 10, 2014, 05:39:48 AM »

I drafted an FAQ entry for adding a wide angle lens. Please let me know if this FAQ is innaccurate or can be bolstered with additional useful information: DCS Network Cameras - Can I Add a Wide-Angle Lens to My Camera?

 :)  ;)  :)
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DRZ

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Re: Ir lights and wide angle lenses
« Reply #12 on: April 08, 2014, 04:05:44 PM »

Which add-on lens did you have?  From my brief Amazon search, most of the add-on Iphone\Flip lenses look like they're made in the same place and simply labeled with different branding.
Did it seem like the magnet in the lens would be removable to avoid interference with the IR relay?
Ted,
Apologies for delaying to reply. You have done a great job, as I saw from your follow-on posts. As for the lenses, I tried quite a few from amazon.com. I tried several fisheye lenses but the results were not ideal. The best el cheapo wide angle lenses I got from amazon.com were from Cellularfactory 0.67 x Macro, shipped from Gravydeals. I think theory are actually shipped from China. They are $3.4 a pop, and the advantage is that you can easily remove the magnetic ring by unscrewing the macro lens and the lens retainer. They were by far the best I tried. I used superglue to attach the lens to the camera.
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