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My webcam suffers from poor performance even at small resolutions. What I can do to make it work?


I have Microsoft LifeCam Cinema HD web cam. When I use it a message appears
saying, “Poor performance. Change resolution.” I’m now down to the 320 x 240,
but the message still appears. What’s wrong? Is it my computer?

In this excerpt from
Answercast #73
, I look at a webcam that is stalling a computer, even though
the webcam is set at a very low resolution.

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A webcam with poor performance

Well, it’s hard to say exactly what’s wrong.

Unfortunately, the error message you’ve given me is kind of a shorthand of
the error message; the full error message may in fact include some more
specific details that would have been nice to see.

But in general, when you’re making the resolution smaller, you are reducing
the amount of data that has to be sent by the webcam to your computer. That
could be a function of many, many different things.

Full USB port

It could be that there are too many other devices on the USB port that
you’re using.

In other words, the USB port has a certain amount of data that it can
handle. All of the devices that are connected to USB kind of, sort of
share that. That means that the webcam may be competing with other
devices which are trying to send in data to your computer.

It’s rare. Most people are just using things, like a keyboard and mouse,
which actually send very low volumes of data. But it’s something to be aware

Busy computer

More likely is that your computer is too busy: that your computer is running
too much other software to keep up with the data string that’s coming in from
the LifeCam.

Unfortunately, that’s a really difficult one to diagnose.

What I would suggest you do is grab a copy of Process Explorer. I have an
article called, “What’s
hogging all the CPU?
” That article will walk you through downloading,
installing Process Explorer, and then using it to find out what programs are
running on your machine – and which ones are using the most of its

This is typically a “resource intensive” kind of thing. It’s possible that
it’s a disk thing: it could be a “disk activity” kind of thing that’s slowing
down your machine.

Slow computer

In general, it is possible that your machine is slow; that it is too busy
doing other things to keep up with a LifeCam.

I’d expect 320 x 240 to be handled by most current computers without too
much of a problem. That is why I actually point the figure at potentially too
much other software running on your machine – stealing resources and basically
getting in the way of the LifeCam doing it’s thing.

The very first thing I would do is start with Process Explorer and see
what else is running on that machine and potentially slowing it down.

(Transcript lightly edited for readability.)

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1 thought on “My webcam suffers from poor performance even at small resolutions. What I can do to make it work?”

  1. I have the same Camera and I occasionally get that message and I agree with Leo’s statement about other programs using your machine’s resources while trying to use the Camera. One of the biggest hogs I find is when my machine is doing automatic scheduled backups of my machine.


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