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iSight : How to test your iSight to ensure it is functional

As mentioned in the Title box - there are pages that were written a little while ago by EZ Jim, a poster on the Apple Discussions who contributed to iSight and iChat Discussions. The words the following pages are EZ Jim's

Use the the Information Column Menu for EZ Jim's pages

How to test your iSight to ensure it is functional

:: Use this topic to test External iSight. While you may be able to use some of these tips with a Built-In iSight, more specific information about the internal iSights is in THIS TOPIC. ::

Ask the retailer to demonstrate the one you will take home for you in the store. If you don't buy your iSight in person, read and follow its instructions on how to use it.

iSight is basically a plug-and-play integrated part of your Mac. Most problems will relate to the software that operates your iSight, not iSight itself, but a few things occasionally cause difficulty for new users.

Plug it in. Use the Apple cable that came with your iSight to test it. (Try another cable only if you believe iSight's cable is faulty.)

Do not be concerned that the little green indicator light atop your iSight illuminates for a few seconds and then goes dark when you first connect your iSight or power on your Mac. Do not be concerned if you hear a soft whir as iSight attempt to focus either. Both these occurrences are normal. If your iSight passes the following tests, do not worry about this sound or the status of the green light.

If your trouble continues, and if you have other Firewire or A/V devices, try removing them ALL to avoid Possible hardware or software conflicts. Plug iSight directly into one of your Mac's Firewire ports until you KNOW your iSight works.

    (Once iSight works, add other devices back one at a time to find any conflicts from third party items. Conflicts are rare, but possible. If you find one, ensure you have the latest drivers for the offending item. That may fix the conflict.)

Turn it on. If you didn't read the instructions or found them confusing, iSight may not be turned "On". If you see a large white dot in the center of the iSight lens, re-read the instructions and rotate the front of the iSight until the white dot goes away. iSight is now "On".

If your Mac tells you later iSight Firmware is available, I recommend that you update as follows. Use your Disk Utility app to repair permissions on your hard disk. Next, run the firmware Updater. Then, use Disk Utility to repair permissions again.

Try it. iSight should show its preview in the app you use. If it doesn't, test iSight with a different application. Try both iChat AV and iMovie if you have it (must be iMovie 4 or later.) If you have other apps that can use iSight, such as QuickTime 7 Pro, you can try them, too.

For an iChat AV test, plug in your iSight and select iChat > Preferences... > Video to see the view from iSight.

For iMovie, set the slider below the video window to the "camera" icon position rather than to the "scissors" (edit) position to see the view from iSight.

If any of these apps shows an iSight picture, iSight is working.

You can also try using your iSight on another Mac or try another iSight on your Mac.

If iSight works but you still have difficulty, you need to troubleshoot other system elements (other hardware, software, network, internet, etc.)

If you want to test your ability to connect with others, see Want to Test your iSight With Another Person? FAQ. This Tip contains contact info for some users who are willing to test with you. For tests with all but the "Autoresponders", start with a text hello to be sure the person is there.

 (Edit: 114th September 2008: An alternative is this site's own page as the Apple FAQ/User’s Tip may require updating now and then.)

If your iSight fails all the tests that you run, check Apple's Tech Article titled iSight: How to Troubleshoot. If those suggestions do not correct your problem, take your iSight to your local Apple Service Technician for a professional check. (If your Mac is portable, take that along in case the Service Tech needs to look at it, too.) If you do not have access to a local Apple Service Technician, you can follow the iSight Service Request link for service directly by Apple.

You can also check to see whether your Mac’s System Profiler > Hardware > Firewire Device Tree recognizes iSight. If you do not see iSight there, you may have connection, cable, Firewire, or other problems with your Mac. Try the suggestions in What to do if your computer won't recognize a FireWire device.

If you suspect focus problems, be sure to test focus with more than one app that uses iSight.

iSight's resolution is not high enough to read fine text like a scanner can, so use plenty of light and a proper focus target that does not move while you are testing. The target must be still long enough for iSight's focus mechanism to have time to react. Low contrast targets like pastels or very light colors will not give you a good test, either.

Here is how I test:

  • Make a cross whose lines are about one-half inch or more wide on a plain background to use as a focus target. (I have even used black electrical tape.)

  • Turn on plenty of light and hold the target very still at about two or three feet from the lens. Watch iSight focus. (You may need to use a tripod or brace yourself to hold the target still enough.)

  • Then quickly move the target and hold it very still at about one foot away from the lens. Watch iSight focus.

  • Finally, move in to about six inches from iSight, and check focus there, too. (Holding the target still is more important as you get closer to iSight.)

If iSight focuses properly in these tests, it is working correctly. If not, take it to your Apple Service Technician for a professional test.

If your problem occurs only during iChat AV 3 Video Chat, you are probably confusing iChat AV 3's "smoothed" image with one that is out of focus. Check your broadband Speed. Everyone in the video chat must meet all of the requirements for best quality. Low bandwidth for even one member of a chat can reduce the video quality for everyone.

iChat AV 3 also requires LOTS of processor power for best video performance. For help with how to maximize your Mac's processing power, try the suggestions in Help for iChatAV 3 Problems.

If all chat members meets all iChatAV 3's requirements, the suggestions in Improving Your iSight's Picture can help you get the best iChat AV 3 video images possible.

You can find more iSight tips in EZ Jim’s iSite Topics and additional iChat AV help at Ralph Johns’ iChat Pages.

Made on Mac
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© 2005, 2006 EZ Jim
Updated September 2006

© 2005 Ralph Johns: Edited 24/9/2005, 5/5/2006
Updated September 2006. Moved to Gargoyles Mar 2007 Edited: 14th September 2008

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