11 Replies Latest reply: Apr 19, 2008 1:24 PM by EZ Jim
iron9iant Level 1 Level 1
My iSight was working just fine last night. I was able to switch between my internal iSight and external iSight.

This morning, instead of plugging my iSight directly into the computer, I plugged it into a firewire hub. It didn't work. When I tried to plug it back into the computer's firewire, the green light comes on, iSight makes a buzzing sound, then turns off and doesn't work.

I've been plugging a DV cam into the firewire port here and there and switching between the two. The DV cam still works, but the iSight doesn't.

I'm currently on the latest iMac with the latest leopard.

I've tested out the isight on a G4 imac with Tiger and the same thing happens.

I've tried resetting... restarting the computer.

I don't know what permissions are and not sure if I want to try it.

Any suggestions?


Mac OS X (10.5.2)
  • iron9iant Level 1 Level 1
    still no luck with the camera. i read thru the EZ steps, but can't find anything to fix it.

    i've fixed the permissions... nothing.

    i've unplugged everything, except for the mouse and keyboard... nothing.

    is this a software issue with leopard?

  • EZ Jim Level 7 Level 7
    Hello iron9iant

    External iSight works fine with my Leopard Mac. If I understand you posts, you are having trouble using an external (Firewire) iSight with some kind of Mac that has a built-in iSight.

    If I am right, try the relevant suggestions in How to test your iSight to ensure it is functional. Be sure to disconnect all peripherals including your Firewire Hub while you are troubleshooting and testing to avoid Possible hardware or software conflicts.

    If you still have problems after trying all those suggestions, contact Apple or an Apple-Authorized Service Provider for service. There are NO user-serviceable parts in iSight.

    EZ Jim

    PowerBook 1.67 GHz w/Mac OS X (10.4.11) G5 DP 1.8 w/Mac OS X (10.5.2)  External iSight
  • iron9iant Level 1 Level 1
    EZ Jim,

    Thanks for the response.
    I have tested my camera on the following.
    iMac with leopard with internal isight.
    iMac with tiger with no internal isight.
    Macbook with tiger with internal isight.

    The camera did work, until a few days ago. It just stopped all of a sudden.

    I have tried disconnected everything. hubs, even usb devices.

    If I have Apple Care on my mac, will they help me with trying to hook up the external iSight? or if I take my iSight to an Apple store can I get help from the Geniuses?

  • EZ Jim Level 7 Level 7
    You're welcome, Rick.

    Sounds to me like you should contact Apple or an Apple-Authorized Service Provider for service on your iSight.

    If you have nearby access to an Apple retail Store, contact them for an appointment with the Geniuses. They can tell you which of your Macs they may want you to bring with your iSight when you take it in for evaluation.

    Please let us know how it goes.

    EZ Jim

    PowerBook 1.67 GHz w/Mac OS X (10.4.11) G5 DP 1.8 w/Mac OS X (10.5.2)  External iSight
  • coldengray78 Level 1 Level 1
    I was having the same problem and I found an unlikely solution: download Yahoo Messenger for Mac and install. Fire it up and attempt a video chat/use your isight camera. it worked again for me. then I closed yahoo and opened ichat and "boom" it works again!

    found this fix on macfixit.com, fyi.
  • dtraynor Level 1 Level 1
    Thanks for the fix. I had the same problem and thought I was going to have to ditch the camera. But this worked perfectly. And I've still got the camera plugged into the Firewire port on one of my hard disks, rather than to the computer itself. Everything is working fine now.
  • Doublestank Level 1 Level 1
    I just bought a Mac Mini and an external iSight camera from a friend. The iSight worked great on Friday night, then on Saturday, for whatever reason, began doing the EXACT same thing that 9iant describes above...

    Plug it in a firewire port (I've tried this on 3 different Macs now), the iSight green light comes on, there is a quick buzz like the lens is focussing, then the light goes off and the computer has no idea it is even there after that. System profiler shows that nothing is plugged in to the firewire port at all.

    I checked the cable, etc and I even tried the crazy Yahoo Messenger suggestion, which definitely did not work for me (the video options are grayed out). Any further ideas? Why would it just suddenly stop working?

    I'm running a Intel Mac Mini with 10.5.2 and an Intel iMac with 10.5.2. Thanks in advance for any help!
  • EZ Jim Level 7 Level 7
    Hello Doublestank

    To minimize possible conflicts, disconnect all Firewire devices while testing. Use the suggestions in How to test your (external) iSight to ensure it is functional. Fixes for the problems that users can correct are covered there.

    There are NO user serviceable items inside iSight. If your external iSight works with NO application that uses iSight in ANY user account on ANY Mac, contact Apple or an Apple-Authorized Service Provider for service.

    EZ Jim

    PowerBook 1.67 GHz w/Mac OS X (10.4.11) G5 DP 1.8 w/Mac OS X (10.5.2)  External iSight
  • CodLBi Level 3 Level 3
    Hi Jim,

    This is a relative easy fix in case the calibration is set wrong when the iSight has trouble after DV camcorders with wrong black and white levels have been connected by firewire.
    This goes or both the external and internal, it is related to the settings on the camcorder,
    and the signal to the Mac.
    This can be corrected by the sending a DV signal from the cam back by Firewire. (7.5 IRE to max 100 IRE).

    When a DV cam sends the wrong value for black to your mac it will not see the iSight any more.
    This can happen when a DV cam sends an analog signal of 0 IRE instead of 7.5 that is the correct calibration.

    -You need a friend with a Mac with a built in video card and iMovie.
    -Have him write DV from iMovie DV tape (camcorder) by Firewire.
    -The tape will have the correct Firewire black & white level digital output.
    -Import video from this DV tape to iMovie on your Mac by Firewire.

    iMovie will now will send the correct sync pulse 1v range signal to the iSight by Firewire,

    And iSight will should be happy again, your display as well.

    When analog video is digitized, only picture information is recorded, the sync pulses are ignored.
    If digital video signals are converted back to analog signals, new sync pulses are added again.


    Message was edited by: CodLBi
  • Doublestank Level 1 Level 1
    Hi Jim,

    I made an appointment and took my iSight to a Genius at an Apple retail store. The Genius tested my iSight on a Mac Pro, and it recognized that there was something plugged into the FireWire port, but it saw it as an "unknown device."

    The Genius seemed to think it was a hardware problem with the iSight itself, which mystifies me due to the fact that it was working flawlessly the day before it suddenly croaked. They offered to replace it, but when the Genius looked up the cost for that, he laughed at how incredibly stupid that would be...$149. The blasted thing only cost $129 when they were brand new.

    But if there is a saving grace here, I learned something I did not know. Ever since the 10.4.10 update, OSX has enabled USB camera devices. That is, perhaps, a lesser known Mac fact. Since I am running Leopard, I will just use a $5 640x480 USB camera I have laying around here from my long gone days as a PC owner. All I want is to be able to use AV iChat from my Mac Mini, anyway.

    So thanks for the help and I hope this helps anyone else who may have found this post because you were having similar issues. If anyone would like to purchase a paperweight shaped like an iSight camera, shoot me an email.
  • EZ Jim Level 7 Level 7
    You're welcome, Doublestank

    Thanks for confirming that your iSight itself was the problem.

    Anything that people make can break. Improper environmental conditions of heat, humidity, and vibration can damage most electronics, too, so one of those may have caused your used iSight's failure.

    If you look at the prices that used iSights fetch on the internet auction sites, the price quoted to you might not seem so "incredibly stupid," but there is no need to spend the money if you do not need an iSight.

    The fact that there are many available alternatives to iSight may not be widely known, but I and others have offered suggestions in a number of posts in Apple Discussions since iSight was discontinued.

    USB cams that support the new UVC standards will work with Mac OS X 10.4.9 or later without adding any software or drivers.

    Many older USB webcams can be used with OS X by addition of driver software such as macam. 

    In order to use compatible older USB webcams with iChat, you will need to add iUSBCam (formerly iChatUSBCam) software. See their list of Known Working Configurations for more info on compatibility and which drivers, if any, are needed in addition to iUSBCam. If your old USB cam is on the list, it should work as an iChat webcam for you. If it really did cost $5 when new, it will not likely have a built-in mic, so you will need to add that if you want audio.

    So long as you do not need to use your webcam with iMovie, which requires Firewire DV input from external cameras, your USB cam may be all you need.

    Have fun chatting,
    EZ Jim

    PowerBook 1.67 GHz w/Mac OS X (10.4.11) G5 DP 1.8 w/Mac OS X (10.5.2)  External iSight