As this is the way Facetime is intended to work, what you are experiencing is not a malfunction, so there isn't anything to fix. Feel free however, to post feedback:
That is not good. If the cam always on when logged in is as designed then that design is flawed. Apple, I don't think that you would design the OS X version of FaceTime this poorly?
The cam must be off when no chat is in progress.
Until this us fixed I am forced to continue to use skype I guess.
Ok.. so I found out something interesting and I am closing my own post with that. So, some genius over at Apple thought the following: "Let's make an app that is actually really cool, but let's make it a bit convoluted so that people will have problems using it".
So, In order to receive a call on your OS X laptop of desktop or iMac you would have to initially launch FaceTime and then sign in. Then ... Quite FaceTime! That's right! Quit FaceTime. You wouldn't want your camera to run all the time and your cpu being stressed by FaceTime and the camera constantly running. So, just quit FaceTime and wait.
Now when someone calls you, like magic it will ring. When you accept FaceTime launches, and you are on. If you are not there and the other person gives up you will see a little red circlie/star with a number of missed calls in the dock icon of FaceTime (if you have such icon in your dock that is).
If you want to make a call, easy.. just launch it and select who you want to call. Do your little chat and when done, you guessed it - just quit the app. Done deal.
I still consider that somewhat a design flaw and I wrote Apple about that. Why can't FaceTime be on (to make it easy for my mother in law so that when she logs in that Facetime automatically starts). Just so that it is there when she want's to call her grand kids, but the cam is off when no call is in progress. I think it would be a bit more intuitive only because all other video chat clients work THE SAME WAY! But no, it's different here. Oh well. Maybe someone will fix it down the road.
Thanks for listening to me rant.
That took me FOREVER to find out. I'm right with you, Martin. It's an obvious design flaw to not mention this in the app. You would think they would have a little popup window, or even explain it on the facetime page: http://www.apple.com/mac/facetime/
Thanks for posting your answer.
Thanks for explaining this. What a very strange, strange design.
It's interesting that merely closing the window (cmd w) does the same thing. Camera goes off (which made me think that the stupid thing stopped working. I guess the camera is on so you can make sure you like what it see's. But the simple addition of a big button that says "Make me available for calls" that did the same thing would be a way out that preserves their "experience".
I absolutely agreed with you and can't understand why the video camera on the Mac is on on default. And when that is 'as designed' than it is a bad design.
Just switch it off on default and turn it on when hou actually want wo make a video call instead of a voice call ... Especially now where you can make phone calls from the Mac via your iPhone.
Only reason I can guess for this mistake is that they want to 'tease' you to use video calls more often ...
I have noticed this same problem recently since upgrading to Yosemite. In order to receive calls from my iPhone FaceTime needs to be booted from the start or its pointless as my iPhone just rings and rings as FaceTime boots up which makes me just want to answer the phone before someone rings off! However the shock at booting straight into FaceTime each time my machine starts up isn't nice (early mornings? NO!)
Its a shame that unless you're in a call you can't turn the camera off (as far as I know). However, if you minimise FaceTime window to the toolbar you'll notice the cam light turns off and (I presume (hope)) disables the camera.
~ Hope this helps!