Photo ID Cameras 101

There are many cameras that will work with our photo ID systems. The main consideration is getting your picture cropped to the right shape, adjusted if necessary, and onto the badge in the ID card software.

This page will discuss the following topics you will need to consider:

  • Picures with TWAIN and WIA interfaces
  • Pictures without TWAIN and WIA
  • Web cameras
  • Digital cameras
  • InPhoto Software 

Getting pictures using the TWAIN or WIA interface

When purchasing photo ID cameras you should purchase one that supports either the TWAIN or WIA (Windows Image Acquisition) interfaces.

Here are the steps for acquiring a picture from the camera using TWAIN or WIA:

  1. Start acquiring a picture by selecting the acquire picture command in your ID card software program.
  2. This will open a separate window which will show you the view through your camera lens.
  3. At this point you can move the camera or subject, or zoom (if your camera has it) until you like the shot.
  4. Take the picture by clicking a button with your mouse.
  5. Most software programs will have a picture edit/enhancement feature at this point.
  6. The software then takes you to a screen for trimming the picture to the shape of the picture on your badge.
  7. At this point the picture is displayed on your screen in your badge preview and you are finished. 

This is definitely the easiest method if the camera is close to the computer. If your camera is in another location when pictures are taken then you will use the following procedure which does not require these interfaces.

Getting pictures without TWAIN or WIA

Here are the steps for importing a picture without TWAIN or WIA:

  1. Take a picture of the subject using the photo ID camera apart from the computer program.
  2. Make the picture available to the ID computer by moving the storage card, attaching the cable to the computer, emailing, etc.
  3. Import the picture from the storage device into your ID card software program using the import picture command.
  4. Most software programs will have a picture edit/enhancement feature at this point.
  5. The software then takes you to a screen for trimming the picture to the shape of the picture on your badge.
  6. At this point the picture is displayed on your screen in your badge preview and you are finished.

If you have remote offices that email pictures to a central badge making location then this is the only method.

Web Cameras

Photos for IDs do not need a really high resolution so web cameras are a very good option. In fact very high resolutions can be a problem (see the digital camera section for a discussion of this).

Logitech cameras have been a popular option for ID badge systems for some time and more recently the Microsoft Lifecams have become popular. They will all support the WIA interface without any additional software.

A very popular option currently available is using the Microsoft Lifecam together with the InPhoto ID Webcam software. This software is discussed in a section below.

Digital cameras

Using digital cameras for photo ID cameras will work fine as long as they have the correct interfaces for your needs. (See the sections above on TWAIN and WIA interfaces).

Another thing to consider is that very high resolutions can be a problem in that they take a lot of disk space and can make your database grow very large quickly. This is a problem for MS Access databases in that they have a physical size limit of 2GB. For this reason if you are using a digital camera I recommend using the lowest resolution setting and maybe even taking the picture from a distance so you can trim off some of the size of the picture.

InPhoto Software

The InPhoto Software is a TWAIN compliant software package that can enhance the photo capture capability of many photo ID cameras. There is a version for webcams called InPhoto ID Webcam and a version for Canon Powershot digital cameras called InPhoto ID PS.

Here is a list of the features in the PS version:

  • Camera settings controlled from the computer.
  • Live image preview (640 x 480 pixels).
  • Image rotation: manual by 90 degrees.
  • Automatic face detection on live image in the preview window.
  • Automatic face crop.
  • Photo enhancement options.
  • Photo resizing options.
  • Image export to the ID card software.
  • Save ID photo to a file on your computer. 

Only some Powershot cameras are supported so please check compatibility if using this software. 

Here is a list of features in the Webcam version:

  • Camera settings controlled from the computer
  • Live image preview
  • Face detection on a live image in the preview window.
  • Face crop on the captured image.
  • Photo enhancement options.
  • Image export to the ID card software.
  • Save ID photos to a file on your computer.
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