Webcam image is very dark or black - troubleshooting suggestions



Document ID: 98082637

 

Posted Date: 2009-02-09

 

Last Updated: 2009-02-09

 

Distribution: View Public Website

 

Applicable Models
Satellite All
Qosmio All
Portege All
Tecra All
Satellite Pro All
libretto All

 

Issue

The following information applies only to webcams that are built into Toshiba notebook computers.

The image from the computer's built-in webcam may be very dark or black -- either as soon as the image appears, or after a few seconds.

Resolution

Try one or more of the suggestions below to lighten and otherwise improve the image from the computer's webcam
.

Check the webcam indicator light 

WebcamPanelStart.png A light next to the webcam glows continuously to indicate that the webcam is on. If this indicator light is lit, then skip ahead to the Improve the Subject Lighting section, below. If this indicator light is off, start the Camera Assistant Software (if it is not already running) to activate the webcam. The Camera Assistant Software is the webcam application that Toshiba supplies with the computer. The webcam can also be accessed by other software, but if the indicator light is off, starting the Camera Assistant Software may activate the webcam, and allow it to work with your other webcam application.

Follow these steps to start the Camera Assistant Software:

  1. Click the Windows Start button, then click All Programs, click the Camera Assistant Software folder, and click the Camera Assistant Software. 

  2. Move the mouse to the middle of the far left edge of the screen, until a panel of icons pops out, as shown at left.

  3. Click the Start Webcam icon, shown highlighted at left. Optionally, start a different webcam application, if you have installed one.

The webcam indicator light should now turn on, indicating that the webcam is now running.

Improve the subject lighting

Webcams need lots of light, more than your eyes do. The better lit the subject (your face, for example), the clearer and brighter the webcam image will be. If the light on the subject is insufficient, the image from the webcam will be dark and grainy (noisy).

  • Illuminate the subject with as much light as possible: turn on more lights and / or turn up lights that are dimmed. 

  • As much as possible, aim lights toward the subject -- and not toward the webcam.

  • Avoid back-lighting. If there is a bright light behind your head (for example), this light will reduce the webcam's sensitivity -- causing your face to appear dark. Either turn off any lights that are directly behind you, or reposition yourself so that bright light (from a window, for example) is not shining from directly behind you.
 Enable Night Mode
 
WebcamPanelProperties.png

Try enabling Night Mode, as follows:

  1. Move the mouse to the middle of the far left edge of the screen, until a panel of icons pops out, as shown at left.

  2. If the panel does not appear, follow the steps above to start the Camera Assistant Software.

  3. Click the Properties icon (shown selected at left). The Properties window will appear.

  4. In the Properties window, click the Night Mode check box, if it's not already checked, then click OK.

Reset the webcamWebcam-thresholds.png

The webcam may turn off -- and display a black image -- if the light it 'sees' has fallen below a certain lower threshold level. The webcam will turn back on if the light level is brightened -- but only when it reaches an upper threshold level, which could easily be above the lighting level at which it had been working previously. See the illustration at right for clarification.

Correct this by simply opening the Properties window of the Camera Assistant Software, as follows:

  1. Move the mouse to the middle of the far left edge of the screen, until a panel of icons pops out, as shown at left, above.

  2. Click the Properties icon (shown selected). The Properties window will appear.

This will reset the webcam, and cause its image to be displayed again.


Try other Profiles
Try other Profiles from the Properties window. Profiles control collections of various settings, including brightness and white balance (color cast). Switching to a different Profile may lighten, color-correct, or otherwise improve the image -- depending upon lighting and other factors.
  1. Open the Properties window, per the instructions above.

  2. Click the Profiles tab. A list of Profiles appears.

  3. Try each Profile in turn by clicking its name, and reviewing the image from the webcam, which changes immediately to reflect the settings of the newly-selected Profile (it's not necessary to click either Apply or OK).

  4. When you've decided which Profile you prefer, click the OK button while that Profile is selected.
 
Reinstall the Camera Assistant software
It may be helpful to reinstall this application even when it appears to be working correctly, and even if you are using other webcam software, because it's possible that installing other webcam software may overwrite required components for the webcam. Follow the steps below to reinstall the Camera Assistant Software.
  1. Browse to the Toshiba Service and Support website, at support.toshiba.com

  2. Click Download.

  3. Select your model from the lists, and click GO.

  4. Look for "Camera Utility for Windows..." in the list of downloads. (It may help to select Multimedia from the All Categories dropdown list).

  5. Click "Camera Utility for Windows..." to download the Camera Assistant Software, then click Download Now.

  6. Double-click the downloaded file, and click OK if Windows responds with a confirmation request.

  7. Click Setup, in the WinZip Self Extractor window, then select Repair, and click Next.

  8. When the reinstallation is complete, click the Finish button to restart the computer. 
- km/wa
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