It was a long, hard road of challenges even finding a Mac compatible webcam, and then a video chat solution that worked well and across platforms. Often times the Mac version lagged behind the Windows version in features and compatibility - or the Mac version was dropped entirely without a sufficiently sized user-base to continue development. Along the way programs such as ICUii, ISPQ, iVisit, CamFrog, AOL-Yahoo-MSN Messenger, Logitech VID, et. al., have struggled for a place in the ever-changing line-up of Apple's favored Mac chat software like iChat, iChat AV, FaceTime.
Fast-forward to today. Videoconferencing on a Mac is more robust than ever. Through much of this, SKYPE has survived and thrived across BOTH OSX and Windows to become THE de-facto standard for reliable Mac and PC cross-platform conferencing.
Skype Mac HD Webcam
720p FreeTalk HD Camera
Now at version 5x, HD Mac video chat is now supported and the v5beta recently added FaceBook integration. Though The Skype Store has tried to offer Skype compatible Mac webcams in their hardware listings, they were no bargain at full retail prices. In addition to the FreeTalk HD camera shown above, some of the better webcams for Mac Skype include the Creative Socialize HD AF, the world-class high quality Mac compatible Logitech HD Pro Webcam, and Logitech C615 HD Webcam
If you're looking for a low-priced Mac compatible Skype web camera + USB headset bundle with a goofy looking webcam that's driver-free on Mac OSX:
FreeTalk Buddy Pack
Macintosh compatibility, marketing and support were a weak point for many years. In the early days, a few of their webcams were in fact Mac compatible, but they didn't advertise, market as such, nor provide technical support. That changed when the Apple Stores first opened and a supposed 'Special Edition' model of the 1.3MP QuickCam Ultra Vision SE Webcam was packaged for Apple retail.
Logitech webcam support more officially debuted with the now discontinued, but still available Quickcam Vision Pro for Mac Webcam which offered not only UVC Mac compatibility, but HARDWARE auto-focus, RightLight2 technology, and world-class Carl Zeiss glass lens optics. It may have looked like a QuickCam 9000 for PC's on he outside, but had different internal hardware. Unlike the QC 9000 it didn't rely on (Windows ONLY) software for autofocus and light management.
The Vision Pro was replaced last year with the best Mac compatible webcam made to date: ThePC and Mac Compatible C910 HD webcam. The color fidelity, light sensitivity and mind-blowing carity and detail sets the standard for all web cams from here on out.
C910 HD Pro Webcam
Stereo Mic + Zeiss Lens
Recently, a slightly more affordable Apple friendly webcam model with similar qualities with a Non-Zeiss glass lens - the Logitech C615 Mac Autofocus Webcam was added to Logitech's Mac webcam page as having 'official' Mac support.
The reality is that other lower-end Logitech web cameras will work on a Mac. For instance, tests of a plastic lens C510 worked in all Mac chat apps and had good sound fidelity and an image quality basically comparable to the built-in iSight of my 2 year old MacBook Pro.
If still available, the is a 1.3MP VGA resolution web cam that works well with decent frame-rates on all modern Macs - and even on older G4-G5 Macintosh systems:
HP Deluxe Webcam
With a clean sounding microphone, excellent color balance and light sensitivity, it also has hardware auto-focus and will zoom in and out slightly to maintain clarity.
Three webcams users might aim for in the Creative webcam for Mac lineup start in the midrange with it's Live! Cam Socialize HD cam. It's support for 720p HD on dual core Intel Macs delivers decent color fidelity and low-light sensitivity and still delivers decent frame rates even in HD mode.
At the high-end, the 1080p and 720p models of Creative's LiveCam Connect series are their best Mac compatible HD webcams, and worthy rivals to the top Logitech webcams that were available.
With the release of OSX - MacAlly was one of the first with a truly driver-free UVC webcam for Mac - the IceCam2. It's still widely available and dirt cheap. Just plug it into a USB 2.0 speed port and nearly all Mac video programs can recognize its presence. Unfortunately, the IceCam2 is also a VERY LOW-QUALITY webcam.
Cheap MacAlly Webcam
You Get What You Pay For…
Cheap optics, a harsh and hollow sounding built-in microphone, and rather blue-greenish color problems make this a rather mediocre choice for a good Mac video chat experience. However, because it is a lower-resolution 1.3MP VGA camera - it is less demanding of CPU resources and more suitable for older, now obsolete USB 2.0 Macs with G4 and G5 processors that just can't handle the CPU demands of modern, higher-res HD cameras.
AVOID THE NEWER MODEL: The MacAlly MegaCam HD. HORRIBLE, SLUGGISH FRAME RATES in any Mac OSX video chat program I tested it with. The completely redesigned MegaCam is a 2-MegaPixel 720p high-definition PC and Mac compatible HD web camera with a built-in microphone that seems 'stuck' in maximum resolution HD mode. Unless you have a Quad-Core 3Ghz+ Mac AVOID this camera! MacAlly should stop selling this cam and go back to the drawing board because the MegaCam a flawed product that is not suitiable for most Mac systems. Horrible, horrible frame-rates - and seems unable to switch to 320x240 or 640x480 video modes that MOST Mac video chat programs use.
The UVC - USB 2.0 Video Class webcam specification has been a godsend in the years since. Not just for Apple computer users wanting easy, plug and play web cam support, but for Linux and Windows PC users as well. The need for manufacturers to write specific webcam drivers for each camera hardware type and operating system was greatly reduced as built-in low-level webcam driver support was now included in OSX, Linux and Windows Vista and beyond. It's also taken a few years as webcam makers started - somewhat slowly - incorporating UVC compliant hardware into their web cameras.
A UVC becomes the de-facto standard for Windows, Linux and Mac compatible webcams, the real challenge is choosing the best webcam for your Macintosh, depending on your needs or budget. Whether you're looking for a dirt cheap webcam to a high-end HD web camera for OSX there's a growing number of cameras available for videoconferencing or Skype, video capture for YouTube and video sharing websites, online chat with FaceTime, iChat, or on FaceBook.