Displaying a webcam feed using OpenCV and Python


I have been trying to create a simple program with Python which uses OpenCV to get a video feed from my webcam and display it on the screen.

I know I am partly there because the window is created and the light on my webcam flicks on, but it just doesn’t seem to show anything in the window. Hopefully someone can explain what I’m doing wrong.

import cv

cv.NamedWindow("w1", cv.CV_WINDOW_AUTOSIZE)
capture = cv.CaptureFromCAM(0)

def repeat():

    frame = cv.QueryFrame(capture)
    cv.ShowImage("w1", frame)

while True:

On an unrelated note, I have noticed that my webcam sometimes changes its index number in cv.CaptureFromCAM, and sometimes I need to put in 0, 1 or 2 even though I only have one camera connected and I haven’t unplugged it (I know because the light doesn’t come on unless I change the index). Is there a way to get Python to determine the correct index?

Asked By: Mitch



Try adding the line c = cv.WaitKey(10) at the bottom of your repeat() method.

This waits for 10 ms for the user to enter a key. Even if you’re not using the key at all, put this in. I think there just needed to be some delay, so time.sleep(10) may also work.

In regards to the camera index, you could do something like this:

for i in range(3):
    capture = cv.CaptureFromCAM(i)
    if capture: break

This will find the index of the first “working” capture device, at least for indices from 0-2. It’s possible there are multiple devices in your computer recognized as a proper capture device. The only way I know of to confirm you have the right one is manually looking at your light. Maybe get an image and check its properties?

To add a user prompt to the process, you could bind a key to switching cameras in your repeat loop:

import cv

cv.NamedWindow("w1", cv.CV_WINDOW_AUTOSIZE)
camera_index = 0
capture = cv.CaptureFromCAM(camera_index)

def repeat():
    global capture #declare as globals since we are assigning to them now
    global camera_index
    frame = cv.QueryFrame(capture)
    cv.ShowImage("w1", frame)
    c = cv.WaitKey(10)
    if(c=="n"): #in "n" key is pressed while the popup window is in focus
        camera_index += 1 #try the next camera index
        capture = cv.CaptureFromCAM(camera_index)
        if not capture: #if the next camera index didn't work, reset to 0.
            camera_index = 0
            capture = cv.CaptureFromCAM(camera_index)

while True:

disclaimer: I haven’t tested this so it may have bugs or just not work, but might give you at least an idea of a workaround.

Answered By: Matt Boehm

If you only have one camera, or you don’t care which camera is the correct one, then use “-1” as the index. Ie for your example capture = cv.CaptureFromCAM(-1).

Answered By: TinBane

change import cv to import cv2.cv as cv
See also the post here.

Answered By: David

An update to show how to do it in the recent versions of OpenCV:

import cv2

vc = cv2.VideoCapture(0)

if vc.isOpened(): # try to get the first frame
    rval, frame = vc.read()
    rval = False

while rval:
    cv2.imshow("preview", frame)
    rval, frame = vc.read()
    key = cv2.waitKey(20)
    if key == 27: # exit on ESC


It works in OpenCV-2.4.2 for me.

Answered By: sastanin

Try the following. It is simple, but I haven’t figured out a graceful way to exit yet.

import cv2.cv as cv
import time

cv.NamedWindow("camera", 0)

capture = cv.CaptureFromCAM(0)

while True:
    img = cv.QueryFrame(capture)
    cv.ShowImage("camera", img)
    if cv.WaitKey(10) == 27:
Answered By: user808996

As in the opencv-doc you can get video feed from a camera which is connected to your computer by following code.

import numpy as np
import cv2
cap = cv2.VideoCapture(0)
    # Capture frame-by-frame
    ret, frame = cap.read()
    # Our operations on the frame come here
    gray = cv2.cvtColor(frame, cv2.COLOR_BGR2GRAY)
    # Display the resulting frame
    if cv2.waitKey(1) & 0xFF == ord('q'):
# When everything done, release the capture

You can change cap = cv2.VideoCapture(0) index from 0 to 1 to access the 2nd camera.
Tested in opencv-3.2.0

Answered By: Ramesh-X
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