Take photos and control camera settings

Miguel Casas-Sanchez
François Beaufort
François Beaufort

Image Capture is an API to capture still images and configure camera hardware settings. This API is available in Chrome 59 on Android and desktop. We've also published an ImageCapture polyfill library.

The API enables control over camera features such as zoom, brightness, contrast, ISO and white balance. Best of all, Image Capture allows you to access the full resolution capabilities of any available device camera or webcam. Previous techniques for taking photos on the Web have used video snapshots, which are lower resolution than that available for still images.

An ImageCapture object is constructed with a MediaStreamTrack as source. The API has then two capture methods takePhoto() and grabFrame() and ways to retrieve the capabilities and settings of the camera, and to change those settings.


The Image Capture API gets access to a camera via a MediaStreamTrack obtained from getUserMedia():

navigator.mediaDevices.getUserMedia({video: true})
    .catch(error => console.error('getUserMedia() error:', error));

function gotMedia(mediaStream) {
    const mediaStreamTrack = mediaStream.getVideoTracks()[0];
    const imageCapture = new ImageCapture(mediaStreamTrack);

You can try out this code from the DevTools console.


Capture can be done in two ways: full frame and quick snapshot. takePhoto() returns a Blob, the result of a single photographic exposure, which can be downloaded, stored by the browser or displayed in an <img> element. This method uses the highest available photographic camera resolution. For example:

const img = document.querySelector('img');
// ...
    .then(blob => {
    img.src = URL.createObjectURL(blob);
    img.onload = () => { URL.revokeObjectURL(this.src); }
    .catch(error => console.error('takePhoto() error:', error));

grabFrame() returns an ImageBitmap object, a snapshot of live video, which could (for example) be drawn on a <canvas> and then post-processed to selectively change color values. Note that the ImageBitmap will only have the resolution of the video source — which will usually be lower than the camera's still-image capabilities. For example:

const canvas = document.querySelector('canvas');
// ...
    .then(imageBitmap => {
    canvas.width = imageBitmap.width;
    canvas.height = imageBitmap.height;
    canvas.getContext('2d').drawImage(imageBitmap, 0, 0);
    .catch(error => console.error('grabFrame() error:', error));

Capabilities and settings

There are a number of ways to manipulate the capture settings, depending on whether the changes would be reflected in the MediaStreamTrack or can only be seen after takePhoto(). For example, a change in zoom level is immediately propagated to the MediaStreamTrack whereas the red eye reduction, when set, is only applied when the photo is being taken.

"Live" camera capabilities and settings are manipulated via the preview MediaStreamTrack: MediaStreamTrack.getCapabilities() returns a MediaTrackCapabilities dictionary with the concrete supported capabilities and the ranges or allowed values, e.g. supported zoom range or allowed white balance modes. Correspondingly, MediaStreamTrack.getSettings() returns a MediaTrackSettings with the concrete current settings. Zoom, brightness, and torch mode belong to this category, for example:

var zoomSlider = document.querySelector('input[type=range]');
// ...
const capabilities = mediaStreamTrack.getCapabilities();
const settings = mediaStreamTrack.getSettings();
if (capabilities.zoom) {
    zoomSlider.min = capabilities.zoom.min;
    zoomSlider.max = capabilities.zoom.max;
    zoomSlider.step = capabilities.zoom.step;
    zoomSlider.value = settings.zoom;

"Non-Live" camera capabilities and settings are manipulated via the ImageCapture object: ImageCapture.getPhotoCapabilities() returns a PhotoCapabilities object that provides access to "Non-Live" available camera capabilities. Correspondingly, starting in Chrome 61, ImageCapture.getPhotoSettings() returns a PhotoSettings object with the concrete current settings. The photo resolution, red eye reduction and flash mode (except torch) belong to this section, for example:

var widthSlider = document.querySelector('input[type=range]');
// ...
    .then(function(photoCapabilities) {
    widthSlider.min = photoCapabilities.imageWidth.min;
    widthSlider.max = photoCapabilities.imageWidth.max;
    widthSlider.step = photoCapabilities.imageWidth.step;
    return imageCapture.getPhotoSettings();
    .then(function(photoSettings) {
    widthSlider.value = photoSettings.imageWidth;
    .catch(error => console.error('Error getting camera capabilities and settings:', error));


"Live" camera settings can be configured via the preview MediaStreamTrack's applyConstraints() constraints , for example:

var zoomSlider = document.querySelector('input[type=range]');

mediaStreamTrack.applyConstraints({ advanced: [{ zoom: zoomSlider.value }]})
    .catch(error => console.error('Uh, oh, applyConstraints() error:', error));

"Non-Live" camera settings are configured with the takePhoto()'s optional PhotoSettings dictionary, for example:

var widthSlider = document.querySelector('input[type=range]');
imageCapture.takePhoto({ imageWidth : widthSlider.value })
    .then(blob => {
    img.src = URL.createObjectURL(blob);
    img.onload = () => { URL.revokeObjectURL(this.src); }
    .catch(error => console.error('Uh, oh, takePhoto() error:', error));

Camera capabilities

If you run the code above, you'll notice a difference in dimensions between the grabFrame() and takePhoto() results.

The takePhoto() method gives access to the camera's maximum resolution.

grabFrame() just takes the next available VideoFrame in the MediaStreamTrack inside the renderer process, whereas takePhoto() interrupts the MediaStream, reconfigures the camera, takes the photo (usually in a compressed format, hence the Blob) and then resumes the MediaStreamTrack. In essence, this means that takePhoto() gives access to the full still-image resolution capabilities of the camera. Previously, it was only possible to 'take a photo' by calling drawImage() on a canvas element, using a video as the source (as per the example here).

More information can be found in the README.md section.

In this demo, the <canvas> dimensions are set to the resolution of the video stream, whereas the natural size of the <img> is the maximum still-image resolution of the camera. CSS, of course, is used to set the display size of both.

The full range of available camera resolutions for still images can be get and set using the MediaSettingsRange values for PhotoCapabilities.imageHeight and imageWidth. Note that the minimum and maximum width and height constraints for getUserMedia() are for video, which (as discussed) may be different from the camera capabilities for still images. In other words, you may not be able to access the full resolution capabilities of your device when saving from getUserMedia() to a canvas. The WebRTC resolution constraint demo shows how to set getUserMedia() constraints for resolution.

Anything else?

Demos and code samples


  • Chrome 59 on Android and desktop.
  • Chrome Canary on Android and desktop previous to 59 with Experimental Web Platform features enabled.

Find out more