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How to capture a single photo with webcam using OpenCV in Python

Njoku Ifeanyi Gerald


OpenCV stands for “Open Source Computer Vision Library”. It is used to process image processing and perform computer vision tasks.

In this shot, we’ll learn to capture a single photo with a webcam using OpenCV in Python.


pip install pipenv 
pipenv shell
pipenv install opencv-python

After the installation, let’s create a file and name it

# importing the python open cv library
import cv2

# intialize the webcam and pass a constant which is 0
cam = cv2.VideoCapture(0)

# title of the app
cv2.namedWindow('python webcam screenshot app')

# let's assume the number of images gotten is 0
img_counter = 0

# while loop
while True:
    # intializing the frame, ret
    ret, frame =
    # if statement
    if not ret:
        print('failed to grab frame')
    # the frame will show with the title of test
    cv2.imshow('test', frame)
    #to get continuous live video feed from my laptops webcam
    k  = cv2.waitKey(1)
    # if the escape key is been pressed, the app will stop
    if k%256 == 27:
        print('escape hit, closing the app')
    # if the spacebar key is been pressed
    # screenshots will be taken
    elif k%256  == 32:
        # the format for storing the images scrreenshotted
        img_name = f'opencv_frame_{img_counter}'
        # saves the image as a png file
        cv2.imwrite(img_name, frame)
        print('screenshot taken')
        # the number of images automaticallly increases by 1
        img_counter += 1

# release the camera

# stops the camera window


  • Line 16: We use a Boolean variable ret that returns true if the frame is available. frame is an image array vector captured based on the default frames per second defined explicitly or implicitly.
  • Line 22: We use the cv2.imshow() method to show the title of the application.
  • Line 24: We use the cv2.waitkey() method to get a continuous live video feed from the device camera.
  • Line 26: We check if the escape key is pressed. If it is, then the application shuts down.
  • Line 31: We check if the spacebar is pressed. If it is, then a screenshot is taken.
  • Line 35: We use the cv2.imwrite() method to save an image to any storage device.
  • Line 41: We use the cam.release() function to help release the camera.
  • Line 44: We use the cam.destoryAllWindows() function to shut down the windows.

Running the code

After writing the code, go to the terminal and type this to start the application:


A window pops up and we can press the spacebar to take a screenshot or press the escape button to exit the application.




Njoku Ifeanyi Gerald

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