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I think I've discovered the source of this issue. I'll put this follow-up as an Answer in case it impacts others.

Basically I think I was overburdening the camera. In addition to my OpenCV-based code that was gathering data from the camera, I had other clients streaming off of the same camera: * An instance of iSpy that was capturing all movement for a given area. (I was using iSpy to capture events so it was easy for me to compare how my software was analyzing those same events.) * I'd typically have a browser pointed to the same camera - so I could easily monitor in real time what was happening and modify camera settings. * I had another machine in the house also taking a stream from that camera.

I think basically that camera had too many clients to stream to. When I shut down all those ancillary clients the read error rate for my software went way down.