Monday, November 28, 2016

White Paper - Key benefits in using LED lighting controllers for machine vision applications

A successful, cost-effective application of a Machine Vision system is often dependent on the interplay of many individual elements, including machine vision lighting.  As much as an Light Emitting Diode (LED) appears to be a basic electronic component, driving it in a fashion suitable for machine vision applications is non-trivial.  

LED's have become the staple in industrial imaging applications in which consistent illumination is key.  In order to achieve constant illumination and synchronization with cameras, controllers from Gardasoft should be utilized.  

Download the full white paper 
here NOW 


Why use a LED Lighting Controller?

LED Light Controllers are an essential element of any vision system which needs to optimize illumination intensity and precision trigger sequencing between vision cameras and lights. The following are the main areas where you will benefit from the use of an LED light controller:

Pulse (or strobe) control
Where you need to synchronize the ON time of your light with the camera and target product (controllers are available for nano-second timing resolution)

Where you require increased intensity from your LED light for a short, defined, period of time (with up to 10x over driving capability)

Continuous current power supply (constant light)
Where you require a highly stable constant current supply for constant on LED lighting

Control of multi-lighting schemes
For systems with multiple lighting configurations which require intensity control and high speed synchronization (from single or multiple triggers)

Remote configuration changes
For systems where it is advantageous to have remote setting of lighting system parameters – eg: to facilitate efficient set-up during system commissioning

LED Technology Overview

LEDs are current driven devices.  While LED Lights are specified as either 12V or 24V lights, the actual LEDs are semiconductor devices whose light output is a direct result of the current through the device, not the voltage. 

All LED device manufacturers specify that current control is advised for efficient use.  Typically, LED datasheets will indicate that very small changes in LED voltage results in large changes in the LED current; and large changes in LED current results in large changes in light output intensity. 

As seen in the diagram to the right, small changes in forward voltage (Vf),greatly change current ( If )

Gardasoft LED controllers regulate the current, not the voltage, so that light output is stable, tightly controlled and highly repeatable. 

Controlling the current allows for precise control of the LED light output, with an additional   benefit to users looking to overdrive their lights to increase light output.

There are many advantages of accurate pulsing and over driving LED's.  However it is also extremely important to ensure LEDs are over driven safely to ensure long life and not catastrophic failure.   

In this white paper, the following topics are covered:

  • An overview of LED technology
  • How to pulse and overdrive LEDs safely using Gardasoft's patented "SafeSense" technology
  • Three trigger modes from constant, pulses and switched for various applications.
  • How "SafeSense" technology determines the optimum current for consistent LED drive. 
  • Advanced and custom controller functions.  Example - allowing multiple pulses at different intensity levels over various LED channels.  

1st Vision has over 100 years of combined experience in industrial imaging and has a resident lighting expert on hand. 

Contact us for pricing on all Gardasoft controllers and suggestions on your vision and lighting application.  

Ph:  978-474-0044  

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Wednesday, November 23, 2016

How does a 3CCD camera improve color accuracy and spatial resolution versus standard Bayer color cameras?

In applications where high color precision and spatial resolution are required, there are distinct advantages of 3-CCD color cameras versus Bayer mosaic color alternatives.  JAI cameras provide 3-CCD camera solutions to provide high color fidelity in various resolutions.  


Models available (Click on model for specs)

Model #      Resolution          Interface

AT-140CL   1392 x 1040          Camera link
AT-140GE   1392 x 1040         GigE
AT-200CL    1625 x 1236         Camera link
AT-200GE   1625 x 1236         GigE
CV-M9CL     1039 x 744          Camera link
CV-M9GE     1039 x 744         GigE  

Contact us for a quote on 3-CCD cameras!

All 3-CCD cameras use dichroic prism optics to split incoming light into three distinct color channels for precise RGB values with full spatial resolution.  

The diagram above shows the incoming light path being diverted to separate image sensors in turn having a RGB value co-site sampled.  

Color Fidlity
Bayer mosaic color cameras use a pattern of color filters and an interpolation process to estimate the approximate RGB value of a give pixel.  With a 3-CCD camera, a specific R, G and B value is captured for each pixel.  This inherently produces higher color precision in the 3-CCD output.  

The spectral curves resulting from the hard dichroic prism coating are much steeper than the curves from the soft polymer dyes used in Bayer filters.  This enables the 3-CCD cameras to produce exceptional accurate color data without the uncertainty that comes with the overlap regions (Area in grey below in the illustration )

High Dynamic Range
In addition to reducing color precision, the overlap in the color filter response also results in part of each pixel's well capacity filling with photons resulting from the cross-talk, thus decreasing the available well capacity.  Precision responses from the dichroic coating enable each channel to efficiently use the full well capacity of the pixel, allowing the maximum possible dynamic range.  

Color Space calibration
JAI's 3-CCD cameras include  a sophisticated linear color matrix circuit which enables color
matching between camera data and calibrated printers, monitors and other devices.  Built in presets are provided to output the color information in the proper format for the sRGB or Adobe RGB industrial standard color space.  

The end Result
The two images below compare results from a 5-megapixel Bayer color camera (left) with the 2- megapixel JAI AT-200 camera (right).  Despite having 2.5X the resolution, the 5 megapixel cameras soft polymer dye color filters and the interpolation process result in significant color contamination, less differentiation between similar colors, and reduced sharpness of the image.  

Additional images for comparison are below to demonstrate the fidelity of a 3-CCD camera vs Bayer cameras

Click on the video below now for a full presentation on detailing how 3-CCD cameras improve color accuracy

Need to discuss how a 3-CCD color camera will benefit your application?  1st Vision's sales engineers all have 25+ years of experience in industrial imaging and can review this in detail. 

JAI also makes 2-CCD, 3-CMOS and 4-CCD line scan cameras. Click here now for more information (see multi-sensor tab)

Need to understand more about Bayer color cameras?  Download this white paper now
  Please do not hesitate to Contact us!  1st Vision can provide a complete solution including cameras, lenses, lighting and cables.  

Ph:  978-474-0044  

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Upgrade your 5MP CCD (Sony ICX625) camera for higher performance with an Allied Vision Mako G-507 (IMX264)

Allied Vision introduces the Mako G-507 with the new Sony IMX264 CMOS image sensor. This camera is perfect replacement to the older 5 megapixel Sony ICX625 and ICX655 with an identical image sensor format (2/3" ).  This provides an easy upgrade path for current CCD sensors to the new CMOS sensors 

Higher performance, lower cost, no optics change, no brainer!

What are the benefits of the new Sony Pregius IMX264 image sensor over its CCD predecessor, the Sony ICX625?

Sonys new Pregius CMOS series sensors provide a higher saturation capacity (aka well depth) and in turn dynamic range.  Sensitivity increases significantly along with reduced noise with < 3 electrons of dark noise!   See our comparison of the faster IMX250 Vs ICX625 for further details.  (Note:  The IMX264 is the slower version of the IMX250, but with similar performance ) 

Why choose the Allied Vision Mako G-507?

The Mako G-507 is an industrial GigE camera with a ultra-compact form factor and same mounting positions as many analog cameras for easy upgrades.  All Mako models include Power Over Ethernet (PoE), three opto-insulated outputs and a 64 Mbyte image buffer.  

Features include: 

  • Color and Monochrome versions
  • GigE Vision compliant interface
  • Auto gain (0 to 40 dB )
  • Auto exposure for changing lighting environments
  • Auto white balance (Color models only)
  • Decimation
  • Region of Interest (ROI) with separate ROI auto features.  
  • Many customization's are available including white medical housings.

Click  HERE now for Full specifications for the Allied Vision Mako G-507  

View this video for a quick overview of the features found in the Mako camera series

If you like the Sony IMX264 but need more features in the camera, the Manta camera line is the next step up with a 128 Mbyte image buffer, additional I/O, RS232 communications and configurable options including right angle heads. 

Full specifications for the Allied Vision Manta G-507 can be found HERE

Need help in specifying a camera?  All sales engineers at 1st Vision have 25+ years of experience and can help you along with specifying the right lens and hardware components. 

Please do not hesitate to Contact us!   

Ph:  978-474-0044  

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Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Fastest 12 & 9 Megapixel GigE cameras featuring Sony Pregius sensors

Teledyne DALSA has announced the addition of four new high resolution models to its high-value Genie™ Nano GigE Vision camera series. Featuring the popular Sony®Pregius’ IMX 255 and IMX 253 image sensors, the new 9 (4K HD) and 12 Megapixel cameras deliver both speed and high quality imaging. 

Nano 12 megapixels at 40 fps and 
9 megapixels at 56 fps.. Truly the fastest GigE

Nano GigE cameras are equipped with the patented Turbo drive allowing pixel data to be transferred at a rate in excess of 125 MB/s.  This provides frame rates beyond the normal link capacity.  

With the addition of these four models (M4060, M4040, C4060 and C4040) systems designers can choose from a growing number of Genie Nano cameras powered by 31 industry-leading CMOS image sensors.

Key Features include: 

  • TurboDrive for fast frame rates and full image quality
  • Trigger-to-Image-Reliability for easy system control and debugging
  • Small footprint / light weight: 44mm x 29mm x 21mm / 46 grams
  • Wide temperature range (-20 to 60°C) for imaging in harsh environments
  • Auto-brightness features for changing lighting environments
  • Support for Linux operating platform is also available
  • Genie Nano cameras feature a robust design backed by a 3-year warranty.
Applications include:
  • Intelligent traffic systems
  • Printed circuit board inspection
  • Metrology
  • Machine Vision & industrial inspection

View the full data sheets for the 9 MP and 12 MP cameras below:

Stay Tuned!  The ON-SEMI 16 and 25 Megapixel sensors are on the Nano roadmap!  You'll see the new Nano M4090 and M5100 cameras coming soon!  

1st Vision  stocks all the popular Teledyne Dalsa Nano cameras!  Contact us to discuss which Nano camera is best for your application.  
Please do not hesitate to Contact us!  1st Vision can provide a complete solution including cameras, lenses, lighting and cables.  

Ph:  978-474-0044  

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Battle of the 5 Megapixel Image Sensors - Sony IMX250 Vs Sony ICX625

Sony has continued expanding the Pregius image sensor portfolio providing higher resolutions for many camera applications. These sensors have excellent sensitivity, signal to noise ratios and dynamic range.

Sony has added the new 5MP, 2/3" IMX250  image sensors to the portfolio which has proliferated into many industrial camera designs.  Sensitivity on this sensor has even surpassed the popular Pregius 5.86um pixel formats by 1.1X with a smaller pixel allowing the format to be reduced to a 2/3" format.   

Compared to the 5MP, 2/3" Sony ICX625 CCD image sensor, the new Pregius IMX250, 5MP image sensor boasts ~ 5X sensitivity improvement and dynamic range of 71 db vs 56 db and incredibly low dark noise.  

We know this information can be baffling so we we have put the two sensors in the ring to battle out the specifications!

From the specification standpoint, the IMX250 knocks out the ICX625 in a few rounds.  The key attributes are battled out below.


Round 1  - Saturation Capacity and Dynamic Range
Saturation capacity (aka well depth) is the amount of charge in electrons a pixel can hold, whereas dynamic range relates to the signal to noise of the temporal dark noise.  Comparing saturation capacity and dynamic range, the IMX250 knocks out the ICX625 in one punch.

 Although the pixel sizes are the same, the new CMOS pixel wells have a saturation capacity of ~ 10.3K electrons compared to 5.9K for the ICX625.  This contributes to increased dynamic range allowing images to not saturate quickly, allowing more dark and bright areas to be viewed.  

In general, the more electrons in the pixel well along with low noise provides better signal to noise ratios.  As shown in the graphic, we ideally want a lot of signal electrons vs the noise electrons.

Round 2 - Temporal Dark noise

Temporal dark noise also known as read noise is measured in electrons, in which a lower temporal dark noise provides better images.  This noise is produced within the sensor electronics and show up in the pixel well as unwanted noisy electrons.  The new IMX250 has incredibly low dark noise with only 2.3 electronics compared to the older IMX625 CCD having approximately 9 electrons.  The IMX250 clearly wins this round providing better fidelity!

Round 3 - Sensitivity & Quantum Efficiency

Sensitivity can be measured looking at the number of photons required to have a signal equal to the noise level.  A lower number of electronics are better indicating higher sensitivity.  Quantum efficiency measures the percentage of photons converted to electronics at a given wavelength.  In comparing the sensitivity thresholds, it takes ~ 4 electrons to gain a signal versus 22 comparing the IMX250 vs ICX625 making it much more sensitive.  Reviewing the quantum efficiency at 525nm, further supports this with a higher percentage of photons being converted on the new CMOS sensor with 76% vs 57%.  Its a knockout in round 3!

.. And the winner is... the Sony IMX250 CMOS sensor!  This comparison shows excellent gains in technology with this 5MP sensor!   If you are using the ICX625 sensor, the IMX250 is a drop in replacement allowing you to keep the optics, gain better performance and drop the price of your camera substantially!

Several camera manufacturers have the new Sony Pregius IMX250 5MP sensor in their lineup and more on the horizon.  Links to the current cameras as follows listed by interface. 

As a note, the IMX250 is the faster sensor vs its counterpart, the IMX264.  Both of these sensors have essentially the same performance, but speed and price are lower with the IMX264.  In many cases, you will see both sensors within a camera product line, but the IMX264 sensor will be at a lower price.

Cameras in the current lineup are as follows:  


IDS  UI-3080CP   - IMX250
IDS UI-3280CP - IMX264

GigE Vision

Teledyne Dalsa Nano 2450 - IMX250
Teledyne Dalsa Nano 2420 - IMX264

JAI GO-5100 - IMX250
JAI GO-5101 - IMX264

Allied Vision - Manta G507 - IMX264

This is the second of our sensor battles!  See our comparison and learn how the Sony IMX174 (and its counterpart the IMX249) compare against a CMOSIS 2MP sensor!

Please do not hesitate to Contact us!  1st Vision can provide a complete solution including cameras, lenses, lighting and cables.   We are happy to discuss the differences along with pros and cons of the various sensors and cameras.

Ph:  978-474-0044  

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Wednesday, September 28, 2016

USB3.0 for Machine Vision? Absolutely! Educate yourself with our white paper to learn some key tips.

For the past decade, Gigabit Ethernet (GigE) has been the preferred choice as a camera interface for machine vision applications. It started off slowly supplementing Firewire (A/400 & B/800) as the then current choice, but picked up steam as it became apparent that Firewire 1600 was not going to gain traction in the marketplace.  

Today, USB3.0 is picking up steam and being molded into an excellent choice for machine vision applications.  

How is USB3.0 a good choice today?  

Read our white paper in which you will learn:

1)  What are the requirements for machine vision applications today?

2)  How do camera interfaces compare which including Firewire, GigE, USB2.0 and USB3.0  

3)  Why USB3.0 is a great alternative for today's challenging Vision applications.  

The white paper also includes links to even more detailed detailed info on USB3.0 which provides specifics on CPU usage, cable lengths, USB controllers and multi-camera applications.  
Have an application to discuss using USB3 Vision?  1st Vision has extensive knowledge in industrial imaging and can help answer any questions.  We have over 100 years of combined knowledge and look forward to discussing your application.  

Please do not hesitate to Contact us!  1st Vision can provide a complete solution including cameras, lenses, lighting and cables.  

Ph:  978-474-0044  

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Everything you need to know about USB3.1 vision cameras and the new cost effective IDS LE camera series

Industrial Imaging interfaces and camera sensors continue to become faster and more economical.  For the veterans in the industry, we've seen analog (RS-170), Fire-wire and USB2 interfaces phase in and and out as newer faster interfaces are developed.  We are now on the doorstep of several new interfaces, one being USB3.1  

The consumer electronics market has given birth to this next generation with data rates up to 10 Gbit/s and power transfer of 100 watts.  

What benefits will USB3.1 provide?

USB3.1 opens up the doors for the new Sony Pregius and ON-Semiconductor Python image sensors and cameras.  The native sensors themselves are designed to run at much higher frame rates, but throttled back to fit within the USB3 bandwidth.  That being said, higher speed interfaces such as CameraLink and CoaXpress could be used, but comes with added cost and complexity.  

USB3.1 will open the doors to these sensors allowing them to run at their fully designed frame rates with ease of use.  

Additional power capabilities is also designed into USB3.1 ports providing 5 amps @ 20 volts.  We expect this may open the door to options which may include power for lighting and controllers. 

What connector and cables will be required?

USB type C plug connectors will be implemented onto the new cameras supporting USB3.1. In turn, cables will be needed that are Type C to Type A for industrial imaging applications.  

1stVision will have cables available later in 2016 to support this upcoming interface.  Stay tuned!  (See current USB3.0 cables including Active and Hybrid Active Optical USB3 cables)

What cameras are up and coming? 

IDS Imaging will debut their first USB3.1 camera in the fall of 2016 starting with engineering prototypes.  The focus will be on the new uEye LE series which will be small in size and be very cost effective with great sensors.  This has been designed ideally for OEM systems.

Camera features will include: 

  • USB3.1 interface with Type C connector
  • Various package options from full board level, board level with lens mounts to housed versions.  
  • Multiple I/O for trigger and flash
  • I2C Bus for controlling external devices
The first models will be the UI-3860LE with Sony STARVIS IMX290 rolling shutter providing 2MP (1936 x 1096) resolution at ~ 120 fps. This will be followed by the UI-3880LE using the Sony STARVIS IMX178 sensor providing 6 megapixel (3088 x 2076) resolution at up to 60 fps.  

Target applications are night surveillance & security, low light microscopy, machine vision, metrology, medical engineering and astronomy applications

What benefits do the Sony STARVIS image sensor provide? 

The STARVIS sensor is a back-illuminated pixel technology used in CMOS image sensors. It boasts extremely low light sensitivity with high picture quality in the visible light and near infrared light regions.  

 See the key points of the Sony STARVIS Back-illuminated CMOS image sensors

With new releases coming on a regular basis, we know it can get confusing on what sensors are best for a given application.  1stVision has over 100 years of combined knowledge and can help you design in the best solution.  

Please do not hesitate to Contact us!  

1st Vision can provide a complete solution including cameras, lenses, lighting and cables.  

Ph:  978-474-0044  

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