Thursday, March 30, 2017

Can I just get my camera cables from the internet (or why do your cables cost so much!)

As distributors of camera systems, we hear this question many times a day. Why does your GigEor USB3 cable cost so much?  I can just buy a cable online from Amazon, Ebay, etc for $5 when yours cost $25 or more!
The answer is: You can..  sometimes... but it depends upon many things, and how critical those things are to your application. 

Here are 5 key variables you need to consider in a camera cable selection
  1. Distance from camera to computer
  2. Data rate in which the camera is transmitting  
  3. Importance of reliability of application 
  4. Structural integrity of connection at camera and computer
  5. Total cost of your process and / or down time
From many years of diagnosing industrial imaging problems, after incorrect software setup, BAD CABLES ARE NEXT ON THE LIST FOR  "MY CAMERA DOESN’T WORK" problems!!

Distance, the killing factor!  If you were to look at a ‘bode plot’ of the signal transmitting from the camera to the computer you would see dramatic attenuation of the signal vs. distance, and also versus the data rate. In fact, at the distance limits, you might wonder if it actually works as the signal is so low! 
GigE is rated at 100 meters, however, the signal does degrade quite a bit, so cable quality and data rate will be the determining factors.  USB3 does not have a real specification and it is difficult to find consumer grade cables greater than 2 meters in length. In fact, we have experienced poor results with consumer cables greater than 1 meter in length!

What are the differences between ‘Industrial’ and ‘’consumer’ cables?  
8 differences are listed below: 

  1. Industrial cables are tested to a specification for each cable.  There are no batch to batch differences. 
  2. That specification usually meets organization requirements such as IEEE or Automated Imaging Association (AIA) standards
  3. Industrial cables give you consistency from a single manufacturer (when buying online, you are not always sure you are getting the same cable)
  4. Industrial cables have over-molded connectors
  5. Industrial cables have screw locks on the ends
  6. Industrial cables are usually made with larger gauge wire
  7. Industrial cables typically specify bend radius
  8. Industrial cables are made with flex requirements (bend cycles they can meet)

When should we consider using an "Industrial cable"?  Here are a few examples to consider:
Example 1: In a research lab, using a microscope 1 meter from the computer running low data rates, non automated.
Distance is small, data rate is low, chance of someone pulling on the cable is low, and if the data doesn’t get delivered, you can re-acquire the image. There is no big need for a special cable and can buy it off the internet.

Example 1a: Let’s change some of these parameters, now assuming you are not in lab, but the microscope is in an OEM instrument being shipped all over the world
If the system fails because you went with an unspecified cable, what is the cost of sending someone to fix this system 3000 miles away? In this situation, even though the distance is small, and the data rate is low, the consequences of a cable failure are very high!

Example 2: GigE cameras running at close to the full bandwidth. If you don’t need screw lock connectors, and the distance is not too great (< 10 or 20 meters), 
You can probably get by with ‘higher quality’ consumer cables. At distances greater than 20 meters, if you care about system reliability, you will definitely want industrial cables.  

Example 3. Two to Four GigE cameras running at close to full bandwidth in a system.

If you need system repeatability, or anything close to determinism, you will need industrial cables. On the other hand, if you your application is not sensitive to packet re-sends, a consumer cable should work at under 20 meters

Example 4. GigE cameras in an instrument.  Regular GigE cables are just locked into the RJ45 with a plastic tab. 

If your product is being shipped, you can’t rely on this not to break. You want an industrial cable with screw locks.

Example 5. GigE cameras in a lab. 

Save the money and use a consumer cable!


  • If you running USB3 cables at distances more than 2 meters, DO NOT use consumer cables.  
  • If you are running multiple cameras at high speeds, DO NOT use consumer cables.  
  • Obviously, if you need to make sure your cables stay connected, and need lock downs on the connectors, you cannot use consumer cables. 
  • If you are running low speed , short distance, and you can afford to re-transmit your data, consumer cables might be just fine.

1st Vision is a distributor for Alysium-Tech who manufactures industrial GigE Vision and USB3 Vision cables along with other types of camera cables.  Full data sheets are available which include test specifications in the links below. 

Click HERE for USB3 industrial cable specifications   

Click HERE for GigE industrial specifications

Have more questions?  Please do not hesitate to Contact us!  1st Vision can provide additional information on the industrial cables.  Furthermore we can provide a complete solution including cameras, lenses, lighting and cables.  

We have over 100 years of combined experience we can put to work for you!

Ph:  978-474-0044  

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Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Learn about FUJI's HF-XA-5M (5 Megapixel) lens series which resolves 3.45um pixel pitch sensors! Perfect for cameras with Sony Pregius image sensors.

FUJINON has continued to expand its HF-XA-5M product line with the new 5 MegaPixel lens (MP) series.  

These lenses provide the resolving power required for the popular Sony Pregius Image sensors with 2/3" formats and 3.45um pixel pitch.  

For any cameras using the Sony Pregius 5 MP IMX264 and IMX250 sensors, these are a perfect match for the pixel pitch.  Even older   Sony ICX625 sensors will benefit from the new HF-XA-5M lenses.  

FUJI HF-XA-5M Unique Features  

Compact design for installation versatility

The FUJINON HF6XA-5M, with a focal length of 6mm measures just 39mm in external diameter, the world's smallest machine vision lenses of this class. The other five models are also compactly designed with the external diameter of 29.5mm, which is about the same size as general compact machine vision cameras. The entire series contributes to achieving a compact form factor for machine vision systems

Advanced Optical performance 

FUJI's unique "4D" High Resolution performance delivers edge to edge sharpness under a range of installation conditions

Delivering high resolution of 3.45 µm pixel pitch on a 2/3-inch sensor at the working distance of 50cm, which is the most frequently-used distance among users.

The unique "4D High Resolution" function mitigates resolution degradation when changing a working distance or aperture value. It maintains their high resolving power of no less than 4.4 µm pixel pitch (equivalent to 3 megapixels) on a 2/3-inch sensor from the image center to all corners. This function perfectly matches when you want to set the aperture wide open to achieve a faster shutter speed.

Designed for installation convenience

Three screw holes each are provided on the iris ring (aperture) and the focus ring. Users can choose the optimum hole according to their installation conditions, providing a high level of installation convenience.

Please do not hesitate to Contact us to discuss your application and help select a lens.    1st Vision can provide a complete solution including cameras, lenses, lighting and cables.  We have over 100 years of combined experience we can put to work for you.  

Ph:  978-474-0044  

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Friday, March 24, 2017

How to select the best SWIR camera for my application and understand applications it can solve.

Allied Vision has built up a strong portfolio of Short Wave Infra-Red cameras including new low cost models.  With 7 models to choose from, it can be difficult to understand which model is best for a given application.  

1stVision has made it a bit easier by breaking down the problem by reviewing several considerations which are identified below.  

If you are unsure what a SWIR camera can do for you, read this previous blog.  

The following considerations will help identify the models available

Resolution:  The first consideration is resolution which is available in VGA (640 x 480) or QVGA (320 x 256).  QVGA is only available in the low cost G-008 model and provides the highest frame rates.  

Pixel Pitch:  If attributes such as dynamic range, signal to noise ratios (SNR) and saturation capacity are main factors, larger pixels are better.  The G-008 with 30um pixels provide the highest values in these attributes.  Read our previous blog to learn more about these attributes

Cooling:  Cooled models employ an additional Thermal Electric Cooler (TEC) and fan which substantially reduces the the dark current and increases overall signal to noise ratios. If this is a factor, then the G-032 TEC2 Cool model is a good choice.  The chart below provides the thermal constant of the camera noted as DeltaTmax.  This is the temperature difference from the case to the sensor. In turn, any additional heat sinking will further reduce the temperature of the internal sensor and noise.    

Frame Rate:  Rates up to 344 fps can be achieved with the G/CL-008 QVGA model.  The faster G/CL-033 will still achieve 301 fps with VGA resolution, but at a higher price.  At a minimum, we can still achieve 100 fps with VGA in the G-032 models.  (refer to chart below) For the highest frame rates, use the G/CL-033 in QVGA modes which will provide close to 1000 fps!  

Model comparisons by a glance

Interface:  GigE Vision along with Camera Link interfaces are available, however the TEC2 cool version is only available in GigE.  Camera link should be used if you need to be deterministic or if the full frame rate is needed at higher bit depths.    

GoldEye G-033 - GigE

The charts to the left indicate the achievable frame rates in 8, 12 and 14 bit modes using either GigE or camera link interfaces.

Goldeye CL-033  - Camera Link
As camera link provides a higher bandwidth, the full frame rate can be achieved in 12 bit mode versus a reduced rate using a GigE interface.

Sensitivity: The sensitivity chart below provides a good comparison between various models with the -033 model having the highest sensitivity. This is being driven by the image sensor in which the G/CL-033 has the highest quantum efficiency.    

Cost:  The -008 model is the most economical by a substantial amount providing an excellent entry point for SWIR camera vs G/CL-032 and G-CL-033 models.  The G/CL-033 is slightly less than G/CL-032 models in general. Contact us for pricing

Please do not hesitate to Contact us to discuss your SWIR applications.   1st Vision can provide a complete solution including cameras, lenses, lighting and cables.  We have over 100 years of combined experience we can put to work for you!

Ph:  978-474-0044  

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Friday, February 24, 2017

What are the attributes to consider when selecting a camera and its performance?

We first need to start with some of the basic attributes of the camera such resolution, frame rate, color vs monochrome and interface.  From there, depending on the application, we may look at more advanced attributes such as dynamic range, sensitivity, dark noise and signal to noise ratios.  

The basic attributes are easy to understand, but the advanced attributes can be confusing and the data is not easily accessible.  The more advanced information can be found on EMVA 1288 reports from the camera manufacturers when available.  This is a standard which helps provide an apples to apples comparison on key camera sensor attributes.

Allied Vision has done a great job to help understand the attributes by defining the terms and putting them in a graphical format as seen below.  

The following is a graphic to help understand the
terminology along with the definitions  (Courtesy of Allied Vision!)

Definitions are as follows: 
  • Absolute Sensitivity Threshold:  The smallest detectable amount of light.  Expressed in number of electrons.  The point where signal equals temporal dark noise.  This is important to understanding low light performance!
  • Photon Shot Noise:  Signal noise equal to the square root of the incoming photons.  Due to the randomly distributed particle nature of light.
  • Temporal Dark Noise:  Noise when no light is hitting the sensor, also known as read noise.  Due to electric dark current, quantization noise, and other noise sources depending on the specific construction of the sensor and the camera electronics.  
  • Saturation Capacity:  The maximum number of electrons each pixel can hold before reaching non-linear response. 
  • Dynamic Range:  Ratio of maximum signal (saturation capacity) to the minimum signal (temporal dark noise)
  • Signal to Noise at Saturation:  Ratio of the maximum signal (saturation capacity) to noise (photon shot noise).  At saturation, temporal dark noise is insignificant compared to photon shot noise and can be ignored.  
The EMVA 1288 information is available for most cameras upon request.  Contact us to discuss and obtain this information.   

Need help on some of the basics in your camera selection?  We have many helpful blog ports ranging from Calculating camera resolutions to understanding interfaces.  

Please do not hesitate to Contact us!  to help in your selection.  1st Vision can provide a complete solution including cameras, lenses, lighting and cables.  We have over 100 years of combined experience we can put to work for you.  

Ph:  978-474-0044  

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Thursday, February 23, 2017

Are you drowning in the amount of new image sensors & cameras now available? Download our cheat sheet to keep your head above water!

With a slew of new sensors coming on like a fire hose from Sony and ON-Semi, the announcement of cameras has been overwhelming to say the least. Even for us distributors whose jobs are to keep up with this!

So we at 1stVision have created a “cheat sheet” with the pertinent sensor data: model number, size, pixel pitch etc. etc.

And since no sensor is good without the proper lens, see our information on making sure you have the right lens (performance and price) for the sensor you need!

Below is a snapshot of the data 

Sony Pregius image sensors

ON-Semiconductor Python image sensors  

Note:  Values are typical and vary slightly per camera manufacturer

All industrial cameras with the new Sony Pregius and ON-Semiconductor Image sensors can be found below - Contact us for a quote on any camera with these sensors

Selecting the best image sensors and camera for an application can be a challenging job in itself.  Improper selection of the lens to match the sensor can make your cameras selection useless!  The format and lens resolution must match the sensor to achieve the best image contrast and not cause vignetting.  We have published several blogs to help in lens selection which you can find below.... or just contact us and we can help you!

Helpful blogs to help with lens selections: 

Calculating lens focal length

Demystifying lens specs (MTF)

Our cheat sheets provide the "ideal lens resolution" in terms of line pairs / millimeter (lp/mm).  To help identify a lens, you can search all lenses which have the resolution in the last column HERE.  This is stated in lp/mm in center and edge (i.e 120 / 100 ) 

Please do not hesitate to Contact us!  1st Vision can provide a complete solution including cameras, lenses, lighting and cables.  We have over 100 years of combined experience we can put to work for you.  

Ph:  978-474-0044  

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Product Release: New Models of the IDS USB3 uEye CP Series

As of now, there are four new USB 3.0 cameras available in the series, including two models with Sony's 3 MP global shutter.

The UI-3270CP with the Sony IMX265  global shutter CMOS sensor offers a resolution of 3.2 MP (2056 x 1542, 1/1.8”). At full resolution, the USB 3.0 camera delivers up to 57 fps (Full HD with up to 80 fps). 

It is particularly suitable for cost-oriented applications in the fields of machine vision, medical engineering or microscopy. 

For customers who are looking for a camera with more speed, we recommend our UI-3070CP with the faster Sony IMX252  sensor, up to 134 fps are possible (Full HD up to 187 fps).

It's worth taking a look at our models with Sony's fast and cost-effective rolling shutter sensors of the STARVIS series: the light sensitivity is so impressive!

The UI-3880CP model with the Sony IMX178 sensor offers a high resolution of 6.4 MP (3088 x 2076 px, 1/1.8") for high-resolution images at frame rates of up to 60 fps at full resolution. 

Due to its high speed and sensitivity, this camera is well suited for traffic monitoring (ITS). It is also perfect for visualization tasks in microscopy or quality assurance.

The UI-3860CP model equipped with the Sony IMX290 (2.1 MP) sensor is great for classic industrial applications like metrology or logistics. Good resolution, high speed, and high image quality at a low price.

Contact us for a quote on the IDS UI-3860CP and UI-3880CP camera 
Please do not hesitate to Contact us!  1st Vision can provide a complete solution including cameras, lenses, lighting and cables.  We have over 100 years of combined experience we can put to work for you.  

Ph:  978-474-0044  

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From 12 to 71 MP, multi-megapixel industrial cameras has never been so cheap!

Multi-Megapixel imaging has come down significantly in price in the last few months. 

In comparison to previous multi-megapixel CCD image sensors, the price per pixel has been reduced by almost 50%!

This is being fueled by new CMOS image sensors from ON-Semiconductor and Sony and are now debuting in several camera lines.  

Additionally, Crowley has reduced the price on the 71MP USB3 camera making it extremely affordable for many applications.  With a resolution of 10,000 x 7,096 @ 3 frames per second, this camera is excellent for applications ranging from aerial surveillance to industrial machine vision applications.  

The new CMOS image sensors bring exceptional sensitivity, lower noise, increased speeds and best of all, lower prices!  

These multi-megapixel (high resolution) sensors are available in 12, 16, 25 and 71 megapixel resolutions with their specifications below along.

Specifications on multi-megapixel industrial cameras  
(click on camera for full specifications or sensor for specs)

12MP - AVT - Manta G-1236  (Sony Pregius IMX304)

16MP - Dalsa Nano XL-M4090  (On-Semi PYTHON NOIP1SN016KA)

25MP - Dalsa Nano XL-M5100  (On-Semi PYTHON NOIP1SN025KA)

71MP- Crowley - MACHCAM   (CMOSIS CHR70M  )  NEW low price just released!

Applications include: 
  • Aerial Surveillance
  • Metrology
  • Semiconductor, LCD / PCB  Inspection
  • Archival Scanning (Documents and Micrographics)
  • General Machine Vision and more

Remember, lens selection is as important as the camera selection.  Don't pay for a camera and throw away pixels due to lack of lens resolution.  1st Vision has experts on hand to help you in the lens selection!   

Please do not hesitate to Contact us!  1st Vision can provide a complete solution including cameras, lenses, lighting and cables.  We have over 100 years of combined experience we can put to work for you.  

Ph:  978-474-0044  

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