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Camera interfaces

Interfacing cameras to computers for image processing has changed significantly in the last few years. In recent years the industry put a lot of effort into standardisation and several standards such as CameraLink, DCAM/IIDC and GigE Vision emerged. In addition GenICam has been approved, offering genuine ‘plug and play’ functionality for industrial vision cameras.

There have also been many changes in computer technology, with the original ISA bus having been superseded by PCI which is now replaced by PCI Express. Additionally, new interfaces with sufficiently high bandwidths to deliver usable video data have emerged, including USB3 Vision, FireWire A and B and Gigabit Ethernet.

A good utility to identify the optimum interface for a particular application is the STEMMER IMAGING LensSensor app available on iOS and Android devices and on Windows.

Common machine vision interfaces

Interface Cable length Data rate (MB/s) Description
GigE Vision > 100 m < 110 Most common interface formachine vision, ideal for mostapplications and complies to theindustries GenICam standard.No interface card needed. Low cost
USB3 Vision < 5 m < 350 Ideal for faster applications withshorter cable lengths. Meets theindustries GenICam standard. Nointerface card required and lowcost.
CameraLink 7 - 15 m < 850 First machine vision camerastandard. New V 2.0 meets theindustries GenICam standard.Requires interface card and istherefore more expensive.
CoaXPress < 100 m > 2400 GenICam compliant, long cablelength and the fastest. Doesrequire an interface card and ismore expensive. Simple Coax cableis an advantage.
CameraLink HS 15m/300m > 2000 Next generation CameraLink,built-in error correction, datadistribution, GenICam compliantand supports fiber and copperinterfaces. Interface card required.

Legacy camera interfaces

In addition to the above interfaces there are a number of legacy interfaces that are still selling in large numbers in OEM applications. These include FireWire and Analogue. However, for new developments we would recommend the interfaces listed below.

Other camera interfaces

The above interfaces have been developed with industrial machine vision in mind. Features such a detailed camera control, non-standard image resolutions and pixel depths, asynchronous triggering of the camera and error detection and correction are typically included. However, there are many industries where these features are not required such as broadcast, security and multimedia. Each market has adopted standards that meet the needs of their applications. As STEMMER IMAGING provides cameras that address these markets they are detailed below.

Interface Target market Description
SDI/HDSDI Broadcast &Medical Free running video meetingbroadcast standards such as 1080p.Uses standard coax cables, butdoes not provide camera control,long cable lengths are possible.
HDMI, DVI andVGA Broadcast &Multimedia Designed as a monitor interfaceproviding a direct camera tomonitor connection for broadcaststandard free running video withshort cable lengths and no cameracontrol.
ONVIV Security Provides multiple compressedcontinuous video streams overEthernet networks. Providescamera discovery and cameracontrol.
UVC Multimedia Plug and play video standard ongeneric interfaces such as USB.Initially developed for webcamswith limited camera control.No specific drivers are required foruse with operating systems such asWindows and Linux.