Components needed for machine vision and industrial imaging systems

Machine vision and industrial imaging systems are used in various applications ranging from automated quality control inspection, bottle filling, robot pick-and-place applications, autonomous drone or vehicle guidance, patient monitoring, agricultural irrigation controls, medical testing, metrology, and countless more applications.

Imaging systems typically include a least a camera and lens, and often also include one or more of specialized lighting, adapter cards, cables, software, optical filters, power supply, mount, or enclosure.

At 1stVision we’ve created a resource page is intended to make sure that nothing in a planned imaging application has been missed.  There are many aspects on which 1stVision can provide guidance.   The main components to consider are indicated below.

Diverse cameras

Cameras: There are area scan cameras for visible, infrared, and ultraviolet light, used for static or motion situations.  There are line scan cameras, often used for high-speed continuous web inspection.  Thermal imaging detects or measures heat.  SWIR cameras can identify the presence or even the characteristics of liquids.  The “best” camera depends on the part of the spectrum being sensed, together with considerations around motion, lighting, surface characteristics, etc.

An assortment of lens types and manufacturers

Lens: The lens focuses the light onto the sensor, mapping the targeted Field of View (FoV) from the real world onto the array of pixels.  One must consider image format to pair a suitable lens to the camera.  Lenses vary by the quality of their light-passing ability, how close to the target they can be – or how far from it, their weight (if on a robot arm it matters), vibration resistance,  etc.  See our resources on how to choose a machine vision lens.  Speak with us if you’d like assistance, or use the lens selector to browse for yourself.

Lighting: While ambient light is sufficient for some applications, specialized lighting may also be needed, to achieve sufficient contrast.  And it may not just be “white” light – Ultra-Violet (UV) or Infra-Red (IR) light, or other parts of the spectrum, sometimes work best to create contrast for a given application – or even to induce phosphorescence or scatter or some other helpful effect.  Additional lighting components may include strobe controllers or constant current drivers to provide adequate and consistent illumination. See also Lighting Techniques for Machine Vision.

Optical filter: There are many types of filters that can enhance application performance, or that are critical for success.  For example a “pass” filter only lets certain parts of the spectrum through, while a “block” filter excludes certain wavelengths.  Polarizing filters reduce glare.  And there are many more – for a conceptual overview see our blog on how machine filters create or enhance contrast

Don’t forget about interface adapters like frame grabbers and host adapters; cables; power supplies; tripod mounts; software; and enclosures. See the resource page to review all components one might need for an industrial imaging system, to be sure you haven’t forgotten anything.

1st Vision’s sales engineers have over 100 years of combined experience to assist in your camera and components selection.  With a large portfolio of lensescablesNIC card and industrial computers, we can provide a full vision solution!

What cables should I use with a machine vision camera?

While not an exact figure, we would estimate that about half our client’s problems with machine vision camera connections, dropped frames, etc. comes back to a cabling issue. This is especially true for USB and GigE cameras.

In most of these cases, the issue is that the user is using a poor/low quality cable that was not made for the high speed and/or long distance demands of the application. Most of the inexpensive cables available via mail order are not made for use in high speed highly reliable data transfer applications. If your phone isn’t transferring at the full USB3 bandwidth, you normally don’t care. You probably don’t even know. But when you purchase a high speed USB3 camera and you can’t achieve its full frame rate, or you achieve it intermittently, this becomes a big issue.

This is the reason 1stVision offers ‘machine vision/industrial’ USB3 and GigE cables.  These cables are tested to specs, come with screw locks to prevent the connectors from falling out, use larger gauge wire, are over molded.  They are designed to be twisted and bent (somewhat) and are industrial!

Signal amplitude (the voltage of the signal in the cable) is a function of distance and frequency for cables. For instance, Ethernet is specified to 100 meters.  So your cable should work when each device is 100 meters away.  However, without the proper cable, you will not maintain the full 1000 Mbits/s data transfer rate!  You might only be getting 50% of the speed depending upon the distance without a high quality cable.

Finally, consider the cost if your machine vision camera is part of an instrument or product that is being sold to your clients.  We see far too many clients who try to save $30 on the cable only to find out that it is costing them thousands of dollars to trouble shoot a problem that can be easily solved with the proper part.  Not to mention the cost to their client when the system isn’t working, and a hit to their reputation of not building a reliable system.Alysium

Here is our advice:

  1. If you are in an industrial setting, you are compromising the reliability and robustness of your system if you are not using an ‘industrial cable’.  Even if you are not operating at maximum speed of the camera, you should have these cables.  BTW, these cables are not that much more expensive mail order cables.  They are in the 10’s of dollars, but not in the 1’s of dollars.
  2. If you are using USB3 cables, you should really be using ‘industrial’ cables.  Current ‘inexpensive’ USB3 cables are not reliable at over 2M, and only 1M for USB C connector types.  If you are using USB3 specifically to get the higher speeds from this protocol, then you absolutely need to be using ‘industrial’ cables.  Inexpensive cables are not reliable for high speed data transmission.
  3. If you are in a lab environment, with the cable never moving, and only going a short distance, then a high quality ‘inexpensive’ Cat 6e cable will work.  There is a difference between inexpensive Ethernet cables.  The one that came with the security camera all folder up is NOT what you should use. A reputable mail order cable vendor selling high quality patch cables is OK.

CLICK HERE to get  GigE Cable specs and get a quote

CLICK HERE for USB3 Cable specs and get a quote

Don’t be penny wise and pound foolish. At 1stVision, we offer these cables not to enrich ourselves, there is not much profit in a $30 cable, but rather to make sure our clients systems work well.


1st Vision’s sales engineers have over 100 years of combined experience to assist in your camera selection.  With a large portfolio of lenses, cables, NIC card and industrial computers, we can provide a full vision solution!

Contact us to help in the specification and providing pricing

Ph:  978-474-0044  /  /

Related Blogs & Technical resources

Imaging Quick ref Poster
Quick Reference Imaging poster download


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. 


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  

USB3.0 Hybrid Active Optical Cables provide high speed and distance! – up to 50M

USB3 works great at full bandwidth at 3 meters, and usually even at 5 meters, although we have found instances where certain combinations of motherboards, cameras, and cables have not been 100%.

Fortunately, we have the solution. 1st Vision offers both active electrical cables, and introducing Hybrid Active Optical cables.  

Hybrid Active Optical Cables

Hybrid Active Optical Cables (AOC) transmit USB3.0 data and power with no repeaters up to 50 meters and customized up to 500 meters.  In addition to the benefits of fiber for transmission, copper has been implemented for power. The cables meet the USB3.0 specifications and provide power via the USB port.  These are very cost effective starting at 10 meters.  

This combination of USB3.0 cameras with Hybrid AOC’s now provides high speed and long cable lengths!  This is perfect for updating some camera link installations providing higher speeds but not limited to 10 meter cable lengths.  

Additionally, When used in conjunction with a USB hub, several cameras can be deployed at extended distances.  

Example:  (4) cameras deployed via USB3.0 Hub and connected via a standard USB3.0 cable to the PC.  

Benefits of Hybrid Optical Cables: 

  • Transmission up to 50 meters
  • Maximum transmission speeds up to 5 Gbps (USB3.0)
  • No additional power and hardware required
  • No repeater required (essential if used in a drag chain)
  • Flex rating – 1.5 Million cycles / Bend Radius of 20mm
  • Screwable connections
  • Less EMI (Electromagnetic Interference) 
  • Compatible with USB2.0 cameras

Lengths available:  10, 20, 30 & 50 meters

Need more information?  Please review the datasheet and  Contact us for pricing

In cases that you need to extend past 5 meters with USB3.0, BUT not plagued with excessive lengths or non flexing application, we have Active USB3 cables in 5, 10, 15 and 20 meter lengths.

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  

Follow us on Social Media!