Guide to understanding Machine Vision interface standards

Machine Vision standards have evolved providing defined models of how industrial cameras communicate to a PC allowing easier implementation of machine vision technology. Vision systems can be made up of cameras, frame grabbers and vision libraries from various manufacturers. The vision standards provides compatibility between the various manufacturers for easy implementation.

Machine vision applications require some basic tasks of finding and connecting to the cameras, configuring parameters, acquiring images and dealing with events to and from the cameras.

machine vision interface  - GENICAM

In order to provide cameras from various manufacturers to work together with 3rd party software and hardware from other manufacturers and provide the tasks above, a standard must be followed. “GenICam” is the basis for this standardization, providing compatibility using a Generic Transportation layer and Generic Application programming interface. These are referred to as “GenTL” and “GenAPI” respectively. GenTL provides the communication layer and GenAPI enables camera features to be configured by analyzing a compliant XML file for the camera.

Camera manufacturers however provide unique independent features providing various advantages from one to another. Creating these unique features blur the lines of the standard, not always making a camera fully compatible with another manufacturers software. For example, an industrial camera may use the GenTL layer to be recognized but may have special features making it unique as well.

This can be very confusing to understand! IDS Imaging has a white paper explaining the machine vision interface standardization, GenTL, GenAPI and the system architecture . CLICK BELOW NOW TO DOWNLOAD!

Download here
Click to download

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!

Ph:  978-474-0044  /  info@1stvision.com  / www.1stvision.com

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What is the fastest 2.4MP GigE camera at the lowest price point? Dalsa’s new Nano M1950 / C1950!

Dalsa Nano

Dalsa NanoTeledyne Dalsa has released the latest addition to the Genie Nano family.  Introducing the Nano M1950 and C1950 cameras using the Sony Pregius IMX392 image sensor.  This is a great replacement for older Sony ICX818 CCD sensors.

These latest Nano models offer 2.4 MP (1936 x 1216) resolution with a GigE interface in color and monochrome with up to 102 frames per second utilizing TurboDrive.

What’s so interesting about the Nano M1950 and C1950 models?

2.4 MP resolution with the speed of the popular IMX174, but at the price of the IMX249:  
Sony Pregius image sensors in a given resolution has created paired sensors, one being faster at a higher price and one slower at a lower price.  The Nano M1940 / C1940 cameras use the IMX174 which is a great sensor and historically had the fastest speed at 2.4MP in GigE, but at a premium.  We could opt for the Nano M1920 / C1920 cameras with the IMX249 at a lower price, but sacrificed speed.

Until now! – The latest Nano M1950 / C1950 models with the IMX392 provides the higher speed of the M1940 / C1940 cameras, but at the lower price of the Nano M1920 / C1920 cameras. 

2.4MP resolution using a 1 /2 in sensor format, provides cost savings on lenses.
Thanks to the Sony Pregius Gen 2 pixel architecture, the pixel size is 3.45um, allowing the same resolution and eliminating the added cost of larger format lenses found in the IMX174 / IMX249 sensors which were 1 / 1.2″ formats.

Contact 1stVision to get our recommendations on lens series designed for the 3.45um pixel pitch. 

When would you use the Sony Pregius IMX392 versus the IMX174 and IMX249 sensors? 

The Sony Pregius IMX174 / IMX249 images still have an incredible dynamic range due to the pixel architecture found in the first generation image sensors.  (Read more here on Gen 1 vs Gen 2).  If you need dynamic range, with large well depths of 30Ke-, then use the IMX174 / IM249 sensors.

I’m so confused!   Where can I get the specs on the new Nano M1950 / C1950, understand what sensors are in what cameras and get a quote?

The tough part today, is that there a ton of model #’s in the Sony Pregius sensors lineup and in turn camera product lines.  Here’s a brief table to help with links to spec’s, related image sensors and a link to get a quote.

Sensor          Model 
IMX174         Nano M1940 / C1940          GET QUOTE
IMX249        Nano M1920 / C1920           GET QUOTE
IMX392        Nano M1950 / C1950           GET QUOTE

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  /  info@1stvision.com  / www.1stvision.com

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Sony Pregius sensor “Generations” – What do those differences mean for machine vision?

Sony Pregius

Pregius
Courtesy of Sony
Machine Vision cameras continue to reap the benefits of the latest CMOS image sensor technology since Sony announced the discontinuation of CCD’s.  We have been testing and comparing various sensors over the years and have always come back to using Sony Pregius sensors when dynamic range and sensitivity is needed.

If you’ve been watching the technology shift from CCD’s to CMOS, you have probably also seen a ton of new image sensor names within the “Generations”.  Honestly, its hard to keep track of all of Sony’s part numbers, so we will try to give you some insight into the progression of Sony’s Pregius image sensors used in industrial machine vision cameras.

1 – First, how can I tell if its a Sony Pregius generation sensor?

Sony has prefixes of the image sensors which make it easy to identify if its an ExView HAD sensor or Pregius sensor.  Previous CCD, EXViewHAD sensors primarily in the last 10 years had a prefix of “ICX”.  Example:   ICX285, which was a great sensor back in the day.   All new Sony Pregius sensors have a prefix of “IMX”    Example:  IMX174.. which today is one of the best for dynamic range.
1stVision’s camera selector can be filter by “Resolution” and you can scroll and see the sensors with a prefix of IMX.  CLICK HERE NOW

2 – What is the differences in the “Generations” of Sony Pregius Image sensors?

Sony Pregius Generation 1:  This primarily consisted of a 2.4MP resolution sensor with 5.86um pixels BUT had a well depth (saturation capacity) of 30Ke- and still unique in this regard within the generations.   Sony also brought the new generations to the market with “slow” and “fast” versions of the sensors at two different price points.  In this case, the IMX174 and IMX249 were incorporated into industrial machine vision cameras providing two levels of performance.  Example being Dalsa Nano M1940 (52 fps)  using IMX174 vs Dalsa Nano M1920 (39 fps) using IMX249, but the IMX249 is 40% less in price.

Sony Pregius Generation 2:  The primary goal of Sony was to expand the portfolio of Pregius sensors which consists of VGA to 12 MP image sensors.  However, the pixel size decreased to 3.45um along with well depth to ~ 10Ke-, but noise also decreased!  The smaller pixels allowed smaller format lenses to be used saving overall system cost.   However this became more taxing on lens resolution being able to resolve the 3.45um pixels!   In general it offered a great family of image sensors and in turn an abundance of machine vision industrial cameras at lower cost than CCD’s with better performance.   

1stVision’s camera selector  can be filter by “Resolution” AND pixel size that correspond to one of the generations.  You will have a list of cameras in which you can select those starting with IMX!.  I.e  All Generation 2 sensors will be 3.45um, and can narrow to a desired resolution. CLICK HERE NOW

Sony Pregius Generation 3:  Sony’s has taken the best of both the Gen 1 and Gen 2 to create Gen 3!  The pixel size increased to 4.5um increasing the well depth to 20Ke-!  This generation has the fastest data rates, dynamic range and lowest noise.  The family will expand from VGA to 7.1MP as well.  We are just starting to see Gen 3 sensors in our machine vision camera lineup and expecting more to come through 2019+.

Contact us

Sony Pregius image sensor Comparison Chart

sony comparison chart

Sony’s Pregius Product line up for machine vision industrial cameras below for reference as of April 2019

Sony Pregius product line up
Courtesy of Sony

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 of your imaging components 

Ph:  978-474-0044  /  info@1stvision.com  / www.1stvision.com

How can we help answer your questions about industrial imaging?  We have used several terms you may not be familiar with and would like to help in your education.  Below are some related blogs that will help.  Or contact us via email or phone number as we love to help educate our customers!

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Basic guidelines in selecting a machine vision camera interface

Machine Vision InterfacesIndustrial machine vision camera interfaces have continued to develop allowing cameras to transfer megapixel images at extremely high frame rates.  These advancements are opening up endless applications, however each interface has its own pro’s and con’s.

 

Selecting the best digital camera interface can be done by taking in several considerations first and in doing so, can window down your selection.

The following are some considerations in making an interface selection.

  1. Bandwidth (Resolution and frame rate)
  2. Cable Length
  3. Cost
  4. Complexity

Bandwidth:  This is one of the biggest factors in selecting an interface as it essentially is the size of the pipe to allow data to flow.  Bandwidth can be calculated by resolution x frame rate x bit depth.   You essentially find out pixels / second x the frame bit depth resulting in your total Megabits / second (Mb/sec).  Large frame sizes at high speeds will require a large data pipe!  If not, you’ll be bandwidth limited, so one would need to reduce the frame rate and image size or a combination of both.

Cable Length:  The application will dictate the distance between the camera and industrial computer.  In factory automation applications, the cameras can be located in most cases within meters from the computer vs a stadium sports analytics application requiring 100’s of meters.

Cost:  Budgets dictate in most cases, so this must also be considered.  Interfaces such as USB are very low cost versus a CoaxPress interface which will require a $2K frame grabber and more expensive cables.

Complexity:  Not all interfaces are plug and play and require more complex configuration.  If you are leaning towards interfaces using frame grabbers and have no vision experience, you may want to elect using a certified systems integrator.

The considerations above will start to dictate the interface for the machine vision application.  The chart below provides an overview to help in the selection process.  machine vision interface chartFor a PDF of this chart, please email jonc@1stvision with subject “Interface chart”

Digital machine vision camera interfaces.

The interfaces each have pro’s and con’s aside from the designated bandwidth, cable lengths and costs, and outlined as follows:

USB2.0 is an older standard for machine vision cameras and now superseded by USB3.0 / 3.1 .  Early on, this was popular allowing cameras to easily plug and play with standard USB ports.  This is still a great option for lower frame rate applications and comes with low cost.  Click here for USB2 cameras.

USB3.0 / 3.1  is the next revision of USB2.0 allowing high data rates, plug and play capabilities and is ratified by the AIA standards, being “USB3 Vision” compliant.  This allows plug and play with 3rd party software following the GENICAM standards.  Cables lengths are limited to 5 meters, but can be overcome with active and optical cables.   Click here for USB3 cameras

GigE Vision was introduced in 2006 and is a widely accepted standard following GENICAM standards.  This is a the most popular high bandwidth interface allowing plug and play capabilities and allowing long cable lengths.  Power Over Ethernet (PoE) will allow 1 cable to be used for data and power making a simpler installation.  GigE is still not was fast as USB3.0, but has benefits of 100 meter cable lengths.  Click here for GigE cameras.

5 GiGe (aka N-base T) & 10GigE similar to USB2 moving to USB3, is the next iteration of the GigEVision standard providing more bandwidth.   Both follow the same GigE Vision standards, but now at higher bandwidths.  Specific NIC cards will be required to handle the interface.  Click here for 5 GigE cameras. 

CoaxPress (CXP) is a relatively new standard released in 2010, supported by GENICAM, utilizing coax cable to transmit data, trigger signals and power using one cable..  It is a scaleable interface via additional coax cables supporting up to 25Gb/s (3125MB/s) and higher now with CXP12.  The interface can support extremely high bandwidth as seen in the above chart with long cable lengths to 100+ meters depending on the configuration.  This interface requires a frame grabber which adds cost and some complexity in the overall setup.  Click here for CoaxPress cameras

Camera link is a well established standard, dedicated machine vision standard released in 2000 allowing high speed communications between cameras and frame grabbers.  It includes provisions for data, communications, camera timing and real time signaling to the camera.  A frame grabber is required similar to CXP adding cost and some complexity and is limited in cable lengths to 10 meters.  Longer cable lengths can be achieved with active and fiber optic cable solutions which additionally add cost.   Click here for CameraLink cameras

CameraLink HS is a dedicated machine vision standard taking key aspects of CameraLink and expanding upon it with more features.  This is a scaleable high speed interface with reliable data transfer and long cable lengths up to 300+ meters with low cost fiber connections.  Similar to CXP and camera link a frame grabber is required adding cost.  Click here for Cameralink HS cameras

Some caveats:  In calculating bandwidth, you can calculate the theoretical data rate, but in some interfaces, the real world practical will be different.  In Camera link and CoaxPress, the theoretical and practical are the same.   In Cameralink HS, limits will be set by the computer interface (i.e PCIe x 8, Gen 3 is 6.8 Gigabyte / sec and an Xtium CHLS frame grabber can capture 7 Gigabyte / sec!)

The theoretical and practical limits for USB and Ethernet can be quite different and there will always be some difference.  For example, large frames and low frame rate generates less interrupts, providing less overhead to the CPU.   A small frame with high frame rate generates more interrupts causing more load to the CPU.

Click to contact As a note:  This blog post covers the basics of each of the interfaces.  There is much more information 1stVision can share with you to be sure you are taking all aspects of the vision application into consideration.  We have several additional resources we can share to help, so don’t hesitate to contact us for free consultation!

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!

Ph:  978-474-0044  /  info@1stvision.com  / www.1stvision.com

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