How do I chose the right camera system for my application?

A camera system may be composed of a sensor, electronics, housing, lens, data acquisition system, display and software. Use your system requirements to determine the following:

  1. Wavelength region
  2. Number of pixels required in horizontal and vertical dimensions
  3. Frame rate, plus sync requirements (combination of FPA and electronics determine what is possible)
  4. F-number of the lens and camera (especially important for systems with cold shields)
  5. Dewar requirements if the sensor operates at cryogenic temperatures (liquid nitrogen is less expensive to acquire and is much easier to reconfigure than Stirling cooled dewars, but does require re-filling and periodic re-pumping). If cold, what is required cold aperture location and diameter?
  6. Cold filter and warm filter requirements, including filter wheel requirements
  7. Resolution of lens plus camera based on f-number, wavelength, pixel pitch (use our on-line MTF calculator).
  8. Stream data to disk with live viewing requirements
  9. Software Development Kit (SDK) for custom application development or use standard software packages for viewing/storing data & camera control.
  10. Special requirements?

Will I get lag free, smooth video when I stream to disk?

Yes, our software makes extensive use of the graphics card to off-load display functionality and uses efficient multi-threaded streaming to disk routines to give the smoothest, lowest lag video possible.

Can I stream data to disk at the full frame rate of the camera?

Typical high end hard drives can sustain over 130 MB/s, while our fastest cameras produce data at 320 MB/s. We recommend RAID systems with at least 3 hard drives to sustain the high data rate and not drop frames.

Can I sync the camera to an external source or sync an external event to the camera?

Yes, the camera can be precisely synced to an external source with a programmable microsecond delay, or an external event can be synced to the camera’s integration time. Both sync input and sync output can be active at the same time.

What advantages does nBn* offer?

nBn sensor technology allows higher operating temperatures with similar performance to InSb. This allows using smaller coolers with longer cooler lifetimes and lower power consumption. The nBn material long wave cutoff wavelength can be tuned from below 2 µm to longer MWIR wavelengths. Longer wavelength’s require slightly higher operating temperatures.  For example, typical operating temperature for 4.2 µm cutoff nBn material is in the 150 K to 165 K range.

What if I don’t know which lens I need?

Start with the requirements of your application to determine the lens. Download the IRCameras FPA Calculator which calculates the field of view (FOV) based on your sensor’s format (number of pixels in horizontal and vertical dimensions and pixel size) and lens focal length:

In addition, our FPA Calculator allows calculating ideal MTF curves for your sensor and lens as well as shows the MTF of the sensor+ lens combination. In addition to lens focal length, you’ll also need to be sure that the lens is designed for your application’s spectral region and that the f-number gives you enough photons (larger f-numbers take up less space, but have less light throughput and have lower MTF).

*nBn Focalplane arrays from Lockheed Martin-Santa Barbara Focalplane