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GigE camera

GigE stands for "Gigabit Ethernet" and thus, GigE cameras are network cameras. As recently as a few years ago, they would have been webcams only. As Gigabit Ethernet spread, this connection became interesting for industrial cameras. Meanwhile, there is a wide selection of industrial GigE cameras.

The alternatives of GigE cameras are USB cameras and FireWire cameras. The Imaging Source is one of the few worldwide manufacturers that provides industrial cameras with all three interfaces.

Industrial GigE cameras are available with CMOS sensors as well as with CCD sensors.

Why do GigE cameras come without a lens?

Industrial cameras are used in an enormous range of applications. This range would be unnecessarily reduced, if industrial cameras had an integrated lens. Thus, most industrial GigE cameras are fitted with a C-mount or CS-mount thread. Since this lens mount is standardized, there is a vast selection of low-priced lenses on the market.

What are the advantages of GigE cameras?

Today, almost all new computers are fitted with a GigE interface. Thus, the main advantage of industrial GigE cameras is the spread of the interface throughout the world and the widespread availability of accessories, such as cables. There are two additional advantages:

  • Long cables: GigE network cables are easily available, low-priced and they also work without any problem up to lengths of 100 m. Obviously, this is especially interesting for machine vision systems used in industrial automation.
  • High bandwidth: GigE connections are able to transmit double the volume of image data than USB 2.0 or FireWire 400 interfaces.

What are the disadvantages of GigE cameras?

The advantage of GigE cameras - i.e the ability to use long cables and high bandwidth also implies some disadvantages:

  • Extra power supply: While FireWire cameras and USB cameras are powered via the computer's interface, this is not possible with normal network connections. Meanwhile, there is a method that compensates for this disadvantage: Power over Ethernet. However, it is not widely spread so far.
  • High power consumption: The transfer of high data volumes over long distances means, metaphorically speaking, that "many electrons have to be pushed through the cable". This requires powerful line drivers and they, in turn, increase the power consumption and the heat generation of industrial GigE cameras.
  • No open standard: "GigE Vision®", the programming interface of industrial GigE cameras is a registered trademark of the Automated Imaging Association (AIA). Thus, there are no Open Source drivers for GigE cameras.