Camera Hardware


This page summarizes digital camera hardware suitable for general-purpose vision research. That is, cameras which deliver image quality good enough for most vision problems, in a cost-effective way.

Where to buy

Places to buy camera and framegrabber equipment can be found on our main computer hardware page. See also the digicampage.

Top-rated or otherwise interesting digital cameras

Digital cameras contain everything you need in one package, converting the lens input to digital output. They interface directly to the PC.

Handheld digital cameras emulate 35mm cameras including, in many cases, automatic control of shutter and flash using a light meter. They are most suitable for high-quality still images. They are battery powered and can be used away from the computer, storing images on internal memory. They are connected to the PC (typically via the serial port) to download images.

Digital cameras optimized for motion capture deliver lower-resolution (and often lower-quality) images at a faster frame rate. Pictures are taken with the camera connected to the computer, and images are transferred immediately to the computer's disk.

Nice on-line summaries of digital cameras:

Digital camera drivers

Digital cameras are released with DOS and/or Mac drivers. Development of Linux drivers has lagged behind, largely because the manufacturers haven't realized that they stand to gain, not lose, from releasing the interface specs or a linux driver.

Linux drivers exist for two types of cameras:


Framegrabbers work in conjunction with a source of NTSC video, e.g. a video camera (small ones are now sold cheaply for teleconferencing) or a TV. They convert the video output (NTSC in the US, PAL in most other countries) to digital format, and interface to the computer.

Notable framegrabbers:

Framegrabber drivers

Ftp addresses for drivers for the following video capture cards can be found on the Linux Hardware HOWTO:

Jim Bray's driver for the matrox meteor can be found at [meteor driver ftp] along with its documentation. This is a fast framegrabber for PCI-bus machines. For the users mailing list, send mail containing the single line "subscribe meteor-users" to majordomo@rwii.com.

Cornell runs a mailing list LINUXVIS-L, for discussing linux support for camera and framegrabbing equipment. Its primary focus is motion capture and, thus, fast-capture framegrabber boards. To subscribe, send mail to listproc@cornell.edu containing this single line of text:

     SUBSCRIBE LINUXVIS-L your-email-address

For help send a message containing the single line



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