Image Sensor / Optical Components


Looking forward to seeing how it all works!! Post a video if you have time.


Here is a presentation we did at a recent meeting for our club, the AACA. At slide 31 is where a lot of the new additions are added, but feel free to look at the whole presentation. Not a whole lot of background info is built into the slides, but the images are there and some of the slides have videos of the new parts working. Some of the clips look like images on google’s presentation mode, so try clicking the images to see if they are videos.

Los Angeles.... anyone have a functional kinograph built?

INCREDIBLE!! I"m emailing you now so we can schedule a phone call. I have questions. Love the additions I’m seeing. Would you guys also be open to doing a voice-over version of your slide show so we can hear the full explanation of what we’re looking at? I’d love to get your take on how you tackled the problems, and what parts of Kinograph weren’t working for you.

This is great!!!


Yeah, I’ve been planning to do a mini documentary style explanation of the machine. Just haven’t had the time to do it yet. With all this excitement, maybe I’ll push it out soon.


Your machine and your videos look awesome! I am looking forward to see your documentary.

It would be great if the original plans of the kinograph could be updated, too.


Here is a Machine from an university, used for scanning in 4K


What do you guys think of this camera?


Good find @robinojones. This was at the top of my list about 2 years ago and when I called Point Grey they suggested that I would need additional hardware to handle the data at the speeds I wanted (24fps). The additional hardware and the camera came to $10K.

Perhaps they have upgraded the guts of this camera since then to help handle the offloading/writing of data and buffering so that additional hardware is not needed?

Would you be up to contacting them and finding out if you would need additional hardware (I believe it’s called a Frame Grabber) if you ran this camera at full resolution at 24fps?


I talk to them and they directed me to a knowledge article (10827)

Based on the “Getting Started” guide ( the only extra hardware is a USB interface card, I would think this would be integrated in a PC motherboard already - maybe dedicated USB 3 cards are faster?

Speed wise I only need 3-4fps for my project (35mm 4 perfs scanner built from optical printer projector with pin registered movement) so It looks like a fast raid setup might be able to handle it - I’m not sure about 24fps though, maybe at 24fps you need GigE or something or maybe Raid or SSDs might help with USB3. I’m no expert in data rate but will know a lot more very soon as I build my scanner.

Based on my research this seems to be the only “affordable” camera option at 4K with good dynamic range (71db in mode 7, or 66.15db in mode 0, see page 101 of Technical guide ) since the other cameras (Imperx etc) are 10K +

An issue with the grasshopper for my project is that mode 7 is only allowing 4096x2160 instead of the full 3000 vertical which is not good for 35mm 4 perfs.

In mode 0 with full resolution it’s great for 4 Perfs - What do you guys think about this camera dynamic range for full resolution @ 66.15db?


@robinojones thanks for looking into this. I’m excited to see that a frame grabber is not essential for a 4K capable camera.

I think the dynamic range + global shutter + USB3 + software SDK makes this camera a strong choice for a custom solution. If you don’t mind setting all of it up, then it is a very good camera. It’s definitely at the top of my list for a 4K solution.



A question: Could one use an imaging sensor that is approx 25mm x 20mm (or larger) and have the film run in front of it, without any optics, just collaminated light?


Interesting thought, Martin! I would assume you’d have to control aperture somehow and also figure out how to make sure the sensors didn’t get dirty. I think focus would also be an issue.

I did a quick search and found these links to projects where people are attempting to do what you’re imagining:


Had a talk with some colleagues, and basically there are various problem.

The first one is that, to achieve focus, the film has to be as close to the sensor as possible, preferably direct (i.e. physical) contact. But the sensor is very fragile, and would get damaged.

Thus, one would need a thin, optically neutral layer over the sensor, and be resistant to scratches (such as diamond); something that I have not found and thus the cost would be prohibitively expensive to make.

Even if one could get such a sensor, the film would then have to move along that surface, which would introduce scratches.

Bottom line: for now it has to be optics.


Hello Matthew and everyone in this forum. First of all: I am a non english-speaking person so sorry for my writing. I´ll try my best. Also: thanks for sharing your efforts and results, this is a great project and everyone seems seriously involved, which is outstanding.

I am just getting started with Kinograph because, as may be the case with others here, I must digitize many 16 mm films that will seriously deteriorate in short term. That is why I should start building the Kinograph soon. I begun with camera/sensor because, due to prices and heavy import taxes, it would be the most difficult item to get.

I have read this whole conversation and found out that the camera/sensor possibilities are more than I expected, so I just wanted to ask for some updated guidance on the subject. What I would finally (and ideally) need is a 4K transfer (aprox.) with good image quality and output format and not too long digitizing times. Also, I need a system that is gentle with film and can work in spite of broken sprockets and other problems (I mention this because of frame sensors and intermittent motion). For the moment budget is an issue, but I might eventually get some funding.

These are the different brands and models that were discussed since august 2015 (and others I found out while reading and searching):

Point Grey
a- Grasshopper3 12.0MP: 4240 x 2824 / 7 FPS / global shutter / frame camera / C-mount / $3695
b- Grasshopper3 12.3 MP : 4096 x 3000 / 30 FPS / global shutter / C-mount / $3095
c- Blackfly S Color 20MP: 5472 x 3648 / 18 FPS / rolling shutter with global reset / C-mount / $695
d- Blackfly S Color 12.3MP: 4096 x 3000 / 30 FPS / global shutter / C-mount / $2795
e- Blackfly S Color 8.9MP: 4096 x 2160 / 42 FPS / global shutter / C-mount / $2495

a- Piranha 4: 4K / Camera Link / requires Frame Grabber hardware / global shutter / $4000 for sensor, $1200 frame grabber, lens?

e-con Systems
a- See3CAM_CU130: 4K / output format: uncompressed YUV 422 (9 and 4.5 fps), compressed MJPEG / electronic rolling shutter / $279
b- See3CAM_CU135: 4K / output format: uncompressed UYVY (15 and 7.5 fps), compressed MJPEG / electronic rolling shutter / $199


Imaging source

Axiom beta
a- Development kit: $3990 / News from Matthew?

a- Lumix DMC-GX8: 5184 x 3888 still res. / electronic rolling shutter / fps? / $849

Z Cam
a- E1: 4640 x 3480 still res. / 15 fps / rolling shutter / $249


If I missed something or if there are new options that weren´t discussed in this conversation please let me know. To get a transfer that meet my needs, should I necessarily think in Point Grey´s expensive models?

Thank you. Greetings.


Thanks for posting this great summary of our camera options, Federico. I think the Point Grey cameras are your best bet. They will, however, require you to use their software which is something I’ve never tried to work with yet. It will likely take some time and effort to get that working and I cannot offer any support as to how to make it work with the machine.

With that in mind, if you want a solution that works with the old version of Kinograph, you need something that can be triggered with a cable. A DSLR would still work in this case, but you should know that the camera’s internal shutter mechanism will likely fail after ~300,000 clicks, which is just under 4 hours of run-time (more or less). You can repair the shutter when it fails, but this will cost money.

I bought the Axiom but it’s still in the box because I haven’t gotten to the optics design yet.

Unfortunately, there is no easy answer yet. If, however, you’re not afraid to try with the Point Grey cameras, I would choose one of the USB options and try it. They have technical support people to help you with setup. But it’s still a risk.



Okay everyone - it’s time to buy a camera for Kinograph 2.0. I got some money from the Simons Foundation through a residency at New Lab here in Brooklyn. It comes with $2K for materials. There are some things I’d like to buy, and at the top of that list is a camera and lenses. Here are our options. What are your recommendations?

My preferred specs are:

  • 2K resolution (price of 4K camera + supporting hardware is prohibitive for some, could be option later)
  • 24fps capable
  • Color, not monochrome (we can do monochrome as an option later if people want to do that)
  • global shutter

res: 1140x1080
price: $395
sensor: CMOS

res: 2048x1536
price: $725
sensor: CMOS

res: 2048x1536
price: $465
sensor: CMOS

res: 1384x1036
price: $1695
sensor: CCD (cheapest one that can do 24fps)

Right now I’m liking the Chameleon3-3.2MP @ $495 for its balance of resolution and price. Let me know what you think!!

@Martin_Weiss I promised I would tag you in this when I posted…so here you go!


I am also interested in the Chameleon3-3.2MP @ $495. Seems it is not yet released. As I understand, there is no need for other hardware i.e: frame grabbers etc. Am I correct in assuming this?


Thanks for tagging me :wink:

Just remember that a 2K Bayern pattern really is .5K in the blue and red channels, and 1K in the green. In other words: a 2k monochrome sensor (with triple exposure) gives a better resolution than a 4k color, single-chip sensor.

It will be a bit more difficult to do mutliple exposures, but on the upside, this would make HDR a much simpler add-on.

As so often, it is all about quality, speed and price, and you cannot have all three.

Awesome that you got the grant. Happy shopping :slight_smile:


Thanks Martin! Thanks for educating me on the differences. I’m prioritizing time (1 pass vs. 3) over quality for now. But there’s nothing stopping a user from swapping the color sensor out for a monochrome one in the final design and doing it their own way. That’s the beauty of the open-source model. I’d love to do a side-by-side comparison one day, though.


Yes, that’s correct re: hardware. The Chameleon 3 is available, but backordered. :frowning:

I had a call with FLIR this week and asked them about the differences in the choices I outlined above. The only real difference between the Blackfly and Chameleon is the frame rate they’re capable of. The Blackfly can do more frames per second. It also has a newer sensor and is only compatible with their latest SDK.

The Grasshopper (most expensive choice above) is a larger sensor (2/3") and 14-bit output but that doesn’t justify the $1200 difference in price for Kinograph’s needs, in my opinion.

For the above reasons, I think the Chameleon3 will meet my needs just fine as a first choice. Of course, the camera can be swapped out by anyone should they desire a different one.