Ximea cameras

Hi everyone. I hope all of you are healthy and safe or at least having a great time not being either one.

I ordered the camera for the second Kinograph build in December and it’s not due to arrive until March. Naturally, this is not ideal and it gave me the opportunity to once again look into alternatives. I think I’ve found a very interesting one and wanted to get your feedback. There are also some very general notes about industrial cameras I gleaned from talking to a sales rep at 1st Vision which you may be interested in.

All cameras are pretty much the same and consist of a sensor and an FPGA. In some cases it’s a specific processor chip instead (example is the Alvium series from Allied Vision which uses a TI chip), but these are not as common. The only real difference between them all are what kinds of software and other functions they support on the FPGA itself. For example, ActiveX, look-up tables (LUTs), GPIOs, etc.

In other words, all of the offerings in 2K and 4K camera are going to hit our “must-haves” with slight variation:

  • Global shutter
  • Color (my personal pref for my purposes)
  • 2400+ width for 2K
  • 4500-is width for 4K
  • min 12-bit resolution
  • min 12fps
  • highest dynamic range possible
  • external trigger

Where things get interesting is in the “nice-to-haves.” After looking around and seeing what options existed, I came up with this short list of features it would be nice to have:

  • Genicam compatible
  • Python SDK for camera-level control
  • full featured GUI that has as much of our desired workflow as possible, including output of DNG and/or DPX files. A color scope would be really nice :slight_smile:
  • more than basic support for non-Windows machines (assuming Windows is always supported)
  • very very optional: support for NVIDIA’s Jetson family. I want to try them out and this was a factor in my hunt.

Ximea hits all of these. Unlike Flir, their GUI can output DNG files (no DPX), and they support Mac and Linux in addition to Windows. Obviously not dealbreakers, but it does say something about the company if they’re willing to go to the extra lengths to provide this kind of support for developers. It is also great to see them partnering with existing companies to provide even more feature compatibility. In their case, Fastvideo, whose software other forum members have recommended and seem to have a strong reputation.

Here are some more details for your review. I’ve contacted Ximea directly to ask about availability and pricing. See below for average lead times the industry is currently seeing. You may want to order ahead of time!

2.5K option (USB3)
standard 4K option (USB3)
5K option 1 (USB3)
5K option 2 (PCIe, see page 49 "MX200xG-CM-X4G2-Fx)

[PCIe camera family](https://PCI-e cam family)
That last one is part of their ‘xIX’ line that uses PCIe for superfast data transfer. More on that line of products is available in the [xIX series brochure](https://xiX brochure (PCIe connection for fast transfer)).

[USB 3 camera family](https://USB 3 cam family)
USB 3.1 series brochure

Supported software APIs/SDKs/libs
Details on the RAW to DNG lib

Their GUI software can output DNG and (my favorite part), you can create custom plugins for it. Which means we might possibly be able to use it as a starting point for our software instead of from scratch.

Details of [Fastvideo](https://Fastvideo compatible. Fastvideo also works on Jetson) and interoperability. It seems to require a separate purchase to use Fastvideo’s stuff. Fastivdeo also works with the NVIDIA Jetson.

Ximea’s NVIDIA Jetson carrier board

A [high-speed Jetson-based PC solution](https://High speed host computer) for their cameras.

They also mention the ability to write GPU-specific workflows for the application of de-bayering, application of LUTs, file format translations, etc.

That’s a lot of stuff! So what do you think? Would you buy one?

Other notes
From 1st Vision sales rep:

Lead times:
Flir: 12-16 weeks (consistent with my order)
Dalsa/Teledyne: 20-30 weeks
OnSemi: 40+ weeks

From Allied Vision sales rep:

  • 4th gen sensors start at 2.5K and are new to the market
  • backside illuminated sensors can make up for lensing issues on chips with smaller pixel sizes
  • pick the sensor size based on the largest object you will be scanning. you can always reduce your region of interest.
  • a sensor’s row length affects its speed more than its width. this can be used to your advantage. A higher end sensor scanning with a cropped region of interest might actually be faster than a camera with lower resolution but faster fps. You can find ROI frame rate calculations tables on the web.
  • The Sony IMX chips all have basically the same performace. The differences between model numbers is the number of pixels and overall scan speed.

One thing I’d point out is that 3/5 of your “nice-to-haves” are accomplished with GenICam support. I think there will be very few of these cameras that output direct to DNG, as that’s really a niche format for what most of these cameras are used for. It’s cool that they offer that though. It would be good to see a signal flow diagram from them to know when the DNG is made - is it truly the raw signal off the sensor, or is it processed first (like debayered, etc) before writing a DNG? If the former, that’s quite handy. If the latter, meh. you can easily do that with a plug-in library for whatever capture software is ultimately written.

I’d be shocked if any camera you find makes DPX files natively. I’ve never seen that.

Hi Matthewepler,

I have one on order (USB3 - MQ013CG-E2) and was told approximately two weeks before shipping. I am in Australia and building a transfer setup based around a gutted Eumig machine with Schneider lens, Arduino, stepper, all the regular stuff. I have had success with a number of iterations along the way, but now have a project that is demanding I lift my game and go for the best I can afford. The price I was quoted was €450 with a couple of cables, the shipping and local tax. I have dealt directly with a representative of the company which was surprising as all the Flir and other industrial cameras available can only be purchased locally through wholesalers or importers who jack the price up to cover their cost.

So when I get it I will give you a report on how it performs. I use a Mac and plan on using their capture software. The rest I post produce in Final Cut. Happy to post pictures if anyone is interested.

Cheers Ade

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Love to see the results of the camera when you have them.

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Hi all,

I am using Ximea MC050CG-SY.
See my post:

Happy with this camera and their software, dng opens fine in Resolve.
Here is a dng straight from xiCamtool

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All good points. Yes, they are Genicam compatible. As it turns out, they don’t carry a 5K version with a Sony sensor so it doesn’t really make sense to go all in on Ximea.

The more I learn about these cameras, the more I’m seeing that they’re all basically the same. Same sensors in a simlar case, with SDK’s wrapped around Genicam.

The difference is onboard firmware and any proprietary additions to the SDK.

Still researching but I got a free demo unit from Ximea to play around with so I’m going to test it out.