ArduCam Camera Modules and Lenses
DLSCorp started as a software consulting firm in 2006, specializing in real-time systems; in 2018 we became an authorized dealer for ArduCam products, and are pleased to offer their full line of Camera Components and Arduino-compatible system components. These products are designed to work with Arduino-, Raspberry Pi-, and USB-compatible products. If you are looking for our Programmable Logic Controllers (PLCs) – visit our industrialshields.us website.
We are changing the way you order cameras at DLSCorp!
When you choose a bundled camera, you get a sensor and a lens that are matched to each other. You may still choose from all of the bundled cameras that we have offered in the past. But, you need to determine if the camera meets your needs.
If you know what you need, start shopping now!
Identify and prioritize your requirements
If our bundled cameras don’t meet your needs, you may now select a sensor and a lens independently. However, you must be aware of the limitations to your “mix-and-match”, such as optical formats and lens mount heights. And, you still need to determine if the camera meets your needs.
There are a large number of factors that may be considered in your camera purchase. Some may not be important to you for this purchase, but may be important another time. Cost, size, weight, image quality, host system, etc. are examples of these factors. When two or more requirements conflict with each other (e.g. cost and image quality), you need to prioritize your requirements to help you make the best possible selection.
Let’s take a look at these, starting with the most common. Please contact us if you have any questions.
There are several costs to be considered when purchasing a camera. The most obvious is the cost of the camera – the sensor, the lens mount, the lens. Second, the cost of the host system and its interface to the camera. This could include the purchase of a Raspberry Pi, Arduino, BeagleBoard, Nvidia Jetson Nano, or a USB shield that can interface with a wider variety of systems, including Windows and Linux. Often neglected costs include support hardware (e.g. lighting), software development, and packaging.
This includes size and weight, but also includes other material properties, such as metal or plastic (lens mounts).
This topic is a collection of several (somewhat unrelated) items.
First, what is the image quality? Generally this is measured in terms of megapixels (MP) but can also include other factors, such as sensitivity. For example, there are two sensors (AR0134 and AR0135) that are very similar, but one has improved sensitivity for an improved image in low light conditions, at additional cost.
Second, does the sensor generate color or monochrome images? A few sensors have a version that generate color images and another version that generate monochrome images (e.g. MT9J003 is a 10 MP color sensor, and the MT9J001 is a 10 MP monochrome sensor). But, color sensors are far more common (and popular).
Third, does the sensor or lens filter IR light (IR filter or No IR filter)? The Raspberry Pi 5 MP and 8 MP cameras are available with or without an IR filter built onto the sensor. Otherwise, virtually all sensors are sensitive to IR light. This means that if you don’t want a camera sensitive to IR light, you must purchase a lens with the IR filter (or a motorized IR filter lens mount). None of the CS-mount lenses have an IR filter; with a few exceptions, all of the M12-mount lenses are available either with or without an IR filter. If you want to do nighttime photography, you’ll probably need an IR light source. If you don’t have an IR filter, your daytime images may appear washed out or discolored.
Host system and interface
You may be tied to a host system (such as Raspberry Pi, Windows, Linux, etc.) or an interface (such as USB 3). If not, then you are not as constrained with other requirements.
This section includes freeware (such as raspicam, raspivid, and all of the ArduCAM products on their GitHub site), libraries (Qt, Python, Microsoft, etc.), and COTS or custom applications (which you develop or pay someone to develop). Remember free isn’t always less expensive.
Focal points and focal length
The focal points are the two points in front of and behind a lens (or a lens system, which we’ll call a lens for simplicity) that collimated light (parallel rays) will converge. The discussion of lenses includes a number of focal length terms. Arguably the most important term is the subject focal length – the distance from the lens to the subject being photographed. The back focal length (BFL) is the distance from the back of the lens surface to the rear focal point. The effective focal length (EFL) is the distance from the front principal plane to the front focal point. For more details on these terms, see the Wiki articles on Focal length and Focus (optics) for more in-depth coverage.
Lenses and lens mounts
The BFL and length of a lens determine which lens mount(s) can be used with a camera. A very short lens with a very low BFL will not focus properly with a tall lens mount. A lens with a very high BFL will not focus properly with a very short lens mount. Be careful when you select a lens mount that you will be able to focus your lens properly – not too tall, not too short, just right.
In addition to stock lenses (attached to or part of the sensor), there are two popular lens mount formats: M12 and CS. The CS lens mount heights are fairly standard – about 0.5″ (12.5 mm). The M12 (or S) lens mount heights vary widely. The heights range from 6 mm to 16.5 mm; the material can be either plastic or metal. Plastic mounts are provided free of charge when you purchase either a camera or a lens. Metal mounts are available for a few dollars, are higher quality, and better suited to industrial or agricultural environments. If your cameras are not subject to harsh conditions, plastic mounts will probably work just fine.
We primarily sell fixed focal length (prime) lenses. However, we do sell several manual focus CS-mount lenses (several are zoom – one is 5-50 mm and one is 6-60 mm; and one is a 55 mm microscope lens). We also sell a few sensors with stock lenses (permanently attached to the sensor); several of those stock lenses are autofocus.
The optical format (or sensor dimension) is also an important factor in building a camera. ArduCAM has a very good description in their Lens Introduction documentation. Pay particular attention to the section on image size and lens optical format. That document also provides a fairly comprehensive list of their lenses, with links to each lens’s detailed information.
Angle of view and field of view
There are three components each to the angle of view (AOV) and to the field of view (FOV): horizontal (H), vertical (V), and diagonal (D). The diagonal component is related to the horizontal and vertical components by the Pythagorean theorem. The angles of view and fields of view are related to each other by the subject focal length. Given the angles of view for a sensor and lens, the distance from the lens determines the corresponding distances of the fields of view. See the Wiki article on Angle of view, which also covers the Field of view topic.
Depth of field and blur circle
The depth of field of a camera is a function of the camera (optical format and lens specs), and the subject focal length – it is the distance in front of and behind the subject that is in focus. If the subject focal length is an inch or two, the depth of field is probably not very great; if the subject distance is 20 meters, the depth of field may extend to infinity. The further away from the camera the subject is, the greater the depth of field is. At and beyond the hyperfocal distance, everything is in focus. Whether a subject is in focus is somewhat arbitrary, but there is a standard of sorts in photography. The blur circle, or circle of confusion, determines the depth of field of an image.
A Few Precautions
- Do not remove or attach any wires to camera boards or sensors while the system is powered on.
- Use caution when screwing lens into mount – be careful not to cross-thread