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29 May 2007 11:03 UTCTue 29 May 2007 - 11:03 am UTC
I need a color video camera (not camcorder) with a standard NTSC output which gives good performance in low-light situations and costs less than $2,000. My basic requirements are:
1. Color video camera with standard NTSC output
2. Better than average sensitivity (low-light performance)
3. (less important) Good performance in high-temperature environments
4. (less important) Fast electronic shutter
5. (less important) Noise-reducing internal processor
It would be great to have a table (excel?) comparing a variety of cameras from a bunch of different manufacturers. Would be nice if the table included a bunch of info about each camera such as sensor size, resolution, signal to noise ratio, etc... Here is an example of an almost suitable camera:
This camera is rated at 0.5 Lux in color mode. This is not so good.
Color video cameras typically have poor light sensitivity (usually measured in Lux) compared to similar monochrome video cameras. I'm hoping that some manufacturer has made a breakthrough that has improved this situation. One option, which may be too expensive, is to cool the sensor. This $6K Hitachi camera uses this approach:
Please email if you need more guidance.
29 May 2007 18:53 UTCTue 29 May 2007 - 6:53 pm UTC
I have been studying the specs of many cameras and the Hitachi KP-D590 seems to meet your needs.
Hitachi KP-D590 1/2" High Sensitivity DSP Color Camera
"The KP-D590 is a DSP camera designed for low light observation, at levels down to 0.001 lux. Ideal for use in fluorescence and darkfield imaging systems, the camera uses a combination of CCD exposure time and field memory, to improve sensitivity as compared with a conventional single CCD camera. A maximum integration time of 8 seconds is available, allowing use in extremely low light situations.
Thermoelectric cooling is used on the CCD to reduce the effects of dark current noise at long exposure times. Digital signal processing is employed, and enables new functions such as digital noise reduction, backlight compensation, automatic sensitivity switching, positive or negative output, and a 2H enhancer for a sharp picture. White balance modes include memory, auto tracking white, and manual, where the user can adjust red and blue gains. A four times electronic zoom with pan and tilt feature is standard, and allows magnification of the picture even when a standard lens is used."
* Illumination range from 0.001 to 100,000 lux
* Thermoelectric Cooling for the CCD
* Digital Noise Reduction
* AES, BLC, ATW, and AGC functions
* RS-232 Remote Control for all Camera Functions
Please let me know what you think. As you know, there are many conventional low light cameras available for under $1000 but as I understand it, you require a better quality and so I haven't pursued them. So far, the KP-D590 is the only one which seems to meet all of your needs and hopefully it's just what you are looking for.
I'll look forward to your reply,
29 May 2007 19:11 UTCTue 29 May 2007 - 7:11 pm UTC
Thanks Patricia -- that camera is on the mark. It's good to see that there are less expensive cooled cameras. Did you find any others? I'm a little concerned about the "integrating" feature since that means that the camera improves its low-light performance by leaving the shutter open for a long time -- this means it's not useful for moving images when it's using this feature. I found the datasheet, but it's not clear what the performance is with the integration turned off...
What were you finding with non-cooled cameras? Are they all still up around 0.5 lux? If so, can you put a little more time into producing a spreadsheet which compares only actively cooled cameras? If there are some non-cooled cameras with 0.1 lux or better performance, I'd like to see them too.
29 May 2007 19:55 UTCTue 29 May 2007 - 7:55 pm UTC
Good, I'm glad to hear that I understood your question and that I'm on the right track.
The IK-1000 Starlight Color Video Camera is another cooled type but I think you'll have to get in touch with them to find out the price (pricey I believe).
Starlight Color Video Camera
*.00025 lux minimum illumination - Reproduces full color, full motion images in starlight conditions
*50 dB signal-to-noise ratio - Provides industry-leading sharpness in all light conditions
*Electron Multiplying CCD (EMCCD) - Generates new electronics dramatically increasing sensitivity at very fast speeds without the common readout noise of traditional CCDs
*Adaptive recursive noise reduction - Reduces CCD output buffer noise in low light conditions
*Peltier cooled CCD - Maintains constant temperature of CCD to maximize low light performance
*Unlimited distance range
*Compact and maintenance free design
Here's an 'uncool' -
Samsung SHC-740 WDR Day/Nght Camera $529.00 + lens
* 1/2" Exview HAD color CCD
* Removed noise & ghost images with SSNR
* Day & Night with ICR (Infrared Cut filter Removal)
* High Resolution of 530TV lines (Color), 570TV lines (B/W)
* 0.08 Lux at F1.2 (Normal color mode) 0.01 Lux at F1.2 (B/W)
* Privacy image masking with free position: 4 zones
* Motion Detection, WDR
* RS-232C remote control
* OSD (On Screen Display)
* S/N ratio of 50dB
* Dual voltage : 24VAC & 12VDC (N/P)
Are you in a hurry? Narrowing down the search to .1 lux or better will help but it will take time.
29 May 2007 20:13 UTCTue 29 May 2007 - 8:13 pm UTC
Thanks Pat -- yes, that uncooled camera looks interesting too. I'm not in a hurry, but I don't want you to put more time into it than is reasonable. Please do what you can.
29 May 2007 20:27 UTCTue 29 May 2007 - 8:27 pm UTC
Thanks Bill, I'll see what I can come up with and get back to you as soon as possible but unless I happen upon the motherlode, all nicely organized in a table, I probably won't be back before tomorrow.
See you then,
30 May 2007 19:42 UTCWed 30 May 2007 - 7:42 pm UTC
Well, here I am again, a little worse for the wear but I'll be good as new after I go out and feed my Hummingbirds. Tough search, I can see why you came to Uclue!
> Comparison Chart (.xls)
This file will be available online for only 7 days so save it to your computer.
> Online lists
Online comparison charts
You can do a detailed search here and then make a chart by selecting the cameras and clicking on the "Compare" button.
Low Light - Day/Night Cameras
> Uncooled Cameras ('lines' refer to my chart)
1) LINE 6: Samsung SDC-415
* 1/3" Sony Super HAD color CCD
* Super High Resolution of 530TV lines
* Day & Night surveillance capability
* Noise filtered using ghosting effect
* High sensitivity of 0.0002 Lux
* Intelligent Motion Detection
* User-friendly on screen display for easy operation
* upto 4 privacy privacy "masked" zone; easy to configure
* High Signal to Noise Ratio of 50dB
* Reduced file size of images
* 24 Volt AC
2) LINE 7: Toshiba IK-65WDA
Wide Dynamic Color CCTV Camera
"Toshiba Surveillance and IP Video Products continue to lead in video sureillance technology with the introduction of the IK-65WDA, a feature-rich 1/3" IT CCD color camera that boasts 133 times dynamic range and extreme low-light capabilities to help CCTV professionals achieve outstanding image quality in the most severe lighting conditions. This camera captures legible color images of both the background and foreground, where standard cameras only produce dark or washed-out images. This dual purpose camera also has multiple day/night modes, 53 dB Signal-To-Noise Ratio and Digital Noise Reduction to provide clean, noise free, superior images.
PDF Spec Sheet
3) LINE 8: Samsung SHC-740 WDR Day/Nght Camera
Samsung SHC-740 WDR
"SHC-740 is a product of an optimum combination of 1/2" Ex-view HAD CCD and Samsung SVIII DSP chip that opened a new chapter in the low-light level technology, and its high resolution image surveillance function enables the user to identify objects clearly even in the dark. It provides the best quality and performance in those areas which require a high degree of night-time surveillance such as airports, harbors, roads, large scale industrial sites and military establishments, e.g, a truce line."
Samsung SHC-740 WDR Day/Nght Camera
Samsung SHC-740 WDR
4) LINE 9: Toshiba IR Day/Night CCTV Camera
IR Day/Night CCTV Camera
"The IK-64DNA's sensitivity light in the 900 mm range makes it an excellent candidate for parking facilities, warehouses, highways and other low-light applications when used with an IR illuminator. It features an automatic IR Cut Filter that filters out IR light when it is used in normal daylight conditions for 24-hour performance."
IK-64DNA by TOSHIBA COLOR/BW DAY/NIGHT
"The perfect camera for those really hard to capture scenes, either very bright or dark this camera brings forth the ebst possible image.IK-64DNA IR Day/Night Camera The IK-64DNA's sensitivity light in the 900 nm range makes it an excellent candidate for parking facilities, warehouses, highways and other low-light applications when used with an IR illuminator. It features an automatic IR Cut Filter that filters out IR light when it is used in normal daylight conditions for 24-hour performance."
5) LINE 10: Sentech STC-H620A
6) LINE 11: Samsung SHC-730 1/3" Low Light, WDR, High Resolution Color camera
> Cooled Camera (sorry, only one for under $2000)
7) LINE 16: Hitachi KP-D590 1/2" High Sensitivity DSP Color Camera
"The KP-D590 is a DSP camera designed for low light observation, at levels down to 0 .001 lux. Ideal for use in fluorescence and darkfield imaging systems, the camera uses a combination of CCD exposure time and field memory, to improve sensitivity as compared with a conventional single CCD camera. A maximum integration time of 8 seconds is available, allowing use in extremely low light situations. Thermoelectric cooling is used on the CCD to reduce the effects of dark current noise at long exposure times."
KP-D590 Color CCD Camera 768x494, 0.001-100,000 Lux Illumination, NTSC, Y/C Ouput, 12 VDC $1,800.00
KP-D591 Same as KP-D590, 117 VDC $1,900.00
8) Line 17: Toshiba IK-1000ME Extreme Low Light Color Video Camera
"Toshiba's breakthrough technology - extreme low light color video camera. The Toshiba IK-1000ME achieves sensitivity and dynamic range in excess of current generation night-vision cameras and provides full color at 30 frames per second in near total darkness!"
9) LINE 18: Hitachi KP-DE500
Color in full motion mode: 0.0009 lux
Sensitivity comparison between KP-DE500, KP-D531 & KP-D591
10) LINE 19: IK-1000 Starlight Color Video Camera
IK-1000 Starlight Color Video Camera
* .00025 lux minimum illumination - Reproduces full color, full motion
images in starlight conditions
* 50 dB signal-to-noise ratio - Provides industry-leading sharpness in all light conditions
* Electron Multiplying CCD (EMCCD) - Generates new electronics dramatically increasing sensitivity at very fast speeds without the common readout noise of traditional CCDs
* Adaptive recursive noise reduction - Reduces CCD output buffer noise in low light conditions
* Peltier cooled CCD - Maintains constant temperature of CCD to maximize low light performance
* Unlimited distance range
* Compact and maintenance free design
IK-1000 Starlight Color Video Camera
IK-1000 Starlight Color Video Camera
> A few .2 lux
IK-6550A High Resolution Day/Night CCTV Camera (.2 lux)
IK-6410A Day/Night CCTV Camera (.2 lux)
IK-6210A Day/Night CCTV Camera (.2 lux)
Bill, it's disappointing to me that I've ended up with such a short list to show for all of my efforts and really there is only one that covers all of your original parameters (Hitachi KP-D590). It's easy to find 0.1 lux b/w cameras but the moment you add color, they seem to mysteriously disappear as you will see if you try the advanced search on the OPSCI website.
Good luck with your camera hunt :)
8 Jun 2007 01:20 UTCFri 8 Jun 2007 - 1:20 am UTC
I don't know how but I missed seeing your tip earlier, but thanks to my more alert colleagues, I've just been made aware of it. I am so sorry, you must be wondering why you never heard back from me. Please accept my apologies and know that I really appreciate your kindness, that I enjoyed working on your question, and will look forward to seeing your next challenge.
Belatedly, "Thank you, Bill, for your generous tip. I'm happy you are happy and glad to hear that I was able to help!"
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