Selecting the Correct Camera

Major items to be checked before introducing machine vision

Machine vision applications can be roughly divided into four categories—quantity/count inspections, foreign matter/defect inspections, dimension inspections, and position inspections—with each type used in a variety of industries. This section introduces various tips for selecting a camera that appropriately suits the purpose.

  1. Selecting the devices required for inspection
    Choose the correct devices that meet the inspection requirements.
    Camera / Controller / Lighting / Lens / Monitor
  2. Sensing and judgment
    Perform testing on the actual target with the machine vision system.
    Reference parts for OK and NG products
    Inspection cycle time
    Variety of inspection items
  3. Selecting the installation location and procedure
    Review the specific installation locations.
    Target in motion/stationary
    Environmental conditions, including ambient light and vibration
  4. Controls for automation
    Review the I/O controls for the machine vision system.
    Image capture timing / Judgment output / PLC control / Data output
  5. On-site testing
    Test the machine vision system on the actual production line.
    Fine setup adjustment
    I/O control check
  6. Understanding basic operations
    Basic setup procedures to maintain stable inspection.
    Setting tolerances / Sensitivity adjustment
    Changing the inspection settings / Item registration

The types of cameras used in machine vision can be broadly grouped into the categories below.
From these categories, select the type of camera that provides the optimal images for the intended application and purpose.

Each type has color and monochrome version available.

  • 1 High-resolution type
  • 2 High-speed type
  • 3 Standard type
  • 4 Compact type

Selecting instruments required for inspection [Camera selection]

Step 1: Selecting based on resolution (high or standard resolution).

The image sensor (CCD or CMOS) used in a vision camera is an aggregate of small pixels arranged in a grid. Standard type image sensors commonly have 310000 pixels (640 × 480) while high-resolution types can have anywhere from 2 to 21 megapixels. The application requirements will dictate the type of camera that is suitable.

As a general rule, select a camera based on the size of the field of view and the pixel resolution. The size of the field of view is the area captured on an inspection target, which can be changed by the lens used. The pixel resolution means how many millimeters each pixel is equal to, and the relationship is expressed by the following equation.

Pixel resolution = Size of field of view in the Y direction (mm) ÷ sensor pixel count in the Y direction

For an example of pixel resolution, 30 mm 1.18" field of view in the Y direction will be used. The image sensor types that will be used in this example are the 310000-pixel standard model (Y = 480 pixels) and the general-purpose 2-megapixel high-resolution model (Y = 1200 pixels).

[Pixel resolution of a 310000-pixel camera] = 30 mm 1.18" / 480 pixels = 0.063 mm 0.002"/pixel
[Pixel resolution of a 2-megapixel camera] = 30 mm 1.18" / 1200 pixels = 0.025 mm 0.001"/pixel

If the desired pixel resolution is known for the application, the same equation can be used to calculate the approximate field of view the camera will provide. Appearance inspection and dimension inspection are typical applications for machine vision. When performing pass/fail judgment, detection capability is considered for appearance inspections, and dimensional tolerance is considered for dimensional inspections.

The following general principles can be applied as reference for calculation:
Detection capability = 4 pixel area
Dimensional tolerance = ±5 pixels

Using the pixel resolution calculated above, the detection capability for appearance inspection can be obtained.
[Detection capability of a 310000-pixel camera] = 0.063 mm 0.002"/pixel × 4 pixel area = 0.25 mm 0.01" area
[Detection capability of a 2-megapixel camera] = 0.025 mm 0.001"/pixel × 4 pixel area = 0.1 mm 0.004" area

Based off these calculations, if the inspection requires detection of foreign particles that are as small as 0.1 mm 0.004" with a field of view of 30 mm 1.18", a camera with a resolution of 2MP or more is needed.

Reference: Enlarged view of 0.5 mm 0.02" foreign particle in a 30 mm 1.18" field of view

310000 pixels
2 megapixels

* 2 megapixel cameras can capture images that show fine changes in higher contrast.

Point 1:

You can select a camera with the optimal number of pixels by considering pixel resolution as the criteria for pass/fail judgment.

Step 2: Selecting based on color or monochrome type image sensor

One common question when selecting a camera type is whether to use a color or monochrome type. Generally speaking, if the differences at the sensing points are detected based on hue, the color cameras may have an advantage. The following shows an example of using color processing to detect a yellow stain on a white base, which is not easily detectable by a monochrome camera.

(1)Image captured by a color camera (2)Color-processed image (3)Stain inspection contrast image / Image captured by a monochrome camera > In cases like this, when there is little difference in brightness, the contrast difference with the background is so slight that a monochrome camera is less likely to provide correct detection. Picture (2) shows that internally, the contrast between yellow and white is clearly detected with the color camera. Picture (3) shows a contrast image obtained by using the stain inspection tool. This shows that stable detection is available for actual inspections using color processing.

However, monochrome cameras do have some advantages over color. For dimension measurement using a backlight, as shown below, monochrome cameras are ideal as there is a large contrast change. Furthermore, since color cameras use a Bayer filter (where each pixel is dependent on the neighboring pixels to get the full color information), they are generally less accurate than monochrome cameras for dimensional type measurements using edges.

Dimension inspection of metal workpieces using backlight

Point 2:

Determine whether the sensing points have a hue variation or a brightness variation when selecting the image sensor!

Step 3: Selecting based on image transfer speed (high-speed or standard models)

Cameras used in machine vision can have different image transfer speeds even when the pixel counts are the same. Using a 310000-pixel type as an example, standard models offer a transmission time of 16.0 ms while high-speed models can achieve a transmission time of 1.7 ms. Even higher speeds can be achieved via a partial capture function. High-speed cameras are not only effective for fast production lines, but they are advantageous for normal speed applications as there is more processing time available for image filtering and tools that can stabilize the inspection.

Applications using high-speed cameras
[ Appearance inspection of chips (7× speed + 310000 pixel monochrome camera) ] Inspections: Stain inspection of the molded parts / Dimension inspection / Position correction XYθ) | Trigger interval: 3 ms / Inspection capability: 19,980 items per minute [ Appearance inspection of caps (7× speed + 310000 pixel full color camera) ] Inspections: Print quality inspection / Position correction (XY) / Angle correction (360 degrees) | Trigger interval: 12 ms / Inspection capability:4,999 items per minute

Point 3:

Benefits of selecting a high-speed camera include stable processing in addition to faster inspection cycle time!

Step 4: Selecting based on camera size (compact or standard models)

Compact cameras are reduced in size, but are equipped with the same specifications as larger-sized cameras. Standard and high-resolution (2MP) compact types are available in color or monochrome. Compact types are primarily selected to efficiently use limited installation space. Particularly in cases where machine vision is to be installed in the available space of an existing facility, it is beneficial to use compact cameras to fit in a limited area without changing the machinery.

Calculation of required installation space

As shown below, the installation space needed for a camera is the sum of A (WD: working distance, which is the distance between the tip of the lens and the workpiece), B (lens size), C (camera size), and D (cable space, including bends).

Example: Using a standard camera with lens with a focal distance of 6 mm 0.24" and a field of view of 30 mm 1.18"

[ A: 40 mm 1.57" ,B: 40 mm 1.57", C: 50 mm 1.97", D: 85 mm 3.35" ] A + B + C + D = 215 mm 8.46" A space of 215 mm 8.46" in the upward direction is required for this installation. /A significant space-saving can be achieved by using a combination of a compact camera and a side view attachment in cases where a space of 215 mm 8.46" cannot be provided. A: 30 mm 1.18", B: 15 mm 0.59" Installation space is only 45 mm 1.77" (A + B).

Point 4:

Selecting compact cameras based on the known required installation space can prevent unnecessary changes to the production machine.

Selecting the devices required for inspection: Camera (Summary)

The camera type is a key element to be selected for image processing to ensure stable inspection. The below quick reference chart provides a summary of the different camera types that are available.

  1. [Step 1] Select by appearance: how may pixels will satisfy the required accuracy?
  2. [Step 2] Select by transmission speed: select high-speed type when you need high-speed or more stable processing.
  3. [Step 3] Select by camera size: select a compact type when installation space is limited.
  4. [Step 4] Select by CCD type (color/monochrome): select a color camera when you want to recognize changes in hue.
【1】 21 million pixels 5 million pixels 2 million pixels
5104×4092 2432×2040 2432×2050 1600×1200
【2】 109.9ms 27.6ms*1
61.2ms 11.6ms*1
29.2ms 58.5ms
【3】 Standard Standard Standard Standard Standard Standard Standard/Compact *
【4】 Monochrome CA-H2100M CA-HX500M - CV-H500M CA-HX200M - CV-H200M CV-200M CV-S200M
Color CA-H2100C - CA-HX500C CV-H500C - CA-HX200C CV-H200C CV-200C CV-S200C
【1】 310000 pixels~470000 pixels
784×596 512×480 784×596 512×480 640×480
【2】 2.9ms*1
4.7ms 16.0ms
【3】 Standard Standard Standard Standard Standard/Compact *
【4】 Monochrome CA-HX048M - CV-H035M CV-035M CV-S035M
Color - CA-HX048C CV-H035C CV-035C CV-S035C

* 1 during use CV - X 400 series and CV - X 200 series + CA - EC 80 HX / EC 80 L * 2 When using CV - X 100 series or CV - X 200 series + CA - EC 80