Digital Interfaces: What Does It All Mean?

When it comes to interfaces for a long time we were living in an analog world. So, basically we were all using the same standard and therefore the same interfaces. Now that we have entered the digital world, it's become apparent that we needed interfaces that reflected these new needs, yet still gave us the same capabilities. Enter standards such as the: USB, Firewire, CameraLink and GigE.What’s important to remember is that in terms of digital interfaces it really comes down to two questions: How much data can come out of your camera and how quickly can it be done? If you keep these two questions in mind, exploring these four digital interfaces can actually be pretty simple.

So let’s start with USB. While extremely common being that they are a standard interface on your desktop or laptop, in terms of the amount of data they can output, and the speed at which they do it, it’s relatively low. The USB 2.0 remains perfect for applications where there is a low amount of data and can operate at low speeds. The USB 3.0 makes some improvements from the 2.0 such as working at higher speeds and introducing the possibility of connecting more than one camera to a computer.

Bringing it up a notch the next interface would be the Firewire. This is a stable method of transferring data between your camera and your computer. It’s good for faster applications because it’s more precise and allows more information to be received than the USB interface.

An additional interface CameraLink was developed to try and keep up with the changing needs of the industry. While it made it possible for more data to be generated and operate at a higher bandwidth, the connector and cabling that coincides with it are more on the expensive side. So while technically it may be the best bet, it can often be off-put by the financial burdens.

Lastly, there’s Gigabit Ethernet. While in terms of the amount of data that can get transferred it didn’t drastically change the game from CameraLink, but it did still give you more. It gives you high data throughput but at a reasonable cost -- something the CameraLink couldn’t. Running off of ethernet helps make it universally applicable, making it a perfect choice for applications that require data to be transferred at high rates.

Do you have any questions? Want to know more about these interfaces? Wondering which would be the best for your application? Please feel free to contact us by e-mail at or via telephone: (888) 732-9880