Learn About Block Cameras
Machine vision industrial cameras come in all shapes and sizes. As ongoing updates to useful interface standards like GigE Vision and Camera Link increase connection and transfer speeds, demanding customers are discovering more and more uses for new types of industrial cameras. For a variety of reasons, block cameras show particular promise. Read up on the attributes, uses and advantages of block cameras before browsing our comprehensive selection of ready-to-use machine vision devices.
What Are Block Cameras?
Block cameras are a varied bunch. Since they aren't limited to a specific interface and can be custom-designed with add-on components and assemblies, they can be difficult to categorize. Block camera technology predates most of today's commonly used vision standards. In fact, popular and inexpensive block cameras like the Sony FCB-H11 continue to use dependable if old-fashioned analog interfaces to process their images. This seemingly anachronistic approach is actually advantageous: Analog block cameras tend to be low-cost, low-maintenance and extremely durable. Of course, many state-of-the-art block cameras use HD, LVDS and other "modern" interfaces.
Common Features and Functions
Block cameras have a number of common attributes. These are the result of multifaceted research and development activities by dozens of well-regarded machine vision and industrial camera specialists. Although block cameras don't adhere to a single interface standard, the AIA is one of the most important arbiters of information and specifications on the subject.
Block cameras generally feature:
- Area scan capabilities with wide image fields
- High-resolution imaging with pixel-equivalent ratings of 1 million or more
- MOS or CMOS sensors
- Video capture capabilities of 30 FPS or more
- Day/night and/or low-vision capabilities
- Powerful zoom lenses with magnification ratings of 120x or more
Common Uses and Applications
Block cameras are used in a wide range of professional and industrial applications. Larger models that feature color enhancement components and high-resolution imaging fields are perfect for traffic monitoring, real-time security applications and low-light inspection processes. Miniaturized models with durable housings are particularly useful for inspecting tight spaces and scanning small objects in quality-control settings. Meanwhile, HD models that use customized, impact-resistant assemblies are finding expanded opportunities in the world of street-view mapping and stock car racing.
Since machine vision block cameras are so widely used, it should be no surprise that most major camera manufacturers produce them. Popular block cameras include:
- Small, versatile Sony FCB-IX11A devices that weigh less than 4 ounces, offer 10x optical zoom with a 4x digital boost, and can be used in tight spaces like sewage pipes and electrical assemblies
- User-friendly, full-color Panasonic GP-MH310 industrial cameras that combine 1080p/60p resolution and LVDS streaming technology to produce crisp, lifelike video images in industrial settings
- High-resolution, wide-scanning Sony FCB-EH3150 assemblies that offer HD video outputs, internal temperature scans and color enhancement for low-light traffic monitoring and security operations
Finding the Perfect Machine Vision Block Camera
Before making a purchase, machine vision industrial camera users should pay attention to the technical specifications of each device that they consider. These include:
- Scanning mode
- Display format
- Sensor technology
- FPS rating
- Signal type
- Size and weight
- Transmission interface
- Accessory requirements like frame grabbers, mounts, etc.
- Other application-specific attributes
From Panasonic to Sony, block cameras are a crucial part of most manufacturers' product lineups. Thanks to their versatile design and ease of use, they're also indispensable to the thousands of businesses that use them every day.