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2.1 MP sCMOS Scientific Cameras


  • Low <1 e- Read Noise
  • Up to 50 Frames per Second for the Full Sensor
  • 61% Peak Quantum Efficiency at 600 nm
  • High Dynamic Range of up to 87 dB with 23 ke- Full Well

CS2100M-USB

Monochrome sCMOS Camera
Passively Cooled Compact Packaging

Merged triple emission fluorescence image of FluoCells® prepared BPAE cells taken with a CC215MU camera. Click Here for full-resolution image.

CC215MU

Monochrome sCMOS Camera
Hermetically Sealed TE-Cooled Packaging

Related Items


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Scientific Camera Selection Guide
Compact
Scientific
Zelux™
(Smallest Profile)
1.6 MP CMOS
Kiralux™ 1.3 MP CMOS
2.3 MP CMOS
5 MP CMOS
5 MP CMOS,
Polarization Sensitive
8.9 MP CMOS
Quantalux®
(<1 e- Read Noise)
2.1 MP sCMOS
Scientific
CCD
1.4 MP CCD
4 MP CCD
8 MP CCD
VGA Resolution CCD
(200 Frames Per Second)

Applications

  • Fluorescence Microscopy
  • VIS/NIR Imaging
  • Quantum Dots
  • Autofluorescence
  • Materials Inspection
  • Multispectral Imaging
Jason Mills
Jason Mills
General Manager,
Thorlabs Scientific Imaging

Feedback?
Questions?
Need a Quote?

Contact TSI

Features

  • 2/3" Format, Monochrome sCMOS 1920 x 1080 Pixel (2.1 Megapixel) Sensor
  • High Quantum Efficiency (61% at 600 nm)
  • Two Styles Available: Passively Cooled Compact Package or Hermetically Sealed Actively Cooled Package
  • Fan-Free Design Reduces Dark Current without Adding Vibration and Image Blur
  • <1 e- Median Read Noise
  • Triggered and Bulb Exposure Modes
  • Rolling Shutter with Equal Exposure Pulse (EEP) Mode for Synchronizing Light Sources
  • USB 3.0 Interface
  • ThorCam™ Software for Windows® 7 and 10 Operating Systems
  • SDK and Programming Interface Support:
    • C, C++, C#, Python, and Visual Basic .NET APIs
    • LabVIEW, MATLAB, and µManager Third-Party Software
  • 1/4"-20 Tapped Holes for Post Mounting

Thorlabs' Quantalux® Scientific CMOS (sCMOS) Cameras offer high sensitivity with high dynamic range, enabling the detection of dim features without overexposing bright details. The combination of extremely low read noise (<1 e- median) and high quantum efficiency peaking at 61% at 600 nm provides excellent performance in even the most demanding low light applications, such as fluorescence microscopy.

Compact Package or Hermetically Sealed TE-Cooled Camera
Our Quantalux sCMOS cameras are offered in two styles: a passively cooled compact package (Item # CS2100M-USB) and a hermetically sealed package with a thermoelectric cooler (TEC) that cools the sensor (Item # CC215MU). Both use a fan-free design to reduce dark current without adding image blur from vibrations. The CC215MU camera's active TE-cooling provides greater dark current reduction when compared to the passively cooled camera; however, the total dark current is also a function of exposure time. For high light levels requiring short exposure times (less than 500 ms), the passively cooled camera is generally sufficient. We strongly recommend a cooled camera for applications with low light levels requiring exposures longer than 500 ms. Please see the Camera Noise tab for more details on the various sources of camera noise and how it impacts the choice between a standard and cooled camera.

sCMOS Cameras for Microscopy
Click here to view the full-resolution image.
A FluoCells® mouse kidney fluorescence slide imaged with our CS2100M-USB monochrome Quantalux camera. 16-bit images may be viewed using ThorCam, ImageJ, or other scientific imaging software. They may not be displayed correctly in general-purpose image viewers.

Removable Protective Window
All Quantalux cameras are configured with a clear, broadband, AR-coated protective window to preserve the sCMOS sensor spectral response from 400 - 700 nm. The C-mount adapter and other front end components are removable to provide access to the protective window. If the image spectrum must be limited, for example to eliminate unwanted near-infrared light, we offer a wide range of high-quality interference and colored glass optical filters that can easily be user-installed in both cameras.

Software and Triggering
Each camera features a USB 3.0 interface for compatibility with most computers, and can be controlled with our ThorCam software for use with Windows 7 and 10 operating systems. Developers can leverage our fully featured API and SDK; please see the Software tab for more information.

Our cameras have triggering options that enable custom timing and system control; for more details, please see the Triggering tab. External triggering requires a connection to the auxiliary port of the camera. Accessory cables and boards to "break out" the individual signals are available below. Please note that the USB3-MBA-118 USB 3.0 cable is only suitable for the CS2100M-USB compact camera; the CC215MU cooled camera ships with an appropriate USB 3.0 cable. 

Scientific Camera Basics
Scientific Camera Capabilities
Common Specifications
Sensor Type Monochrome sCMOS
Effective Number of Pixels
(Horizontal x Vertical)
1920 x 1080
Imaging Area
(Horizontal x Vertical)
9.6768 mm x 5.4432 mm
Pixel Size 5.04 µm x 5.04 µm
Optical Format 2/3" (11 mm Diagonal)
Max Frame Rate 50 fps (Full Sensor)
Sensor Shutter Type Rolling
Peak Quantum Efficiency 61% at 600 nm
Removable Window AR-Coating Reflectance Ravg < 0.5% over 400 - 700 nm (Per Surface)
Exposure Time 0.029 ms to 7767.2 ms in ~0.03 ms Increments
Pixel Clock Speed 74.25 MHz to 148.5 MHz
ADCb Resolution 16 Bit
Vertical and Horizontal Hardware Binning Continuous Integer Values from 1 to 16
Region of Interest (ROI) 8 x 2 Pixelsc to 1920 x 1080 Pixels, Rectangular
Read Noise <1 e- Median RMSd / <1.5 e- RMS
Digital Output 16 Bit
Dynamic Range Up to 87 dB
Full Well ≥23 000 e-
Lens Mount C-Mount (1.000"-32)
USB Power Consumption (Camera Only) 3.7 W @ 30 fps (Full Sensor ROI)
4.3 W @ 50 fps (Full Sensor ROI)
Operating Temperature 10 °C to 40 °C (Non-Condensing)
Storage Temperature 0 °C to 55 °C
  • The specified performance is valid when using a computer with the recommended specifications listed on the Software tab.
  • ADC = Analog-to-Digital Converter
  • When Binning at 1 x 1
  • As Specified by the Sensor Manufacturer
Example Frame Rates at ~1 ms Exposure Timea Frame Rate
LRNb HFRb
Full Sensor (1920 x 1080) 30 fps 50 fps
Half Sensor (960 x 540) 60 fps 100 fps
1/10 Sensor (192 x 108) 300 fps 500 fps
  • With 1 x 1 Binning, Frames per Trigger = Continuous
  • LRN is Low Read Noise, HFR is High Frame Rate, Both are Optimization Modes.
Item # CS2100M-USB CC215MU
Max Filter Thickness When Using C-Mount Adapter 0.050" (1.270 mm) 0.079" (2.0 mm)
Mounting Features Two 1/4"-20 Holes, One on Top & Bottom
Four 4-40 Holes for 30 mm Cage Compatibility
SM1 (1.035"-40) Threaded Aperture When C-Mount Adapter is Removed
Six 1/4"-20 Holes, Two Each on Top & Bottom, One on Each Side
Four 4-40 Holes for 60 mm Cage Compatibility
Housing Dimmensions 2.77" x 2.38" x 1.88"
(70.4 mm x 60.3 mm x 47.6 mm)
4.29" x 4.13" x 4.12"
(109.0 mm x 104.8 mm x 104.8 mm)
Cooling Passive Cooling Active Thermoelectric Cooling
Sensor Cools to 0 °C at 20 °C Ambient Temperature
Cooling Mode Power Consumption N/A 12.6 W (Max)
Power Supply Powered by USB 3.0 from Host PC Camera Powered by USB 3.0 from Host PC
Auxillary Power Supply for TE-Cooling (100 - 240 VAC @ 50 - 60 Hz)
Quantalux Camera Mechanical Drawing
Click to Enlarge

Mechanical Drawing of the CS2100M-USB Camera Housing
Cooled Quantalux Camera Mechanical Drawing
Click to Enlarge

Mechanical Drawing of the CC215MU Camera Housing

Camera Back Panel Connector Locations

Quantalux Back Panel




Back panel connections for the CS2100M-USB Compact Quantalux Camera. For the I/O connector pin assignments, please see the Auxiliary (I/O) Connector section below.
Quantalux Back Panel
Back panel connections for the CC215MU Cooled Quantalux Camera. For the I/O connector pin assignments, please see the Auxiliary (I/O) Connector section below.

TSI-IOBOB and TSI-IOBOB2 Break-Out Board Connector Locations


TSI-IOBOB and TSI-IOBOB2 Connector 8050-CAB1 Connectors Camera Auxiliary (I/O) Port
6 Pin Mini Din Female Connector
Female 6-Pin Mini Din Female Connector
6 Pin Mini Din Male Connector
Male 6-Pin Mini Din Male Connector (TSI-IOBOB end of Cable)
12 Pin Hirose Male Connector
Male 12-Pin Hirose Connector (Camera end of Cable)
12 Pin Hirose Female Connector
Female 12-Pin Hirose Connector (Auxiliary Port on Camera)

Auxiliary (I/O) Connector

The cameras and the break-out boards feature female connectors; the cameras have a 12 pin Hirose connector, while the break out boards have a 6-pin Mini-DIN connector. The 8050-CAB1 cable features male connectors on both ends: a 12-pin connector for connecting to the camera and a 6-pin Mini-DIN connector for the break-out boards. Pins 1, 2, 3, 5, and 6 are each connected to the center pin of an SMA connector on the break-out boards, while pin 4 (ground) is connected to each SMA connector housing. To access one of the I/O functions not available with the 8050-CAB1, the user must fabricate a cable using shielded cabling in order for the camera to adhere to CE and FCC compliance; additional details are provided in the camera manual.

Camera I/O
Pin #
TSI-IOBOB and TSI-IOBOB2
Pin #
Signal Description
1 - GND The electrical ground for the camera signals.
2 - GND The electrical ground for the camera signals.
3 - GND The electrical ground for the camera signals.
4 6 STROBE_OUT / EEP
(Output)
Strobe_Out: An LVTTL output that is high during the actual sensor exposure time when in continuous, overlapped exposure mode. It is typically used to synchronize an external flash lamp or other device with the camera.
EEP: Equal Exposure Pulse is available when Equal Exposure pulse is selected in the ThorCam settings. This signal is active from the time when rolling reset is complete to the time when rolling readout commences. It is typically used to synchronize external lamps or other devices with the camera in order to produce uniform exposures. See the Triggering tab for more details.
5 3 TRIGGER_IN
(Input)
An LVTTL input used to trigger exposures. Transitions can occur from the high to low state or from the low to high state as selected in ThorCam; the default is low to high.
6 1 LVAL_OUT
(Output)
Refers to "Line Valid." It is an active-high LVTTL signal and is asserted during the valid pixel period on each line. It returns low during the inter-line period between each line and during the inter-frame period between each frame.
7 - OPTO I/O_OUT STROBE
(Output)
This is an optically isolated output signal. The user must provide a pull-up resistor to an external voltage source of 2.5 V to 20 V. The pull-up resistor must limit the current into this pin to <40 mA. The default signal present on pin 7 is the STROBE_OUT signal, which is effectively the Trigger Out signal as well.
8 - OPTO I/O_RTN This is the return connection for the OPTO I/O_OUT output and the OPTO I/O_IN input connections. This must be connected to the pull-up source for OPTO I/O_OUT or the driving source for the OPTO I/O_IN signals.
9 - OPTO I/O_IN
(Input)
This is an optically isolated input signal used to trigger exposures. The user must provide a driving source from 3.3 V to 10 V. An internal series resistor limits the current to <50 mA at 10 V. The minimum trigger pulse-width is 100 µs.
10 4 GND The electrical ground for the camera signals.
11 - GND The electrical ground for the camera signals.
12 5 FVAL_OUT
(Output)
Refers to "Frame Valid." It is a LVTTL output that is high during active readout lines and returns low between frames.
Scientific Camera, Cables, and Accessories
Click to Enlarge

CS2100M-USB Compact sCMOS Camera with Included Accessories

In Addition to the Camera, the CS2100M-USB Includes the Following:

  • 3 m long USB 3.0 Cable (Micro B to A)
  • Wrench to Loosen Optical Assembly (Item # SPW502)
  • Lens Mount Dust Cap
  • CD with ThorCam Software
  • Quick-Start Guide and Manual Download Information Card

Scientific Camera, Cables, and Accessories
Click to Enlarge

CC215MU Cooled sCMOS Camera with Included Accessories

In Addition to the Camera, the CC215MU Includes the Following:

  • 3 m Long USB 3.0 Cable (Micro B to A) with Bracket for PC Connection (Not Shown)
  • 5/64" Hex Key to Remove C-Mount Adapter
  • Lens Cap
  • 5 V / 3 A AC-DC Converter (For TEC Cooling Power Only)
  • Quick-Start Guide and Manual Download Information Card

ThorCam™

ThorCam is a powerful image acquisition software package that is designed for use with our cameras on 32- and 64-bit Windows® 7 or 10 systems. This intuitive, easy-to-use graphical interface provides camera control as well as the ability to acquire and play back images. Single image capture and image sequences are supported. Please refer to the screenshots below for an overview of the software's basic functionality.

Application programming interfaces (APIs) and a software development kit (SDK) are included for the development of custom applications by OEMs and developers. The SDK provides easy integration with a wide variety of programming languages, such as C, C++, C#, Python, and Visual Basic .NET. Support for third-party software packages, such as LabVIEW, MATLAB, and µManager* is available. We also offer example Arduino code for integration with our TSI-IOBOB2 Interconnect Break-Out Board.

*µManager control of Zelux and 1.3 MP Kiralux cameras is not currently supported. When controlling the Kiralux Polarization-Sensitive Camera using µManager, only intensity images can be taken; the ThorCam software is required to produce images with polarization information.

Recommended System Requirementsa
Operating System Windows® 7 or 10 (64 Bit)
Processor (CPU)b ≥3.0 GHz Intel Core (i5 or Higher)
Memory (RAM) ≥8 GB
Hard Drivec ≥500 GB (SATA) Solid State Drive (SSD)
Graphics Cardd Dedicated Adapter with ≥256 MB RAM
Motherboard USB 3.0 (-USB) Cameras: Integrated Intel USB 3.0 Controller
or One Unused PCIe x1 Slot (for Item # USB3-PCIE)
GigE (-GE) Cameras: One Unused PCIe x1 Slot
Connectivity USB or Internet Connectivity for Driver Installation
  • See the Performance Considerations section below for recommendations to minimize dropped frames for demanding applications.
  • Intel Core i3 processors and mobile versions of Intel processors may not satisfy the requirements.
  • We recommend a solid state drive (SSD) for reliable streaming to disk during image sequence storage.
  • On-board/integrated graphics solutions present on Intel Core i5 and i7 processors are also acceptable.

Software

Version 3.4.1

Click the button below to visit the ThorCam software page.

Software Download

Example Arduino Code for TSI-IOBOB2 Board

Click the button below to visit the download page for the sample Arduino programs for the TSI-IOBOB2 Shield for Arduino. Three sample programs are offered:

  • Trigger the Camera at a Rate of 1 Hz
  • Trigger the Camera at the Fastest Possible Rate
  • Use the Direct AVR Port Mappings from the Arduino to Monitor Camera State and Trigger Acquisition
Software Download

Click the Highlighted Regions to Explore ThorCam Features

Thorcam GUI Window

Camera Control and Image Acquisition

Camera Control and Image Acquisition functions are carried out through the icons along the top of the window, highlighted in orange in the image above. Camera parameters may be set in the popup window that appears upon clicking on the Tools icon. The Snapshot button allows a single image to be acquired using the current camera settings.

The Start and Stop capture buttons begin image capture according to the camera settings, including triggered imaging.

Timed Series and Review of Image Series

The Timed Series control, shown in Figure 1, allows time-lapse images to be recorded. Simply set the total number of images and the time delay in between captures. The output will be saved in a multi-page TIFF file in order to preserve the high-precision, unaltered image data. Controls within ThorCam allow the user to play the sequence of images or step through them frame by frame.

Measurement and Annotation

As shown in the yellow highlighted regions in the image above, ThorCam has a number of built-in annotation and measurement functions to help analyze images after they have been acquired. Lines, rectangles, circles, and freehand shapes can be drawn on the image. Text can be entered to annotate marked locations. A measurement mode allows the user to determine the distance between points of interest.

The features in the red, green, and blue highlighted regions of the image above can be used to display information about both live and captured images.

ThorCam also features a tally counter that allows the user to mark points of interest in the image and tally the number of points marked (see Figure 2). A crosshair target that is locked to the center of the image can be enabled to provide a point of reference.

Third-Party Applications and Support

ThorCam is bundled with support for third-party software packages such as LabVIEW, MATLAB, and .NET. Both 32- and 64-bit versions of LabVIEW and MATLAB are supported. A full-featured and well-documented API, included with our cameras, makes it convenient to develop fully customized applications in an efficient manner, while also providing the ability to migrate through our product line without having to rewrite an application.

Thorcam Software Screenshot
Click to Enlarge

Figure 1: A timed series of 10 images taken at 1 second intervals is saved as a multipage TIFF.
Thorcam Software Screenshot
Click to Enlarge

Figure 2: A screenshot of the ThorCam software showing some of the analysis and annotation features. The Tally function was used to mark four locations in the image. A blue crosshair target is enabled and locked to the center of the image to provide a point of reference.

 

Performance Considerations

Please note that system performance limitations can lead to "dropped frames" when image sequences are saved to the disk. The ability of the host system to keep up with the camera's output data stream is dependent on multiple aspects of the host system. Note that the use of a USB hub may impact performance. A dedicated connection to the PC is preferred. USB 2.0 connections are not supported.

First, it is important to distinguish between the frame rate of the camera and the ability of the host computer to keep up with the task of displaying images or streaming to the disk without dropping frames. The frame rate of the camera is a function of exposure and readout (e.g. clock, ROI) parameters. Based on the acquisition parameters chosen by the user, the camera timing emulates a digital counter that will generate a certain number of frames per second. When displaying images, this data is handled by the graphics system of the computer; when saving images and movies, this data is streamed to disk. If the hard drive is not fast enough, this will result in dropped frames.

One solution to this problem is to ensure that a solid state drive (SSD) is used. This usually resolves the issue if the other specifications of the PC are sufficient. Note that the write speed of the SSD must be sufficient to handle the data throughput.

Larger format images at higher frame rates sometimes require additional speed. In these cases users can consider implementing a RAID0 configuration using multiple SSDs or setting up a RAM drive. While the latter option limits the storage space to the RAM on the PC, this is the fastest option available. ImDisk is one example of a free RAM disk software package. It is important to note that RAM drives use volatile memory. Hence it is critical to ensure that the data is moved from the RAM drive to a physical hard drive before restarting or shutting down the computer to avoid data loss.

Pixel PeekVertical and Horizontal Line ProfilesHistogramCamera Control IconsMeasurement and Annotation FunctionsMeasurement and Annotation Functions

Triggered Camera Operation

Our scientific cameras have three externally triggered operating modes: streaming overlapped exposure, asynchronous triggered acquisition, and bulb exposure driven by an externally generated trigger pulse. The trigger modes operate independently of the readout (e.g., binning) settings as well as gain and offset. Figures 1 through 3 show the timing diagrams for these trigger modes, assuming an active low external TTL trigger.

Camera Timing Diagram
Click to Enlarge
Figure 1: Streaming overlapped exposure mode. When the external trigger goes low, the exposure begins, and continues for the software-selected exposure time, followed by the readout. This sequence then repeats at the set time interval. Subsequent external triggers are ignored until the camera operation is halted. For the definition of the TTL signals, please see the Pin Diagrams tab.
Timing Diagram
Click to Enlarge
Figure 2: Asynchronous triggered acquisition mode. When the external trigger signal goes low, an exposure begins for the preset time, and then the exposure is read out of the camera. During the readout time, the external trigger is ignored. Once a single readout is complete, the camera will begin the next exposure only when the external trigger signal goes low.
Camera Timing
Click to Enlarge
Figure 3: Bulb exposure mode. The exposure begins when the external trigger signal goes low and ends when the external trigger signal goes high. Trigger signals during camera readout are ignored.
Camera Triggering in ThorCam Software
Click to Enlarge

Figure 4: 
The ThorCam Camera Settings window. The red and blue highlighted regions indicate the trigger settings as described in the text.

External triggering enables these cameras to be easily integrated into systems that require the camera to be synchronized to external events. The Strobe Output goes high to indicate exposure; the strobe signal may be used in designing a system to synchronize external devices to the camera exposure. External triggering requires a connection to the auxiliary port of the camera. We offer the 8050-CAB1 auxiliary cable as an optional accessory. Two options are provided to "break out" individual signals. The TSI-IOBOB provides SMA connectors for each individual signal. Alternately, the TSI-IOBOB2 also provides the SMA connectors with the added functionality of a shield for Arduino boards that allows control of other peripheral equipment. More details on these three optional accessories are provided below.

Trigger settings are adjusted using the ThorCam software. Figure 4 shows the Camera Settings window, with the trigger settings highlighted with red and blue squares. Settings can be adjusted as follows:

  • "Hardware Trigger" (Red Highlight) Set to "None": The camera will simply acquire the number of frames in the "Frames per Trigger" box when the capture button is pressed in ThorCam.
  • "Hardware Trigger" Set to "Standard": There are Two Possible Scenarios:
    • "Frames per Trigger" (Blue Highlight) Set to Zero or >1: The camera will operate in streaming overlapped exposure mode (Figure 1).
    • "Frames per Trigger" Set to 1: Then the camera will operate in asynchronous triggered acquisition mode (Figure 2).
  • "Hardware Trigger" Set to "Bulb (PDX) Mode": The camera will operate in bulb exposure mode, also known as Pulse Driven Exposure (PDX) mode (Figure 3).

In addition, the polarity of the trigger can be set to "On High" (exposure begins on the rising edge) or "On Low" (exposure begins on the falling edge) in the "Hardware Trigger Polarity" box (highlighted in red in Figure 4).

Equal Exposure Pulse (EEP) Mode

The Equal Exposure Pulse (EEP) is an output signal available on the Quantalux camera's I/O connector. When selected in the ThorCam settings dialog, the STROBE_OUT signal is reconfigured to be active only after the CMOS sensor's rolling reset function has completed. The signal will remain active until the sensor's rolling readout function begins. This means that the signal is active only during the time when all of the sensor's pixels have been reset and are actively integrating. The resulting image will not show an exposure gradient typical of rolling reset sensors. Figure 5 shows an example of a strobe-driven exposure, where STROBE_OUT is used to trigger an external light source; the resulting image shows a gradient as not all sensor rows are integrating charge for the same length of time when the light source is on. Figure 6 shows an example of an EEP exposure: the exposure time is lengthened, and the trigger output signal shifted to the time when all rows are integrating charge, yielding an image with equal illumination across the frame.

Please note that EEP will have no effect on images that are constantly illuminated. There are several conditions that must be met to use EEP mode; these are detailed in the User Guide.

CMOS Camera EEP Diagram
Click to Enlarge

Figure 5: A timing example for an exposure using STROBE_OUT to trigger an external light source during exposure. A gradient is formed across the image since the sensor rows are not integrating charge for the same length of time the light source is on.

CMOS Camera EEP Diagram
Click to Enlarge

Figure 6: A timing example for an exposure using EEP. The image is free of gradients, since the EEP signal triggers the light source only while all sensor rows are integrating charge.

 

Example Camera Triggering Configuration using Scientific Camera Accessories

Camera Triggering with TSI-IOBOB2 Shield for Arduino
Figure 5: A schematic showing a system using the TSI-IOBOB2 to facilitate system integration and control.
While the diagram shows the back panel of our Quantalux™ sCMOS Camera, our Scientific CCD cameras can be used as well.

As an example of how camera triggering can be integrated into system control is shown in Figure 5. In the schematic, the camera is connected to the TSI-IOBOB2 break-out board / shield for Arduino using a 8050-CAB1 cable. The pins on the shield can be used to deliver signals to simultaneously control other peripheral devices, such as light sources, shutters, or motion control devices. Once the control program is written to the Arduino board, the USB connection to the host PC can be removed, allowing for a stand-alone system control platform; alternately, the USB connection can be left in place to allow for two-way communication between the Arduino and the PC. Configuring the external trigger mode is done using ThorCam as described above.

Camera Noise and Temperature

Overview
When purchasing a camera, an important consideration is whether or not the application will require a cooled sensor. Generally, most applications have high signal levels and do not require cooling. However, for certain situations, generally under low light levels where long exposures are necessary, cooling will provide a benefit. In the tutorial below, we derive the following "rule of thumb": for exposures less than 1 second, a standard camera is generally sufficient; for exposures greater than 1 second, cooling could be beneficial; for exposures greater than 5 seconds, cooling is generally recommended; and for exposures above 10 seconds, cooling is usually required. If you have questions about which domain your application will fall, you might consider estimating the signal levels and noise sources by following the steps detailed in the tutorial below, where we present sample calculations using the specifications for our 1.4 megapixel cameras. Alternatively you can contact us, and one of our scientific camera specialists will help you decide which camera is right for you.

Sources of Noise

Noise in a camera image is the aggregate spatial and temporal variation in the measured signal, assuming constant, uniform illumination. There are several components of noise:

  • Dark Shot Noise (σD): Dark current is a current that flows even when no photons are incident on the camera. It is a thermal phenomenon resulting from electrons spontaneously generated within the silicon chip (valence electrons are thermally excited into the conduction band). The variation in the amount of dark electrons collected during the exposure is the dark shot noise. It is independent of the signal level but is dependent on the temperature of the sensor as shown in Table 1.
  • Read Noise (σR): This is the noise generated in producing the electronic signal. This results from the sensor design but can also be impacted by the design of the camera electronics. It is independent of signal level and temperature of the sensor, and is larger for faster CCD pixel clock rates.
  • Photon Shot Noise (σS): This is the statistical noise associated with the arrival of photons at the pixel. Since photon measurement obeys Poisson statistics, the photon shot noise is dependent on the signal level measured. It is independent of sensor temperature.
  • Fixed Pattern Noise (σF): This is caused by spatial non-uniformities of the pixels and is independent of signal level and temperature of the sensor. Note that fixed pattern noise will be ignored in the discussion below; this is a valid assumption for the CCD cameras sold here but may need to be included for other non-scientific-grade sensors.

Total Effective Noise

The total effective noise per pixel is the quadrature sum of each of the noise sources listed above:

(1)

Total noise equation 1

Here, σD is the dark shot noise, σR is the read noise (for sample calculations, we will use our 1.4 megapixel cameras, which use the ICX285AL sensor. Typically the read noise is less than 10 e- for scientific-grade cameras using the ICX285AL CCD; we will assume a value of 10 e- in this tutorial), and σS is the photon shot noise. If σS>>σD and σS>>σR, then σeff is approximately given by the following:

(2)

Total noise equation 1

Again, fixed pattern noise is ignored, which is a good approximation for scientific-grade CCDs but may need to be considered for non-scientific-grade sensors.

Temperature Dark Current (ID)
-20 °C 0.1 e-/(s•pixel)
0 °C 1 e-/(s•pixel)
25 °C 5 e-/(s•pixel)

Table 1: Nominal dark current values at several temperatures for a sample CCD sensor.

Dark Shot Noise as a function of exposure
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Figure 1: Plot of dark shot noise and read noise as a function of exposure for three sensor temperatures for a sample camera. This plot uses logarithmic scales for both axes.The dotted vertical line at 5 s indicates the values calculated as the example in the text.

Dark Shot Noise and Sensor Temperature

As mentioned above, the dark current is a thermal effect and can therefore be reduced by cooling the sensor. Table 1 lists typical dark current values for a sample camera with a CCD sensor. As the dark current results from spontaneously generated electrons, the dark current is measured by simply "counting" these electrons. Since counting electrons obeys Poisson statistics, the noise associated with the dark current ID is proportional to the square root of the number of dark electrons that accumulate during the exposure. For a given exposure, the dark shot noise, σD, is therefore the square root of the ID value from Table 1 (for a given sensor temperature) multiplied by the exposure time t in seconds:

(3)

Dark noise equation 1

Since the dark current decreases with decreasing temperature, the associated noise can be decreased by cooling the camera. For example, assuming an exposure of 5 seconds, the dark shot noise levels for the three sensor temperatures listed in the table are

(4)

Example 1 equation 3
Example 1 equation 3
Example 1 equation 3

Figure 1, which is a plot of the dark shot noise as a function of exposure for the three temperatures listed in Table 1, illustrates how the dark shot noise increases with increasing exposure. Figure 1 also includes a plot of the upper limit of the read noise.

If the photon shot noise is significantly larger than the dark shot noise, then cooling provides a negligible benefit in terms of the noise, and our standard package cameras will work well.

Photon Shot Noise

If S is the number of "signal" electrons generated when a photon flux of N photons/second is incident on each pixel of a sensor with a quantum efficiency QE and an exposure duration of t seconds, then

(5)

Shot noise equation 2

From S, the photon shot noise, σS, is given by:

(6)

Shot noise equation 2

Example Calculations (Using our 1.4 Megapixel Cameras)

If we assume that there is a sufficiently high photon flux and quantum efficiency to allow for a signal S of 10,000 e- to accumulate in a pixel with an exposure of 5 seconds, then the estimated shot noise, σS, would be the square root of 10,000, or 100 e-. The read noise is 10 e- (independent of exposure time). For an exposure of 5 seconds and sensor temperatures of 25, 0, and -25 °C, the dark shot noise is given in equation (4). The effective noise is:

(7)

Total noise equation 1
Example 1 equation 4
Example 1 equation 4
Example 1 equation 4

The signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) is a useful figure of merit for image quality and is estimated as:

(8)

Total noise equation 1

From Equation 7, the SNR values for the three sensor temperatures are:

(9)

Total noise equation 1

As the example shows, there is a negligible benefit to using a cooled camera compared to a non-cooled camera operating at room temperature, and the photon shot noise is the dominant noise source in this example. In this case our standard package cameras should therefore work quite well.

However, if the light levels were lower such that a 100 second exposure was required to achieve 900 e- per pixel, then the shot noise would be 30 e-. The estimated dark shot noise would be 22.4 e- at 25 °C, while at -20 °C the dark shot noise would be 3.2 e-. The total effective noise would be

(10)

Example 1 equation 3

From Equation 8, the SNR values are

(11)

Example 1 equation 3

Exposure Camera Recommendation
<1 s Standard Non-Cooled Camera Generally Sufficient
1 s to 5 s Cooled Camera Could Be Helpful
5 s to 10 s Cooled Camera Recommended
>10 s Cooled Camera Usually Required

Table 2: From the results shown in Figure 1, these are the general "rule of thumb" recommendations related to colling considerations based on the exposure requirements of an application. Please keep in mind that some applications are more sensitive to noise than others.

In this example, the dark shot noise is a more significant contributor to the total noise for the 25 °C sensor than for the -25 °C sensor. Depending on the application's noise budget, a cooled camera may be beneficial.

Figure 2 shows plots of the different noise components, including dark shot noise at three sensor temperatures, as a function of exposure time for three photon fluxes. The plots show that dark shot noise is not a significant contributor to total noise except for low signal (and consequently long exposure) situations. While the photon flux levels used for the calculations are given in the figure, it is not necessary to know the exact photon flux level for your application. Figure 2 suggests a general metric based on exposure time that can be used to determine whether a cooled camera is required if the exposure time can be estimated, and these results are summarized in Table 2. If you find that your dominant source of noise is due to the read noise, then we recommend running the camera at a lower CCD pixel clock rate of 20 MHz, since that will offer a lower read noise.

Figure 2: Noise from all sources as a function of exposure for three different photon fluxes: (a) low, (b) medium, and (c) high. In (c) the signal and photon shot noise saturate above approximately 20 seconds because the pixel becomes saturated at the corresponding incident photon levels. A quantum efficiency of 60% was used for the calculations. Note that these plots use logarithmic scales for both axes.

Other Considerations

Thermoelectric cooling should also be considered for long exposures even where the dark shot noise is not a significant contributor to total noise because cooling also helps to reduce the effects of hot pixels. Hot pixels cause a "star field" pattern that appears under long exposures. Figure 3 shows an example of this star field pattern for images taken using cameras with and without TEC cooling with an exposure of 10 seconds.

Noise as a function of exposure for low photon flux
(a)
Noise as a function of exposure for low photon flux
(b)

Figure 3: Images of the "star field" pattern that results from hot pixels using our (a) standard non-cooled camera and (b) our camera cooled to -20 °C. Both images were taken with an exposure of 10 seconds and with a gain of 32 dB (to make the hot pixels more visible). Please note that in order to show the pattern the images displayed here were cropped from the full-resolution 16 bit images. The full size 16 bit images may be downloaded here and viewed with software such as ImageJ, which is a free download.

TSI Logo

About Thorlabs Scientific Imaging

Thorlabs Scientific Imaging (TSI) is a multi-disciplinary team dedicated to solving the most challenging imaging problems. We design and manufacture low-noise, high performance scientific cameras, interface devices, and software at our facility in Austin, Texas. 

A Message from TSI's General Manager

As a researcher, you are accustomed to solving difficult problems but may be frustrated by the inadequacy of the available instrumentation and tools. The product development team at Thorlabs Scientific Imaging is continually looking for new challenges to push the boundaries of Scientific Cameras using various sensor technologies. We welcome your input in order to leverage our team of senior research and development engineers to help meet your advanced imaging needs.

Thorlabs' purpose is to support advances in research through our product offerings. Your input will help us steer the direction of our scientific camera product line to support these advances. If you have a challenging application that requires a more advanced scientific camera than is currently available, I would be excited to hear from you.

We're All Ears!

Sincerely,
Jason Mills
Jason Mills
General Manager
Thorlabs Scientific Imaging


Posted Comments:
user  (posted 2020-03-31 07:47:58.487)
Hi are you planning to release NIR-Enhanced sCMOS?
YLohia  (posted 2020-03-31 10:22:24.0)
Hello, thank you for contacting Thorlabs. While we currently do not have any plans of releasing an NIR-enhanced version of the CS2100M-USB, we did just release the CS135MUN, which is an NIR-Enhanced CMOS Camera.
MUSA AYDIN  (posted 2019-11-08 15:07:42.693)
Dear Thorlabs employee, I'm currently using CS2100M-USB Quantalux® sCMOS Camera. I would have a question about the use of this product. Using the sample codes found in the thorcam installation folder with windows operating system and matlab, I get the image from the camera along with the matlab. I'm loading the camera's .dlls using the NET.addAssembly ([pwd,/Thorlabs.TSI.TLCamera.dll']) command. Everything goes very well until this moment but now I have to switch to linux (ubuntu) operating system. how to use this camera with matlab on linux operating system i haven't done it yet. .net dlls cannot be used with linux. Is it possible to use the camera via mex file with linux and matlab? Is there a matlab mex file you share? Thank you in advance for your help and support. Best regards.
nbayconich  (posted 2019-11-11 01:17:27.0)
Thank you for contacting Thorlabs. We unfortunately do not support MatLab with Linux OS systems at the moment, we use .NET to interface MatLab & LabVIEW and .NET is a Microsoft Windows framework only. We do however offer support for Python and C/C++ with our scientific cameras which could be used as an alternative method.
Laszlo Barna  (posted 2019-09-25 08:31:22.987)
Dear ThorLabs, Could you please share how did you calculated the 87dB dynamic range for the CS2100M-USB camera? thanks, Laszlo Barna Core Facility Manager
YLohia  (posted 2019-10-22 02:24:58.0)
Hello Laszlo, thank you for contacting Thorlabs. This was computed using the equation 20*log(FullWellElectrons/ReadNoise) = 20*Log(23000/1) = 87 dB.
JIAJI LI  (posted 2019-06-05 15:59:42.2)
Hello, I am trying to connect CS2100M-USB camera to my commuter, and I have downloaded and installed corresponding USB type camera driver. But the camera is recognized as "Cypress FX3 USB BootLoader Device" in the Device Manager, and the Statues LED is always on and color is yellow. And the Thorlabs software (ThorCam) shows there is no camera is detected (after several times refresh). Could you give me some suggestions why this might be? Thanks a lot!
YLohia  (posted 2019-06-21 10:30:43.0)
Hello, thank you for contacting Thorlabs and my apologies for any issues caused by this item. Based on our direct correspondence and troubleshooting, we have decided to bring in this unit for inspection.
user  (posted 2018-10-31 09:32:45.943)
Hello, I'm trying to use the camera to Micro-Manager, and I have copied the relevant dlls into the Micro-Manager folder, however I keep getting a message that no camera is detected. This despite the fact the camera works fine with the Thorlabs software and the blue light is on. Any suggestions why this might be? Thanks in advance.
YLohia  (posted 2018-11-05 11:37:07.0)
Hello, thank you for contacting Thorlabs. Please email us at techsupport@thorlabs.com for step-by-step instructions on how to set up uManager with this camera since you did not leave your contact information.
craig.ingram  (posted 2018-10-25 22:56:25.36)
Can you record the temperature of the camera or sensor while taking frames?
YLohia  (posted 2018-10-26 09:03:28.0)
Hello, thank you for contacting Thorlabs. Unfortunately, we do not offer the capability to measure temperature of the sensor.
mlippert  (posted 2018-07-18 00:09:02.8)
Hi, is there a global shutter version planned and if yes, when approximately would be the release?
YLohia  (posted 2018-07-19 02:32:13.0)
Hello, there are currently no plans for a global shutter version of the Quantalux since the sensor used in it does not support this operation mode. Two alternatives would be to leverage the Equal Exposure Pulse feature on the Quantalux to eliminate the effect of the rolling shutter, or try our recently released CS505MU or CS505CU cameras which use a global shutter.
tilburdj  (posted 2018-04-13 14:22:15.51)
Hello, After checking the hardware requirements would this work with an Intel Core i9-7900X Skylake-X 10-Core 3.3 processor? You have i5, i7, and i8 listed as acceptable processors (you may have to correct the i8 listed on the website since it does not exist).
mmcclure  (posted 2018-04-18 01:40:06.0)
Hello, thank you for contacting Thorlabs. Your 3.3 GHz Intel Core i9 processor satisfies the minimum CPU requirements to run our ThorCam software. As mentioned on the Software tab above, we recommend an Intel Core i5 or Higher architecture with a speed ≥3.0 GHz.
shiner80  (posted 2018-03-29 17:03:29.557)
I would also need to know when the drivers/SDK for using the CS2100m-usb with micromanager will be provided as it is basically the reason why I buyed this camera. Thanks, Davide
YLohia  (posted 2018-04-10 08:33:07.0)
Hello, thank you for contacting Thorlabs. CS2100M-USB is now compatible with MicroManager.
user  (posted 2018-03-29 10:53:17.753)
When would the software of CS2100M-USB become compatible with MicroManager? Thanks
YLohia  (posted 2018-04-10 08:33:06.0)
Hello, thank you for contacting Thorlabs. CS2100M-USB is now compatible with MicroManager.
Roger.John  (posted 2017-12-27 10:49:25.637)
Hello, do you offer a Linux SDK?
tfrisch  (posted 2018-01-04 01:37:08.0)
Hello, thank you for contacting Thorlabs. While we don't currently have a complete SDK, I can reach out to you with the details we do have.
max.ulbrich  (posted 2017-12-19 14:01:58.38)
Do you have information on the dark current? Is it possible to have a demo device for testing?
tfrisch  (posted 2018-01-16 02:41:29.0)
Hello, thank you for contacting Thorlabs. The dark current for the sCMOS sensor (as provided by the manufacturer) is 20 e/p/s at 20C. We will reach out to you directly about the demo.
user  (posted 2017-10-19 13:50:35.92)
How exactly is the hardware binning achieved? Is the mean of the pixels calculated or are the values simply added, forgoing the possibility to use binning under conditions where the total light exposure on the binned pixels exceeds the well depth of a single pixel?
tfrisch  (posted 2017-11-15 04:19:26.0)
Hello, thank you for contacting Thorlabs. The binning is performed on-camera in the digital domain, since charge-domain binning is not possible. It is a sum, not an average, so total light exposure should be monitored to avoid saturation.
g.whyte  (posted 2017-10-04 14:02:29.73)
What are the frame rates at 640 x 480, 320 x 240 and 64 x 48 for direct comparison to the 340M "Scientific Cameras for Microscopy: Fast Frame Rate"?
tfrisch  (posted 2017-10-05 02:30:14.0)
Hello, thank you for your feedback. You can use the below data. This is changing the region of interest rather than binning. sCMOS does not have on-chip binning like some CCD cameras, so binning will not increase frame rate. Decreasing the region of interest will decrease field of view while preserving resolution. I will also send it to you directly by email. Data Rate=30FPS Exposure=1ms 640x480=70fps 320x240=139.5fps 64x48=675fps Data Rate=50FPS Exposure=1ms 640x480=114.6fps 320x240=228.3fps 64x48=969fps
Scientific Camera
Click to Enlarge

Camera Housings of Our Compact Scientifc and Scientific CCD Cameras

Camera Selection Overview

  • Versions Available:
    • Zelux™ CMOS 1.6 MP Monochrome or Color Sensor
      • Models Available With or Without External Trigger Inputs
    • Kiralux™ CMOS Sensors:
      • 1.3 MP, 2.3 MP, 5 MP, or 8.9 MP
      • Monochrome, Color, NIR Enhanced, or Polarization Sensitive
    • Quantalux® sCMOS 2.1 MP Monochrome Sensor
    • Scientific CCD:
      • Fast Frame Rate VGA, 1.4 MP, 4 MP, or 8 MP
      • Monochrome or Color Sensor
      • 8 MP Monochrome CCD Model with Sensor Face Plate Removed
  • High Quantum Efficiency
  • Low Read Noise
  • Software-Selectable Pixel Clock Speed
  • Region-of-Interest (ROI) and Binning Modes
  • 32- and 64-Bit Windows® 7 or 10 Support
  • Asynchronous, Triggered, and Bulb Exposure Modes
  • SDK and Programming Interface Support:
    • C, C++, C#, Python, and Visual Basic .NET APIs
    • LabVIEW, MATLAB, and µManager* Third-Party Software

Thorlabs offers four families of scientific cameras: Zelux™, Kiralux™, Quantalux®, and Scientific CCD. Zelux cameras are designed for general-purpose imaging and provide high imaging performance while maintaining a small footprint. Kiralux cameras have CMOS sensors in compact, passively cooled housings and are available with monochrome, color, NIR-enhanced, or polarization-sensitive sensors. The polarization-sensitive Kiralux camera incorporates an integrated micropolarizer array that, when used with our ThorCam™ software package, captures images that illustrate degree of linear polarization, azimuth, and intensity at the pixel level. Our Quantalux monochrome sCMOS cameras feature high dynamic range combined with extremely low read noise for low-light applications. They are available in either a compact passively cooled housing or a hermetically sealed TE-cooled housing. We also offer scientific CCD cameras with a variety of features, including versions optimized for operation at UV, visible, or NIR wavelengths; fast-frame-rate cameras; TE-cooled or non-cooled housings; and versions with the sensor face plate removed. The tables below provide a summary of our camera offerings.

*µManager control of Zelux and 1.3 MP Kiralux cameras is not currently supported. When controlling the Kiralux Polarization-Sensitive Camera using µManager, only intensity images can be taken; the ThorCam software is required to produce images with polarization information.

Compact Scientific Cameras
Camera Type Zelux™  Kiralux™  Quantalux®
1.6 MP CMOS 1.3 MP CMOS 2.3 MP CMOS 5 MP CMOS 8.9 MP CMOS 2.1 MP sCMOS
Item # Monochrome:
CS165MUa
Color:
CS165CUa
NIR Enhanced: CS135MUN
Monochrome: CS135MU
Color:
CS135CU
Monochrome:
CS235MU
Color:
CS235CU
Monochrome:
CS505MU
Color:
CS505CU
Polarization:
CS505MUP
Monochrome:
CS895MU
Color:
CS895CU
Monochrome,
Passive Cooling: CS2100M-USB
Active Cooling: CC215MU
Product Photos
(Click to Enlarge)
Quantaluc Cameras
Electronic Shutter Global Shutter Global Shutter Rolling Shutterb
Sensor Type CMOS CMOS sCMOS
Number of Pixels
(H x V)
1440 x 1080 1280 x 1024 1920 x 1200 2448 x 2048 4096 x 2160 1920 x 1080
Pixel Size 3.45 µm x 3.45 µm 4.8 µm x 4.8 µm 5.86 µm x 5.86 µm 3.45 µm x 3.45 µm 5.04 µm x 5.04 µm
Optical Format 1/2.9"
(6.2 mm Diagonal)
1/2"
(7.76 mm Diagonal)
1/1.2"
(13.4 mm Diagonal)
2/3"
(11 mm Diagonal)
1"
(16 mm Diagonal)
2/3"
(11 mm Diagonal)
Peak Quantum Efficiency
(Click for Plot)
Monochrome:
69% at 575 nm

Color:
Click for Plot
NIR:
60% at 600 nm

Monochrome:
59% at 550 nm

Color:
Click for Plot
Monochrome:
78% (at 500 nm)

Color:
Click for Plot
Monochrome & Polarization:
72% (Over 525 to 580 nm)

Color:
Click for Plot
Monochrome:
72% (Over 525 to 580 nm)

Color:
Click for Plot
Monochrome:
61% (at 600 nm)
Max Frame Rate
(Full Sensor)
34.8 fps 92.3 fps 39.7 fps 35 fps 20.8 fps 50 fps
Read Noise <4.0 e- RMS <7.0 e- RMS <7.0 e- RMS <2.5 e- RMS <1 e- Median RMS,
<1.5 e- RMS
Digital Output (Max) 10 Bit 10 Bit 12 Bit 16 Bit
PC Interface USB 3.0
Available Fanless Cooling Passive Thermal Management 0 °C at 20 °C Ambient
Housing Dimensions
(Click for Details)
0.59" x 1.72" x 1.86"
(15.0 mm x 43.7 mm x 47.2 mm)
2.77" x 2.38" x 1.88"
(70.4 mm x 60.3 mm x 47.6 mm)
Passively Cooled sCMOS Camera
TE-Cooled sCMOS Camera
Typical Applications General Purpose Imaging
Brightfield Microscopy
Machine Vision & Robotics
UAV, Drone, & Handheld Imaging
Inspection
Monitoring
VIS/NIR Imaging
Electrophysiology/Brain Slice Imaging
Materials Inspection
Multispectral Imaging
Ophthalmology/Retinal Imaging
Vascular Imaging
Laser Speckle Imaging
Semiconductor Inspection
Fluorescence Microscopy
Brightfield Microscopy
Fluorescence Microscopy
Immunohistochemistry (IHC)
Machine Vision
Inspection
General Purpose Imaging
Monochrome & Color:
Fluorescence Microscopy
Immunohistochemistry (IHC)
Machine Vision & Inspection

Polarization:
Machine Vision & Inspection
Transparent Material Detection
Surface Reflection Reduction
Fluorescence Microscopy
Immunohistochemistry (IHC)
Large FOV Slide Imaging
Machine Vision
Inspection
Fluorescence Microscopy
VIS/NIR Imaging
Quantum Dots
Autofluorescence
Materials Inspection
Multispectral Imaging
  • These item numbers are representative of the Zelux family. These cameras are available with or without external hardware triggers.
  • Rolling Shutter with Equal Exposure Pulse (EEP) Mode for Synchronizing the Camera and Light Sources for Even Illumination
Scientific CCD Cameras
Camera Type Fast Frame Rate VGA CCD 1.4 MP CCD 4 MP CCD 8 MP CCD
Item # Prefix Monochrome:
340M
UV-Enhanced
Monochrome:
340UV
Monochrome: 1501M
Color: 1501C
Monochrome: 4070M
Color: 4070C
Monochrome: 8051M
Color: 8051C
Monochrome,
No Sensor Face Plate: S805MU
Product Photo
(Click to Enlarge)
Electronic Shutter Global Shutter
Sensor Type CCD
Number of Pixels
(H x V)
640 x 480 1392 x 1040 2048 x 2048 3296 x 2472
Pixel Size 7.4 µm x 7.4 µm 6.45 µm x 6.45 µm 7.4 µm x 7.4 µm 5.5 µm x 5.5 µm
Optical Format 1/3" (5.92 mm Diagonal) 2/3" (11 mm Diagonal) 4/3" (21.4 mm Diagonal) 4/3" (22 mm Diagonal)
Peak QE
(Click for Plot)
55%
(at 500 nm)
10%
(at 485 nm)
Monochrome: 60% (at 500 nm)
Color: Click for Plot
Monochrome: 52% (at 500 nm)
Color: Click for Plot
Monochrome: 51% (at 460 nm)
Color: Click for Plot
51% (at 460 nm)
Max Frame Rate
(Full Sensor)
200.7 fps (at 40 MHz
Dual-Tap Readout)
23 fps (at 40 MHz
Single-Tap Readout)
25.8 fps (at 40 MHz
Quad-Tap Readout)a
17.1 fps (at 40 MHz
Quad-Tap Readout)b
17.1 fps (at 40 MHz
Quad-Tap Readout)
Read Noise <15 e- at 20 MHz <7 e- at 20 MHz (Standard Models)
<6 e- at 20 MHz (-TE Models)
<12 e- at 20 MHz <10 e- at 20 MHz
Digital Output (Max) 14 Bitc 14 Bit 14 Bitc 14 Bit
Available Fanless Cooling Passive Thermal Management -20 °C at 20 °C Ambient Temperature -10 °C at 20 °C Ambient Passive Thermal Management
Available PC Interfaces USB 3.0 or Gigabit Ethernet USB 3.0
Housing Dimensions
(Click for Details)
Non-Cooled Scientific
CCD Camera
Cooled Scientific CCD Camera
Non-Cooled Scientific CCD Camera
No Face Plate Scientific
CCD Camera
Typical Applications Ca++ Ion Imaging
Particle Tracking
Flow Cytometry
SEM/EBSD
UV Inspection
Fluorescence Microscopy
VIS/NIR Imaging
Quantum Dots
Multispectral Imaging
Immunohistochemistry (IHC)
Retinal Imaging
Fluorescence Microscopy
Transmitted Light Micrsoscopy
Whole-Slide Microscopy
Electron Microscopy (TEM/SEM)
Inspection
Material Sciences
Fluorescence Microscopy
Whole-Slide Microscopy
Large FOV Slide Imaging
Histopathology
Inspection
Multispectral Imaging
Immunohistochemistry (IHC)
Beam Profiling & Characterization
Interferometry
VCSEL Inspection
Quantitative Phase-Contrast Microscopy
Ptychography
Digital Holographic Microscopy
  • Limited to 13 fps at 40 MHz dual-tap readout for Gigabit Ethernet cameras; quad-tap readout is unavailable for Gigabit Ethernet cameras.
  • Limited to 8.5 fps at 40 MHz dual-tap readout for Gigabit Ethernet cameras; quad-tap readout is unavailable for Gigabit Ethernet cameras.
  • Gigabit Ethernet cameras operating in dual-tap readout mode are limited to 12-bit digital output.

Passively Cooled 2.1 Megapixel sCMOS Camera

  • Fanless Passive Thermal Management
  • Compact Housing: 2.77" x 2.38" x 1.88" (70.4 mm x 60.3 mm x 47.6 mm)
  • Compatible with 30 mm Cage System
  • SM1-Threaded (1.035"-40) Aperture with Adapter for Standard C-Mount (1.000"-32) Compatibility
  • Ships with USB 3.0 Cable

The CS2100M-USB Quantalux camera features a compact design that is engineered to provide passive thermal management for the sensor, reducing dark current without need for a cooling fan or thermoelectric cooler. When imaging conditions present high light levels and require short exposure times (less than 500 ms), the passively cooled CS2100M-USB camera is generally sufficient. We strongly recommend the TE-cooled CC215MU camera for applications with low light levels requiring an exposure greater than 500 ms.

The position of the 2/3" format, monochrome sCMOS sensor is indicated by an engraved line on the top of the camera body. The included clear window, which is AR coated for 400 - 700 nm, can be removed and replaced by another Ø1" (Ø25 mm) optic. When using the C-mount adapter, the maximum optic thickness is 0.050" (1.270 mm); otherwise the maximum optic thickness is 0.173" (4.4 mm). Please note that dust and debris may collect on the sensor face plate while the clear window is removed. Care must be taken when cleaning this face plate to avoid damaging the sensor.

A C-mount (1.000"-32) adapter with an adjustable flange focal range of ±1.5 mm is factory installed for out-of-the-box compatibility with many microscopes, machine vision camera lenses, and C-mount extension tubes. Removing this adapter exposes SM1 (1.035"-40) threading that can be used to attach a Ø1" Lens Tube. The camera can be connected to our 30 mm cage system via four 4-40 mounting holes on the front of the housing. Two 1/4"-20 tapped holes on opposite sides of the housing provide compatibility with imperial Ø1/2" Posts and many standard tripod mounts. These flexible mounting options and the compact size make this camera the ideal choice for integrating into custom-built imaging systems as well as those based on commercial microscopes.

Quantalux Mounting Features

Compact sCMOS camera
Click to Enlarge
Removing the C-mount adapter and locking ring exposes the SM1 (1.035"-40) threading that can be used for custom assemblies using standard Thorlabs components.
Low Noise sCMOS Camera
Click to Enlarge

Our compact Quantalux camera with an MVL50M23 Machine Vision Lens installed.
Low Noise sCMOS Camera
Click to Enlarge
An SM1 Lens Tube installed using the SM1-threaded aperture.
Low Noise sCMOS Camera
Click to Enlarge

Four 4-40 tapped holes allow 30 mm Cage System components to be attached to the camera. Pictured is our CP13 Cage Plate with
C-mount threading.
sCMOS Microscope Camera
Click to Enlarge

A Quantalux sCMOS camera installed on a Cerna® Microscope using the WFA4100 Camera Tube.
Based on your currency / country selection, your order will ship from Newton, New Jersey  
+1 Qty Docs Part Number - Imperial Price Available
CS2100M-USB Support Documentation
CS2100M-USBQuantalux® 2.1 MP Monochrome sCMOS Camera, Passively Cooled Compact Package, 1/4"-20 Taps
$3,172.09
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Hermetically-Sealed, Cooled 2.1 Megapixel sCMOS Camera

  • Fanless Thermoelectric Cooling
  • Housing Dimmensions: 4.29" x 4.13" x 4.12" (109.0 mm x 104.8 mm x 104.8 mm)
  • Compatible with 60 mm Cage System
  • Factory Installed Adapter for Standard C-Mount (1.000"-32) Compatibility
  • Ships with USB 3.0 Cable and AC-DC Power Supply

The CC215MU hermetically sealed cooled Quantalux camera is designed with a thermoelectrically cooled chamber inside a large external heat sink to actively cool the
sensor and reduce dark shot noise. This camera is recommended for applications with low light levels requiring an exposure time greater than 500 ms. For high light levels requiring short exposure times (less than 500 ms), the passively cooled CS2100M-USB camera is generally sufficient.

The position of the monochrome, 2/3" format sCMOS sensor is approximately in line with the four front 1/4"-20 mounting holes, one located on each side of the housing. A removable C-mount adapter on the front end of the camera holds a clear protective window, which is AR coated for 400 - 700 nm, and can be removed and replaced by another Ø1" (Ø25 mm) optic up to 0.079" (2.0 mm) thick. Please note that dust and debris may collect on the hermetic chamber glass covering while the clear window is removed. Care must be taken when cleaning this covering to avoid scratching or other damage to the glass.

The factory installed C-mount (1.000"-32) adapter has a fixed flange focal distance and provides out-of-the-box compatibility with many microscopes, machine vision camera lenses, and C-mount extension tubes. The camera can be connected to our 60 mm cage system via four 4-40 mounting holes on the front of the housing, and 1/4"-20 tapped holes on the sides are provided for use with our imperial Ø1" pedestal or pillar posts. These flexible mounting options provide compatibility with commercial microscopes and support integration into home-built imaging systems.

Quantalux Mounting Features

Cooled sCMOS camera
Click to Enlarge
The included hex key can be used to loosen the three cap screws on the C-mount adapter. An O-ring holds the protective window within the adapter.
Cooled sCMOS Camera
Click to Enlarge

Our compact Quantalux camera with an MVL35M23 Machine Vision Lens installed.
Cooled sCMOS Camera
Click to Enlarge
Four 4-40 tapped holes allow 60 mm Cage System components to be attached to the camera. Pictured is our LCP02 Cage Plate Adapter for coupling to 30 mm Cage System components like the SM1-threaded CP33 Cage Plate.
Cooled sCMOS Camera
Click to Enlarge

A CC215MU camera is mounted on a Ø1" pedestal posts using the 1/4"-20 tapped hole on the bottom of the housing.
Cooled sCMOS Microscope Camera
Click to Enlarge

A CC215MU camera installed on the LAURE1 Cerna® Trinoculars using a TC1X Camera Tube.
Based on your currency / country selection, your order will ship from Newton, New Jersey  
+1 Qty Docs Part Number - Imperial Price Available
CC215MU Support Documentation
CC215MUNEW!Quantalux® 2.1 MP Monochrome sCMOS Camera, Hermetically Sealed Cooled Package, 1/4"-20 Taps
$4,990.00
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Scientific Camera Optional Accessories

TSI-IOBOB2 Diagram
Click for Details

A schematic showing a TSI-IOBOB2 connected to an Arduino to trigger a compact scientific camera.

These optional accessories allow for easy use of the auxiliary port of our compact scientific (sCMOS & CMOS) or scientific CCD cameras. These items should be considered when it is necessary to externally trigger the camera, to monitor camera performance with an oscilloscope, or for simultaneous control of the camera with other instruments.

For our USB 3.0 cameras, we also offer a PCIe USB 3.0 card and extra cables for facilitating the connection to the computer.

Auxiliary I/O Cable (8050-CAB1)
The 8050-CAB1 is a 10' (3 m) long cable that mates with the auxiliary connector on our scientific cameras* and provides the ability to externally trigger the camera as well as monitor status output signals. One end of the cable features a male 12-pin connector for connecting to the camera, while the other end has a male 6-pin Mini Din connector for connecting to external devices. This cable is ideal for use with our interconnect break-out boards described below. For information on the pin layout, please see the Pin Diagrams tab above.

*The 8050-CAB1 cable is not compatible with our former-generation 1500M series cameras.

Interconnect Break-Out Board (TSI-IOBOB)
The TSI-IOBOB is designed to "break out" the 6-pin Mini Din connector found on our scientific camera auxiliary cables into five SMA connectors. The SMA connectors can then be connected using SMA cables to other devices to provide a trigger input to the camera or to monitor camera performance. The pin configurations are listed on the Pin Diagrams tab above.

Interconnect Break-Out Board / Shield for Arduino (TSI-IOBOB2)
The TSI-IOBOB2 offers the same breakout functionality of the camera signals as the TSI-IOBOB. Additionally, it functions as a shield for Arduino, by placing the TSI-IOBOB2 shield on a Arduino board supporting the Arduino Uno Rev. 3 form factor. While the camera inputs and outputs are 5 V TTL, the TSI-IOBOB2 features bi-directional logic level converters to enable compatibility with Arduino boards operating on either 5 V or 3.3 V logic. Sample programs for controlling the scientific camera are available for download from our software page, and are also described in the manual (found by clicking on the red Docs icon below). For more information on Arduino, or for information on purchasing an Arduino board, please see www.arduino.cc.

The image to the right shows a schematic of a configuration with the TSI-IOBOB2 with an Arduino board integrated into a camera imaging system. The camera is connected to the break-out board using a 8050-CAB1 cable that must be purchased separately. The pins on the shield can be used to deliver signals to simultaneously control other peripheral devices, such as light sources, shutters, or motion control devices. Once the control program is written to the Arduino board, the USB connection to the host PC can be removed, allowing for a stand-alone system control platform; alternately, the USB connection can be left in place to allow for two-way communication between the Arduino and the PC. The compact size of 2.70" x 2.10" (68.6 mm x 53.3 mm) also aids in keeping systems based on the TSI-IOBOB2 compact.

USB 3.0 Camera Accessories (USB3-MBA-118 and USB3-PCIE)
We also offer a USB 3.0 A to Micro B cable for connecting our cameras to a PC. Please note that one USB3-MBA-118 cable is included with each USB 3.0 camera except the CC215MU cooled Quantalux camera. The CC215MU camera ships with an appropriate USB 3.0 cable and should not be used with the USB3-MBA-118. The USB3-MBA-118 cable measures 118" long and features screws on either side of the Micro B connector that mate with tapped holes on the camera for securing the USB cable to the camera housing. When operating USB 3.0 cameras it is strongly recommended that the Thorlabs-supplied USB 3.0 cable be used, with the retention screws securely fastened. Due to the high data rates involved, users may experience problems when using generic USB 3.0 cables.

Cameras with USB 3.0 connectivity may be connected directly to the USB 3.0 port on a laptop or desktop computer. USB 3.0 cameras are not compatible with USB 2.0 ports. Host-side USB 3.0 ports are often blue in color, although they may also be black in color, and typically marked "SS" for SuperSpeed. A USB 3.0 PCIe card is sold separately for computers without an integrated Intel USB 3.0 controller. Note that the use of a USB hub may impact performance. A dedicated connection to the PC is preferred.

Based on your currency / country selection, your order will ship from Newton, New Jersey  
+1 Qty Docs Part Number - Universal Price Available
8050-CAB1 Support Documentation
8050-CAB1I/O Cable for Scientific CCD and Compact Scientific Cameras
$76.49
Today
TSI-IOBOB Support Documentation
TSI-IOBOBI/O Break-Out Board for Scientific CCD and Compact Scientific Cameras
$68.96
Today
TSI-IOBOB2 Support Documentation
TSI-IOBOB2Customer Inspired! I/O Break-Out Board for Scientific CCD and Compact Scientific Cameras with Shield for Arduino (Arduino Board not Included)
$99.06
Today
USB3-MBA-118 Support Documentation
USB3-MBA-118USB 3.0 A to Micro B Cable, Length: 118" (3 m)
$38.69
Today
USB3-PCIE Support Documentation
USB3-PCIEUSB 3.0 PCI Express Expansion Card
$66.28
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