Technical Application Notes
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Technical Application Notes



Low Noise Imaging in the GS3-U3-14S5 Camera


Revised August 25, 2015



Technical Application Note (TAN2014008): Low Noise Imaging in the GS3-U3-14S5 Camera


Applicable Products

  • GS3-U3-14S5C-C
  • GS3-U3-14S5M-C


Application Note Description

This application note describes the low noise imaging in the GS3-U3-14S5 camera, including:

  •  Description and use of optimized mode.
  •  Comparison of imaging metrics, including saturation capacity, temporal dark noise, and temperature, between standard and optimized imaging modes.
  •  Comparison of images between standard and optimized modes.

This document used the GS3-U3-14S5M (monochrome) model for the comparison data.


Enabling Low Noise Imaging

Point Grey GS3-U3-14S5 cameras provide a special imaging mode optimized for low noise performance and long exposure time.  In this mode, the CCD pixel gain amplifier is disabled, and the vertical pixel clock shift register is slowed. These features result in reduced temporal dark noise and dark current. Longer extended shutter times—up to 1.5 hours—are also supported.  To enable this mode, configure the camera to video mode 7 via FlyCapture2 or third party USB3 Vision software.

To achieve long exposure time, frame rate control must be disabled.


Imaging Performance Comparison

The results below have been generated to highlight the GS3-U3-14S5M imaging performance using video mode 0 and video mode 7. While using video mode 0, with a pixel clock of 56 MHz, the GS3-U3-14S5M model is capable of 30 FPS with 11.9 e- of temporal dark noise (read noise). While using video mode 7, with a pixel clock of 10 MHz, the GS3-U3-14S5M model is limited to 6 FPS but shows a temporal dark noise reduction to 7.3 e-.

For a complete reference of Grasshopper3 imaging performance results, please see the Imaging Performance Specification.

Measured Model Specification

Model GS3-U3-14S5M-C
Sensor Sony ICX285 CCD
Resolution 1384 x 1036
Pixel Size (µm) 6.45

GS2-U2-14S5M-C EMVA1288 Imaging Performance Results

Video Mode Mode 0 Mode 7
Maximum Frame Rate (FPS) 30 6
Pixel Clock (MHz) 56 10
ADC (Bits) 14 14
Quantum Efficiency (% at 525 nm) 55 57
Temporal Dark Noise (e-) 11.90 7.30
Signal to Noise Ratio (dB) 42.15 42.37
Signal to Noise Ratio (Bits) 7.00 7.04
Absolute Sensitivity Threshold (γ) 23.19 14.02
Saturation Capacity (e-) 16408 17273
Dynamic Range (dB) 62.43 66.91
Dynamic Range (Bits) 10.37 11.11
Gain (e-/ADU) 0.28 0.28
Average Temperature (°C) 36.57 32.32
  Measurements are taken based on guidelines in the EMVA 1288 standard; the full definition can be found at Camera settings are at maximum exposure time and bit depth unless otherwise noted. The pixel format is Raw16 for color cameras. The pixel format is Mono16 for mono cameras. Results are captured at room temperature (20°C).


Imaging Comparison

The following images and pixel surface plot diagrams were taken in total darkness (in a darkened environment with the lens cap on). The pixel format was Mono8. Maximum resolution (1384 x 1036) and gain (24 dB) were used. The use of maximum gain demonstrates the effect of disabling the pixel gain amplifier in Mode 7. To achieve the long exposure times, mode 0 used bulb shutter trigger mode. Mode 7 was free running.

Mode 0 Image - 20 Seconds Exposure

Mode 7 Image - 20 Seconds Exposure

Mode 0 Pixel Surface Plot - 20 Seconds Exposure

Mode 7 Pixel Surface Plot - 20 Seconds Exposure

Mode 0 Histogram - 20 Seconds Exposure

Mode 7 Histogram - 20 Seconds Exposure

Mode 0 Image - 100 Seconds Exposure

Mode 7 Image - 100 Seconds Exposure

Mode 0 Pixel Surface Plot - 100 Seconds Exposure

Mode 7 Pixel Surface Plot - 100 Seconds Exposure

Mode 0 Histogram - 100 Seconds Exposure

Mode 7 Histogram - 100 Seconds Exposure