Good cameras for Infrared tracking

Hi there,

Apologies if there’s already a thread for this, or if I should be posting elsewhere. I’m wondering if anyone has and recommendations of good camera systems to use for infrared tracking? I currently do infrared tracking for an openFramworks project using a modified PSEye camera (IR filter removed, IR pass filter added). It does a reasonable job, but I’m looking for a solution that would give me a higher res than the PSEye (WUXGA/HD) resolution would be nice, and I’m also looking at analogue or SDI cameras in conjunction with a capture card like the thunderbolt Black Magic capture cards. I’m considering analogue or SDI because the cable runs are quite long, and I don’t entirely trust USB or FireWire over long distances, especially where repeaters are involved :slight_smile:

A couple of cameras I looked at were

Would anyone have any experience with this kind of setup, any recommendations about high res cameras that have IR filters available, and any capture cards that are particularly good?


Hi there!
is there a reason you want to go for analog cameras?
GigE cameras invalidate the cable length limit imposed by firewire and usb cameras, whilst introducing a fairly low delay.

I do not know of any cameras that come bundled with IR pass filters - you’ll have to get those independently. As far as a filter is concerned just visit your local photographic store and ask for IR pass filters.

A good camera that has been used extensively in visual arts is the Firefly MV, but this is a firewire camera that is at its end of life. Unfortunately no other camera has had such a sensitive (in the low IR range) sensor. Regardless, Point Grey research has an wide range of cameras to help choose from for your applications. They have one of the best sales and technical services I’ve ever encountered, too.

Just so that this does not sound like an ad for point grey, let me state that what I say comes from personal experience with one of their cameras.

I’m using the GC750 Gigabit Ethernet camera from Allied Vision
The chip in this camera is more sensitive to infrared than most black and white cameras.
Allied vision also sells NIR (near infrared) cameras, but they are trice as expensive.

With this camera i use the wratten 87C IR pass filter to filter out visible light.

As a light source i can recommend Kong Jing LED Array IR Light for Road Monitoring

@moostrik what sort of applications do you use the camera for?
is the IR LED light of 12W enough for illuminated video art installations where there exist theatre lights too ?

I use these cameras for interactive installations and theatre setups.
(I am in the process of creating an OF addon for these cameras)

Depending on the size of the stage you could go for a larger version of the light, with 12 or more hight power leds (hint: search The leds can come with different angles;

If there exist theater lights you have to be careful, as most of them have incandescent lightbulbs, which emit a lot of IR.

To your advantage: If you have these theatre lights at your disposal you can use them to create IR light simply by using both a full red, a full green and a full blue filter, to filter out visible light.

Last month i did a setup like this in the Oper am Rhein in Dusseldorf using a battery of theatre lights from both the left and the right side of the stage. The camera was positioned on top of the projector in the rear of the Theatre. A lot of invisible light and great visual results!


thank you for the tip!
i will sure try the result with rgb filters to create virtual ir projectors.
i wonder if i can alter the light intensity (of the normal stage lights) during a performance , if i use these virtual IR projectors.

I use this one, which is fireware, really fast and black and white

Quick and dirty DIY solution:

I tested this rig using OF 0.7.4, Mac OSX 10.8 and it actually worked pretty well. You get RCA resolution which is 640x480. You can see a sample of the video footage at youtube .com /watch?v=aj6wg_3U0OU (sorry, apparently new users are only allowed 2 links per post)

Also have a look on camera with e2v Ruby EV76C661 sensor. It’s a 1.3MPixels 60fps NIR sensor with a quantum efficiency of about 50% at infrared range 800nm (it’s a very good QE, the best you can have at 800 nm as far I have seen). Also, it’s lot cheaper than CMOSIS CMV2000 which is also NIR enhanced.
Generally, you wiil find such camera with usb2 or usb3 or gigE, (usb2 is slower than gigE, and usb3 only is able to do the 60fps at full res), between 300$ and 600$.
Many manufacturers have this sensor solution, like ids-imaging or ximea.
I am still searching for a solution to have this setup working on osx because most of drivers run only for win or linux. (Ximea have a usb3 driver for osx 64bits)

For lightning, I use theatre lights with 2 deep blue + 1 primary red filter = no visible light.

I have some of these,

They are similar to what you had posted but after trying several different versions of identical looking cameras this company had a few advantages. First SDI, it is a pretty universal signal and runs on BNC over long distance and fiber if you need to go really far- capture boxes are cheap (I use 140 euro blackmagic box).

This particular model has a moving IR cut filter, it is there in colour mode and it switches away for ir mode. The only extra thing to get is a good IR band pass for the frequency you are looking to focus on. The are not super sensitive cameras but have a lot of control and noise reduction on board to make up for it and overall are pretty useable. If you get a motorised lens you can remote it through the RS485 port.

There is even an old school composite out (you can hook up a battery powered LCd for focusing in strange places). I have even left it at full 1920*1080 for tracking and it is pretty good.

Thanks for the info everyone. I ended up getting a Raspberry Pi and a Pi NoIR camera, and then set up an mjpg-streamer stream that I can read over a network - seems to be working pretty nicely. Now I just have to get the costumes right - we’re trying to find clothes or material for making clothes for dancers that is IR absorbtive but light in visible colour so as to take projections. Not having too much luck. Anyone any ideas? It seems to be luck of the draw depending on what material and also what dyes are used whether the material shows up black or white in IR. On the whole, most materials seem to reflect IR quite well which is unfortunate for us :slight_smile:

For note, PointGrey page 8 of their Mono Sensor Review Q1 2015 gives you a comparison of Near IR % for all of their cameras.