IR camera for computer vision?

I’m writing an app that will generate graphics for a dance performance. The graphics reacts to how the dancers move. I need to use a near-IR camera, since I don’t want the computer to “see” and be confused by the projected graphics.

So far, I’ve been prototyping using a Kinect, but I will need to move so something better due to (among other things) the limited range of the Kinect.

I’m looking at the FireFly MV camera from Point Grey. It is sensitive to near-infrared light and has a FireWire interface (= low latency, I hope). However, I’m wondering if anyone knows if _any_ lens will do for this application, or if there are some lenses that will not let near-IR light through? Also, does anyone know where one can get filters for C/CS-mount lenses that will block out visible light, but let near-IR light though? (Since I don’t want the camera to see the (visible-light) images I project onto the stage, I have to filter them out somehow.) I know there are such filters for still photography, but those filters have the wrong diameter (they are much larger).

Has anyone else here done something similar? What equipment did you use?


i like working with the firefly mv a lot, i’ve used it on osx and windows.

more cross platform and significantly cheaper is the ps3eye. the optics aren’t as good, but it is surprisingly sensitive. you need to mod the camera by cracking open the case and adding an ir filter. (you would have to add an ir filter to the firefly as well).

i haven’t seen a lens with ir-block filter on it yet, so i wouldn’t worry about that.

regarding filters, the usual technique is to buy a big chunk of filter and cut off little bits shaped like your sensor as you need it. golan has some notes on what kind of filter to use

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Thanks for the reply!
I’m only working on Mac, so cross-platform capability isn’t a big concern for me. :slight_smile:

Regarding IR-filters: to me it sounds a little scary to add the filter inside the camera, but I guess I’m a wuss. :slight_smile: Is it easy to get it fixed inside the camera?
The kind of filters I had in mind initially is the kind of filters that you screw onto the lens, something like this:

Thanks again!

I’ve been reading this post and I’d like to ask about Point Grey’s Firefly MV. Since I’ve never heard of them before so most of my questions are about use rather than tecnical specs. Also, I have no knowledge about optics, am considering buying Firefly MV Color Model: FMVU-13S2C-CS and up until now have used microsoft webcams which I have internally modified myself with film negative.

1.-I’ve used Kinect as input and it seems to have a wide angle lens (?). Can I use the Firefly MV and add a wide angle lense to achieve the same size? would this require much modifications? what lens would I be looking for?
2.-In order to use the MV as an Infrared video source while using a wide angle lens I’d have to add an IR filter, what would I be looking for and where can I buy one? (I’m checking pappis’s link to lenses)
3.-Do I need the full color version of the Firefly for Infrared use? or should I stick with the monochromatic ones?
4.-What are the 7-pin JST GPIO connector that it comes with and would I need them for IR use?
5.-The design and components seem to be a few years old, does this actually matter?
6.-About the price, is such a price normal having an old design? Does Point Grey have competitors that offer similar and newer products?

I can’t think of any other questions.
Thanks! :smiley:

@pappis, sorry for the delayed response. you shouldn’t be worried about adding the IR filter internally. on something like the ps3eye, it’s so cheap you don’t have to worry about hurting it. on the firefly, there is a small piece of glass shielding the sensor anyway, so you don’t need to worry. people like zach lieberman and golan levin, who have been working with IR cameras for a long time, always do it this way – and they’re not optics experts :slight_smile:


1 kinect is something like 50 degree angle of view. not super wide, but not too narrow. you can definitely find all kinds of lenses for the firefly, including wide-angle.
2 you can get an ir filter that is placed over the lens, but putting an ir filter on the inside is more robust. see the link i posted above.
3 don’t use the rgb firefly as an ir camera. it will work, but not as well.
4 you don’t need the gpio connector, it’s just if you want to sync something or drive something.
5 point grey keeps making better products, but the firefly is tested and reliable. maybe they’ll release a new version soon that’s better for the same price, but in the meantime there’s nothing wrong with the current version.
6 the price is fairly low for this category, actually. if you’re looking for other options, check out the 1394 list

also, pointgrey is a great company – if you call them up or email them, they can answer questions like this very quickly.

Thanks yet again kylemcdonald!

I’ve learnt much from all the information in this post.=)
(I will read it many times now. :P)

----I have a few doubts now. In order to use the Firefly MV I have to use it with a lens of some kind?
Will it work without the lens?
Is this normal for this type of camera?
(I’ve never bought non-consumer camera. :P)

Thanks for the reply! I went with the filter-inside-the-camera route. I bought a piece of plastic IR-pass filter, cut it to the correct size and taped it in place inside the camera. It seems to work fine. :slight_smile:

Yes, you need a lens in order to use the Firefly camera (otherwise you will not be able to get a focused/sharp image). I bought one of the lenses that shows up as a “related product” in the PointGrey web shop, specifically the wide angle Fujinon DF6HA-1B Lens. According to the data sheet, you will get a field of view of about 43 x 33 degrees with the Firefly MV and that lens. (There are other lenses with shorter focal length/wider field of view available from other places, but as far as I can tell, that’s the “widest” lens Point Grey sells.)

Thanks pappis! :smiley:

Hey I have another question:

Does the Firefly MV USB Mono work on Windows 7, OSX and the latest linux builds?

i’ve only seen USB firefly work on windows. this was last summer, i don’t remember whether it was windows 7 or vista. linux support should be ok, because the point grey libraries work on linux. no osx support because libdc1394 doesn’t officially support USB.

How about the firewire Firefly? Have you tried that one on mac?
If not firefly, what other camera would you recommend? :slight_smile:

I am using the FireWire version of the Firefly MV camera from a Mac, and it’s working fine for me.

Thank again pappis. :slight_smile:

Hi, I am resurrecting an old thread regarding IR Camera. It’s been a long time since I have used one, and I am looking for updates.

I need to track silhouette (full body or upper half) of people from a distance (maybe 10m), with people in a pre-defined area. With Depth camera (kinect azure, realsense), I won’t get good resolution of people up the distance. So my best bet so far is using IR Camera along with IR spots on people to track them. The setup is outdoor, at night, in a pretty open field (no close building in the background), tracking should be easily done.

So, what I am looking for is probably IR Camera with telephoto capability (either optical zoom or changeable lens), so I can get a clear definition of the silhouette up the distance. A camera with IP (ethernet) capability would be useful. FireFly MV are probably obselete (more than 10 years old), anyway it seems like pointGray changed name for FLIR Systems. And from the website (, it seems like the company is more thermal camera oriented.

What’s the update… what IR Camera are you using in 2021? thanks

The blackfly gigevision cameras a great and there is an addon from Elliot woods to work with them. You can also take cheaper easy route with this camera: Marshall Electronics - CV346 Compact Full-HD Camera (3G/HDSDI and HDMI)
With these solutions dont forget to pair them with an IR band pass filter that matches the frequency of the cameras IR sensitivity and your IR illumination. Filters

Then you can just capture via SDI.