Dear Photography Community,

I realize that some SE sites do not allow specific product recommendations, and that's ok.

I'm concerned that after my fruitless searching, I'm perhaps missing some appropriate keywords or even entire segments of the industry. I definitely have more to learn.

With that being said: I'm part of a small company that has a need to acquire color digital images under these conditions:

  • Color images, 1.5 to N Megapixels (where N < 10-ish). Our current solution is 1.5 MP.
  • Camera-to-subject distance of ~ 6-12 inches (150 - 300 mm).
  • Minimal image/edge distortion. Can crop in post...
  • Field of view like a few inches horizontally & vertically hoped for.
  • Remote-input settable focus distance (perhaps via communication interface). Auto-focus has been problematic for us b/c the subject can be rather featureless.
  • Ethernet interface, with an open protocol/API to use with our software (OS happens to Linux).
  • Integral lighting (preferably), natural light color temp.
  • Small, rigidly mounted, form-factor. Like 2"x2"x6" or such.
  • Low image acquisition rate: we'd need only 1 image every 5 seconds or so.

We do not need many of the 'smart camera' features found with many industrial camera offerings, like: Part counting, recognition, measuring, learning, annotating, web connectivity, offsite servers...

Often times these 'features' make the camera (and the expensive required software that comes along with it) less accessible to us.

Our goals to be able to acquire a nice, relatively flat/un-distorted, true-color image of a thing that's a few (variable) inches away.

I would be overjoyed with specific solutions, search suggestions, general guidelines, and pointers.


  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Sorry, but this does fall squarely into our bucket of off-topic due to being a straight up product recommendation question. \$\endgroup\$
    – Philip Kendall
    Sep 20, 2019 at 15:00
  • \$\begingroup\$ Let's try to keep this open, the answer could be in a type of camera, not a specific model or brand. \$\endgroup\$
    – Rafael
    Sep 20, 2019 at 16:22
  • \$\begingroup\$ What is "true color" in this context? \$\endgroup\$
    – mattdm
    Sep 20, 2019 at 21:28
  • \$\begingroup\$ @mattdm I've seen offerings where the sensor is b&w, and/or one needs to use RBG filters. There are also IR and near UV versions. We're interested in the visible/color spectrum. \$\endgroup\$ Sep 23, 2019 at 12:21
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Okay. I was concerned you were looking for a particular color response directly from the sensor (something atypical of consumer cameras). \$\endgroup\$
    – mattdm
    Sep 23, 2019 at 12:33

4 Answers 4


there are many systems that might be useful for you. GigE Vision and GenICam are the standards that you are looking for. Individual manufacturers that support this standard have an API that you can use for your purposes.

There are multiple manufacturers that produce the type of the cameras that you want. But the best approach would be to handle the illumination system externally according to your needs.

I am not affiliated with any of the companies here. Some example camera models:


A really quick search came up with Programmable Motorized Focus Camera Raspberry Pi now Supports Auto Focus. There are a bunch of things like this, and combining with a small ARM computer like the Pi seems like it can easily cover your other needs. This isn't an endorsement of that particular model, just an example of the kind of thing you should look for.

The one concern might be:

Minimal image/edge distortion. Can crop in post...

... because these are all going to be pretty cheap, simple lens assemblies. But given your very modest resolution needs, this should be fine, because you can characterize the specific distortion of the camera model you choose and use something like the Lensfun library to correct as part of your capture/processing pipeline.

  • \$\begingroup\$ I'll consider this. We've had past experiences with pi's, beagles, and arduino's. I'd rather not have to manufacture enclosures, and keep up with constantly changing software and firmware (and even circuit boards). However, this solution is on my list of possibilities. Thanks for the Lensfun link. \$\endgroup\$ Sep 23, 2019 at 13:20

Your requirements sound very much like that of a "Security Camera" or a "Borescope".


One useful search term to find something like this would be "remote controlled video camera". One of the top results of that search found me this page:


This camera looks like it might be suitable for you -- the only thing missing is built-in illumination, which you noted as optional


  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks Nate, I'll look into it. The robotic aspect of the camera mounts are not needed for our application. \$\endgroup\$ Sep 23, 2019 at 13:22
  • \$\begingroup\$ That's true, but I think you'll have a hard time finding remotely controllable focus without pan/tilt/zoom also being remotely controllable -- it's a fairly niche use case. Whereas this type of camera are very common for situations where high quality video is needed from a location where you can't physically fit a person. \$\endgroup\$
    – Nate S.
    Sep 23, 2019 at 16:14

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