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Camera Link

The Camera Link connection as its name would suggest, is a format aimed at providing a common serial communication standard for cameras. Andor have cameras that use two variants, CL3 and CL10. These may also sometimes be referred to as “3-tap” and “10-tap” or “Base” and “Extended” respectively.

Connection Type Data Transfer Rate Usable Distance Example Cameras using Connection Type
CL3 (3-tap) 2.04 Gps 7 metres Neo 5.5
CL10 (10-tap) 6.8 Gps Zyla 5.5 and 4.2 PLUS (Camera Link models)

Table 4: Andor cameras that use the Camera Link type connections.

Camera Link offers a higher bandwidth than USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 and low latency. This means that in the case of the Zyla camera models, the camera can provide higher frame rates via the Camera Link connection compared to the USB 3.0 connection as USB 3.0 acts as a bottle neck (Table 7).

Some of the downsides of Camera Link are that the 26-pin connectors are large, taking up a large footprint on the camera and the connecting cables are thick and less flexible than USB cables. Camera Link also needs a dedicated Frame grabber card on the PC whereas USB cables, connections and cards are ubiquitous and low cost.

Camera Link Extenders

Like USB, the standard maximum cable lengths are quite short. The standard supplied cable is 5 metres, but the following fibre-optic extender options are available for connectivity up to 100 metres.

Product Description Part Number
30-meter fibre-optic extender solution for Camera Link 10-tap models. ACC-ZYLFOX-10TAP-30M
100-meter fibre-optic extender solution for Camera Link 10-tap models. ACC-ZYLFOX-10TAP-100

Table 5: Cable extension options for Camera Link. Note extenders are not intended to be daisy-chained for longer distances.

What about the Camera Link connection on the iXon Ultra EMCCD Series?

A Camera Link connection is also used on the iXon Ultra however this is not used in the same way as outlined above. For the iXon Ultra models it is to provide a “direct data” stream from the sensor. In this case it is a single output only connection which must run with the USB for control of the camera. It outputs the data directly through Camera Link with minimal latency so that it may be processed by another system for data analysis. For further information please see the Camera Link Output Technical Note. Note that iXon Life models do not have this connection.

The Camera Link on the iXon Ultra models is there specifically to allow users to access the data directly from the sensor

Read more from the Camera Connectivity Article Series

Camera Connectivity Article Series
USB
CameraLink

CoaXPress
Practical Data Rates and Speeds
Other Signal and Data Connections used on Andor cameras

Date: May 2020

Author: Dr Alan Mullan

Category: Technical Article

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