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Scientific Cameras: OEM and Manufacturing Capabilities

Scientific Cameras: OEM and Manufacturing Capabilities

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Jason Mills
Jason Mills
General Manager,
Thorlabs Scientific Imaging

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Clean Room
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Every scientific camera undergoes extensive testing to ensure high performance.
Clean Room
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All of our scientific cameras are assembled and inspected in a class 10,000 cleanroom. 

Thorlabs Scientific Imaging Group

The Thorlabs Scientific Imaging (TSI) Group in Austin, Texas works in a multidisciplinary environment to develop challenging circuit designs, innovative optical and mechanical solutions, firmware, and host side software in a camera platform that can be used with a variety of imagers. We offer a wide selection of sCMOS, CMOS, CCD, and fast frame rate cameras, which have been deployed in numerous applications (see the Selection Guide and Camera Applications tabs), as well as cameras customized to almost any need for OEM or system designers. Our unique and diverse skill base gives us the ability to customize low-noise, high-performance scientific cameras and interface devices that fit your needs. For more details about all of our products and services, please see the Thorlabs Expertise tab. 

Cameras Manufactured to Stringent Quality Controls

We understand that reliability and optical cleanliness are critical requirements for quality scientific cameras, which is why all Thorlabs cameras are assembled and inspected in a class 10,000 cleanroom; see the images to the right. The optics undergo a full inspection and cleaning to ensure they meet quality standards. The cameras are assembled and extensively tested to validate proper electronic operation. We capture a range of final images with every camera to ensure excellent performance. All test data is traceable back to the individual camera serial number. This ensures that each camera installed in an OEM system, research lab, or production environment is delivered to the highest traceable standards.

Request OEM or Custom Cameras in Two Easy Steps

Thorlabs Scientific Imaging makes it easy to get the camera that you need for a specific application. Along with our large selection of standard scientific cameras, we also offer customized and OEM products. These include high-performance cameras, board-level cameras, custom camera housings, and software. A full-featured and well-documented API, included with our cameras, makes it convenient to develop fully customized applications in an efficient manner, while also providing the ability to migrate through our product line without having to rewrite an application. If you have special requirements, a custom application, or general questions about our capabilities, please contact us; we will work with you to get the product you need for your application.

Customizing a scientific camera can be done from scratch or by using one of our existing standard cameras as a starting point. All of our cameras can be designed for low-light and/or high-speed imaging systems and tailored to meet stringent size, environmental, and packaging requirements. TSI simplifies this process by using the two steps below. Small changes made to our existing stock, such as private labeling, timing circuitry within the electronics, or mechanical changes, can be quickly and easily done using these steps. When designing a custom camera from scratch, we will help walk you through everything detailed below. The process is simplified to help you match the camera to the specific needs of your application. We also offer Kanban options for OEM customers.

Scientific Camera Catalog PDF
Tiberius Brochure Download

Thorlabs offers four families of scientific cameras: Zelux™, Kiralux®, Quantalux®, and Scientific CCD. Zelux cameras are designed for general-purpose imaging and provide high imaging performance while maintaining a small footprint. Kiralux cameras have CMOS sensors in monochrome, color, NIR-enhanced, or polarization-sensitive versions and are available in compact, passively cooled housings; the CC505MU camera incorporates a hermetically sealed, TE-cooled housing. The polarization-sensitive Kiralux camera incorporates an integrated micropolarizer array that, when used with our ThorCam™ software package, captures images that illustrate degree of linear polarization, azimuth, and intensity at the pixel level. Our Quantalux monochrome sCMOS cameras feature high dynamic range combined with extremely low read noise for low-light applications. They are available in either a compact, passively cooled housing or a hermetically sealed, TE-cooled housing. We also offer scientific CCD cameras with a variety of features, including versions optimized for operation at UV, visible, or NIR wavelengths; fast-frame-rate cameras; TE-cooled or non-cooled housings; and versions with the sensor face plate removed. The tables below provide a summary of our camera offerings.

Compact Scientific Cameras
Camera Type Zelux™ CMOS Kiralux® CMOS Quantalux® sCMOS
1.6 MP 1.3 MP 2.3 MP 5 MP 8.9 MP 12.3 MP 2.1 MP
Item # Monochrome: CS165MUa
Color: CS165CUa
Mono.: CS135MU
Color: CS135CU
Mono.: CS135MUN
Mono.: CS235MU
Color: CS235CU
Mono., Passive
Cooling: CS505MU
Mono., Active Cooling: CC505MU
Color: CS505CU
Passive Cooling: CS2100M-USB
Active Cooling: CC215MU

(Click to
Quantalux Cameras
Electronic Shutter Global Shutter Global Shutter Rolling Shutterb
Number of
Pixels (H x V)
1440 x 1080 1280 x 1024 1920 x 1200 2448 x 2048 4096 x 2160 4096 x 3000 1920 x 1080
Pixel Size 3.45 µm x 3.45 µm 4.8 µm x 4.8 µm 5.86 µm x 5.86 µm 3.45 µm x 3.45 µm 5.04 µm x 5.04 µm
(6.2 mm Diag.)
(7.76 mm Diag.)
(13.4 mm Diag.)
(11 mm Diag.)
(16 mm Diag.)
(17.5 mm Diag.)
(11 mm Diag.)
Peak Quantum

(Click for Plot)
69% at 575 nm

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59% at 550 nm

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60% at 600 nm
78% at 500 nm

Click for Plot
Monochrome & Polarization:
(525 to 580 nm)

Click for Plot
(525 to
580 nm)

Click for Plot
(525 to
580 nm)

Click for Plot
61% (at 600 nm)
Frame Rate

(Full Sensor)
34.8 fps 92.3 fps 39.7 fps 35 fps 20.8 fps 14.6 fps 50 fps
Read Noise <4.0 e- RMS <7.0 e- RMS <7.0 e- RMS <2.5 e- RMS <1 e- Median RMS; <1.5 e- RMS
Digital Output
10 Bit (Max) 10 Bit (Max) 12 Bit (Max) 16 Bit (Max)
PC Interface USB 3.0
N/A N/A N/A 0 °C at 20 °C Ambient (CC505MU Only) N/A 0 °C at 20 °C Ambient
(CC215MU Only)
Housing Size
(Click for
0.59" x 1.72" x 1.86"
(15.0 x 43.7 x 47.2 mm3)
Passively Cooled CMOS Camera
TE-Cooled CMOS Camera
Passively Cooled sCMOS Camera
TE-Cooled sCMOS Camera
General Purpose Imaging,
Brightfield Microscopy,
Machine Vision & Robotics,
UAV, Drone, & Handheld Imaging,
VIS/NIR Imaging,
Electrophysiology/Brain Slice Imaging,
Materials Inspection,
Multispectral Imaging,
Ophthalmology/Retinal Imaging,
Vascular Imaging,
Laser Speckle Imaging,
Semiconductor Inspection,
Fluorescence Microscopy,
Brightfield Microscopy
Fluorescence Microscopy,
Machine Vision,
General Purpose Imaging
Mono. & Color:
Fluorescence Microscopy,
Machine Vision & Inspection

Machine Vision & Inspection,
Transparent Material Detection,
Surface Reflection Reduction
Fluorescence Microscopy,
Large FOV Slide Imaging,
Machine Vision,
Fluorescence Microscopy,
VIS/NIR Imaging,
Quantum Dots,
Materials Inspection,
Multispectral Imaging
  • These item numbers are representative of the Zelux family. These cameras are available with or without external hardware triggers.
  • Rolling Shutter with Equal Exposure Pulse (EEP) Mode for Synchronizing the Camera and Light Sources for Even Illumination
Scientific CCD Cameras
Camera Type Fast Frame Rate
Item # Prefix Monochrome:
Monochrome: 1501M
Color: 1501C
Monochrome: 4070M
Color: 4070C
Monochrome: 8051M
Color: 8051C
No Sensor Face Plate: S805MU
Product Photo
(Click to Enlarge)
Electronic Shutter Global Shutter
Sensor Type CCD
Number of Pixels
(H x V)
640 x 480 1392 x 1040 2048 x 2048 3296 x 2472
Pixel Size 7.4 µm x 7.4 µm 6.45 µm x 6.45 µm 7.4 µm x 7.4 µm 5.5 µm x 5.5 µm
Optical Format 1/3" (5.92 mm Diagonal) 2/3" (11 mm Diagonal) 4/3" (21.4 mm Diagonal) 4/3" (22 mm Diagonal)
Peak QE
(Click for Plot)
at 500 nm
at 485 nm
Monochrome: 60% at 500 nm
Color: Click for Plot
Monochrome: 52% at 500 nm
Color: Click for Plot
Monochrome: 51% at 460 nm
Color: Click for Plot
51% at 460 nm
Max Frame Rate
(Full Sensor)
200.7 fps (at 40 MHz
Dual-Tap Readout)
23 fps (at 40 MHz
Single-Tap Readout)
25.8 fps (at 40 MHz
Quad-Tap Readout)a
17.1 fps (at 40 MHz
Quad-Tap Readout)b
17.1 fps (at 40 MHz
Quad-Tap Readout)
Read Noise <15 e- at 20 MHz <7 e- at 20 MHz (Standard Models)
<6 e- at 20 MHz (-TE Models)
<12 e- at 20 MHz <10 e- at 20 MHz
Digital Output (Max) 14 Bitc 14 Bit 14 Bitc 14 Bit
Fanless Cooling
Passive Thermal Management -20 °C at 20 °C Ambient Temperature -10 °C at 20 °C Ambient Passive Thermal Management
Available PC
USB 3.0 or Gigabit Ethernet USB 3.0

(Click for Details)
Non-Cooled Scientific
CCD Camera
Cooled Scientific CCD Camera
Non-Cooled Scientific CCD Camera
No Face Plate Scientific
CCD Camera
Typical Applications Ca++ Ion Imaging,
Particle Tracking,
Flow Cytometry,
UV Inspection
Fluorescence Microscopy,
VIS/NIR Imaging,
Quantum Dots,
Multispectral Imaging,
Immunohistochemistry (IHC),
Retinal Imaging
Fluorescence Microscopy,
Transmitted Light Microscopy,
Whole-Slide Microscopy,
Electron Microscopy (TEM/SEM),
Material Sciences
Fluorescence Microscopy,
Whole-Slide Microscopy,
Large FOV Slide Imaging,
Multispectral Imaging,
Immunohistochemistry (IHC)
Beam Profiling & Characterization,
VCSEL Inspection,
Quantitative Phase-Contrast Microscopy,
Digital Holographic Microscopy
  • Limited to 13 fps at 40 MHz dual-tap readout for Gigabit Ethernet cameras; quad-tap readout is unavailable for Gigabit Ethernet cameras.
  • Limited to 8.5 fps at 40 MHz dual-tap readout for Gigabit Ethernet cameras; quad-tap readout is unavailable for Gigabit Ethernet cameras.
  • Gigabit Ethernet cameras operating in dual-tap readout mode are limited to 12-bit digital output.


Applications Overview

Thorlabs' Scientific-Grade Cameras are ideal for a variety of applications. The photo gallery below contains images acquired with our 1.4 MP CCD, 4 MP CCD, 8 MP CCD, and fast frame rate CCD cameras.

To download some of these images as high-resolution, 16-bit TIFF files, please click here. It may be necessary to use an alternative image viewer to view the 16-bit files. We recommend ImageJ, which is a free download.

Multispectral Imaging

The video to the right is an example of a multispectral image acquisition using a liquid crystal tunable filter (LCTF) in front of a monochrome camera. With a sample slide exposed to broadband light, the LCTF passes narrow bands of light that are transmitted from the sample. The monochromatic images are captured using a monochrome scientific camera, resulting in a datacube – a stack of spectrally separated two-dimensional images which can be used for quantitative analysis, such as finding ratios or thresholds and spectral unmixing.

In the example shown, a mature capsella bursa-pastoris embryo, also known as Shepherd's-Purse, is rapidly scanned across the 420 nm - 730 nm wavelength range using Thorlabs' KURIOS-WB1 Liquid Crystal Tunable Filter. The images are captured using our 1501M-GE Scientific Camera, which is connected, with the liquid crystal filter, to a Cerna® Series Microscope. The overall system magnification is 10X. The final stacked/recovered image is shown below.

Multispectral imaging
Click to Enlarge

Final Stacked/Recovered Image


Thrombosis Studies

Thrombosis is the formation of a blood clot within a blood vessel that will impede the flow of blood in the circulatory system. The videos below are from experimental studies on the large-vessel thrombosis in Mice performed by Dr. Brian Cooley at the Medical College of Wisconsin. Three lasers (532 nm, 594 nm, and 650 nm) were expanded and then focused on a microsurgical field of an exposed surgical site in an anesthetized mouse. A custom 1.4 Megapixel Camera with integrated filter wheel were attached to a Leica Microscope to capture the low-light fluorescence emitted from the surgical site. See the videos below with their associated descriptions for further information.

Arterial Thrombosis

In the video above, a gentle 30-second electrolytic injury is generated on the surface of a carotid artery in an atherogenic mouse (ApoE-null on a high-fat, “Western” diet), using a 100-micron-diameter iron wire (creating a free-radical injury). The site (arrowhead) and the vessel are imaged by time-lapse fluorescence-capture, low-light camera over 60 minutes (timer is shown in upper left corner – hours:minutes:seconds). Platelets were labeled with a green fluorophore (rhodamine 6G) and anti-fibrin antibodies with a red fluorophore (Alexa-647) and injected prior to electrolytic injury to identify the development of platelets and fibrin in the developing thrombus. Flow is from left to right; the artery is approximately 500 microns in diameter (bar at lower right, 350 microns).

Venous Thrombosis

In the video above, a gentle 30-second electrolytic injury is generated on the surface of a murine femoral vein, using a 100-micron-diameter iron wire (creating a free-radical injury). The site (arrowhead) and the vessel are imaged by time-lapse fluorescence-capture, low-light camera over 60 minutes (timer is shown in upper left corner – hours:minutes:seconds). Platelets were labeled with a green fluorophore (rhodamine 6G) and anti-fibrin antibodies with a red fluorophore (Alexa-647) and injected prior to electrolytic injury to identify the development of platelets and fibrin in the developing thrombus. Flow is from left to right; the vein is approximately 500 microns in diameter (bar at lower right, 350 microns).

Reference: Cooley BC. In vivo fluorescence imaging of large-vessel thrombosis in mice. Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol 31, 1351-1356, 2011. All animal studies were done under protocols approved by the Medical College of Wisconsin Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee.

Simultaneous NIR and Fluorescence Imaging
Click to Enlarge
Example Setup for Simultaneous NIR/DIC and Fluorescence Imaging

Live Dual-Channel Imaging

Many life science imaging experiments require a cell sample to be tested and imaged under varying experimental conditions over a significant period of time. One common technique to monitor complex cell dynamics in these experiments uses fluorophores to identify relevant cells within a sample, while simultaneously using NIR or differential interference contrast (DIC) microscopy to probe individual cells. Registering the two microscopy images to monitor changing conditions can be a difficult and frustrating task.

Live overlay imaging allows both images comprising the composite to be updated in real-time versus other methods that use a static image with a real-time overlay. Overlays with static images require frequent updates of the static image due to drift in the system or sample, or due to repositioning of the sample. Live overlay imaging removes that dependency by providing live streaming in both channels.

Using the ThorCam overlay plug-in with the two-way camera microscope mount, users can generate real-time two-channel composite images with live streaming updates from both camera channels, eliminating the need for frequent updates of a static overlay image. This live imaging method is ideal for applications such as calcium ratio imaging and electrophysiology.

Example Images

Simultaneous Fluorescence and DIC Imaging

The image sequence below shows mouse kidney cells imaged using a dichroic filter to separate the fluorescence and DIC signals into different cameras. These images are then combined into a two-channel composite live image with false color fluorescence by the ThorCam overlay plug-in.

Fluorescence Image
Fluorescence Image of Two Camera Overlay
Click to Enlarge
2-Channel Composite Live Image
Image Overlay from Two Cameras
Click to Enlarge
Microaspiration Image using Two Cameras
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In the image above, the pipette is visible in the DIC image as two lines near the center of the frame.

Microaspiration Using a Micropipette

The image to the right shows a live, simultaneous overlay of fluorescence and DIC images. The experiment consists of a microaspiration technique using a micropipette to isolate a single neuron that expresses GFP. This neuron can then be used for PCR. This image was taken with our 1.4 Megapixel Cameras and a two-camera mount and shows the live overlay of fluorescence and DIC from the ThorCam plug-in. Image courtesy of Ain Chung, in collaboration with Dr. Andre Fenton at NYU and Dr. Juan Marcos Alarcon at The Robert F. Furchgott Center for Neural and Behavioral Science, Department of Pathology, SUNY Downstate Medical Center.

Simultaneous NIR Dodt Contrast and Epi Fluorescence imaging

The image to the right shows a live, simultaneous overlay of fluorescence and near-infrared Dodt contrast images of a 50 µm brain section from a CX3CR1-GFP mouse, which has been immunostained for PECAM-1 with Alexa-687 to highlight vasculature. The Dodt contrast uses a quarter annulus and a diffuser to create a gradient of light across the sample that can reveal the structure of thick samples. The image was taken with our Scientific Cameras and a two-camera mount. Sample courtesy of Dr. Andrew Chojnacki, Department of Physiology and Pharmacology, Live Cell Imaging Facility, Snyder Institute for Chronic Diseases, University of Calgary.

Our Expertise in the Photonics and Imaging Industry

Thorlabs is a leading photonics company that develops and manufactures a broad portfolio of technologies ranging from optical components to advanced imaging systems. We develop and manufacture most of our components at our extensive high-tech fabrication facilities. The facilities include manufacturing capabilities for motion control products, optoelectronics, semiconductors, optical fiber, optomechanics, optics, and optical coatings. Components that directly support our scientific camera line are filters and filter wheels, objective and scan lenses, zoom lenses, telecentric lenses, mounting adapters, LEDs, microscopy components and stages, and rigid cage systems.


  • Extensive Knowledge of Photonics Technology
  • Unique Skillset to Design and Manufacture Low-Noise, High-Performance Scientific Cameras, Interfaces, and Software
  • Vertically Integrated Manufacturing Facilities
  • Variety of Existing Products from Across Different Fields
  • Close Contact with Research Labs Around the World

Experienced Team

  • Interdisciplinary Teams Comprised of Scientists, Engineers, and Technicians
  • Extensive Portfolio of Products Developed and Manufactured by Thorlabs Ranging From Mechanical Components to Imaging Systems
  • Many Optical Systems Successfuly Designed, Manufactured, and Deployed into the Field
TSI Logo

A Message from TSI's General Manager

As a researcher and system designer, you are accustomed to solving difficult problems but may be frustrated by the inadequacy of the available instrumentation and tools. The product development team at Thorlabs Scientific Imaging is continually looking for new challenges to push the boundaries of Scientific Cameras using various sensor technologies. We welcome your input in order to leverage our team of senior research and development engineers to help meet your advanced imaging needs.

Thorlabs' purpose is to support advances in research and development through our product offerings. Your input will help us steer the direction of our scientific camera product line to support these advances. If you have a challenging application that requires a more advanced scientific camera than is currently available, I would be excited to hear from you.

We're All Ears!

Jason Mills
Jason Mills
General Manager
Thorlabs Scientific Imaging

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