Infrared Illuminators

  Selection

I have been testing several small IR Illuminators from CMVision. All of these illuminators generate infrared light with a wavelength of 850nm and must be used with a camera that is sensitive to the same wavelength.

All 850nm illuminators have a faint visible red glow. CMVision has more recently started selling illuminators that emit 940nm infrared. The 940nm illuminators do not produce a visible red glow.

The Camera  

These test images were taking using a model E72A camera made by ACTi. This camera is sensitive to infrared light in the range of 700 to 1100nm, however it's built-in IR illuminator is 850nm. The built-in illuminator has been turned off for these tests.

Normally the E72 will auto-adjust the shutter between 1/5th and 1/30th of second, and the gain between 1 and 255. Shutter speeds below 1/15th are not desirable since moving objects will be extremely blury.

On the other hand, gain controls the sensitivity of the camera. The higher the gain the brighter the image, but the side effect is more noise.

Normally cameras will auto-adjust both settings in an attempt to obtain a target exposure. This makes it difficult to judge the realtive brightess of the illuminators since the camera will attempt to make them all the same brightness, but with varying degrees of noise and blurring (of moving objects).

Test Conditions  

For these tests the illuminator is mounted on the ceiling just above the back of the couch and angled to point at the center of the table.

The camera is locked to a shutter speed of 1/15th of a second and the gain is locked to 150. This was done so the difference in brightness between the IR units will be visible. This is the first image of each test.

I find that these units have too narrow of a lighting pattern, so I add a diffuser made from sheet of frosted mylar cut to fit over (or behind) the front glass of the illuminator. This widens the lighting pattern and reduces the brightness of the center "hot spot". The second image was taken with the same camera settings but with a the mylar diffuser added to the Illuminator.

You may click on the test images to view them larger in a separate tab of your brower. The easiest way to compare the test images is to open two or more and click back-and-forth between them.


Model IR40  ($12.99)   (CM Vision)  (Amazon)   Price performer
CMVision model IR40 4 high power LEDs at 850nm
Small. Diameter 2.5 inches
Color silver/gray, black cable
2.1mm barrel connector
Includes barrel connector pig-tail cable
Draws 300ma @ 12v.

This unit has the high-power LED construction internally meaning the LED circuit board is laminated to an aluminium disk, which acts as a heat-sink, and the power/light sensor circuit is on a separate board.

No Diffuser: Shutter 1/15th sec.
With Mylar Diffuser: Shutter 1/15th sec


Model IR4  ($10.95)   (CM Vision)  (Amazon)
CMVision model IR4 4 LEDs (5050 type) at 850nm
Small. Diameter 2.5 inches
Color silver/gray, black cable
2.1mm barrel connector
Draws 250ma @ 12v.

Does not have the high-power LED construction internally. It uses a square "5050" style LED. The others all use glass bead type LEDs.

No Diffuser: Shutter 1/15th sec.
With Mylar Diffuser: Shutter 1/15th sec


Model IR3  ($12.99)   (CM Vision)  (Amazon)  The current units have the same lenses as the model IR40
CMVision model IR3 3 high power LEDs at 850nm
Small. Diameter 2.5 inches
Color silver/gray, black cable
2.1mm barrel connector
Includes barrel connector pig-tail cable
Draws 250ma @ 12v.

This unit has the high-power LED construction internally meaning the LED circuit board is laminated to an aluminium disk, which acts as a heat-sink, and the power/light sensor circuit is on a separate board.

I am not sure what the point of this model is since the IR40 can be purchased for the same price.

No Diffuser: Shutter 1/15th sec.
With Mylar Diffuser: Shutter 1/15th sec


Model IRS48  ($8.95)   (Amazon)
CMVision model IRS48 48 LEDs at 850nm
Tiny. Diameter 2.25 inches
Color silver/gray, black cable
2.1mm barrel connector
Draws 110ma @ 12v.

This was the first "cheap" IR unit I bought and is the dimmest. However, it was the least expensive unit at $8.95.

No Diffuser: Shutter 1/15th sec.
With Mylar Diffuser: Shutter 1/15th sec


Model IR30  ($11.95)   (CM Vision)  (Amazon)
CMVision model IR30 30 LEDs at 850nm
Tiny. Diameter 2.25 inches
Color silver/gray, black cable
2.1mm barrel connector
Includes barrel connector pig-tail cable
Draws 200ma @ 12v.

This unit is the same size as the IRS48 but has fewer LEDs that are a larger size and higher power.

No Diffuser: Shutter 1/15th sec.
With Mylar Diffuser: Shutter 1/15th sec


Model IR56  ($27.95)   (CM Vision)  (Amazon)
CMVision model IR56 56 LEDs at 850nm
Small with extended mount
Diameter 3.0 inches
Color white, black cable
2.1mm barrel connector
Includes 12v/1A power supply
Draws 300ma @ 12v.

I have several of these up outside. If I were buying outdoor units now I would consider going with the brighter IR40 instead, especially considering this unit is twice the price. I could easily spray paint the IR40 white to match the soffit. However, this unit allows for the cable to be completely hidden, where as the IR40 has the cable exiting from the center of it's back.

It appears that this unit has recently had a price increase on Amazon.

No Diffuser: Shutter 1/15th sec.
With Mylar Diffuser: Shutter 1/15th sec


Model IR6  ($25.95)   (CM Vision)  (Amazon)
CMVision model IR6 6 high power LEDs at 850nm
Small with extended mount
Diameter 2-5/8 inches
Color white, black cable
2.1mm barrel connector
Includes 12v/1A power supply
Draws 310ma @ 12v.

This is a nice looking unit but unfortunately it uses the same flat LEDs as the IR4, yet it does not draw as much current as six of the IR4 LEDs. It would be very nice if this unit used the IR40 LEDs, but it is too small to fit six IR40 LEDs with lenses.

No Diffuser: Shutter 1/15th sec.
With Mylar Diffuser: Shutter 1/15th sec



Larger IR Illuminators from CM Vision


Model IR110   (CM Vision)  (Amazon)
CMVision model IR110 114 LEDs at 850nm
Large with extended mount
Size 6 inches x 4 inches
Color baige, black cable
2.1mm barrel connector
Includes 12v/2A power supply
Draws 900ma @ 12v.




Model IR9   (CM Vision)  (Amazon)

CMVision model IR9 9 high power LEDs at 850nm
Large with extended mount
Size 6 inches x 4 inches
Color baige, black cable
2.1mm barrel connector
Includes 12v/2A power supply
Draws 1200ma @ 12v.




Model IR130   (CM Vision)  (Amazon)

CMVision model IR130 198 LEDs at 850nm
Huge with extended mount
Size 8 inches x 5 inches
Color baige, black cable
2.1mm barrel connector
Includes 12v/3A power supply
Draws 1500ma @ 12v.




Model IR15   (CM Vision)  (Amazon)

CMVision model IR15 15 high power LEDs at 850nm
Huge with extended mount
Size 8 inches x 5 inches
Color baige, black cable
2.1mm barrel connector
Includes 12v/3A power supply
Draws 1700ma @ 12v.