View Full Version here: : Flea 3 Review

Paul Haese
27-02-2012, 11:16 PM
I have owned the Flea3 by Point Grey Research for nearly a year now. I thought some might be interested in my thoughts on this camera.

Click here (http://paulhaese.net/Flea3PointGreyResearch.html)for review

Feel free to ask any questions you might have or if you have any further points that you might think are relevant.

Joshua Bunn
28-02-2012, 12:12 AM
Thanks Paul, A review i will use if i decide to go down that particular imaging path.


28-02-2012, 01:09 AM
Great review Paul, thanks.

I am really keen to get one of these camera's but I just dont understand why PGR have not released this sensor in USB3 or even GigE. Only laptops targeted for Office users seem to come with ExpressCard in them now. And few come with Firewire port, but these are usually 1394a ports and will only support 400mbps. But most laptops do come with USB and USB3.0. With the exception of the MAC the Firewire port is not really a standard. And almost all Laptop come with an Ethernet port.

28-02-2012, 01:24 PM
Paul, I have both the monochrome and color versions of the Flea3 camera.

The Firewire-800 cables that came with my first purchase as a part of the "development kit" were very stiff indeed. They were also too darn short. I bought some longer somewhat more flexible Firewire-800 cables online and was much happier.

I also purchased a ExpressCard-34 Firewire-800 adapter online and a 12V DC adapter from Radio Shack to go with it.

I haven't had any problems with the 12VDC adapter disconnecting from the ExpressCard or with the ExpressCard ejecting from the laptop at an inopportune time.

The older 1.x version of FlyCapture was a real POS. I haven't had any trouble using FlyCapture 2.2 (and the 2.2 beta before that) to capture videos of Jupiter at high frame rates. FlyCapture 2.2 works quite well. In my opinion, better than FireCapture. I get much higher frame rates using FlyCapture than I do with FireCapture. The latest FireCapture update can now use the 2.2 support library as well which is a good, so one doesn't have to de-install and re-install the support library to switch back and forth between FlyCapture and FireCapture any more.

I find using the color Flea3 much easier to use on the planets than the monochrome camera with a filter wheel. On the sun the monochrome camera is better, but I've mostly been using the monochrome DMK41 and DMK51 on the sun.

29-02-2012, 12:16 AM
A great review Paul.

I sometimes gets update emails from Pt Grey and they have released some USB3 cameras but I didn't see the Flea 3 was one of them. Perhaps it is coming up soon.

I notice Bird was using a different Pt Grey camera on a recent shot.
A grasshopper model. Do you think it may be better?


29-02-2012, 01:29 AM
USB 3 Flea 3 cameras use Sony/OM Semi CMOS sensors, just look here: http://www.ptgrey.com/products/flea3_usb3/flea3_usb3_camera.asp - they aren't the hottests products on the market.... so you have either Firewire 800 Flea with ICX618 - http://www.ptgreystore.com/products/124-flea3-03-mp-mono-firewire-1394b-sony-icx618.aspx or DMK21AU618 on USB2.

Anthony uses this: http://www.ptgrey.com/products/grasshopper_express/grasshopper_express.asp with ICX674 :) It costs much more but it has an extra edge over ICX618.

I'm anxious about new e2v Ruby CMOS sensor. The rolling shutter version has around 3e- read noise (very low) and insane QE: http://oi39.tinypic.com/15zrwl.jpg :) the question is only if rolling shutter won't make artifacts when the imaged objects will shake due to seeing.

29-02-2012, 07:21 AM
Well get a Mac then. Easy!

29-02-2012, 07:31 AM
Ouch, $2000 is indeed much more...

The E2v sensors come with a global shutter model as well with extended range into NIR, frame rates over 100fps, so might be worth watching:

29-02-2012, 07:36 AM
Thanks for the review, one little detail, it doesn't mention which sensor the Flea3 has.
Does anyone know if a mac laptop will power the camera via the firewire port, or will it still need external power?

29-02-2012, 09:08 AM
I see in the specs for that E2V chip it is only 10bit. Perhaps that is usual and the 16 bit is in the analogue to digital converter. But I notice Paul mentioned the Flea 3 can be run at 16 bit.

Is this an issue?


Paul Haese
29-02-2012, 10:02 AM
Thanks guys, the flea 3 uses the ICX618 1/4" sensor. I will put that in the review.

Greg the camera that Anthony is using is a trial as I understand it but also better than the flea3. More light sensitive with faster frame rates. I don't know anything about the specs on that camera and I don't really want to discuss it here in a thread that is about the flea3. I would suggest contacting Anthony and asking him about that camera.:)

Paul Haese
29-02-2012, 10:07 AM
Changes made and amended review uploaded.

29-02-2012, 10:22 AM
Thanks again for the review. Would you be interested/have time to compare it to the Imaging Source camera with the same chip if I sent one your way?

Paul Haese
29-02-2012, 10:42 AM
I would like to do that Peter, but I warn that fitting it in might be a little tricky in the next few months. I am trying to get a reveiw out for another piece of equipment that needs doing. Perhaps contact me in a few months time and we can do it then.:)

29-02-2012, 11:04 AM
I'll do that, it would be interesting to have them compared by someone who knows what they are doing.
(i.e. not me!)

29-02-2012, 11:25 AM
Not really. For planetary imaging is nearly impossible to take advantage of more than 8-bits. For H-alpha solar imaging more bits however is/may be usable.

Point Grey (and alike) may send data in 8-bit or in 16 bit format - but it can't contain more bits of data than the A/D in the camera (12 bit). And note that 16-bit format is slower to send so the frame rate may be limited.

There is a chance I get few cameras from Point Grey for my planetary book (http://www.rkblog.rk.edu.pl/astro/planetary_book/) & general tests/reviews :)

29-02-2012, 11:52 AM
The Basler Ace has the same chip and GigE:

29-02-2012, 07:00 PM
But it also has randomly occurring artifacts, usually on Saturn ;)

29-02-2012, 07:39 PM
Paul, I really think you should try the current FlyCapture 2.2 before declaring that the Point Grey supplied software can't be used for astroimaging. It in fact works quite well for astroimaging planets, which is what most amateur astronomers buy this camera to image. Take it off auto, use the histogram and use manual settings to capture an AVI. It works very well. It was only the old 1.x software that stunk to high heaven. The 2.2 version is good.

29-02-2012, 09:22 PM
[QUOTE=Poita;824799]Ouch, $2000 is indeed much more...

$2000 is a lot but hey its a fraction of what the dedicated astro CCD cameras cost. Its not even the cost of a high end DSLR really.


01-03-2012, 11:32 AM
Well yeah, but it is a lot more than the $500 competition, and a lot of money considering the sensor used.

I'll be keen to see how it performs, hopefully other manufacturers will be able to bring out a lower priced version at some point.

Hopefully one day higher resolution small sensors will be fast enough and sensitive enough that we can move up from 640x480 images.

01-03-2012, 11:37 AM
Maybe for some, but I'd be happy with these pics from a crummy old Meade 10" Starfinder!


02-03-2012, 02:20 AM
Emil also gets those artifacts from time to time. That's the reason why Basler Ace ac640-100gm astrophotography sales died in general. So if you want faster than USB2 ICX618 camera - use Flea, not Basler.

I'm happy with my Jupiter images from Basler:

but not always Saturn that liked to get artifacted.

02-03-2012, 02:46 AM