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Is My Camera Supported by National Instruments?

Hardware: Image Acquisition (IMAQ)

I have or am looking to purchase a particular camera. How can I find out if this camera will work with National Instruments IMAQ products, and if National Instruments provides support for this camera?

The first step in determining National Instruments compatibility with and support for any camera is to determine the camera bus type. Each bus type has specific factors that influence whether a camera using that bus is supported. Bus types include Camera Link, USB 2.0, IEEE-1394 (FireWire), GigE Vision, and USB 3.0. There are many factors to consider when choosing the right camera bus.  This White Paper may be helpful: White Paper: Choosing the Right Camera Bus.

Once you've determined a suitable camera bus for your application, check National Instruments support and resources for that particular bus below.

A note on the use of IMAQ drivers: The NI-IMAQ driver is used with all NI framegrabbers and is free and available on (see related links section below). NI-IMAQdx is used with all of the camera buses that do not require a framegrabber, and because of this you must purchase a license to use the NI-IMAQdx driver.

Parallel Digital

Driver Used: NI-IMAQ
Framegrabbers: 1422, 1424

Because there is a wide variation in how digital cameras format data and in the modes they support, you need a camera file to tell the driver how the camera organizes data and what attributes the camera supports.

KnowledgeBase 3JH7CQEJ What is a Camera File, Do I Need One, and How Can I Obtain One?

National Instruments supports Parallel Digital cameras that send data in the following formats:
  • TTL
  • RS-422
  • LVDS (Low Voltage Differential Signal)
  • Camera Link (see next section for a discussion of Camera Link)

You can check to see if a camera file is available for your camera from the Industrial Camera Advisor. Follow the options from the Industrial Camera Advisor if no camera file is available from your camera, or contact your camera manufacturer. See the Camera Link section for additional details.

Camera Link

Driver Used: NI-IMAQ
Framegrabbers: 1426, 1427, 1428, 1429, 1430

National Instruments supports Camera Link cameras that conform to the Camera Link standard (base, medium, full, and extended). It is necessary to use a camera file with camera link cameras.

Check the Industrial Camera Advisor, and the options outlined there:

Option 1: Browse/search for camera support.

If you do not find your camera listed here, National Instruments or the associated camera manufacturer has not yet tested your camera with the appropriate IMAQ hardware (framegrabber for parallel digital, Camera Link) or software (NI-IMAQ or NI-IMAQdx driver).

Option 2: Check the NI discussion forums.

Option 3: Create your own camera file using NI Camera File Generator.

Option 4: Request support for your camera.

Gigabit Ethernet (GigE)

Driver Used: NI-IMAQdx or NI-IMAQ IEEE-1394
No framegrabber required. Images are processed onboard.

National Instruments supports all GigE cameras that are fully GigE Vision compliant. You can determine if your camera is GigE vision compliant by consulting your camera documentation, contacting the manufacturer, or looking for the GigE Vision logo.

Note: Sometimes you must have the most recent version of the NI-IMAQdx driver or the most recent version of the firmware on your camera for a GigE camera to work with NI-IMAQdx.

Fast Ethernet (IP)

Driver Used: NI-IMAQdx 3.5 (installed with Vision Acquisition Software November 2009) or later.
No framegrabber required. Images are processed onboard.

National Instruments supports Internet Protocol (IP) cameras manufactured by Basler and Axis. An IP camera typically sends a compressed image over an ethernet connection. The NI-IMAQdx driver only supports IP cameras that provide MJPEG images. Axis IP cameras must have firmware version 2.0 (or later) to be supported. 


Driver Used: NI-IMAQdx or NI-IMAQ IEEE-1394
No framegrabber required. Images are processed onboard.

National Instruments supports FireWire cameras that are fully IIDC (DCAM) compliant.  

USB 2.0

Driver Used: NI-IMAQ for USB or NI-IMAQdx 3.4 or later
No framegrabber required. Images are acquired through DirectShow.

As of version 3.4 (installed with Vision Acquisition 2009), USB 2.0 cameras are supported by the NI-IMAQdx driver.  The driver uses the DirectShow API to communicate with the USB 2.0 camera.  Any device, such as a microscope, that is USB 2.0 DirectShow compliant can be used.

NI-IMAQ for USB Cameras is a free software driver for acquiring images from any DirectShow imaging device into LabVIEW. You can download the software here: Example Program: NI-IMAQ for USB Cameras.  These devices include USB 2.0 cameras, webcams, microscopes, scanners, and many consumer-grade imaging products. NI-IMAQ for USB 2.0 Cameras can acquire and set properties using the camera manufacturer driver and Direct Show functions.

For NI software to use the camera successfully with either NI-IMAQdx or NI-IMAQ for USB, the camera manufacturer driver needs to be correctly installed and recognized by the operating system.


  • National Instruments offers the NI-IMAQ for USB driver free and fully documented, but does not support the product. The NI-IMAQ for USB driver stands as-is, with a listing of known issues.
  • You must have the Vision Development Module installed to use the NI-IMAQ for USB driver.

USB 3.0

Driver Used: NI-IMAQdx 4.2 or later
No framegrabber required. Images are acquired through USB3 Vision.

Starting with NI Vision Acquisition Software August 2013 (NI IMAQdx 4.2 or higher), National Instruments is adding support for the USB3 Vision standard. To be compatible, a camera must comply with the AIA USB3 Vision Specification version 1.0 or later, and the USB3 Vision compliance logo should be shown on the camera or in the marketing literature.


Related Links:
Industrial Camera Advisor
Drivers and Updates: Vision Acquisition Software
Example Program: Choosing the Right Camera Bus
Example Program: NI Adds USB Camera Support with 2009 Software
Example Program: NI-IMAQ for USB Cameras


Report Date: 09/12/2008
Last Updated: 01/12/2015
Document ID: 4PB9L9QE

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