I have close to zero experience with cameras modules. I need a global electronic shutter camera for my application.

While I was browsing I see that the shutter speeds that are 1/1000th of a second.

Is it possible to control these modules for: (in general, I realize each module has its own mechanism) - Turn on/off the shutter from software at the desired speed? (i.e. turn on the shutter for 1/500th of a second although frame rate is 50fps. I know the image will have a lot less light but that is ok). (The idea is to make sure the camera is no longer integrating the light when the electronic shutter is off)

  • Start a frame conversation on demand as opposed to a fixed FPS. (i.e. convert two consecutive images only but do that such that the speed is controlled by the uP)
  • \$\begingroup\$ I voted to close thinking you were asking about this from a consumer perspective that would be better fit for photo.stackexchange.com Now that I give it a second look, I realize I didn't follow what you were asking at first. \$\endgroup\$
    – Kellenjb
    Commented Mar 20, 2012 at 0:59
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Kellenjb it is actually to the heart of these camera modules. I am looking for some corner case info since we won't be using these cameras in plain vanilla way. \$\endgroup\$
    – Ktc
    Commented Mar 20, 2012 at 6:15

2 Answers 2


The kind of CMOS camera modules you are asking about all have global shutters (electronic shutters, not focal plane shutters). You control them through their bus, typically some sort of serial bus like e.g. I2C.

You can find modules where you have control over both frame rate and shutter speed.

I very much doubt any camera module has a separate shutter pin. You need to implement the bus protocol anyway, or there would be no way for you to get the image data...

  • \$\begingroup\$ Morten, do you mind adding a pointer to a specific module? \$\endgroup\$
    – Ktc
    Commented Mar 20, 2012 at 8:50
  • \$\begingroup\$ There are quite a few manufacturers of CMOS sensors. The Omnivision web page is probably a good place to start. In addition, Samsung, Sony, ST, Toshiba, Aptina, Kodak, and many more. \$\endgroup\$
    – morten
    Commented Mar 20, 2012 at 20:30

Some available modules will do what you want.
Which ones will is a matter of searching or asking in camera forums.

But, as a guide to what can be done with off the shelf cameras and special (free) software toolkits look at the references below. You may find u=yourself buying an off the shelf or used camera and stripping it down.

  • Most of the of the Canon A series cameras are able to be controlled in every conceivable manner and a few inconceivable ones using the brilliant and stunningly capable "CHDK" software.

Available here CHDK - Canon Hack Development Kit and also here.

  • CHDK allows you to communicate via USB, control the camera's every know feature and add extra features. eg you can set up motion sensing of a selected area with action of choice to follow even though this facility is probably available as std on none of the cameras concerned.

CHDK is installed on an SD card which is inderted in the camera and the camera loads and runs it along with any "program" files at power up. The camera is not altered. I understand that the latest Canon A series camera are not compatible, but the project is ongoing and capable.

Overview here

They say:

Enhanced Image Capture: CHDK supports RAW format for pictures (in addition to JPEG), longer recording time and length for videos (up to 1 hour or 2GBs), and several new compression options.

Additional Information On-Screen: With CHDK, you can customize your on-screen display to your heart's content, including worthwhile information like remaining battery life, histogram, depth of focus, and more.

Additional Photographic Settings: CHDK takes many of the features already available on your camera and gives you way more options, including longer exposure times (up to 65 seconds), faster shutter speeds (1/25,000 sec or faster), automatic bracketing of your photos, and more.

Support for Small Programs/Scripts: CHDK can run small scripts that will allow your camera to perform a set of actions based on the conditions of the script. Tons of scripts are available, and they provide functionality like motion-sensing photography (which reportedly works for lightning strikes) and unlimited interval time-lapse photography (see video below). Click to view

Even better, CHDK is being actively developed, which means that new features are always on the horizon. There are actually several versions of CHDK in development, but the version we're going to focus on is called the Allbest build—a build that incorporates many of the best features available in other builds (get it?).

What You'll Need

To use CHDK, all you need is a supported Canon digital camera and an SD memory card. If you've already got a supported camera then it only follows that you've got the memory card, so you're already well on your way.


  • Lightly edited shameless paste from another of my answers.
    Search for "CHDK" for other related posts.
  • \$\begingroup\$ thanks.. I am more looking for standard cmos camera modules, this is way too much for what I ask. \$\endgroup\$
    – Ktc
    Commented Mar 20, 2012 at 5:37
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Ktc - why is that too much. It's easy to do, cheap (2nd hand A series camera for about free) and more powerful than harder dearer alternatives. \$\endgroup\$
    – Russell McMahon
    Commented Mar 20, 2012 at 5:45
  • \$\begingroup\$ Simple.. Because I will use this module not for hobby but a real product.. Probably ship a few K a month. We explain to customer the idea and they liked it.. We now need to prove to customer that it can work. The job is to find a camera module where we can control the electronic shutter using an external signal. Once we turn off the shutter (electronic) there should be no change on pixel energy. Hence the question. This is for machine vision application. \$\endgroup\$
    – Ktc
    Commented Mar 20, 2012 at 6:14

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