rc = PsychCamSettings(cmd, grabber [, arg0, arg1, …])
Setup tool for video sources for use with Psychtoolbox
video capture functions. This function can mostly only operate
on IIDC/DCAM machine vision standard compliant camera connected
via IEEE1394-Firewire bus or USB bus + IIDC protocol. In other
words, it only operates on cameras controlled via the libdc1394
firewire video capture engine on Linux and OSX, not on standard
consumer/prosumer class cameras controlled by the [GStreamer](GStreamer) engine,
e.g., webcams, DV cameras etc.
PsychCamSettings is used to query or change settings of such
a video source that is supported by the Screen() subfunctions
for video capture. The first parameter, a ‘cmd’ command string
specifies the subfunction to execute. The second parameter
‘grabber’ is the device handle returned by Screen(‘OpenVideoCapture’).
All following parameters are dependent on the selected subfunction.
Subfunctions of form ‘XXX’ change the setting of a parameter XXX.
Subfunctions of form ‘XXX’ query the current setting of a parameter XXX.
Subfunctions of form ‘AutoXXX’ try to switch parameter XXX into automatic
control, if supported by the camera or video source.
The type of parameters supported is highly dependent on the specific video
source. Unsupported parameters are usually “no operations” - silently ignored.
For known camera models, the tool will try to map physically meaningful
values into camera settings and return camera settings as meaningful properties.
E.g., exposure time is expected and returned in milliseconds, if the mapping
for the specific camera is known. Otherwise it is set and returned in arbitrary
Currently known cameras: Basler A602f grayscale firewire camera. Unibrain Fire-i
firewire camera. Basler A312fc, AVT Marlin F033.
Parameters and their meaning:
curval = PsychCamSettings(‘ExposureTime’, grabber, val)
– Set and/or return current exposure time in milliseconds for supported cams, and
in raw camera specific system units for unknown cameras.
curval = PsychCamSettings(‘Brightness’, grabber, val)
– Set/Return brightness setting in arbitrary units. Brightness is the DC offset
added to the CCD sensor signal before amplification and A/D conversion.
curval = PsychCamSettings(‘Gain’, grabber, val)
– Set/Return gain setting in arbitrary units. Gain is the multiplier
applied to the CCD sensor signal during amplification and before A/D conversion.
curval = PsychCamSettings(‘Gamma’, grabber, val)
– Set/Return gamma setting. Gamma is used to influence or set gamma correction.
curval = PsychCamSettings(‘Sharpness’, grabber, val)
– Set/Return sharpness setting in arbitrary units. Manipulates digital post-
processing of images in the camera.
curval = PsychCamSettings(‘WhiteBalance’, grabber, val)
– Set/Return white-balance setting in arbitrary units. Only meaningful on color cams.
curval = PsychCamSettings(‘Saturation’, grabber, val)
– Set/Return color saturation setting in arbitrary units. Only meaningful on color cams.
Similar to above are queries and (auto-)settings for: Hue, WhiteShading, Iris, Focus, Pan, Tilt,
Zoom, CaptureQuality, CaptureSize, Temperature, FrameRate, OpticalFilter and TriggerDelay.
curval = PsychCamSettings(‘BacklightCompensation’, grabber, val)
– Set/Return setting for backlight compensation mode. Backlight compensation is active
if control of exposure time, gain and brightness are switched to automatic. It defines
the algorithm to use for computing the overall image brightness. This is currently
only supported on the Unibrain Fire-i camera and has the following meaning:
0 = Off. Just average across image.
1 = Use a disc in the center of the image.
2 = Use some weighted mix of a disc in the image center and the area outside the disc.
3 = Use some portrait mode for optimal exposure of a person sitting in front of the cam.
4 = Use upper third of image.
5 = Use middle third of image.
6 = Use lower third of image.
Special commands and their meaning:
vendor = PsychCamSettings(‘GetVendor’, grabber)
– Return camera vendor name string.
model = PsychCamSettings(‘GetModel’, grabber)
– Return camera model name string.
known = PsychCamSettings(‘IsKnownCamera’, grabber)
– Return 1, if this camera is known to PsychCamSettings,
so it can accept and return meaningful physical properties,
instead of unknown device units.
settings = PsychCamSettings(‘AutomateAllSettings’, grabber)
– Switch all settings into automatic control mode, where possible,
and return the current settings in a struct.
settings = PsychCamSettings(‘GetAllSettings’, grabber)
– Return all known settings in a struct.
oldsettings = PsychCamSettings(‘SetAllSettings’, grabber, settings)
– Set all settings from a struct ‘settings’.
latency = PsychCamSettings(‘EstimateLatency’, grabber [, fps])
– This command analyses the current camera settings and, based on
the specification of the camera, tries to estimate the latency (in
seconds) between start of exposure of a video frame and arrival of
the video frame in the computers video buffer.
If you subtract this ‘latency’ value from the ‘capturetimestamp’
returned by the Screen(‘GetCapturedImage’) function, you should
get an estimate of when (in system time) the image was
actually acquired that corresponds to the captured image.
Please note: In theory Basler firewire cameras with “SFF cycle timer support”
should be able to report the start time of image exposure directly via
the returned capture timestamps if the command …
Screen(‘SetVideoCaptureParameter’, grabber, ‘BaslerFrameTimestampEnable’);
… was executed before start of capture, therefore making this ‘EstimateLatency’
dance redundant. In practice though, the two tested Basler cameras which should
support this feature didn’t work properly, ie., they returned completely bogus
capture timestamps when ‘BaslerFrameTimestampEnable’ was called. Your mileage
may therefore vary, but it is at least worth a try if you possess a Basler camera.
Latency is defined as:
Duration of sensor-exposure + sensor readout delay + transmission
onset delay + time needed for data transfer over Firewire bus or
The latency values computed here are based on the official camera
specs. If the spec is wrong or inaccurate, then this value will
be wrong or inaccurate as well, so use with caution!