A Julia interface to the FLIR/PointGrey Spinnaker SDK
Author samuelpowell
15 Stars
Updated Last
5 Months Ago
Started In
November 2018


A Julia interface to the FLIR/PointGrey Spinnaker SDK.


This package provides a complete wrapper of the Spinnaker SDK C API. All functions and enumerations prefixed by spin are exported from the package and can be called according to the API documentation. See examples/wrapper/ for examples.

The package also provides a high-level interface for common camera functions which allows control from Julia with a relatively terse syntax, and for the retrieval of images as native Julia arrays. The high-level interface is work-in-progress, and may be subject to change.


Ensure that the Spinnaker SDK is installed, then use the Julia package manage to install and build the package.

]add Spinnaker

NOTE: The official Julia 1.4.0 MacOS binaries appear to have an issue with notarization which causes a failure to load the dynamic libraries. Whilst this is being resolved, either use a previous version, or the fix detailed here.

Graphical user interface

SpinnakerGUI.jl by @ianshmean uses @Gnimuc's CImGui.jl package to implement an experimental GUI for image capture and recording, driven by this package.

High-level Interface

The high-level interface provides convenience functions for more typical camera operations, in addition to utility functions which allow the setting of camera nodes directly.

Camera settings which take a numeric value, e.g., gain or exposure time, can be provided with any number type, and this will be clamped to the acceptable range, the actual value set on the camera being returned. Settings which are boolean in nature accept Julia bool types. Enumeration settings require the user to provide a member of the enumeration in string format, e.g., selecting a 12-bit ADC bit depth requires the parameter "Bit12", these values can be found in the technical reference manual for the particular camera.

All types and references are managed by the Julia GC - there is no need to explicitly release resources (with the sole exception of BufferImages).


Get a list of cameras by constructing a CameraList object:

julia> camlist = CameraList()
CameraList with 1 enumerated devices:
ID      Serial No.      Description
0       XXXXXXX         FLIR Blackfly S BFS-U3-16S2M

Acquire a camera by indexing a CameraList by ID:

julia> cam = camlist[0]
FLIR Blackfly S BFS-U3-16S2M (XXXXXXXX): stopped

Acquisition controls

Change the exposure time to 0.1s:

julia> exposure!(cam, 0.1e6)

Change the framerate for continuous mode to 60 fps:

julia> framerate!(cam, 60)

Start an acquisition, and trigger it (if set to trigger mode):

# do something

See triggermode(!), triggersource(!), exposure(!).

Analog controls

Set the gain to 12dB:

julia> gain!(cam, 12)

Image format

Set the ADC to 12-bit mode:

julia> adcbits!(cam, "Bit12")

Set the image size and offset:

julia> imagedims!(cam, (1024, 1024))
(1024, 1024)

julia> offsetdims!(cam, (0,10))
(0, 10)

See gammaenable(!), pixelformat(!), adcbits(!), sensordims, imagedims(!), offsetdims(!).

Retrieving images

All of the following functions are blocking by default, and execution will halt until an image is available. Use the keyword argument 'timeout' to specify a timeout in ms, after which an error is thrown. For each function the keyword argument release=true is supported which by default will release the buffer for further use. If you choose release=false then the buffer will not be released, allowing one to inspect the image without removing it from the stream buffer (e.g the next call to the function will return the same image).

Images can be retrieved in three formats:

  • CameraImage, an abstract array interface of arbitrary type, which stores metadata about the image;
  • Array, a raw Julia array of arbitrary type, with metadata returned as additional return values;
  • SpinImage, an internal Spinnaker library image type, which can be queried for metadata.

The native camera format for images is row-major, to avoid performing a transposition this means that the resulting Julia matrices are of dimensions (width x height), which is transposed compared to the normal (height x width) arrangement in a column-major language such as Julia or MATLAB. Perform a transposition if this is problematic.


If the pixel format from the camera is unpacked Images can be retrieved to a CameraImage type which provides an AbstractArray interface to the underlying data, in addition to storing metadata available when the image is acquired. One can acquire an image in this way by specifying the desired data format:

julia> getimage(cam, Gray{N0f8}, normalize=true);
julia> getimage(cam, Float64, normalize=false)
1440×1080 CameraImage{Float64,2}:
 84.0   85.0  90.0  90.0  87.0  94.0  89.0  92.088.0  79.0  76.0  87.0  78.0

By specifying normalize=true the image data from the camera is intepreted as a fixed point number in the range [0,1]. By combining this with a fixed point Colorant type Gray{N0f8}, this provides direct compatibilty with the Julia images stack. Alterantively, without normalisation the unsigned integer data returned from the camera will be supplied in its natural range, e.g., a Mono8 pixel format will result in values in the range [0, 255].

Mutating versions are available, where the type is determined from the input, the metadata will be updated and the underlying data array reused.

julia> getimage!(cam, cameraimage);
1440×1080 CameraImage{Float64,2}:
 84.0   85.0  90.0  90.0  87.0  94.0  89.0  92.088.0  79.0  76.0  87.0  78.0

Metadata such as the id, timestamp, and exposure can be returned from the CameraImage:

julia> id(getimage(camera, Float64))

julia> id(getimage(camera, Float64))


A raw Julia array can be passed to the mutating form getimage!, which operates in the same way as the method which accepts the CameraImage format, however the metadata will be returned by the function:

julia> imid, imtimestamp, imexposure = getimage!(camera, Array{Float64}(undef, 1440, 1080))
(391055, 20685632735104, 14996.0)


Alternatively, a SpinImage type can be retrieved from the camera, which supports all possible pixel formats, including packed data. To copy the image from the camera buffer, and release the buffer for acquisition:

julia> image = getimage(cam)
Spinnaker Image, (1440, 1080), 16bpp, PixelFormat_Mono16(1)

The resulting SpinImage type contains a handle to a Spinnaker image object. These types can queried for metadata, converted to alternative pixel formats, saved to disc, etc., by the Spinnaker SDK (see src/SpinImage.jl for details). For example, the timestamp of the image in nanoseconds since the last reset of the camera clock (i.e. at camera boot) may be read:


If you havean existing SpinImage and wish to overwrite it in-place,

julia> getimage!(cam, image)
Spinnaker Image, (1440, 1080), 16bpp, PixelFormat_Mono16(1)

Alternatively, It is possible to convert a SpinImage to a CameraImage using the CameraImage constructor:

julia> CameraImage(spinimage, Float64, normalize=true)

One may directly save an acquired image to disc:

saveimage(cam, "output.png", Spinnaker.PNG)

Stream (buffer) handling

To set the current buffer mode,

julia> buffermode!(cam, "NewestFirst")

To set the number of buffers, and move to manual buffer count mode:

julia> buffercount!(cam, 12)
(12, Manual)

To return to automatic buffer count,

julia> buffercount!(cam)

To check for buffer underruns, or invalid buffer frames:

julia> bufferunderrun(camera)

julia> bufferfailed(camera)

Please note the specifics of buffer handling to understand the expected behaviour of the various buffer modes.


julia> using Spinnaker

julia> camlist = CameraList()
CameraList with 1 enumerated devices:
ID      Serial No.      Description
0       17458441        FLIR Blackfly S BFS-U3-16S2M

julia> cam = camlist[0]

julia> triggersource!(cam, "Software")

julia> triggermode!(cam, "On")

julia> start!(cam)

julia> trigger!(cam)

julia> saveimage(cam, joinpath(@__DIR__, "test.png"), spinImageFileFormat(6))

julia> stop!(cam)

Low-level Interface

The operation of this package revolves around the manipulation of nodes defined by a camera specification. Nodes exist as part of a node map, of which there are several: the camera node map controls camera features; the stream node map controls image buffers; and the transport node map controls the specific transport layer of the device. Nodes may be integer valued, floating point valued, an enumeration, etc.

In Spinnaker.jl, node access functions are provided which allow manipulation through their textual names (rather than integer identifiers). For example, a nodes can be written to using the set!function:

julia> Spinnaker.set!(Spinnaker.SpinEnumNode(cam, "TriggerSelector"), "FrameStart")

This command creates a reference to an enumeration valued node with name TriggerSelector, and sets the value to the named enumeration element FrameStart. By default, nodes refer to the camera node map. To access a different node map, pass the appropriate singleton type to the node constructor:

julia> get(SpinEnumNode(cam, "StreamBufferHandlingMode", CameraTLStreamNodeMap()))

This command creates a reference to the enumeration valued node with the name StreamBufferHandlingMode in the transport steram node map, and returns the current enuemration selection by its string representation. The available node maps are CameraNodeMap, CameraTLStreamNodeMap, and CameraTLDeviceNodeMap. Node types are defined for enumerations (SpinEnumNode), floating point values (SpinFloatNode), booleans (SpinBoolNode), and integers (SpinIntegerNode). Set operations on numeric node types are clamped to the range of the node, and a warning is printed if the desired setting is out of range.

The majority of the high level interface is defined by convenience functions which safely or logically manipualte camera nodes. If you frequently require access to specific nodes, consider creating a high level convenience function for this action, and submitting a PR.


Spinnaker.jl Cannot Load

If running using Spinnaker results in an error similar to this one:

┌ Error: Spinnaker SDK loaded but Spinnaker.jl failed to initialize
└ @ Spinnaker ~/.julia/packages/Spinnaker/4E5ov/src/Spinnaker.jl:99
Spinnaker SDK error: SPINNAKER_ERR_ABORT(-1012)
  [1] checkerror
    @ ~/.julia/packages/Spinnaker/4E5ov/src/Spinnaker.jl:31 [inlined]
  [2] spinSystemGetInstance
    @ ~/.julia/packages/Spinnaker/4E5ov/src/wrapper/spin_api.jl:97 [inlined]
  [3] Spinnaker.System()
    @ Spinnaker ~/.julia/packages/Spinnaker/4E5ov/src/System.jl:16
  [4] __init__()
    @ Spinnaker ~/.julia/packages/Spinnaker/4E5ov/src/Spinnaker.jl:96
  [5] _include_from_serialized(path::String, depmods::Vector{Any})
    @ Base ./loading.jl:768
  [6] _require_search_from_serialized(pkg::Base.PkgId, sourcepath::String)
    @ Base ./loading.jl:854
  [7] _require(pkg::Base.PkgId)
    @ Base ./loading.jl:1097
  [8] require(uuidkey::Base.PkgId)
    @ Base ./loading.jl:1013
  [9] require(into::Module, mod::Symbol)
    @ Base ./loading.jl:997
 [10] eval
    @ ./boot.jl:373 [inlined]
 [11] exec_options(opts::Base.JLOptions)
    @ Base ./client.jl:268
 [12] _start()
    @ Base ./client.jl:495

Check that you have the environment variable FLIR_GENTL64_CTI set to the path to FLIR_GenTL.cti (e.g. /opt/spinnaker/lib/flir-gentl/FLIR_GenTL.cti).

Loading Spinnaker causes binary dependency (i.e. JLL) errors in other packages

Given Spinnaker is a non-JLL managed dependency, it is sometimes helpful to delay the lib init so that julia has preference over which libraries are loaded. The simple way to do this is to load Spinnaker after other packages. However, if Spinnaker is in a sysimage and thus has its __init__() called on julia load, you can delay the lib init by setting ENV["JULIA_SPINNAKER_MANUAL_INIT"]="true" and loading julia packages before calling Spinnaker.init() manually.

Required Packages

Used By Packages