Super Mini IR Illuminator Reviewed

By: Derek Ward, Published on Sep 26, 2013

External IR illuminators tend to be bulky and heavy. Now, a company is releasing 'nano' IR illuminators that claim to deliver up to 43 meters of IR illumination in a form factor the size of a C/CS mount lens. In this note, we break down the tech specifications and pricing to understand how this competes with integrated IR cameras and conventional units from Raytec, Bosch and Iluminar.

[For background, see our IR illumination tutorial.]

Specifications

The AT-3S indoor-only NANO Infrared Illuminator [link no longer available] from Axton's Smart Series NANO IR line is a 1.5"x1.5" cube built around 850nm LEDs. The line supports 2 models, the AT-3S and the AT-3S-B.

Key features / issues include

  • IP 55 rated, requiring users to protect cables and tripod sockets if used outdoors.
  • Once the illuminator is on, it remains on, meaning a user must physically unplug the device to turn it off.
  • Built in low voltage power supply (12 VDC, 3W), requires a separate wire run for powering.
  • I/O ports for synchronization and remote control, requiring you to use an IP camera, but no POE functionality. Less tech savvy users may find it difficult to operate the illuminator via I/O and even those who can do it will require additional set up time.

Below is an image consisting of illumination distances and angles of the AT-3S.

Comparison

For short range indoor applications, a variety of built-in IR cameras ~$250 USD are available. But, if add-on illuminators are absolutely necessary, below is a list of IR illuminator manufacturers and prices.

Here are a few low-cost integrated IR cameras for comparison:

Recommendations

When aesthetics are important, this small IR illuminator can be helpful for indoor retrofits that need the added illumination. But at $199 USD retail, plus any additional cabling and equipment you may need, a $250 USD Dahua IR bullet [link no longer available] could just as easily work. Add in the fact that this particular device would need outdoor housing (IP 55 rated) if used outside, applications are likely very limited.

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