Spinnaker C++: Programmer's Guide (2023)

Programmer's Guide

Fundamentals of Spinnaker

Architecture of Spinnaker



QuickSpin API

C# Graphical User Interface API

Camera XML

Recommended Development Environment

Instantiate a Single Camera and Multiple Cameras

Popular Features in Spinnaker


Asynchronous Hardware Triggering

Setting Black Level

Setting Exposure Time

Setting Gain

Setting Gamma

Setting White Balance

Accessing Raw Bayer Data

Setting Number of Software Buffers

Basic Features

Event Handling

Grabbing Images

Image Pointer Class

Error Handling

Loading and Saving Images

Advanced Features

Chunk Data


Logic Block


User Set

Spinnaker API is built around the GenICam standard, which offers a generic programming interface for various cameras and interfaces. Spinnaker is an extension of GenAPI. Spinnaker provides quick and easy access to your camera.

Spinnaker API includes two major components:

Image Acquisition

This is the acquisition engine that is responsible for setting up image buffers and image grabbing.

Camera Configuration

This is the configuration engine that is responsible for controlling your camera. This component consists of QuickSpin API, which is a wrapper that makes GenAPI easy to use.

Spinnaker C++: Programmer's Guide (1)

Included with the Spinnaker SDK are a number of source code examples to help you get started. These examples are provided for C, C++, C#, and VB.NET languages and are precompiled for your convenience.

The table below describes the available Spinnaker SDKexamples.

Spinnaker Example Description
Acquisition Enumerate, start acquisition, and grab images
AcquisitionMultipleCamera How to capture images from multiple cameras simultaneously
ChunkData How to get chunk data on an image, either from the nodemap or from the image itself
DeviceEvents Create a handler to access device events
Enumeration* Enumerate interfaces and cameras
EnumerationEvents Explore arrival and removal events on interfaces and the system
Exposure* Configure a custom exposure time
ImageEvents Image events shows how to acquire images using the image event handler.
ImageFormatControl* Configure a custom image size and format
Logging Create a logging event handler
LookupTable Configure lookup tables for the customization and control of individual pixels
NodeMapCallback Create, register, use, and unregister callbacks
NodeMapInfo How to retrieve node map information
SaveToAVI Save images in AVI format
(Blackfly Sand Oryx only)
Capture multiple images with different parameters in a sequence
SpinSimpleGUI_DirectShow Graphical User Interface for evaluating and setting camera parameters using DirectShow
SpinSimpleGUI_MFC Graphical User Interface for evaluating and setting camera parameters
Trigger* Trigger shows how to trigger the camera.
*Also available in QuickSpin

Every GenICam compliant camera has an XML description file.The XML describes camera features, their interdependencies, and allother information like availability, access control, and minimum and maximum values. These features include Gain, Exposure Time, Image Format, and others. The elements of a camera description file arerepresented as software objects called Nodes. A Node map is a list ofnodes created dynamically at run time.

Spinnaker C++: Programmer's Guide (2)

To access camera properties such as setting image width:

C++ GenAPI

GenApi::INodeMap & nodeMap = cam.GetNodeMap();

CIntegerPtr width = nodeMap.GetNode("Width");

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Generic programming with GenICam requires developers to know feature names before using them. Spinnakerprovides the QuickSpin API, which requires fewer lines of code and allows you to make use of auto completion. The QuickSpin API consists of a list of static functions integratedinto the Camera class.

All camera parameters can be accessed through the camera pointer object.

Spinnaker C++: Programmer's Guide (3)

Most camera parameters (all items in camera.h) can be accessed using the QuickSpin API.

For parameters not handled by QuickSpin API, you can access them via GenICam API (GenAPI). GenAPI is the generic programming interface for configuring all kinds of cameras. GenAPI is maintained by the European Machine Vision Association.

Below is an example comparison of inquiring camera gain via GenAPI and QuickSpin API.

C++ GenAPI

Spinnaker::GenApi::INodeMap & nodeMap = cam->GetNodeMap();
CFloatPtr GainNode = nodeMap.GetNode("Gain");
Float GainVal = GainNode->GetValue();

C++ QuickSpin API

float quickGainVal = cam->Gain.GetValue();

For applications that want to take advantage of Spinnaker'sgraphical user elements, graphical user interface (GUI) controls are available.GUI controls are divided into static and dynamic categories. Static GUI controlsinclude the CameraSelectionDialog, display window, and property grid window.The GUI dynamically loads the camera's features from the firmware. Therefore,new firmware has the ability to add GUI controls to the same application,without recompiling.

Static GUI Dialogs

//To show image drawing window

GUIFactory AcquisitionGUI = new GUIFactory ();


ImageDrawingWindow AcquisitionDrawing = AcquisitionGUI.GetImageDrawingWindow();




Spinnaker C++: Programmer's Guide (4)

//To show camera selection window

GUIFactory AcquisitionGUI = newGUIFactory ();


CameraSelectionWindow camSelection = AcquisitionGUI.GetCameraSelectionWindow();


Spinnaker C++: Programmer's Guide (5)

//To show property grid window

GUIFactory AcquisitionGUI = new GUIFactory ();


PropertyGridWindow propWindow = AcquisitionGUI.GetPropertyGridWindow();



Spinnaker C++: Programmer's Guide (6)

Dynamic GUI Control

GUIFactory dynamicGUI = new GUIFactory ();


// Get dialog name via dynamicGUI.GetDialogNameList()

Window dlg = dynamicGUI.GetDialogByName(dialogName);

dlg.Owner = Window .GetWindow(this );


Spinnaker C++: Programmer's Guide (7)

The camera's XML file contains information such as feature naming, register mapping, and dependencies between features. It is typical for GenICam-compliant software to cache the XML file for quicker access to the camera's definition. Spinnaker caches the XML file in a binary format to achieve better performance.

Camera XML files are located in:


Spinnaker supports the following list of operating systems and development environments.

OS Compatibility
(32- and 64-bit)

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Windows XP
Windows 7
Windows 8.1
Windows 10

Language Support


Compiler Support

Visual Studio 2010
Visual Studio 2013
Visual Studio 2015

Interface Support

USB3 Vision 1.0

Before you can instantiate a camera, you must create and initialize a system object. The System Singleton object is used to retrieve the list of interfaces (USB3.1 or GigE) and cameras available. You must call ReleaseInstance() at the end of your program to free up the system object.

Multiple cameras can only be instantiated one at a time.

Instantiate multiple cameras (C++)

// Retrieve singleton reference to system object
SystemPtr system = System::GetInstance();

CameraList camList = system->GetCameras();
unsigned int numCameras = camList.GetSize();

for (unsigned int i = 0; i < numCameras; ++i)

CameraPtr pCamera = cameraList.GetByIndex(i);




The snippet below detects the number of cameras connected and enumerates them from an index.

Spinnaker C++ GenAPI

SystemPtr system = System::GetInstance();
CameraList camList = system->GetCameras();
unsigned int numCameras = camList.GetSize();
CameraPtr pCam = NULL;
for (int i = 0; i < numCameras; i++)
pCam = camList.GetByIndex(i);

The snippet below does the following:

  • Enables Trigger Mode
  • Configures GPIO0/Line0 as the trigger input source
  • Specifies the trigger signal polarity as an active high (rising edge) signal
Spinnaker C++ QuickSpin API





Spinnaker C++ GenAPI

CEnumerationPtr triggerMode = nodeMap.GetNode("TriggerMode");

CEnumerationPtr triggerSource = nodeMap.GetNode("TriggerSource");

CEnumerationPtr triggerSelector = nodeMap.GetNode("TriggerSelector");

CEnumerationPtr triggerActivation = nodeMap.GetNode("TriggerActivation");

BlackLevel is the GenICam feature that represents the DC offset that is applied to the video signal. This example compares the mechanism used to set this feature in both environments.

Spinnaker C++ QuickSpin API

// Brightness is called black level in GenICam

//Set the absolute value of brightness to 1.5%.

Spinnaker C++ GenAPI

CEnumerationPtr blackLevelSelector = nodeMap.GetNode("BlackLevelSelector");

CFloatPtr blackLevel = nodeMap.GetNode("BlackLevel");

ExposureTime refers to the amount of time that the camera's electronic shutter stays open. This example sets your camera's exposure/shutter time to 20 milliseconds.

Spinnaker C++ QuickSpin API

// Turn off auto exposure

//Set exposure mode to "Timed"

//Set absolute value of shutter exposure time to 20000 microseconds

Spinnaker C++ GenAPI

CEnumerationPtr exposureAuto = nodeMap.GetNode("ExposureAuto");

CEnumerationPtr exposureMode = nodeMap.GetNode("ExposureMode");

CFloatPtr exposureTime = nodeMap.GetNode("ExposureTime");

The following code snippet adjusts gain to 10.5 dB.

Spinnaker C++ QuickSpin API

//Turn auto gain off

//Set gain to 10.5 dB

Spinnaker C++ GenAPI

CEnumerationPtr gainAuto = nodeMap.GetNode("GainAuto");

CFloatPtr gainValue = nodeMap.GetNode("Gain");

The following code snippet adjusts gamma to 1.5.

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Spinnaker C++ QuickSpin API

// Set the absolute value of gamma to 1.5

Spinnaker C++ GenAPI

CFloatPtr gamma = nodeMap.GetNode("Gamma");

The following code snippet adjusts the white balance's red and blue channels.

Spinnaker C++ QuickSpin API

//Set auto white balance to off

//Select blue channel balance ratio

//Set the white balance blue channel to 2
CFloatPtr BalanceRatio = nodeMap.GetNode("BalanceRatio");

//Set the white balance red channel to 2

Spinnaker C++ GenAPI

CEnumerationPtr balanceWhiteAuto = nodeMap.GetNode("BalanceWhiteAuto");

CEnumerationPtr balanceRatioSelector = nodeMap.GetNode("BalanceRatioSelector");

CFloatPtr balanceRatio = nodeMap.GetNode("BalanceRatio");


Raw image data can be accessed programmatically via the getData method of the Spinnaker Image class. In 8 bits per pixel modes such as BayerRG8, the first byte represents the pixel at [row 0, column 0], the second byte at [row 0, column 1], and so on. The top left corner of the image data represents row 0, column 0.


// Assuming image is 640 x 480 resolution. The current pixel format as well as PixelColorFilter indicate the Bayer Tile Mapping for the camera. For example, BayerRG8 is RGGB.

ImagePtr pResultImage = cam.GetNextImage();
char* data = (char*)pResultImage->GetData();

// Assuming image is 640 x 480
// data[0] = Row 0, Column 0 = red pixel (R)
// data[1] = Row 0, Column 1 = green pixel (G)
// data[640] = Row 1, Column 0 = green pixel (G)
// data[641] = Row 1, Column 1 = blue pixel (B)

The following code snippet adjusts the number of image buffers that the driver initializes for buffering images on your PC to 11 (default is 10).

Spinnaker C++ API

Spinnaker::GenApi::INodeMap & sNodeMap = cam->GetTLStreamNodeMap();
CIntegerPtr StreamNode = sNodeMap.GetNode(“StreamDefaultBufferCount”);
INT64 bufferCount = StreamNode->GetValue();

Spinnaker introduces two event classes: interface events anddevice events.

Interface Event

The interface event class is a new feature that is responsible forregistering and deregistering user defined interface events such as devicearrival and removal.

Interface Event C++

class InterfaceEventsHandler : public InterfaceEvent

public :
virtual ~InterfaceEventsHandler(){};

void OnDeviceArrival()

std::cout<< "A Camera Arrived" << std::endl;


void OnDeviceRemoval( uint64_tdeviceSerialNumber )

std::cout<< "A Camera was removed with serial number: " <<
deviceSerialNumber << std::endl;



InterfaceEventsHandler handler;

Device Event

The device event class is responsible for registering andderegistering user defined device events such as start or end of exposure.

Device Event C++

// Select the Exposure End event
Spinnaker::GenApi:: CEnumerationPtr pEnum = nodeMap .GetNode( "EventSelector" );
pEnum->SetIntValue(pEnum->GetEntryByName( "EventExposureEnd" )->GetValue());

// Turn on the Event notification for Exposure End Event
Spinnaker::GenApi:: CEnumerationPtr pBool = nodeMap .GetNode( "EventNotification" );

// Once Exposure End Event is detected, the OnDeviceEvent function will be called
classDeviceEventHandler : publicDeviceEvent

public :

void OnDeviceEvent( Spinnaker::GenICam::gcstring eventNameeventId )

std::cout << "Got Device Event with " << eventName << " and ID=" << GetDeviceEventId() << std::endl;



// Register event handler
DeviceEventHandler allDeviceEventHandler;

You can grab images using the GetNextImage() function. This function returns an image pointer for the current image. The image pointer should be released whenever you are done with the image. Image pointer, being a smart pointer, is automatically released when set to null or when out of scope.

Image Acquisition (C++)

// Begin acquiring images

ImagePtr pResultImage = cam->GetNextImage();


Grab Result

In almost all cases, you should check to see if the grabbed image has any errors. To do so, you need to call getImageStatus().

To check for errors in the image (C++)

ImageStatus imageStatus = pResultImage->GetImageStatus();

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Available error enums

/** Status of images returned from GetNextImage() call. */

enum ImageStatus
/**< Image is returned from GetNextImage() call without any errors. */
/**< Image failed CRC check. */
/**< Image size is smaller than expected. */
/**< Image has missing packets */
/**< Image leader is incomplete. */
/**< Image trailer is incomplete. */
/**< Image has an inconsistent packet id. */
/**< Image data is incomplete. */
/**< Image has an unknown error. */

The image pointer (ImagePtr) is a smart pointer that points to the image object. You can have multiple image pointers pointing to the same object. Smart pointers automatically manage the life time of the object that it points to. You can also re-use the same image pointer object.

Image pointer should always be assigned before using.

Image Pointer Usage

ImagePtr pResultImage;

// Retrieve the next received image
pResultImage = cam->GetNextImage();

ImagePtr duplicateImagePtr = pResultImage;

Image Pointer INCORRECT Usage

// Incorrect usage
ImagePtr illegalImage;
illegalImgae->Create( ... );

Image Pointer CORRECT Usage

// Correct usage
ImagePtr goodImage;
goodImage = Image::Create(...);

Spinnaker C++ uses a try catch block for exception handling.

Spinnaker C++ API

//Assuming Camera& Cam


catch (Spinnaker:: Exception &e)
//Exception handling

Loading and saving a raw image (.raw) from disk into Spinnaker library can be achieved via Image class's smart pointer.

Loading and Saving Images

int offlineImageWidth = 1280;
int offlineImageHeight = 1024;
int offlineOffsetX = 0;
int offlineOffsetY = 0;
unsigned char* offlineData;

// Allocate buffer for image
offlineData = (unsigned char*)malloc(sizeof(unsigned char) * offlineImageHeight * offlineImageWidth);

// Create empty image
ImagePtr loadImage = Image::Create(offlineImageWidth, offlineImageHeight, offlineOffsetX, offlineOffsetY, PixelFormatEnums::PixelFormat_BayerRG8, offlineData);

FILE* inFile;

// Load image from disk into buffer (offlineData)
inFile = fopen(filename.str().c_str(), "rb");
fread(offlineData, 1, offlineImageHeight * offlineImageWidth, inFile);

// Convert image to mono8 data format

// Save image

Chunk data is extra information that the camera can appendto each image besides image data. Examples of chunk data include frame counter,image width, image height and exposure time.

For a listing of chunk data information supported by your camera, please refer to the camera's Technical Reference manual.

An image is comprised of:

  • Leader
  • Image Data
  • Chunk Information (i.e., gain, exposure, image size)
  • Trailer
C++ Enable Chunk Data

ChunkSelector.SetValue(ChunkSelectorEnums ::ChunkSelector_ExposureTime) ;



C++ Retrieve Chunk Data

const ChunkData& chunkData = rawImage->GetChunkData();

float64_t currentExposure = chunkData.GetExposureTime();

The purpose of a sequencer is to allow you to programmatically control the acquisition parameters of an image sequence. You can define not only how the images are captured (i.e. the camera feature settings) but also when the camera transitions from one acquisition setting to another. This is akin to a state machine diagram where the states correspond to the sequencer set feature settings, and the transition among states corresponds to a particular event that triggers the state machine to move from one state to another.

To configure sequencer on your camera, you can use SpinView's sequencer tab. Or, to programmatically configure it, you can use the C++ Sequencer source code example that is installed along with Spinnaker SDK.

A Logic Block is a collection of combinatorial logic and latches that allows the user to create new, custom signals inside the camera. Each Logic Block is comprised of 2 lookup tables (LUT) with programmable inputs, truth tables and a flip flop output. There is a LUT for both the D input (Value LUT) and the enable input (Enable LUT) of the flip flop. Both LUTs have 3 inputs and thus have 8 configuration bits for their truth table.

For more information, see Using Logic Blocks.

Spinnaker C++: Programmer's Guide (8)

Spinnaker supports five levels of logging:

  • Error—failures that are non-recoverable (this is the default level)
  • Warning—failures that are recoverable without user intervention
  • Notice—information about events such as camera arrival or disconnect, camera initialize, camera start/stop, or modification of a feature
  • Info—information about recurring events that are generated with every image
  • Debug—information that can be used to troubleshoot the system

You can define the logging level that you want to monitor. Levels are inclusive, that is, if you monitor debug level error, you also monitor all logging levels above it.

For a complete C++ and C# example of Logging, please see Spinnaker SDK source code examples. By default, Spinnaker SDK's SpinView application saves all logging data to:


Register Logging (C++)

SystemPtr system = System::GetInstance();

// Register logging callback class
LogCallback callBackClass;

// Set callback priority level

class LogCallback : Spinnaker::LoggingEvent

void OnLogEvent(LoggingEventDataPtr loggingEventDataPtr)


User set is an on camera non-volatile memory space that you can use to store camera properties such as exposure and gain.

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To check if user set supports the feature that you want to save, you can either query the User Set Feature Selector programmatically or run SpinView:

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