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Rust bindings for OpenCV 3 & 4
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Rust OpenCV bindings

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Experimental Rust bindings for OpenCV 3 and 4.

The API is usable but unstable and not very battle-tested; use at your own risk.


API Documentation is, to varying success, translated from OpenCV's doxygen docs. Most likely you'll want to refer to the official OpenCV C++ documentation as well.

OpenCV version support

The following OpenCV versions are supported at the moment:

  • 3.2
  • 3.4
  • 4.2

You can choose the target OpenCV version with the following Cargo features:

  • opencv-32
  • opencv-34
  • opencv-4 (default)

If you need support for contrib modules, also enable contrib feature.


Make sure the supported OpenCV version is installed in your system along with pkg_config files or -dev packages.

Update your Cargo.toml

opencv = "0.29"

Select OpenCV version if different from default in Cargo.toml:

opencv = {version = "0.29", default-features = false, features = ["opencv-34"]}

And enable usage of contrib modules:

opencv = {version = "0.29", features = ["contrib"]}

Import prelude

use opencv::prelude::*;

Minimum rustc version

Generally you should use the latest stable rustc to compile this crate.

Platform support

Currently the main development and testing of the crate is performed on Linux, but other major platforms are also supported: Mac OS X and Windows.

Support for Windows is a bit tricky at the moment: you will need to set up OPENCV_LINK_LIBS, OPENCV_LINK_PATHS, OPENCV_INCLUDE_PATHS and potentially OPENCV_PYTHON3_BIN environment variables. Then build the crate with buildtime-bindgen feature enabled. If you get linking errors try also building with --release flag.

Mac OS X build currently also requires buildtime-bindgen feature enabled.

Also refer to the corresponding issue #6, issue #70 and Travis build script.


  • opencv-32 - build against OpenCV 3.2.0, this feature is aimed primarily on stable Debian and Ubuntu users who can install OpenCV from the repository without having to compile it from the source
  • opencv-34 - build against OpenCV 3.4.x
  • opencv-4 (default) - build against OpenCV 4.x
  • contrib - enable the usage of OpenCV contrib modules for corresponding OpenCV version
  • buildtime-bindgen - regenerate all bindings, should only be used during the crate development or when building on Windows or Mac OS X, with this feature enabled the bundled headers are no longer used for the code generation, the ones from the installed OpenCV are
  • force-3rd-party-libs-discovery - legacy feature that enables some additional logic for discovery of dependent libs, should not be needed anymore
  • docs-only - internal usage, for building docs on


Generally the crate tries to only wrap OpenCV API and provide some convenience functions to be able to use it in Rust easier. We try to avoid adding any functionality besides that.


Some API functions accept callbacks, e.g. set_mouse_callback. While currently it's possible to successfully use those functions there are some limitations to keep in mind. Current implementation of callback handling keeps hold of the passed callback argument forever. That means that the closure used as a callback will never be freed during the lifetime of a program and moreover Drop will not be called for it (they are stored in global static Slab). There is a plan to implement possibility to be able to free at least some of the closures.


Although crate tries to provide ergonomic Rust interface for OpenCV, don't expect Rust safety guarantees at this stage. It's especially true for borrow checking and shared mutable ownership. Notable example would be Mat which is a reference counted object in its essence. You can own a seemingly separate Mat in Rust terms, but it's going to be a mutable reference to the other Mat under the hood. Treat safety of the crate's API as you would treat one of C++, use clone() when needed.

Getting Started

The following external dependencies are required:

  • python3
  • OpenCV 3.2.0, 3.4.9 or 4.2.0

OpenCV is a complicated dependency with a lot of different configurations that can break this crate since it relies on fragile header parsing. Try these strategies in order, continuing to the next if builds with this crate fail.

See if you already have the right version of OpenCV installed

if OpenCV is installed, its version can be checked with:


Install OpenCV

Install supported version of OpenCV. Check your platform's package manager or see the upstream OpenCV installation guides.

When your OpenCV is installed in a location that's not being picked up by build script you can try setting one or both of the following environment vars prior to trying to build the crate:

export PKG_CONFIG_PATH=/custom/prefix/lib/pkgconfig/
export LD_LIBRARY_PATH=/custom/prefix/lib/

Path specified by PKG_CONFIG_PATH must contain opencv.pc or opencv4.pc (for OpenCV 4.x). Path specified by LD_LIBRARY_PATH must contain libopencv_*.so files.

Environment variables

  • OPENCV_HEADER_DIR During crate build it uses OpenCV headers supplied inside the crate for binding generation. If you want to use your own (system) headers supply OPENCV_HEADER_DIR environment variable. The directory in that environment variable should contain opencv2 dir, e.g. /usr/include for OpenCV-3.4.x or /usr/include/opencv4 for OpenCV-4.x.

  • OPENCV_PACKAGE_NAME In some cases you might want to override the pkgconfig or vcpkg package name, you can use this environment variable for that. If you set it pkgconfig will expect to find the file with that name and .pc extension in the package directory. And vcpkg will use that name to try to find package in packages directory under VCPKG_ROOT. For compatibility reasons OPENCV_PKGCONFIG_NAME is also supported as variable name.

  • OPENCV_PYTHON3_BIN During the build crate uses Python 3 to run header parsing and generation. The binary is usually autodiscovered, but you can use OPENCV_PYTHON3_BIN to specify the full path to the binary to invoke. E.g. "/usr/bin/python3" or "C:\Python37\python.exe"

The following variables must be set when building without pkg_config or vcpkg (e.g. on Windows msvc target):

  • OPENCV_LINK_LIBS Comma separated list of library names to link to. .lib, .so or .dylib extension is optional. E.g. "opencv_world411".

  • OPENCV_LINK_PATHS Comma separated list of paths to search for libraries to link. E.g. "C:\tools\opencv\build\x64\vc14\lib".

  • OPENCV_INCLUDE_PATHS Comma separated list of paths to search for system include files during compilation. E.g. "C:\tools\opencv\build\include". One of the directories specified therein must contain "opencv2/core/version.hpp" file, it's used to detect the version of the headers.

You can also set them on other platforms, then pkg_config or vcpkg usage will be disabled and the set values will be used.

Compiling OpenCV

See the upstream guides for compiling OpenCV for your platform. Make sure to compile from the correct release tag! We recommend including opencv_contrib and configuring your build with the same flags the travis build uses:

Contrib modules

The following modules require opencv_contrib installed:

  • aruco
  • bgsegm
  • bioinspired
  • ccalib
  • cvv
  • dpm
  • freetype
  • fuzzy
  • hdf
  • img_hash
  • line_descriptor
  • phase_unwrapping
  • plot
  • sfm
  • shape
  • structured_light
  • superres
  • videostab
  • viz
  • xfeatures2d
  • xobjdetect
  • xphoto

OpenCV 2 support

If you can't use OpenCV 3.x or higher, the (no longer maintained) 0.2.4 version of this crate is known to work with OpenCV (and probably other 2.4 versions).

The binding strategy

This crate works following the model of python and java's OpenCV wrappers - it parses the OpenCV C++ headers, generates a C interface to the C++ api, and wraps the C interface in Rust.

All the major modules in the C++ API are merged together in a huge cv:: namespace. We instead made one rust module for each major OpenCV module. So, for example, C++ cv::Mat is opencv::core::Mat in this crate.

The methods and field names have been snake_cased. Methods arguments with default value lose these default values, but they are reported in the API documentation.

Overloaded methods have been — manually — given different names.

All methods return a Result to hack around C++ exception handling.

Most of the API is covered, but for various reasons several modules are not yet implemented. If a missing module is near and dear to you, file an issue (or better, open a pull request!)

Contributor's Guide

The crate itself, as imported by users, consists of generated rust code in src committed to the repo. This way, users don't have to handle the code generation overhead in their builds. When developing this crate, you can test changes to the binding generation using cargo build -vv --features buildtime-bindgen. When changing the codegen, be sure to push changes to the generated code! comes from OpenCV python/java generator. We've tried not to mess too much with this file, but had to make a few changes. is initially a copy of gen_java, also from the OpenCV generators, but it has drifted significantly from the original.

The license for the original work is MIT.

Special thanks to ttacon for yielding the crate name.

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