Is This the Difference Between CCD and CMOS Camera Sensors? Nope

Virtually all digital still cameras capture light using either a CCD or a CMOS sensor. Most consumers don’t know the difference, and — given the rate at which CMOS sensors are improving — both sensors perform equally well in most cases (Leica is rumored to be switching over to the CMOS camp with its upcoming M10).

However, that’s not what a PC World store in Ireland wants you to believe. The photo above shows an informational placard that was on display recently in one of its stores. The top image shows a scene shot with a CCD sensor, and the bottom image allegedly shows the “same scene” shot with a CMOS sensor. Hmmm…

In reality, it’s pretty clear that the discrepancy is the result of something other than the sensor inside the camera (it might even be the same sensor). From the overall look of the picture and the reflection in the wine glass, we can conclude that the main difference is in the lighting used.

The top photo was shot with a flash pointed directly at the subjects, while the bottom one looks like it was lit with indirect lighting. Clever marketing? Nah. False advertising.

To actually learn the differences between the sensors, check out this Wikipedia article, this StackExchange answer, or this HowStuffWorks article.

  • Sean McCormack

    Em.. no. It’s indirect lighting alright, but it’s hard not soft.

  • Michael Zhang

    Hmmm. Righto — removed that word. Thanks :D

  • Nico in China

    Maybe they want to say that due to better high iso, you can shoot ambiant light with the CMOS as opposed to “right in the face flash from the camera” with the CCD? More like real-life application of a characteristic rather than just benchmark stuff…
    You can see from the lights in the background are bigger in the CMOS version -> longer exposure.

  • Steven Blackwood

    Not to mention that the 1st photo looks like it was shot at a very high ISO compared to the other one.

  • julie

    False advertising could also apply to other manufacturers, like Nikon, Canon, Tamron and Sigma, who sell lenses with the help of images that have been photoshopped or otherwise “enhanced”.

  • seems like the top image taken with a strong point flash, while the bottom one with a diffuse/softer light.

  • yeah.. says it in the text.. didnt notice

  • Silver River

    PC World … Irish?….. check your facts!

  • Michael Zhang

    Edited to make it more clear that it was a PC World store IN Ireland, rather than PC World being an Irish company. Thanks.

  • JanW

    Correction on discribing the light quality: top photo has a direct lightsource close to the lens. Bottom photo has light at an angle, either indirect with an umbrella or DIRECT, possibly through some diffusion gel. That would, in my opinion, be a more accurate description of the lighting. Check the sharpness of the shadow on their faces, you don’t need the wineglass.
    But it still is a despicable way to sell stuff.

  • Frode Orvedal-Kiil

    I wouldn’t say that the Canon advert is all that much better.. at least it doesn’t tell what went into making that picture.

    They claim that with their brilliant HS system they can, I and quote:
    “The HS System produces less noise and blur, usually a problem in low light situations. This reduces the need to shoot with flash or tripod, allowing you to capture the real, natural atmosphere of the moment.”

    One will still need an external and directional light source to make pleasing shadows like that.. They’ll have a hard time convincing me that the light in the second picture just came from the lamp above the table.

    The average consumer will have a hard time replicate that photo by just being handed a canon compact with the HS system.

  • Grunty

    This kind of marketing is bad, and PC World should feel bad…

  • Tanja Schulte

    the world is doomed… advertising is not telling the TRUTH… damn inform fox news….. and i guess tomorrow someone will invent the wheel…..

  • kyoshinikon

    The not so clear idea was that the top needed flash while the bottom could use natural light as the sensor was better. Poorly executed however and completely misleading…

  • sick

    this is so stupid