Posts Tagged ‘CCD’

DxOMark’s Leica M9 Sensor Test Results Have Leica Photographers Befuddled


If you’re a fan of Leica’s digital rangefinders and have been skeptical of DxOMark’s ability to determine sensor quality through its rigorous tests, you might want to skip over the lab’s newly published test results on Leica’s M series sensors.
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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…
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How Digital Camera CCD Sensors Work

Digital camera sensors come in two flavors, charge couple device (CCD) sensors and complementary metal–oxide–semiconductor (CMOS) sensors. In this video, Bill Hammack the Engineer Guy offers a short explanation of how CCD sensors capture and store images, and how a color filter array is used to capture color photos.

Sony’s Sensor Manufacturing Plant Hit Hard by Thailand Floods

Here’s a photograph by the The Bangkok Post showing Sony’s sensor manufacturing plant in Thailand submerged under flood waters roughly 3 meters (~10ft) high. The shutdown of the 502,000 square foot, 3,300 employee plant doesn’t just affect Sony, as other companies — including Nikon and Apple (in the iPhone 4S) — rely on Sony image sensors as well.

(via Bangkok Post via Nikon Rumors)

Image credit: Photograph by Pattarachai Preechapanich/The Bangkok Post

Europe to Launch Massive Gigapixel Camera into Space

A 268-megapixel sensor might suffice for photographing the stars through a telescope, but apparently a sensor many times more powerful is needed for photographing alien planets from space. The European Space Agency has just finished building the largest camera ever to be used in space: a camera over three feet wide with a gigapixel sensor composed of 106 separate CCD sensors. Just to give you an idea of how powerful the camera is: it will be able to measure the width of a strand of hair from over 600 miles away, and the thumbnail of someone standing on the moon.
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How CCD Sensors Are Manufactured

This Science Channel “How Its Made” segment shows the manufacturing process for CCD semiconductors, which are the sensors found in many digital cameras. For the difference between CCD and CMOS, check out this How Stuff Works article.

Invisible Paintings That Can Only Be Seen by Cameras

Toronto-based artists Brad Blucher and Kyle Clements have an exhibition titled “Take a Picture” which features paintings that are invisible to the human eye but visible to cameras. To do this, they use a frequency of light that is outside the visible spectrum but visible to the CCD and CMOS sensors found in digital cameras.
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New Canon Scanner is Film-Friendly

The freshly announced Canon CanoScan 9000F is designed with film-faithful photographers in mind.

Canon boasts that the new scanner has the highest resolution yet in its line, putting out film scans of 9600×9600 dpi in 48-bit color with its CCD sensor. The scanner can process mounted 35mm slides, 35mm filmstrips, and 120 formats.

In addition to improvements to standard scanner capabilities, the scanner comes loaded with FARE 3 technology, which Canon says provides automatic dust and scratch removal, as well as correction for fading, grain and backlight.

The CanoScan 9000F comes at a fairly reasonable price too, $250.

Colleagues Claim Physics Nobel Laureates Undeserving

boyleandsmithAbout two weeks ago we reported that the “Fathers of Digital Photography” who invented the CCD sensor had won a Nobel Prize in physics for their revolutionary achievement. Now, two colleagues of Willard S. Boyle and George E. Smith are claiming that the Nobel committee erred by doing “extremely poor research”.

Eugene Gordon and Mike Tompsett worked with Boyle and Smith at Bell Laboratories, where the CCD was invented. They claim that Boyle and Smith were taking the concept in the wrong direction, studying its applications in memory rather than imaging. Furthermore, they believe that Tompsett, who formerly led the CCD researcher group, should have been awarded the prize after being the first two build two examples of the device. Tompsett told Canadian newspaper Globe and Mail:

If you take it all literally, the prize should have been given to me, I think if their name is on it, mine should be, too.

Smith rejected the criticism saying that while Tompsett could be credited for engineering prowess, he wasn’t the original source of the idea.

Though smaller committees play an important role in the Nobel Prize selection process, nomination is made by thousands of people and scrutinized by the experts in each field. However, despite the apparent reliability of the extensive, multi-step process, the Nobel Prize has received its fair share of controversy, and this is simply another entry on the list.

Fathers of Digital Photography win Nobel Prize in Physics

boyleandsmithThe technology behind DSLRs, video cameras, web cams, and even astrophotography and medical imaging would not be where it is today without the combined ingenuity of Willard S. Boyle and George E. Smith, who were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics today in Stockholm.

In 1969, Boyle and Smith invented the first digital imaging sensor, the charge-coupled device, or the CCD sensor. The two scientists developed CCD technology from 1921 Nobel Prize predecessor Albert Einstein’s theory of the photoelectric effect, through which light is converted into electrons. In short, CCD sensors capture the electron signals in the form of image points, or pixels.

The invention of the CCD sensor ushered in the digital age of photography, facilitating distribution of photographs and broadening the use of digital imaging into the fields of medicine and astronomy.

Currently, CCD sensors are still employed in a variety of cameras such as the Hasselblad digital H series (which costs as much as a high-end economy car), the entry-level Nikon D40, and the average phone camera and webcam, including the Apple iSight.


CCD sensors, which are generally recognized as more mature since they were developed earlier, tend to be preferred when high sensitivity, accurate color, and more pixels are needed. Thus, CCD sensors are also used in the Hubble Space Telescope and medical imaging. Also, smaller cameras, like webcams and compact digital cameras, have smaller sensors, so the CCD sensor can compensate for the reduced sensor area, which usually results in lower light sensitivity and higher noise.

Most modern DSLRs use complimentary metal-oxide semiconductor sensors, or CMOS — you’ll usually see this listed next to most camera specs. CMOS sensors have lineage from CCD sensors, capturing light in the same way.

CMOS sensors took over the camera industry over the last decade, mostly because they are cheaper to manufacture, as they’re made like a computer microchip. Additionally, they require less energy to capture an image, and thus require a smaller battery, which is more friendly and practical for the average consumer. Most modern CMOS sensors are also have a built-in image processor, unlike CCD sensors, which is solely devoted to capturing light, and has a separate unit to process image data.

CMOS and CCD sensors have a complementary relationship; neither is considered particularly superior to the other, especially as technology continues to improve for both.

And as technology advances, so does mankind. The Nobel Prize for inventing the CCD celebrates not only the innovation of Boyle and Smith, but the far-reaching impact of photography on humanity through technology, communication, aesthetics, and science.

For more information about the Nobel Prize winners, visit the Nobel Prize site.

Image Credit: Boyle and Smith mugshots by the National Academy of Engineering, CCD by GEEZETH