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Old Mar 15, 2007, 8:57 PM   #1
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Other than the more obvious choices you make when buying a camera like lens availability and choice, camera menu options, weight and size ,price and all the other variables. I am interested in opinions on what is the better sensor,CMOS or CCD or is the rendering processor more relevant to final shot quality than sensor type ?
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Old Mar 15, 2007, 9:51 PM   #2
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The old school of thought was that CMOS used less power while CCD's produced better quality. With significant improvements by both sides on both issues over the years the playing field is essentially even now. I think the processor is more important but you'll get an argument over which is best on that front, too. It will depend on what "quality" means to you, i.e. high resolution, low noise, color balance, etc.
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Old Mar 15, 2007, 9:55 PM   #3
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Good question.

Read this: http://www.dalsa.com/markets/ccd_vs_cmos.asp
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Old Mar 16, 2007, 11:38 AM   #4
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Thanks for both the oppinion and articles. My curiosity stems from the fact that one of the cameras I am interested in has a CCD while the other has a CMOS and I am looking for variables in helping me decide between cameras.
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Old Mar 16, 2007, 12:09 PM   #5
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It seems to mean that while there is a distinction between a CMOS sensor and a CCD sensor, and while each has its strengths and weaknesses, the cameras themself blur the distinction.

So, in effect, it is a distinction without a difference.
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Old Mar 16, 2007, 12:34 PM   #6
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KennJ,

From what I understand a CMOS is a sensor that, with the exception of Canon, almost no other manufactureruses. That said, it is more expensive to produce a CMOS sensor, and the differences between a CMOS and CCD are apparent in the shadow detail of a picture. The CMOS sensor will yield better tonal range, which means it is less contrasty and utimately shows more detail in in the darker areas of an exposure. The CMOS also uses less battery power because it is more efficient than a CCD.

Now for the cons:

Because of the accurate tonal range, pictures may sometimes appear drab and boring, lacking the brilliant colors and contrast that a CCD produces. Never-the-less, the CMOS does present a more realistic rendition, accurately portraying what the subject actually looked like through the 'naked eye' of the photographer. Pictures taken with a CMOS can also look 'soft' compared to a CCD (when scrutinized to the ump-teenth degree). This, again, is the result of the many tonal ranges recorded by the CMOS, as opposed to the few recorded by the CCD. CCD's are contrasty little buggers, and the human eye tends to be attracted by contrast and vibrant colour.

Going out on a limb here: I'd say that most pro-photogs use Canon equipment, which uses CMOS sensors. Even Nikon's top dog D2X uses a CMOS sensor instead of a CCD. It gives them an exposure that is closer to a film exposure, which allows them to fiddle with it more in post processingand toachieve the effects they want. Also, most cameras have some options as far as in-camera processing goes. You'll be able to bump up the sharpening, or make adjustments to the saturation from the camera's menu.



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Old Mar 16, 2007, 1:12 PM   #7
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You really need to take each sensor on a case by case basis, versus a broad generalization that one type is better than the other.

For a long time, *poor* image quality was associated with CMOS sensors. That's still true to some extent today (just because a lot of the very cheap digicams use them and many are very poor quality). I used to warn people against buying some cheap cameras after checking their specs, pointing out that they were using a CMOS sensor. ;-)

A lot of the very cheap digicams use CMOS sensors because CMOS sensors require less in the way of supporting components, reducing the overall cost of manufacturing a camera.

But, because Canon went CMOS with their DSLR models and makes high quality CMOS Sensors, a lot of people started associating high quality with CMOS

CMOS does have the advantage of using less power compared to a CCD based camera. So, I think we'll likely see them used more and more in the future.

Here's a good read about CMOS versus CCD sensors, pointing out that CCD sensors have better dynamic range and lower noise. But, it's a dated article and advances have been made by some manufacturers like Canon.

http://www.dalsa.com/shared/content/..._Litwiller.pdf

A more recent white paper from Canon also makes an interesting read (of course, it's going to be slanted a bit towards CMOS), outlining some of the advances that they are making. Rob Galbraith has a link to it here:

http://www.robgalbraith.com/bins/con...id=7-7897-8537

Bottom line... I'd compare the cameras you're interested in on a case by case basis, versus assuming that one is better than another based on sensor type alone.



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Old Mar 16, 2007, 2:44 PM   #8
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Not much practical difference at this point. Most of the difference is in processing. The biggest difference is that with CMOS, more of this processing actually occurs on the chip.

To my eyes, the CMOS sensors do seem to have a bit different look at higher ISO, maybe from different noise charachteristics to begin with, as well as a different approach to noise reduction, some of which is implemented on the chip.

Overall, however, there is no longer any practical rule of thumb as far as dynmic range (or tonal range) or noise levels. Canon in particular has gotten so good with their on chip processing that their CMOS based cameras are often amongst the leaders in dynamic range and low noise in their class.

The best shopping approach at this point is generally to compare output and performace of models you are considering directly, and ignore the CMOS vs. CCD issue. If you can see a difference, then maybe it matters. If you can't it doesn't.

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Old Mar 18, 2007, 12:20 PM   #9
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Thanks again all for the objective look at this issue. I find myself flipping between the Canon 30d and D80 Nikon at this point. Both seem to be worthy investments and I guess I will just have to get my hands on both for a feel and see if it helps me out to get them in hand.
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