The Ongoing Discussion CCD Or CMOS, Which Is Better?


    CCD Chip                 CMOS Chip

The Ongoing Discussion CCD Or CMOS,

Which Is Better?

This debate has raged on now for years and still the world remains divided.

Why is that?  Basically it comes down to speed or quality!

First let’s educate you, the image sensor on the camera is the camera component which captures light and begins the process of turning it into a digital image. To do this the manufactures have developed different processes using two types of sensors:

1)  CCD (charge coupled device) Invented in the late 60’s.

2)  CMOS (complementary metal oxide semiconductor). Invented in the early 70’s.

Now this is where the debate starts, which of these two do you choose?  This depends on your application requirements.  But before we jump to conclusions lets do a little background on each technology and what each offers.

CCD Sensors

  • Every individual pixel's charge is transferred through an output node, which is then converted into an electrical signal.
  • The signal is then buffered and sent as an analog signal.
  • The pixels can be devoted to light capture and therefore the image quality is usually quite high.
  • The transferred signal goes through most times a single node really slowing down this process.

CMOS Sensor

  • Every individual pixel performs its own charge-to-voltage conversion and the sensor also performs amplification and noise-correction.
  • The sensor also includes digitization circuits which allow the chip to output information in a digital format.
  • Each pixel must perform its own conversion, thus uniformity (image quality) is reduced.
  • The area devoted to light capture is reduced and the data transfer rate is much quicker.

Now some of you prefer CMOS with lowered quality and higher speed, whiles others prefer CCD with increased quality and decreased speed. And then you have yet another group who look at additional factors, such as, production costs and power consumption.

Production costs for both types of sensors are very similar, really not worth getting into, but there are some differences worth noting.

  • CMOS sensors sometimes require additional support chips to optimize image quality, which may increase the camera unit cost.
  • CMOS sensors are great for devices that require speed and low power consumption
  • CCD sensors excel in image quality and low light performance.

And one final thing I should point out is many security camera systems utilizing CMOS now feature built in IR filters which bolster the cameras performance and enhance the visibility and quality of the image.

In Conclusion

It really depends on what you want your security camera to do.

Do you want better image quality and light sensitivity?  Then go with CCD.

If you want speed and lower power consumption?  Then go with CMOS.

Note: There are some cameras out there which have both sensors in them, but the problem is you either have to use them for speed or quality; you can not use the sensors in unison, you can not gain the speed of one sensor and the quality of another. When you setup your camera you will need to specify which type CCD or CMOS as the default sensor, advantage with having two sensors is you have the flexibility to switch from one sensor to the other.

Our preference is CMOS. Mainly because these sensors are more prevalent in IP Security Cameras and they are equipped with built in web servers and communicate using the IP protocol over CAT5 cabling. These cameras tend to be very affordable and are great for applications which require web based video streaming. They allow ease of use and are accessibility 24/7/365.

This opinion is not meant to convince you into purchasing our MPcam F-series MPF – 7018 which uses the CMOS sensor, but meant to educate you as to what each type does and offers.

We hope you found this useful, but in the end this discussion will remain divided your either pro CCD or pro CMOS.  The only thing which will end this debate is when someone comes out with a new solution which will better either application. 

Until then, do your homework and know before you buy what it is you want and what you can afford.

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