Will We Be Saying Good-bye To Traditional CCD and CMOS Sensors Anytime Soon?
So, you probably read the news, two new sensor technologies were revealed this month, promising everything from flashless cameras (flash as in light popping device, not as in memory banks) to organic sensors that can one day overcome mankind.
While these are both revolutionary, I doubt we'll be seeing one of these in our cameras soon, the other one? not sure, may be a tad quicker.
Here is what I think about the new kids in town. Those, of course are my own thoughts, and if you think I am wrong, feel free to hit me in the comments.
The Low Light Wizard - The Graphene Sensor
The Graphene sensor, developed in NTU in Singapore, sounds almost too good to be true, it is about 1,000 more sensitive to light, uses only 10th of the power and has a predicted cost of only fifth of the current sensors. Awesome, right?
I am not sure it is going to be that smooth of a ride, but I don't think it will have to do with technology.
Here is an interesting bit, on their announcement the NTU said that:
“While designing this sensor, we have kept current manufacturing practices in mind. This means the industry can in principle continue producing camera sensors using the CMOS (complementary metal-oxide-semiconductor) process, which is the prevailing technology used by the majority of factories in the electronics industry. Therefore manufacturers can easily replace the current base material of photo sensors with our new nano-structured graphene material.”
While this sounds great and hints on possible fast adaptation it put the camera makers in a tight spot. If they go ahead and start mass producing cameras with this sensor, their existing line customers will feel betrayed, and all their second hand gear value will plunge. So I think we may see this coming in, but in a very slow pace. First, very high end cameras, costing a zillion dollars. Then over 5-6 years this will drip down to consumer level cameras. I would not hold my breath for this to be at a 5D or D800 level cameras for the next five years (gosh, I hope I am wrong here).
Secondly. we have no idea how good is the image quality from these sensors. I may be wrong here, but I have yet to see an actual photo taken with this sensor. all the coverage on the media have the same photo of the same guy holding a piece of translucent material. Time will tell.
The Dynamic Range Master - The Organic CMOS
The organic CMOS sensor coming from Fujifilm and Panasonic boasts a dynamic range of 88dB (about 30 stops). This is one heck of dynamic range. I think we will see this coming rather sooner than later to a camera body near us. Here is why:
- Dynamic range is measurable and can be displayed as a number. but it has not yet become a new megapixel race. I think camera makers marketing dep. will start putting this number on the boxes of new cameras (remember those huge 5MP bold text on old camera boxes? I think this will happen with dynamic range soon).
- The announcement came from Fuji and Panasoic which are camera makers and not research institutes. Why would they make a statement now? I think they are priming the market and creating buzz.
- Last and not least, the PR had a thick clue about production readiness when it said: "sensor technology has cleared reliability tests involving the application of stress such as temperature, humidity, electrical voltage and light, paving the way for the use of the organic CMOS image sensor in a wide range of applications"
- What do you know, there is also already an image taken with this sensor. Which means it has some sort of development kit (even if internal to the developers)
I would love to hear your take on this. Do you think any of those will be coming soon? no? It could be a great discussion.