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CMOS camera

CMOS cameras take an image using a CMOS sensor. The term "CMOS camera" is used in the context of industrial cameras, as well as in the context of consumer cameras. CMOS cameras dominate the consumer market, while most industrial cameras are fitted with CCD sensors.

Recently, manufacturers of industrial USB cameras, FireWire cameras and GigE cameras have also started to integrate CMOS sensors into their products. The Imaging Source has started following this trend. They offer both: CCD cameras and CMOS cameras.

CCD camera versus CMOS camera

As recently as a few years ago, only low-end consumer cameras were fitted with CMOS sensors. Quality cameras were exclusively based on CCD sensors.

Meanwhile, the quality of CMOS sensors matches that of CCD sensors. Due to the advantages of CMOS sensors (easy to integrate, power saving and lower price etc.) they even dominate professional DSLR cameras.

The advantages of CMOS cameras

Obviously, it is no accident that CMOS cameras dominate the consumer market and that they are also beginning to conquer the market of industrial cameras. The major advantages are:

  • Price: The main argument for CMOS cameras is their low price. There are two reasons for this. CMOS sensors themselves are low-priced and they are much easier to integrate than CCD sensors.
  • Flexibility: Most CMOS sensors allow the adjustment of their resolution by software. Thus, it is easy to adapt them to their respective application. Additionally, the reduction of the resolution simultaneously boosts the frame rate. The One4all cameras, manufactured by The Imaging Source, even allow the sensitivity of their CMOS sensor to be set.
  • Dimension and weight: The easy integration of CMOS sensors does not only lead to low prices but also to smaller casing and weight.
  • Power consumption: Due to their low power consumption, CMOS cameras are especially suitable for use with USB interfaces. This in turn leads to lower overall costs.

The disadvantages of CMOS cameras

Taking all the above mentioned advantages into account, it is not surprising that CMOS cameras dominate the consumer market. However, the CMOS sensors used in this market have two disadvantages in the context of industrial cameras:

  • Rolling shutter: The vast majority of CMOS sensors only offers a rolling shutter. It only exposes the sensor line by line. Therefore, the image of moving objects is skewed.
  • Availability: The advances in the development of CMOS sensors are amazing. The flip side is short product lifecycles. This should be taken into account, if a machine vision system is to be fitted with CMOS cameras.

Important: In the meantime, the manufacturers of CMOS sensors have discovered the market of industrial cameras. Thus, they now provide the first CMOS sensors that have a global shutter and long product lifecycles.