Sony to stop CCD production, DS photographers in panic

In two years Sony will stop CCD production and stop shipping after 2020. This news was quite normal for machine vision industry, but on astrophotography forums it spread bit of havoc and panic... yet there is nothing to fear, as CMOS can handle it easily...

Since a long time many vendors developed and produced CMOS sensors. CMOS market is now bigger than CCD and it will grow, while CCD will decline as an old technology. In the past years CMOS sensors had a lot of image quality problems when compared to CCD but nowadays many CMOS sensors have no problem and can offer very good performance in terms of read noise, shutter speed or quantum efficiency.

CMOS are easier to design, fit to given task/needs, required electronics is also simpler, some of it can go on the sensor itself. This and other advantages were the key to CMOS rise. Now Sony has very good Pergius CMOS sensors, while CMOSIS can offer mono CMOS sensors with up to 35 mm diagonals (like in Atik 11000).

CMOS based cameras rule planetary imaging of 2015. In DS imaging CMOS are not seen, no one dared to make such camera. Sooner or later we will see some for sure. SBIG was very Kodak/TrueSense Imaging oriented and I wonder if they use their CMOS too (not very ground breaking). QSI/FLI like to make more quality/luxury product so may resist using that laughed at CMOS ;) Atik, QHY or maybe even SX that use a lot of Sony CCDs may be more likely to try new CMOS quicker than others.

Most of the CMOS market won't offer big pixels and big diagonals. A lot of sensors will be quite small with very small pixels. For DS imaging such sensors are barely usable with telescopes (would give very high resolution - like if you would use Barlows with nowadays big pixel DS cameras). Some niches, like those filled by CMOSIS products will however provide a nice set of sane sized pixels.

I also wonder if specialized technologies like sCMOS will popularize and go down with prices. Probably we will have to wait till patents expire. Very low read noise will allow to more efficiently photograph fain objects or to just shoot many short exposed frames instead of few long (for the same total time).


Astronomy and Astrophotography, 2 March 2015, Piotr MaliƄski

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