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.

Will We Be Saying Good-bye To Traditional CCD and CMOS Sensors Anytime Soon?

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

Graphene-based image 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

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)

organic CMOS

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.

  • MnemeM

    I actually prefer my camera fleshfree I must admit. 😀

    • Todd Gardiner

      Yes, a fix of that typo would be helpful.

      • http://www.diyphotography.net/ udi tirosh

        great catch, hope it at least made you smile

      • Todd is serious

        Helpful to whom? I don’t think anyone out there is running scared because they now think their cameras are actually made of flesh.

  • Lago

    Flash free camera would be awesome!

    • Kay O. Sweaver

      For some things yes, but controlling light is what makes many of the best photographs what they are. Flash isn’t going anywhere, but needing less powerful flashes or even using continuous lighting would be pretty cool.

  • David Shepherd

    This may get to video cameras first. Hollywood and indie film makers would love these.

  • Engi-far

    The organic CMOS sensor coming from Fujifilm and Panasonic boasts a dynamic range of 88dB (about 30 stops).

    When will tecnical reporter knows what’s difference between News and Hoax???

    Double DR is **NOT** merely multiply first DR by 2.

    Please try to get true knowledge about DR .. please

  • Emaad

    If its true than DSLRs time is over now. For medium format cameras it will be fine again. During transition from film to digital lots n lots of Camera pollution/junk was created due to marketing people strategies. If medium format cameras can build backs for their cams than why not SLRs could do. I feel same thing will happen again. Medium format cameras will get an Organic sensor back and DSLRs have to retire to OSLRs 😉

  • Big Dave

    Does anyone remember how long it took for the transistor make it into the mainstream electronics ? The marketplace will dictate !

  • JoeSmokie

    I don’t understand your premise that camera manufacturers would trickle this out slowly. As long as the mounts can stay the same *or* an adapter can be created to utilize current mounts I don’t see the companies holding back for fear of alienating their current customer base. If the product is truly revolutionary then the market will understand and the customers will flock to the device. (i.e. Apple OS X) Problems happen with the product forces a change but is crappy: Company takes a PR hit and backtracks and hopes to survive. (i.e. New Coke)

  • David

    Your maths is wrong. Divide by six, not three. 88 dB is less than 15 stops. And that’s a theoretical limit. In practice it’s probably about 12 stops. We already have cameras with that much dynamic range. The press release is more hype than substance.