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Which CMOS Sensor Is the Right One for My Application?
CMOS sensors have largely replaced their CCD counterparts in image processing. The more modern technology has developed very quickly in recent years, with Sony--as one of the major manufacturers of CMOS sensors--playing a significant role. The IMX-series models are among the sensors most frequently used in industrial cameras. This text explains the main differences between the various IMX model series from Sony, which are also known as Pregius, STARVIS and Pregius S.
Just a few years ago, CCD technology made up by far the largest share of sensors in cameras for industrial image processing. At that time, CMOS sensors were considered a promising but not yet mature technology in which even experts did not see any immediate serious competition to the established CCD sensors.
One of the reasons for the high image quality of IMX sensors is a special technology from Sony called Exmor, in which the noise-reduced analog signal recorded by the sensor is converted into a digital signal directly when the pixels are read out. This approach distinguishes IMX sensors from those of other manufacturers and not only improves noise performance, but also enables higher frame rates.
Frontside-illuminated (FSI) compared to backside-illuminated (BSI) sensor
Users are often looking for an adequate CMOS replacement for cameras that have comparable characteristics to CCD technology. For reasons of economy, it makes sense to select cameras with a CMOS sensor that requires the least possible adaptation of the existing lighting and optics. The formats of the Pregius sensors resemble those of earlier CCD cameras to a greater extent than the STARVIS series and are therefore more suitable for applications in which this argument is particularly important. For example, the 5 MP IMX264 and IMX250 variants of the Pregius series can function excellently as replacements for the widely used ICX625 CCD sensor. Cameras equipped with the ICX824 CCD sensor can be replaced with little effort by models with the 8.9 MP Pregius versions IMX267 and IMX255, without having to make major adjustments to the optical setup of the system.
STARVIS sensors, on the other hand, offer a clear cost advantage over the Pregius series. If the objects to be inspected do not have to be recorded in motion, the rolling shutter of STARVIS-based cameras is of little consequence. Due to their very small pixel size, these sensors also allow higher resolutions with a smaller sensor, but this must be considered when selecting the optics.
As the world's most important sensor manufacturer, Sony has committed itself to CMOS technology, thus heralding the end of the era of CCD sensors and cameras. The technical features of the first four IMX generations--Pregius, STARVIS and Pregius S--offer developers and users in numerous fields of application, such as industrial image processing, extensive options in terms of available resolutions, speeds, and functions. Due to continuing further developments, it can be assumed that the next sensor generation will offer even more extensive technical capabilities.
Find out more about Basler cameras with IMX sensors from Sony.