Canon rumor: CCD is dead, long live CMOS

The sensor king is dead! Long live the king!A rumor has been posted on, yes, CanonRumors that Canon will be ditching the CCD imaging sensor it uses in pro-level digital camcorders for the CMOS chips it currently uses in its digital SLR still cameras.

The sensor king is dead! Long live the king!

A rumor has been posted on, yes, CanonRumors that Canon will be ditching the CCD imaging sensor it uses in pro-level digital camcorders for the CMOS chips it currently uses in its digital SLR still cameras.

The rumor:

Canon is working on a pro video camera that has a 1x APS-C CMOS sensor able to capture up to 120hz or full frames a sec. Fab specs show 12.1MP. The body will be similar to that of the XL H1 with an EOS mount fully manual controls. Canon is working on 2 lenses for the system launch that have quick video AF motors and be compatible with Instant AF like their current video line. One will be a wide starting at 16mm and the other will be a tele zoom starting at 70mm.

While I can’t directly comment on the dSLR video modes being restricted, I believe they are lowering the options for this system to be launched sometime in 2010.  Other specs on the firmware of the camera are: 720p 60,30 1080p, 24, 30 and 60. EF and EF-S lens compatibility including Teleconverters. Will not work with Sigma as the mount communication protocol is somewhat changed, those lenses will have to be sent in for an updated firmware. Tamrons seem to be unaffected or at least not mentioned.  The video format will be a flavor of MPEG 4 with a roof at 56Mbits/sec. Work is being done on a video RAW format that will be 12bit only, and will need a special IO module separate from the default package.

While no pricing has been set, they target under 8k for the base system with the 16mm WIde and 4k or more for the IO module with uncompressed SDI Out and USB 3.

CCD, or charge-coupled device, sensors were for years the choice for digital imaging, and found their way into many popular cameras. CMOS, or complementary metal–oxide–semiconductor, are the newer kid on the block, but have taken over the entry-level dSLR market.

The difference between the two sensors has traditionally been the following: CCDs tend to be used in cameras that focus on high-quality images with lots of pixels and excellent light sensitivity; while CMOS sensors traditionally have lower quality, lower resolution and lower sensitivity (but less expensive and better battery life).

So if Canon indeed swaps CCDs for CMOS, that signals that CMOS sensors have reached parity with CCD devices, at least for digital video cameras.

You'll note that the rumor mentioned APS-C sized CMOS, the sensor you can find in your entry-level Canon Rebel. Both CanonRumors readers and Gizmodo note that the Red One has long used a CMOS chip to record 4k video, and Canon uses a CMOS in its popular Vixia handheld camcorder.

But with CMOS popularity gaining traction each day -- heck, dSLRs can shoot 1080p HD video now -- it can finally be said, assuming the rumor is true: CCD is dead.

Prosumers out there, what say you?

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