When searching for the right digital camera for your needs, you will undoubtedly have some questions about the camera's image sensor - CMOS vs CCD?
As an introduction to the subject, there are two basic types of image sensors in digital cameras. And there has been much discussion about which is better over the years. This discussion goes back as far as 1970 when the development of image sensor technology began. Even at the outset of the image sensor, CMOS vs CCD was a major point of contention. At that point, and for the next couple of decades, the CCD sensor was the better of the two.
The problem was that it used much more energy than the CMOS sensor. This simple fact, plus the fact that the CMOS chip was much less costly to produce, lead to a higher interest in the development of CMOS technology.
Now, you will see that both are still produced, but without a doubt, there are many more cameras being produced with CMOS image sensors. Check out the high-end models in the Canon and Nikon line. The Canon 1D Mark IV, 7D, 60D, and Rebel T3i are all equipped with CMOS sensors, as are the Nikon D3, D7000, and D5100. Other manufacturers are also favoring the CMOS sensors over CCD sensors. Where you will still find CCD sensors is in some of the point and shoot models. For instance, the Canon G12 and Nikon P7100 both have CCD sensors.
It has been mentioned that there is an advantage for using CCDs in compact cameras, and it has nothing to do with the quality. It has everything to do with the convenience of using an electronic shutter, which the more advanced models do not have.
This brings up another point when comparing CMOS vs CCD. Rather than comparing the type of sensor, you really need to consider the overall product. Check the review of the experts. They will compare apples to apples and give you the bottom line on the quality of, not only the image sensor, but the whole digital camera package. This is much more valuable than a single part of the camera.
Questions about comparisons sometimes do not even make sense. For instance, some will wonder if the CCD image sensor in a Canon PowerShot S95, which is one of the highest rated digital compacts available in today’s market, is better than the CMOS image sensor in a Canon Rebel T3, a new beginner DSLR or vise versa. One must look a little deeper than the type of sensor here. The S95 has a 10-megapixel sensor that approximately 7.49 x 5.52mm, and the T3’s 12-megapixel sensor is 22.2 x 14.8mm. Many people will concentrate on the difference in megapixels, but this comparison is negligible with a difference of only 2-megapixels.
The real difference is in sensor physical size, which in this case is a whopping 800% in favor of the lowly Canon Rebel T3 (lowly only in the sense that it is Canon’s lowest model DSLR).
On a final note, the comparison of image sensor, CMOS vs CCD, if done with total objectivity, should lead you to the conclusion that either one will yield amazing image quality. But also keep in mind that technology for still digital cameras has focused on the development of the CMOS sensor more than the CCD sensor. All of the shortcomings of the early years favoring the CCD technology have been addressed and improved.
You should not make your camera choice based on a single feature. It should be based on the unit as a whole.