Pages: [1] 2   Go Down

Author Topic: A 1/1.7 CDD sensor vs. a full frame CMOS sensor  (Read 37093 times)

Edalongthepacific

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 118
A 1/1.7 CDD sensor vs. a full frame CMOS sensor
« on: July 18, 2012, 10:10:08 pm »

It is hard to wrap my brain around the fact that my small camera has a 7.6mm x 5.7mm CDD sensor and my larger camera has a full frame 36mm x 24mm CMOS sensor that is 20 times bigger yet not nearly 20 times better at producing quality images. I believe that the only difference in digital images is the number of pixels and the ability of the camera to deliver the most suitable color for each pixel (post-production aside). Is this true?
Logged

BernardLanguillier

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 13983
    • http://www.flickr.com/photos/bernardlanguillier/sets/
Re: A 1/1.7 CDD sensor vs. a full frame CMOS sensor
« Reply #1 on: July 19, 2012, 04:17:45 am »

It is hard to wrap my brain around the fact that my small camera has a 7.6mm x 5.7mm CDD sensor and my larger camera has a full frame 36mm x 24mm CMOS sensor that is 20 times bigger yet not nearly 20 times better at producing quality images. I believe that the only difference in digital images is the number of pixels and the ability of the camera to deliver the most suitable color for each pixel (post-production aside). Is this true?

No, it is not.

You are leaving aside key sensor characteristics like Dynamic Range (probably the most important of all), Signal to noise ratio in mid tones, blooming behavior, ability to stream its output with sufficient speed and without heating (live view), long exposure noise,...

Cheers,
Bernard

Edalongthepacific

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 118
Re: A 1/1.7 CDD sensor vs. a full frame CMOS sensor
« Reply #2 on: July 19, 2012, 03:53:49 pm »

Tell me more, the part after the... Also what is the difference between dynamic range and tonal range? Thanks
Logged

BarbaraArmstrong

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 288
Re: A 1/1.7 CDD sensor vs. a full frame CMOS sensor
« Reply #3 on: July 19, 2012, 06:51:19 pm »

If one starts, as you did, with the assertion that the only difference between digital images (and by extension, the different sensors of your thread topic) is number of pixels and color rendition, then I would suggest you start by understanding dynamic range and signal-to-noise ratio, and leave other aspects aside for now.  There have been extensive discussions of these subjects on this discussion board.
Logged

ErikKaffehr

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 11311
    • Echophoto
Re: A 1/1.7 CDD sensor vs. a full frame CMOS sensor
« Reply #4 on: July 20, 2012, 12:49:18 am »

Hi,

The article below says it all:

http://theory.uchicago.edu/~ejm/pix/20d/tests/noise/

In general, a larger sensor can record more photons. That translates into less noise, or better signal to noise ratio.

Best regards
Erik

If one starts, as you did, with the assertion that the only difference between digital images (and by extension, the different sensors of your thread topic) is number of pixels and color rendition, then I would suggest you start by understanding dynamic range and signal-to-noise ratio, and leave other aspects aside for now.  There have been extensive discussions of these subjects on this discussion board.
Logged
Erik Kaffehr
 

Edalongthepacific

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 118
Re: A 1/1.7 CDD sensor vs. a full frame CMOS sensor
« Reply #5 on: July 20, 2012, 02:27:39 am »

Well, I think my point is being missed here. A 13 megapixel image has 13 megapixels whether it is taken with a $6000 camera or a $200 camera. The color of each pixel is chosen, for better or worse, by the camera and lens. If the perfect color is chosen for each pixel a perfect picture is the result. It does not matter what the dynamic range of the sensor is if the operator selected the wrong exposure. The picture is the sum total of camera and lens, style aside.
Logged

marcmccalmont

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 1780
Re: A 1/1.7 CDD sensor vs. a full frame CMOS sensor
« Reply #6 on: July 20, 2012, 03:02:27 am »

Well, I think my point is being missed here. A 13 megapixel image has 13 megapixels whether it is taken with a $6000 camera or a $200 camera. The color of each pixel is chosen, for better or worse, by the camera and lens. If the perfect color is chosen for each pixel a perfect picture is the result. It does not matter what the dynamic range of the sensor is if the operator selected the wrong exposure. The picture is the sum total of camera and lens, style aside.
Your forgetting about physics, the larger the sensor area (or photo site area) the more photons that it can capture in a given amount of time, so in general the larger the sensor the lower the noise and the greater the overall DR and IQ. If this were not the case point and shoots would create prints as nice as MFDB and we know this is not true. Dynamic range is different than exposure, it does matter, until the latest sensors no matter the exposure you could not capture what the eye can see in a single shot. I would suggest as others more reading on the subject.
Marc
Logged
Marc McCalmont

NikoJorj

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 1082
    • http://nikojorj.free.fr/
Re: A 1/1.7 CDD sensor vs. a full frame CMOS sensor
« Reply #7 on: July 20, 2012, 05:33:41 am »

If the perfect color is chosen for each pixel a perfect picture is the result.
Alas, this valley of tears ain't no perfect world, is it?  ;D

There are multiple reasons not to record that "perfect" color, some inherent to the way light is spreading the information belonging on one pixel on its neighbours giving blur or color fringes (see eg http://www.normankoren.com/Tutorials/MTF.html to delve into the matter), others due to the unpredictable amount of noise added to the information when the sensor gathers light (see the excellent article by Emil Martinec linked above in Erik's message) ; and let's let aside the problems inherent to color theory and color reconstruction by now.
Logged
Nicolas from Grenoble
A small gallery

Edalongthepacific

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 118
Re: A 1/1.7 CDD sensor vs. a full frame CMOS sensor
« Reply #8 on: July 21, 2012, 12:40:16 am »

Well, am saying that, artistic rendering aside, image quality is a function of the selection of pixel color. The only difference between the output of a $300 sixteen megapixel digital camera and a sixteen megapixel flagship DSLR is the instrument's selection of color for each pixel. Obviously a large sensor with considerable dynamic range will produce a better image than a small sensor with a limited dynamic range, but ultimately, it is the instrument's selection of a color for each pixel of the output file that defines quality.
Logged

BernardLanguillier

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 13983
    • http://www.flickr.com/photos/bernardlanguillier/sets/
Re: A 1/1.7 CDD sensor vs. a full frame CMOS sensor
« Reply #9 on: July 21, 2012, 12:45:12 am »

Well, am saying that, artistic rendering aside, image quality is a function of the selection of pixel color. The only difference between the output of a $300 sixteen megapixel digital camera and a sixteen megapixel flagship DSLR is the instrument's selection of color for each pixel. Obviously a large sensor with considerable dynamic range will produce a better image than a small sensor with a limited dynamic range, but ultimately, it is the instrument's selection of a color for each pixel of the output file that defines quality.

Great, you have found a great way to save tons of cash that none of us DSLR users had thought about!

Cheers,
Bernard

marcmccalmont

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 1780
Re: A 1/1.7 CDD sensor vs. a full frame CMOS sensor
« Reply #10 on: July 21, 2012, 01:33:26 am »

some times I wonder if Michael logs in under different names, makes silly posts just to get our goat?
Marc :)
Logged
Marc McCalmont

Keith Reeder

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 253
    • Capture The Moment
Re: A 1/1.7 CDD sensor vs. a full frame CMOS sensor
« Reply #11 on: July 21, 2012, 02:22:33 am »

"image quality is a function of the selection of pixel color"

So that's it, then? Just colour?

Noise doesn't matter, dynamic range doesn't matter (so shadows can look like crap, highlights can blow into featureless blobs of 255/255/255), sharpness doesn't matter, detail doesn't matter?

I dunno - are you being deliberately provocative, Ed? Pretty much every significant improvement to camera technology in the last few years that directly impacts on image quality, has related to one or more of the parameters I mention - none have played directly to "colour".   

If you really believe what you're writing, then man! You need to get out more...
Logged
Keith Reeder
Blyth, NE England

Chris Pollock

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 206
Re: A 1/1.7 CDD sensor vs. a full frame CMOS sensor
« Reply #12 on: July 21, 2012, 05:36:52 am »

Well, am saying that, artistic rendering aside, image quality is a function of the selection of pixel color. The only difference between the output of a $300 sixteen megapixel digital camera and a sixteen megapixel flagship DSLR is the instrument's selection of color for each pixel. Obviously a large sensor with considerable dynamic range will produce a better image than a small sensor with a limited dynamic range, but ultimately, it is the instrument's selection of a color for each pixel of the output file that defines quality.
In one sense you are correct. If two images have the same number of pixels, the only difference between them will be the quality of the pixels. The larger, more expensive camera will usually produce better pixels for a number of reasons:

Less noise. You can think of noise as a random difference between the recorded brightness of each pixel and its "correct" value. The smaller sensor will generally have more noise, so the pixels will deviate more from their correct values.

Better dynamic range. Limited dynamic range can make it impossible to accurately capture both the brightest and darkest areas of an image with a single exposure. If you make the exposure long enough to capture the detail in the shadows, the highlights will be recorded as pure white. If you make the exposure short enough to preserve the highlights, the detail in the shadows will be lost amongst the noise. A larger dynamic range reduces this problem, although all current sensors (and the human eye) will have difficulty with some scenes.

A reduction in various other artifacts (blooming, etc.) which I don't know enough about to comment on.

Larger pixels allow you to use a narrower aperture before diffraction starts to blur the image. Some small, high pixel count cameras are limited by diffraction even with the lens wide open.

On the other hand, smaller sensors do have one advantage - more depth of field for a given aperture and field of view. This can also be a disadvantage if you want a shallow depth of field for artistic reasons.
Logged

Edalongthepacific

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 118
Re: A 1/1.7 CDD sensor vs. a full frame CMOS sensor
« Reply #13 on: July 21, 2012, 04:18:23 pm »

Very well said. Thank you all.
Logged

scooby70

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 489
Re: A 1/1.7 CDD sensor vs. a full frame CMOS sensor
« Reply #14 on: July 21, 2012, 07:13:20 pm »

In general, a larger sensor can record more photons. That translates into less noise, or better signal to noise ratio.

I've never really understood or agreed with that view.

No matter what size the sensor is the number of photons which are recorded at each individual pixel (assuming for a moment for easy of argument that pixels are all the same size no matter what size the sensor) will be the same regardless of sensor size. All the larger sensor does is receive more photons in the area which is beyond the physical area of the smaller sensor.

Imagine a brick wall facing the sun, each brick illuminated equally. Now draw two squares on it, one within the other and each enclosing a number of bricks. The larger square will capture more light but the quality and strength of the light falling on each brick is exactly the same. Bricks / light outside of any square we draw can not alter the amount or quality of light inside of the square. You could prove this by nailing a light meter to each brick. Adding or removing bricks will not affect the light meter readings on other bricks. How could it.

Back to our sensor... The size of the pixel must matter to the signal to noise ratio and other aspects of image quality as must the physical make up of the track and its length to the A/D converter / other components. The other clever electronic and algorithms must also matter. The problem we have when comparing different sized sensors is that there are other differences than sensor size. Pixel size varies, the basic design of the chip varies with some having on board A/D and some having off board A/D, the length of track varies, the shape of tracks varies, firmware varies etc...

But wait... we do have some cameras that have a crop mode... If we take a FF shot and then engage the crop mode will DR and noise automatically get worse? I don't know for sure because I've never done it but I suspect that all would remain the same as all we are doing is throwing away or not capturing photons beyond our image just like we do when we crop an existing image.

Back to the original question. The size of pixels must matter but it's more than that. The design of the chip and circuit beyond pixel size must matter as must the programming. The whole chain must contribute to the final image quality.
Logged

scooby70

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 489
Re: A 1/1.7 CDD sensor vs. a full frame CMOS sensor
« Reply #15 on: July 21, 2012, 07:19:06 pm »

If this were not the case point and shoots would create prints as nice as MFDB and we know this is not true.

But the compact camera sensor has teeny tiny pixels and was made for 3p from a design someone did on a fag packet whilst the MFDB has massive pixels and was lovingly designed by a huge team of hand picked guys with a big budget. No wonder it's better.
Logged

marcmccalmont

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 1780
Re: A 1/1.7 CDD sensor vs. a full frame CMOS sensor
« Reply #16 on: July 21, 2012, 07:47:34 pm »

Actually if you read the technical discussions on this site both photosite size and total sensor area affect the IQ of the total Image
Remember DxO is only rating the pixel quality not the quality of the sensor as a whole. It's not just resolution but as the size of the sensor increases the total noise decreases and the total DR increases.
Too often we evaluate a 100% crop and forget about the entire image. Per pixel my D800E is the highest IQ camera that I have, but per picture my IQ180/Rodenstock HR's is superior.
Marc
« Last Edit: July 21, 2012, 07:51:46 pm by marcmccalmont »
Logged
Marc McCalmont

scooby70

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 489
Re: A 1/1.7 CDD sensor vs. a full frame CMOS sensor
« Reply #17 on: July 21, 2012, 08:15:45 pm »

Actually if you read the technical discussions on this site both photosite size and total sensor area affect the IQ of the total Image

How can this be true though? How can total chip area affect the image and if it is true we'll see a drop in IQ when we crop an image by switching off / masking off an area of the sensor. I see no drop in IQ when I crop an image and I wouldn't expect a FF camera with a built in crop mode to give lower IQ in that mode.

Personally, until someone demomstrates to me is person that chip size in itself affects IQ I probably wont belive it :)

PS. My background is about thirty years of computing and wider electronics repair and technology products manufacturing, not cameras :) That may make my views invalid :) but I'll wait to be convinced :)
Logged

Keith Reeder

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 253
    • Capture The Moment
Re: A 1/1.7 CDD sensor vs. a full frame CMOS sensor
« Reply #18 on: July 21, 2012, 08:36:22 pm »

Personally, until someone demomstrates to me is person that chip size in itself affects IQ I probably won't believe it :)

Does a big window let in more light than a small window?

That's a perfect - if somewhat simplistic - analogy for the big sensor/small sensor question: other things being equal, more light hitting the sensor equals better SNR equals better IQ.
Logged
Keith Reeder
Blyth, NE England

Chris Pollock

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 206
Re: A 1/1.7 CDD sensor vs. a full frame CMOS sensor
« Reply #19 on: July 22, 2012, 03:56:42 am »

No matter what size the sensor is the number of photons which are recorded at each individual pixel (assuming for a moment for easy of argument that pixels are all the same size no matter what size the sensor) will be the same regardless of sensor size. All the larger sensor does is receive more photons in the area which is beyond the physical area of the smaller sensor.

This thread was about comparing sensors with the same number of pixels and different sizes.

Sure, if sensor B has 1/4 the area and 1/4 the pixel count of sensor A, and both are built with equivalent technology, the per-pixel quality should be about the same. However, sensor A will have double the resolution, assuming that the lens is adequate. Photos from the larger sensor will show less noise and other artifacts for a given print size.

Back to the original question. The size of pixels must matter but it's more than that. The design of the chip and circuit beyond pixel size must matter as must the programming. The whole chain must contribute to the final image quality.
That's pretty much stating the obvious, and I don't think anyone could disagree with it. Size matters a lot, but obviously it's not the only thing that matters. For example, I would expect the best micro four-thirds sensors to produce better images than an old full-frame sensor like the one in the Canon 1Ds. It would be an interesting comparison if anyone has access to the relevant cameras.
Logged
Pages: [1] 2   Go Up