Understanding CCD & CMOS Camcorder Image Sensors

When considering digital video cameras, you will need to take a look at the image sensors. The image sensor is the most important device inside your digital camera, which is responsible for converting the light which enters the camera into electrical signals which can then be stored on the memory cards inside your digital camera. If your digital camera didn't have an image sensor, then it would be impossible to use it.

There are two main types of image sensor which can be used in digital cameras. These include CCD and CMOS Sensors. While CCD is the more popular technology, there's no reason you should completely ignore CMOS camcorder image sensors.

What Is a CCD Sensor?

A CCD is a type of image sensor which stands for Charge Couple Device. These convert the light into an electrical signal which can then be recorded on your camera. They work in a similar way to solar cells, which are capable of detecting the light.

CCDs are made in a unique way which allows them to send signals through the chip without worrying about distortion. This creates a high quality sensor, which is used in almost all digital cameras and digital camcorders.

What Is a CMOS Sensor?

CMOS is another type of image sensor, which stands for Complimentary Metal Oxide Sensor. These might not be as detailed as a CCD sensor, however, there are a number of advantages. CMOS chips are made in a much cheaper way than CCD sensors. These use a similar production technique as traditional microprocessors. This means that they are much cheaper to produce.

Anothor major advantage of using CMOS Sensors is that they are capable of working with less power. A camcorder which uses a CMOS sensor should have much better battery life.


A CCD Sensor normally produces much higher quality images and so is normally used on high end camcorders and digital cameras. A CMOS Sensor will normally produce a video which is subject to more noise. The reason for the difference in quality is because each pixel of a CMOS sensor is located close to a number of transistors. This means that the sensors are less sensitive to light. CMOS consumes 100 times less power than CCD sensors. A CCD consumes much more power and so the battery life of the device will be much lower.

CMOS Chips are much easier to produce as they can be made on almost any silicon production line without any major changes. This means that they are much cheaper to make and should also be cheaper to run. All camcorders will either need to use a CCD or CMOS sensor to capture the video. Most current cameras will be using CCD sensors.


As CCD Sensors have been mass produced for longer they are much higher quality. It's only recently that CMOS sensors have been starting to improve their quality.

In the near future, it should be possible to buy high quality CMOS sensor cameras which will have much better battery life.