New Sony Back-illuminated CMOS camera

Sony announced a new camera today that features a 42 megapixel back-illuminated CMOS sensor. I’m not that interested in the camera, but the sensor sounds pretty intriguing. No back illuminated CMOS sensors have yet made it to the scientific imaging world that I’m aware of, but we’ve all been eagerly awaiting them. It’s not clear how well a monochrome version of this Sony sensor would perform for microscopy, but the prospect of a back-illuminated CMOS sensor is pretty tantalizing. The other sensor that Sony announced, a back-illuminated, stacked sensor, also looks pretty interesting, although I understand the details less well. As far as I can tell there are no data sheets for the sensors themselves.

While trying to learn more about these sensors, I also came across this interesting page from Chipworks, comparing sensors in different Nikon cameras and their specifications.

3 thoughts on “New Sony Back-illuminated CMOS camera

  1. Tucsen and Q Imaging already use SONY first generation back illuminated CMOS sensors for their scientific camera, Tucsen is the Discovery and runs their propriety software no SDK to make alternative drivers, has less the 3 e- readout noise and decent quantum efficiency. Q Imaging sells the rolera bolt which uses their SONY Exmor CMOS back illuminated sensor as well. Sensor info (https://pro.sony.com/bbsccms/assets/files/cat/camsec/solutions/E_CMOS_Sensor_WP_110427.pdf). The Exmor technology uses per-column A/D converters to reduce read noise, while real sCMOS sensors use much more advanced and doubled A/D conversion system to get even lower noise and high dynamic range (which isn’t available for the IMX sensor). So Discovery M15 is not a real sCMOS camera. However, I use them in my lab and I have to tell you the Tucsen camera can be purchased for about $400-600 in both monochrome and color versions (1MP color, 1MP monochrome, and 3MP color) and the image quality is stunning and they work beautifully for fluorescence, short acquisition time and gain control is comparable to a camera that costs about $6-10,000. However, if you need to integrate over long periods of time, these cameras are not ideal for you unless specific drivers and new softwarethat could be made for these cameras. also, the read noise is quite low (3e) and for some reason Tucsen or QImaging (Rolera Bolt) pushed cheap cameras with this sensor tagged as scientific CMOS. The IMX035 sensor can usually be found in relatively cheap machine vision cameras as well (USB3 and USB2 Point Grey cameras for example). The Tucsen Discovery uses slower read mode, to get that low read noise, and its phenomenal considering the cost. Also speed is great. Full frame at 25-30 fps is not a push at all, and you can bin and go faster 60-70 fps. The sensitivity of this chip is outstanding! I would love to try these next generation Exmor chips for scientific imaging. Watch out, the prosumer market is slowly but surely going to achieve standards that may exceed the scientific market based on speed of the technology, watch out Andor, Q Imaging, and Photometrics. This is something to reckon with if you ask me, and SONY is leading the way. They are going to knock Nikon off the prosumer professional camera pedestal shortly with their technology and new developments!!

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