The STARVIS series of CMOS images sensors from Sony are extremely popular because of its low-light sensitivity and NIR (near infrared) capabilities. All the sensors in this series are also based on the back-illuminated pixel technology. Compared to front-illuminated image sensors, they allow more light to fall on the photodiodes – unobstructed by wirings or circuits, which helps to capture images in low-light conditions with greater details.
The Sony STARVIS series has image sensors starting from 1080p to all the way up to 61.2 mega-pixel in resolution. In this blog, we shall look at the similarities and differences between three of them – IMX290, IMX327, and IMX462.
Key similarities between IMX290, IMX327, and IMX462 sensors
Before we see what makes these sensors different, let’s understand their commonalities. All three sensors have a maximum resolution of 1080p (Full HD), and they are of the same size, i.e., 1/2.8-inch (6.46 mm diagonally). Moreover considering they are pin-to-pin compatible, one can be replaced by another easily in the design without any changes.
Differences between Sony STARVIS IMX290, IMX327, and IMX462
Now that we understand the similarities, let us look at the differences between the three sensors along three different factors:
- G sensitivity
- Frame rate
- Near infrared (NIR) imaging performance
One of the main parameters that measures the low-light sensitivity of Sony image sensors is G sensitivity. Higher the G sensitivity, better is the low light performance. The G sensitivity of IMX290, IMX327 and IMX462 are 5486, 10741 and 10741 digits, respectively. It’s clear that IMX327 and IMX462 have the same G sensitivity (higher than the IMX290). So, if low-light sensitivity is a key requirement, then either IMX327 or IMX462 would be a better pick compared to IMX290.
Frame rate should be strongly considered while choosing between these three Full HD Sony STARVIS sensors. It’s because high frame rate is a critical feature for capturing fast-moving objects. Both IMX290 and IMX462 sensors support 120 fps, whereas IMX327 supports only 60 fps. Hence, if your application requires a frame rate higher than 60 fps, then obviously IMX290 and IMX462 are the ideal options.
Near-Infrared (NIR) imaging performance
NIR imaging performance is one of the most crucial features for smart surveillance, smart traffic monitoring, and agricultural applications. Though all Sony STARVIS image sensors come with great NIR sensitivity, IMX462 has the most superior NIR performance of the three. In fact, it has almost twice the NIR sensitivity at 850nm and 940nm NIR wavelengths when compared to IMX290 and
IMX327. So, if your application needs the highest possible NIR sensitivity, you can choose IMX462 right away!
Summary of major features of IMX290, IMX327 and IMX462 sensors
|Max resolution (H x V)||1920×1080||1920×1080||1920×1080|
|Size (diagonal mm)||6.46||6.46||6.46|
|G sensitivity (digits)||5486||10741||10741|
|Frame rate (fps)||120||60||120|
|NIR sensitivity (850 nm) *||~0.5||~0.5||~1|
*Please note that NIR sensitivity is not represented in actuals but in relative terms which suggests that NIR imaging performance of IMX462 is better than the other two sensors comparatively.
Finally, as you may already be aware, the price of the sensor plays a pivotal role in the selection process. IMX462 is the costliest option, given its superior sensitivity in visible and near-IR lighting conditions. Among the other two, IMX327 is the more expensive choice. Hence, if you are very cost sensitive, IMX290 would be a better pick.
If your application needs visible and NIR light sensitivity, IMX462 is the most preferred sensor. But you must bear in mind that it is costlier than IMX327 and IMX290.
If NIR performance is not required, it’s a tight call between IMX290 and IMX327. If low-light sensitivity is important to your application, then clearly IMX327 wins the race. And IMX290 is the way to go if you are looking to support 120 fps – or a frame rate higher than 60 fps – since IMX327 supports only 60 fps.
- e-CAM220_CUMI327_MOD – Full HD Sony® STARVIS® IMX327 ultra-lowlight camera module
- e-CAM221_CUMI462_MOD – Full HD Sony® STARVIS® IMX462 ultra-lowlight camera module
- e-CAM21_CUMI290_MOD – Full HD Sony® STARVIS® IMX290 ultra-lowlight Camera Module
- See3CAM_CU27 – Sony® STARVIS™ IMX462 ultra low light USB 3.1 Gen 1 camera
Suresh Madhu is the product marketing manager with 16+ years of experience in embedded product design, technical architecture, SOM product design, camera solutions, and product development. He has played an integral part in helping many customers build their products by integrating the right vision technology into them.