Bayer Area Scan Color Cameras compared to 3-CCD Color Cameras, part 2

Posted by Gretchen Alper on Thu, May 16, 2013

With advances in filters, color processing, and overall sensor control by experienced camera designers, the shortcomings for single chip (Bayer filter mosaic) color cameras compared to 3-chip prism-based color cameras have nearly been eliminated.  We have compared the different technologies with regards to image quality and color fidelity.  Here we will compare with regards to costs and design.  For most outdoor applications, such as global security systems and intelligent traffic systems, the color accuracy achieved from Bayer area scan cameras is more than sufficient and the simplified camera design offers overall system advantages. 



The greatest strength of single chip cameras compared to 3-chip is the optical simplicity.  There is no prism required and standard lenses can be used.  This means lower costs for both the optics and the camera. 

For 3-CCD cameras, specialized optics are required as standard C-mount lenses won’t work and will result in aberrations.  The camera and the lens required are more expensive. 


Robust Design

A 3-CCD solution is very bulky as a beam splitter is relatively large and heavy. Also, the three sensors need to be aligned very accurately (um level).  This is technically complex and the camera performance is very sensitive to shock, vibration, and temperature.  Only with precise alignment is the color fidelity maintained.

With a single image sensor camera, there is no bulky beam splitter.  The 3 colors are always perfectly aligned because it is done on the sensor. 

3 CCD misalignment


For many global security applications, such as UAVs, UGVs, or high-end surveillance, a single chip solution has many advantages over 3-chip solutions The weight, power, and size are lower and the alignment is not affected by extreme environmental conditions. The sensitivity and image quality are excellent for identification and tracking purposes. 

High-end cameras for broadcast applications still use 3-chip solutions for the ultimate performance.  They can deal with bulky cameras, as they want the best sensitivity. 

For many vehicle-based situational awareness systems, the monitors that are used are not state-of-the-art. A broadcast quality (3-CCD) does not make sense and a rugged design is far more important.



The advantages of a single chip rather than 3-chip color camera are lower costs, smaller size, and simpler design.  The single chip solution also suffers from less alignment issues and sensitivity to varying temperature and vibration.  So in general, single-chip cameras are the better option when any of these design constraints or environmental conditions are present.











Color Fidelity
















Related Blogs:

Bayer Area Scan Color Cameras Compared to 3-CCD Color Cameras, part 1

In-Camera Color Processing from a Mosaic Color Filter Array, e.g. Bayer

The Pros and Cons of Color Processing with Machine Vision Cameras 

Color Images in Machine Vision - Advantages of In-Camera Processing

Advantages of In-Camera Image Processing:  How Camera Technology Makes a Better Picture, part 2 

Topics: Image Quality Improvements