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Getting to grips with our Back Illuminated CMOS Image Sensor

Over half of our Facebook community that took part in our recent poll voted the Back Illuminated CMOS Image Sensor as their favourite function on our new COOLPIX range. Thanks to everyone who took part; we’re always interested to hear what you think!

With these results in mind, we decided to take a closer look at the Back Illuminated CMOS Image Sensor to let you know exactly what it does and how it does it.

Simply put, the Back Illuminated CMOS Image Sensor increases the amount of light that each pixel receives. This helps improve sensitivity, reduce noise and deliver better performance in any light. These sensors change the positioning of a wiring layer to reduce light loss, which gives an increase of light sensitivity and a reduction of noise recorded on the image.

While you still get good images with a conventional sensor, we wanted to show you the difference using a Back Illuminated one makes, so we caught up with Nicolas Gillet, Nikon Europe Product Manager, to help explain further.

A picture of the Conventional CMOS design vs Back Illuminated CMOS sensor design
Conventional CMOS design vs Back Illuminated CMOS sensor design

Image © Nikon / I AM Nikon

“The image above shows a conventional CMOS design on the left compared to a Back Illuminated CMOS sensor design on the right. The conventional CMOS design has the metal wiring layer (the blue square) positioned above the photodiode layer (the brown square).”

“Due to the positioning of the metal wiring layer, some light is reflected and therefore is lost. The Back Illuminated CMOS sensor however, has the metal wiring layer positioned below the photodiode layer * which means light is not reflected and lost. Due to this design the photodiodes receive more light and the sensor is able to produce higher quality images in dark or low light scenes.”

Have you found your Back Illuminated CMOS Image Sensor useful? If it’s helped you to take some great shots, why not share them on our Flickr page? If you have any tips on how to get the most out of your COOLPIX then do let us know.

You can see the benefits of the Back Illuminated CMOS Image Sensor in the two photos below, both shot in low light conditions.

A picture of a church with the Nikon COOLPIX S8200.
Image taken with a Nikon COOLPIX S8200. Image © Nikon / I AM Nikon

A picture of the inside of a church with the Nikon COOLPIX S8200.
Image taken with a Nikon COOLPIX S8200. Image © Nikon / I AM Nikon

* The Photodiode layer is where the light energy (the image being shot) is converted to electrical energy (the digital image on the camera).

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