One of the essential features for security cameras is the imaging ability that delivers clear images in dark locations. Sony’s image sensors with STARVIS/STARVIS 2 technology have the sensitivity well above that of the human eye. They deliver excellent performance in the low- illumination monitorings they not only capture the targets in dark places, but even visualize their textures clearly.
Both STARVIS and STARVIS 2 are back-illuminated pixel technology specifically developed for CMOS image sensors for security camera applications. They feature a minimum sensitivity of 2,000 mV/μm2 (color product, when imaging with a light source of 706 cd/m2, F5.6 in 1s accumulation equivalent) and deliver high image quality in the visible light as well as near infrared light regions. STARVIS 2 further offers the wide dynamic range (AD 12bit) of more than 8 dB in a single exposure, wider than the STARVIS pixel of the same size.
*) STARVIS, STARVIS 2 and logo are registered trademarks or trademarks of Sony Group Corporation or its affiliates.
Achieving high sensitivity
Unlike front-illuminated image sensors, the back-illuminated image sensors with STARVIS/STARVIS 2 can collect more light onto the photodiodes unobstructed by wiring or circuits, achieving high sensitivity. (See Fig. 1)
The pixels specially developed for security camera applications can capture clear images in the low light environment, with the details that human eyes and conventional security cameras could not ascertain, such as objects’ colors and shapes and textures. (See Photo 1)
[Photo 1] Performance comparison in low illuminance environment (illuminance 0.08 lx)
Image sensors with STARVIS/STARVIS 2 technology can capture images in the low light environment with details such as colors, shapes, and textures of the objects, which conventional front-illuminated image sensors are unable to.
Type 1/ 2.8, F=1.4, Exp. 1/60s, Frame rate 30 fps, Gain 48dB, With IRCF
Imaging performance in the near infrared (NIR) region
While traditional cameras require the visible light environment for shooting, security cameras may require imaging in the near infrared (NIR) light spectrum. All the existing models of Sony’s image sensors for security come with the high-quality NIR imaging feature, enabling shooting by NIR radiation in complete darkness.
[Photo 2] shows a comparison between images taken under the 0 lx condition: one by visible light type image sensor, and the other by NIR-compatible image sensor.
Sony continues to improve the NIR feature of STARVIS. The new model, IMX585 has been released recently, offering better imaging performance with even lower noise than its predecessors. [Photo 3] shows a comparison of NIR imaging features between the previous and improved versions.Find our products with improved NIR imaging feature in the product list (Select NIR Enhanced).
[Photo 2] Comparison against visible light type image sensor
Under the lighting condition of 0 lx illuminance with 850 nm NIR light, the NIR-compatible image sensor with STARVIS 2 IMX585 can capture not only the shapes of the objects, but also shades and details such as the letters printed on the scale, while the image sensor for visible light cannot produce an image.
Condition : F=1.6, Exp.=33.3msec, Gain=0dB, 850 nm
[Photo 3] Comparison between the conventional and new versions of NIR imaging feature
Condition : F=1.6, Exp.=33.3msec, Gain=0dB, 850 nm
High Dynamic Range (HDR)
Fixed-position security cameras need to adjust themselves to the lighting conditions that change over time and/or by the changes in the environment. If the scene has both too bright and too dark regions at the same time, the bright region may be overexposed while the dark region may be blacked out. To ensure objects in either regions be captured clearly, there is a method to adjust the exposure time or gain to avoid blowout or blackout, called high dynamic range (HDR) feature. (See [Photo 4])
[Photo 4] Blowout reduction using HDR feature
The background is too bright, causing blowout. The target is not discernible.
The blowout effect is reduced. The target color and shape can be discerned.
Currently, there are two types of HDR feature for STARVIS/STARVIS 2: DOL HDR (Digital Overlap High Dynamic Range) and Clear HDR. STARVIS is compatible with DOL HDR only while STARVIS 2 is compatible with both DOL HDR and Clear HDR.
When the DOL HDR feature is turned on, the image sensor captures two images in quick succession, one with a long exposure according to the dark region, and the other with a short exposure adjusted to the bright region. The output data are synthesized in the post processing *1. By synthesizing two images of different exposures, adjusted to the dark and bright conditions, the sensor can facilitate a wider dynamic range than a single exposure image. This method can be employed effectively for capturing still targets. Note, however, that the slight time lapse between the two shots can cause some artifacts, such as chromatic aberration, if the target is in fast motion (see the left image of [Photo 5]).
When the Clear HDR feature is turned on, the image sensor captures two images simultaneously, one with a high gain set to the dark region, and the other with a low gain adjusted to the bright region. The output data are synthesized in the post processing *1. By synthesizing two images of different gains, configured for the dark and bright conditions, the sensor can facilitate a wider dynamic range than a single exposure image. As the two images are shot at the same time by this method, moving targets do not cause artifacts in the resulting image (without chromatic aberration, etc., see the right image of [Photo 5]), suitable for AI processing, etc.
*1) To obtain the final image, the output data must be processed by the camera. IMX585 can synthesize data internally when using Clear HDR.
[Photo 5] Comparison of images with a fast-moving target between DOL HDR and Clear HDR
The two images above illustrate a comparison between DOL HDR and Clear HDR, capturing the same metronome with a moving part. In both images, the details in the bright background and the letter “S” on the metronome placed in the dark area are clearly captured.
However, the illustration attached on the pendulum shows some chromatic aberration in the image taken with DOL HDR. The image taken with Clear HDR does not have chromatic aberration.
Security cameras are widely used for security surveillance at premises of commercial and financial institutions as well as airports.
In crowded areas, security cameras need features such as high resolution and wide angle of view, while for security measures in buildings after the lights are out, the high imaging performance in dark locations is essential.
Sony's high range of image sensors for security applications cater to a variety of needs such as these.
Security cameras are also widely in use to ensure safety on the streets in urban areas.
As the outdoor environment is more exposed to illuminance fluctuations than indoor environments, the camera needs high imaging performance. Sony’s image sensors support day-to-day security through their superior imaging performance that supersedes the sensitivity of the human eye, facilitating nighttime shooting, to which low-noise and high-sensitivity performance is crucial, and reducing over/under-exposed regions in the image shot under complex lighting arrangements involving bright and dark areas.
For road safety, security cameras are used not only for monitoring traffic volumes, but also for identifying traffic congestions, detecting traffic accidents, vehicles driving in the wrong direction, and identifying vehicle registrations. Because these cameras are likely to be installed outdoor, where the conditions such as illuminance are demanding, Sony’s image sensors can deliver great performance with their excellent low-illuminance performance and wide dynamic range.
Demand for Dashboard cameras is growing rapidly. They are used to record the peripheral views of the vehicle in an event of a road incident and, more recently, take visual evidence of a tailgating car or ward off such dashboard cameras image sensors with their high sensitivity and low noise technology, as well as wide dynamic range technology, will ensure that images are captured regardless of daytime or nighttime.
Home security systems
Image sensors are also used to enhance security and safety at home. They can be used for a variety of purposes, including for guarding the house during a long period of absence and keeping an eye on elderly or young members of the family at home. Our image sensors can capture the target in clear images under various outdoor conditions.
Related Products & Solutions
Security Camera Image Sensor
Find out more about image sensors for security cameras.
Provision of STARVIS/ STARVIS 2 logo data
Customers may use the "STARVIS/ STARVIS 2" logo with Sony's approval in the following circumstances only. Before provision of the logo data, a logo usage agreement will be concluded with the customer. Please contact a sales office in your area for details.
Products: customers' products incorporating Sony's CMOS image sensors equipped with STARVIS/ STARVIS 2 technology. Materials/Media: product packaging, catalogs, posters, informational websites and other promotional materials, as well as fixtures at exhibitions (panels, etc.) relating to the above mentioned products
The logo may not be used on the body of a product or in a system (including in application interfaces, etc.).
Sony will conduct a preliminary review before concluding the logo usage agreement. Notification of the results will not be publicized.
Please be aware that Sony cannot comply with customers' requests in all cases.
Sony accepts no responsibility in any matters resulting from use of the logo.
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