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[-]Cameras General Considerations
CAM Sensor Format0.016 to 1 Megapixel0.36 - 16 Megapixel1 - 5.5 Megapixel
CAM Pixel Size8 to 24 μm3.4 - 9 µm6.5 - 11 µm
CAM Gain1000 a.u. [1]1 [1]1
CAM QE Quantum Efficiency95% (EM gain significantly reduces QE)95%< 72 %
CAM Readout time> 50 fps (> 500 for low pixel EMCCDs) Fast8 - 30 fps[5] Relatively slow [1]> 100 fps , > 1000 for high speed cams, Very fast
CAM Readout NoiseExtraordinarily low (<1 e- rms) [2]Fundamental trait of CCDs, minimized by coolingLow, but eventually relevant for single-photon application [2][3]
CAM Spurious Noise / CIC0.005 a.u. [1][4]0.05 a.u. [1]Usually negligible due to CIC filters [1]
CAM Dark Noise0.001 0.0010.001
CAM EM Noise1.41x with EM gain (effectively halves the QE) [5]--
CAM PriceLess expensive to manufacture than intensified CCDs [10]Cooled CCD cameras can be purchased for under $5K [7]
[-]Camera General Consideration
Binning / Sub-Array

Available for most cameras to increase readout speed, enabling faster frame rates [8]

Available for most cameras to increase readout speed, enabling faster frame rates [8]

Binning unaffectes frame rate by sensor but results in higher frame rate transmission to PC [18]

Often available to increase SNR [8]

Low Light Behavior

High Sensitivity (S/N > 1)
At typically 1-40 photons per px [1]

Outperforms ICCD due to higher QE and lower noise [1]

Ideal for for extremely low light applications ( 40 photons [11]) that require absolute raw senitivity at respectably fast frame rates [5]

Starts to outperform EMCCD and ICCD at higher signals and more photons [1]

Well suited for applications that can afford longer exposure times [6]

Well suited for applications that can afford longer exposure times [6]

Starts to outperform EMCCD and ICCD when the SNR cross-over point is achieved. E.g. over 40 to100 photoelectrons.

Low electronic noise that's nearly one third of most high end interline CCD cameras with nearly 10x the frame rate potential [6]


Most models switchable to CCD to achieve CCD performance at higher signals [1][9]

Single Photon Sensitive [1][10]

Higher QE may enable the EMCCD to outperform the ICCD [1]

Ideal Gain and QE [1][4]

Can deliver highest S/N of all cam types if deep-cooled and at slow readout pixel rate (kHz) [9]

Largest choice of sensor formats available [4]

Ideal for combination of high frame rates, sensitivity, dynamic range, and resolution [5][7][12]

Above the cross-over point more suitable than an EMCCD. [16]

Potentially better temporal resolution compared to EMCCD due to higher acquisition frame rates [11][16]

Larger fields of view compared to EMCCD due to larger chip sizes [5][11]


No nano or picosecond gating (microsecond gating available on some recent interline EMCCD sensors) [4]

Multiplication noise

Limited exposure times [3]

Not single photon sensitive [1]

Limited readout speed due to read noise restraints [4]

Still relatively new technology for advanced low-light scientific applications

Slighly lower SNR performance compared to EMCCD at low light levels up to a 10-photon crossover [13]

Generally Lower detection limit than CCDs [17]

Light intensity captured per pixel is less for the s CMOS with smaller pixels compared with the EMCCD with larger pixels [13]


Faster frame rates and/or ultra-sensitivity [9]

Well for low light levels [1]

Single photon counting

Applications that applications that can afford longer exposure times [6]

For sufficient high light intensity for signal [9]

(Fluorescence) applications that can afford longer exposure times [6]

Lower noise combined with higher frame rates provide higher quality images with shorter exposure times [6]


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