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One of the technical changes spurring the market is the three-chip camera. Scientific imaging applications for use in diagnostic equipment are finding huge advantages with 3CCD technology, says Gary Pitre, Eastern Regional Sales Manager for Toshiba Imaging Systems Division (Irvine, Calif.). “The color information provides a tremendous amount of data that cannot be recognized with single-chip cameras,” he says. “In the laboratory, for example, pathologists are viewing human cells and tissue with more color accuracy than ever before, giving them a new advantage in their work.”
There are far fewer 3CCD camera manufacturers than there are single-chip suppliers in today’s market. The technology is much more specialized and thus more expensive, even though the price has come down in recent years.
“Single-chip area scan cameras use a single sensor that is covered by a color filter with a fixed, repetitive pattern,” Pitre explains. “To reconstruct a complete color image, an interpolation is needed. The red, green and blue information is interpolated across several adjacent cells to determine the total color content of each individual cell, therefore providing less color accuracy than 3CCD (Fig. 2).
Three-chip CCD cameras contain three separate image sensors and a prism that divides the incoming light rays into their red, green, and blue components. Each chip then receives a single color at full resolution, providing the best color accuracy available (Fig. 3).”
Toshiba Imaging Systems Division has focused primarily on 3CCD cameras for the scientific imaging, broadcast, factory automation and industrial video markets. Although the applications requiring 3-chip color camera technology are far less demanding than the traditional single-chip cameras, they are gaining popularity in many vertical industries.