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I think CCD sensors are STILL the best, so I'm selling all my CMOS cameras

CCD Sensor
(Image credit: Sebastian Oakley / Digital Camera World)

This has been on my mind for a while now… I have taken a lot of images on CMOS camera sensors, mostly my whole career in fact as nearly every camera over the last 5 years has been equipped with a CMOS sensor. So why am I wanting CCD sensors back in my life?

It all started with the old, but gold Fujifilm FinePix S3 Pro, based at the time on the Nikon D100 with battery grip. The FinePix S3 Pro took my breath away the first day I shot with it, and it was because of its wonderful Fujifilm SuperCCD SR II sensor that was developed by Fujifilm at the time. And the images it procured where fantastic.

(Image credit: Sebastian Oakley / Digital Camera World)

CCD Sensor

(Image credit: Sebastian Oakley / Digital Camera World)

Three images shot with my Fujifilm FinePix S3 Pro CCD sensor camera (Image credit: Sebastian Oakley / Digital Camera World)

This wonderful camera, despite the quirks, can still to this day produce stunning images with amazing total range that I believe just can't be captured by the latest CMOS technology today. Just take a look at the images above and tell me I'm wrong...

My biggest point about CCD sensors is if they were that bad, why does Hasselblad still make cameras equipped with CCDs? I was lucky enough to use a Hasselblad H5D equipped with a 50 megapixel CCD a while ago and the stills it produced still stay in my mind today, they just produce better colors, give a greater overall look to your images, with no need  for editing or boosting color like many of us do with new CMOS sensor cameras.

How my recent love of the humble CCD was rekindled was by trying out a Leica M9 - a full-frame 18 megapixel camera that is equipped with a glorious CCD sensor that produces colors that I haven't seen since shooting slide film or the Fuji S3 Pro, still not as vibrant, but its very close!

CCD Sensor

(Image credit: Sebastian Oakley / Digital Camera World)

Two images shot with the Leica M9, which also uses a CCD sensor (Image credit: Sebastian Oakley / Digital Camera World)

With this new found love of the M9, and the images it produced I knew there and then I wanted to go back to a CCD sensor, yes CMOS has higher ISO ratings, you can produce higher megapixels etc, etc, but I knew CCD was calling me back and that's what I did, I went back!

Now equipped with my Leica M-E, which is a M9 with a few less features (less is more after-all), I am enjoying taking images again and loving the results it produces. Blues have this deep richness and green are crisp like old Fujifilm Pro 400H film used to look, god rest its soul. 

But thanks to the Leica M-E's 18MP CCD sensor, I've now decided that this is all I need and so my Nikon D800's have to go, they have served me well over the many years of ownership and yes, they do take great photos, but the Leica's CCD sensor takes it better in my eyes, the tonal latitude is more like shooting on Kodak Portra 400, but its digital and saves me a tone of money! 

A CCD sensor just sits better with me, and perhaps I'm living in the past, reminiscing about yesteryear while all you CMOS lovers are laughing at me, but I'm happy with that because I am enjoying my photography, and that's why we all start in the first place, because we enjoy it.

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Sebastian Oakley
Sebastian Oakley

For nearly two decades Sebastian's work has been published internationally. Originally specialising in Equestrianism, his visuals have been used by the leading names in the equestrian industry such as The Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI), The Jockey Club, Horse & Hound and many more for various advertising campaigns, books and pre/post-event highlights.


He is a Fellow of The Royal Society of Arts, holds a Foundation Degree in Equitation Science and is a Master of Arts in Publishing.  He is member of Nikon NPS and has been a Nikon user since the film days using a Nikon F5 and saw the digital transition with Nikon's D series cameras and is still to this day the youngest member to be elected in to BEWA, The British Equestrian Writers' Association. 


He is familiar with and shows great interest in medium and large format photography with products by Phase One, Hasselblad, Alpa and Sinar and has used many cinema cameras from the likes of Sony, RED, ARRI and everything in between. His work covers the genres of Equestrian, Landscape, Abstract or Nature and combines nearly two decades of experience to offer exclusive limited-edition prints to the international stage from his film & digital photography.