How does your iPhone’s shutter work?

cmos, ccd, iphone shutter, iphone camera

Ever wonder how the shutter in your iPhone’s camera works? Photographer and animator Raymond Sirí has created an animated visualization that shows how a CMOS sensor works. It’s the same type of photo sensor that’s found in iPhones, iPads, and other mobile devices.

Unlike a film camera, there are no moving parts to an iPhone’s shutter. So, how do digital cameras like iPhones capture a single moment in time?

Sirí created two animations which show how CMOS and CCD sensors work and how they use different means to capture an image. Both were created for a trial against Canon Inc.

rolling shutter effect, iphone camera, iphone photo
iPhone photo showing distortion caused by the “rolling shutter” effect

A CMOS (Complementary Metal–Oxide–Semiconductor) active pixel sensor (like the one in your iPhone or iPad) moves down the sensor, capturing pixels one row at a time. The video illustrates how this “rolling shutter” effect works. In iPhone photography, this effect may show up as a distortion in moving objects. If you’re lucky, it can look pretty cool — see my sample image above.

Here’s the visualization he created showing how a CMOS sensor works;

CMOS Animation Sequence from Raymond Sirí on Vimeo.


On the other hand, a CCD (Charge-Coupled Device) sensor captures the entire image at once — more like analog cameras. These are usually found in higher-end cameras. Here’s the video he created that shows how CCDs work.

CCD Animation Sequence (Full HD 15-25Mbps) from Raymond Sirí on Vimeo.


Via and Petapixel

About Marty Yawnick 1830 Articles
Marty is a self-employed graphic designer in the Fort Worth/Dallas Metroplex. He is an avid Rangers baseball, Chicago Cubs, Packers and Highbury Arsenal fan. In addition to capturing random moments with whatever camera is close by (usually his iPhone), his other interests include coffee, Pink Floyd, film, music, and traveling in seats 5E and 5F with his fiancé.
  • I tried to keep this post pretty basic. Please jump in here and expand upon how digital camera shutters work. =M=