Acuros® CQD® vs. Sony® IMX990

Why choose Acuros SWIR cameras over those with Sony IMX990 sensors?

The Acuros and Sony IMX990 sensors symbolize the State-of-the-Art for their respective technologies and are market leaders in shortwave infrared (SWIR) imaging. Comparing the performance of these sensors can be a challenge, given the competing technologies’ unique attributes and the differences between SWIR and visible sensors. SWIR Vision Systems® created the tools to make side-by-side comparisons based on publicly available information to benefit vision integrators.

Resolution, Signal-to-Noise Ratio (SNR), and Dynamic Range (DR) are the foundations for exceptional image quality. These characteristics come from various properties of a given sensor, including its Quantum Efficiency (QE), plus conditions derived from the intended application.

The Acuros camera lineup also includes a laser beam profiling option to address the specific needs of these applications. With multiple technologies, including on-sensor optics, to reduce the effects of fringing, Acuros cameras are unique and unrivaled in SWIR laser beam profiling.

When compared to Sony IMX990 sensor-based cameras, the SWIR Vision Systems Acuros cameras offer significant advantages in real-world scenarios for shortwave infrared imaging.

Acuros vs. Sony
Figure 1: The Acuros 1920 offers the SWIR market’s largest FOV, displaying 58% more area than the Sony IMX990 at the same resolution.


The Acuros 1920 offers the SWIR market’s largest FOV, displaying 58% more area than the Sony IMX990 at the same resolution.

Cameras based on the 1.3MP Sony IMX990 sensor may benefit in niche imaging situations from having the smallest pixel size in the industry. For example, in applications where feature size pushes against Nyquist imaging limits, smaller pixels can be useful for achieving higher spatial resolution. However, this benefit comes with tradeoffs including lower SNR and DR.

SWIR Vision System’s Acuros 1920 cameras come armed with an industry-leading 2.1MP resolution. For a given field of view (FOV), Acuros 1920 cameras will match or exceed the imaging plane spatial resolution of the IMX990 in many applications. In situations where the pixel resolution is held constant, the Acuros 1920 camera will reveal a 58% larger FOV versus its competitor (Figure 1).

Acuros vs. Sony
Figure 2: Dynamic Range of SWIR Vision Systems Acuros and Sony IMX990 sensors at 200fps with a 1550nm light source. Using the optimal gain states, the Acuros sensor maintains a significant advantage over the Sony sensor.

Dynamic Range

Acuros SWIR sensors achieve between 8 to 13dB advantage in DR when modeled against the Sony IMX990 sensor

Despite Sony IMX990 sensors having a higher QE than that achieved by Acuros CQD technology, Acuros SWIR sensors obtain greater Dynamic Range (Figure 2). Acuros sensors obtain this by virtue of their increased saturation capacity and lower noise in the respective gain states.

Selecting a vision system for a wide range of signal levels necessitates a high Dynamic Range. In laser beam profiling, the greater DR of Acuros sensors enables a clearer measurement of the intensity profile, facilitating a more authentic characterization. In bright outdoor environments, the higher DR Acuros camera will transform low-light image regions into data-rich scenes while preserving high-intensity signal content.

Acuros vs. Sony
Figure 3: SNR plot of SWIR Vision Systems® Acuros and Sony IMX990 sensors at 200fps with a 1550nm light source. The SNR advantage of Acuros sensors is most pronounced at low irradiances and saturation.

Signal-to-Noise Ratio (SNR)

Acuros SWIR sensors outperform the competition by nearly 10dB when it comes to SNR.

SNR considers both the signal reported by the sensor as well as the lowest signal level the sensor can resolve. Despite having an impressive QE, the smaller pixel pitch of the Sony IMX990 sensor eliminates the perceived signal advantage over the Acuros. The 15µm pixel pitch of Acuros sensors enables higher signal at equivalent irradiances.

Furthermore, the QE-independent read noise of the Acuros cameras is superior to the Sony IMX990-based cameras. Because of the combination of these traits, Acuros sensors outperform the competition by nearly 10dB in the most critical regions for SNR (Figure 3). To illustrate this advantage, 10dB steps in SNR are depicted in Figure 4.

Acuros vs. Sony
Figure 4: Images of a QR code over a range of SNRs. At low irradiances, the impact of SNR on image quality is drastic. Try to scan it with your phone!


The SWIR imaging market has been transformed in recent years with the introduction of both the SWIR Vision System Quantum Dot-based sensor and the Sony IMX990 InGaAs-based sensor. These leading SWIR imaging solutions present system integrators with demonstrable benefits over legacy InGaAs imagers.

Understanding the tradeoffs between these two leading imaging solutions is not always a simple task, but SWIR Vision Systems provides the necessary tools and support to evaluate these tradeoffs directly. The comparisons demonstrate that pointing to singular metrics, such as Quantum Efficiency, can misrepresent image quality when choosing between these competing technologies. Acuros CQD sensors offer a greater pixel resolution, broader Dynamic Range, and superior Signal-to-Noise Ratio across a range of imaging conditions when compared to the Sony IMX990 sensors. The Acuros product line also stands out with the laser beam inspection cameras purpose-built for attenuating interference effects.

Please contact the SWIR Vision Systems Application Engineering team to further discuss performance modeling of your SWIR image sensor applications.