ERS Sensors White Paper | Sentera Commercial Drones, Sensors + Software for Precision Agriculture

ERS Sensors: Addressing the Misconceptions & White Paper

What’s the deal with ERS sensors?

As a supplier of drone cameras we are commonly asked about the shutter technology of our various sensor products, specifically whether our cameras use a global or electronic rolling shutter (ERS). We offer both varieties, and each has its own benefits, but spend much of our time addressing fears and misconceptions related to ERS sensors.

No need to fear ERS sensors

In short, ERS sensors can exhibit motion-related distortion that global shutter sensors will not. Historically, this distortion could be blamed for unattractive photos, jello in video clips, or errors when trying to use a collection of photos to create a stitched mosaic.

Because of this, many drone operators have understandably learned to fear rolling shutter sensors and the distortion they present, often avoiding them altogether. They shouldn’t.

Here’s why:

First, because of their small size and high resolution, ERS sensors are the ideal choice for many drone photography and videography applications.

Small-format ERS sensors are offered with 12 megapixel resolution and higher, while the global shutter variants typically max out around 2 megapixels. Their small size allows the use of compact, lightweight lenses and minimizes required drone payload capacity while maximizing flight time.

Second, the magnitude of the ERS-related distortion is a direct function of the readout speed of the sensor being used.

Faster readout speeds mean less opportunity for motion and therefore less distortion in your imagery. As with any technology area, camera sensors are constantly being improved and have seen a 6X or more improvement in readout speed in the last 3 years. So, while it is true that several years ago ERS sensors were the likely culprit for poor imagery, that is not true today.

White Paper: Addressing ERS Misconceptions

I recently wrote a white paper that goes into further depth and analysis to quantify the expected distortion. However, the proof ultimately lies in the ability of ERS sensors to deliver the same quality imagery as their global shutter counterparts.

The Sentera Double 4K, equipped with two 12-megapixel ERS sensors, is an excellent demonstration of this. The Double 4K equipped on various drone platforms consistently provides accurate, low-distortion imagery that can be reliably stitched into a 2D mosaic or 3D point cloud.

So, if you’re new to drones and considering your options, or you’ve used ERS sensors in the past with little success, please read the white paper to learn which questions to ask and what to consider when selecting your sensor technology and camera. Depending on your application parameters, it is likely you will find that latest generation ERS sensors are the best, most effective option.

Download White Paper


Written by Ryan Nelson, Chief Mechanical Engineer for Sentera