Pre-Photokina 2000: Colorado MicroDisplay have today introduced their new QVGA viewfinder LCD, designed to be used as a "TTL viewfinder" for digital cameras without the use of prisms and mirrors, the LCD operates in much the same way as the main LCD on the rear of the camera but with the advantage of a true TTL view at eye-cup viewfinder sizes. (Sony have already made use of such technology in some of their Mavica digital cameras)

Press release:

Colorado MicroDisplay Introduces QVGA Microdisplay Viewfinder Module for Mobile Digital Imaging Products


Module Offers Many Times the Capability and Performance of Existing

Viewfinders and LCD Displays -- These Include: Better Image Quality, Larger Image Size, Lower Power, Compact Size and Low-Cost High-Volume Production

Colorado MicroDisplay, Inc. (CMD) today introduced the CMD3X2A QVGA microdisplay electro-optic viewfinder module for the next generation of mobile digital imaging products.

This small full-color, full-motion video viewfinder module enables digital cameras and camcorders to deliver very high image quality preview capabilities for accurate viewfinding as well as stunning image review capabilities. CMD will market its solution under a new campaign called the "X-factor'' due to the improved performance over current direct-view LCD display technology in digital still cameras. Features of the viewfinder module include:

  • 3X more pixels than direct-view displays delivering stunning image quality through CMD's patent-pending reflective display architecture
  • 3X better fill factor per pixel for smoother nonpixelated images (93% versus 33% fill factor per pixel)
  • 5X larger effective image area than direct-view displays (image area is 13.88" diagonal vs. 1.8'' diagonal via a 20-degree diagonal field of view lens)
  • 100% WYSIWIG electronic viewfinder experience versus optical viewfinders (especially well suited for zoom requirements)
  • Up to 2X longer battery life than direct-view displays
  • Up to 30X greater contrast ratio compared to direct-view displays (up to 100:1 versus 3:1)
    5X smaller mechanical dimensions
  • Nonproprietary flexible optical, electronic, and mechanical configurations to suit a variety of OEM design capabilities
  • Comprising the electro-optic module are the display, illumination, electronics, optical and mechanical sub-components.


The CMD3X2A QVGA microdisplay operates on a meager power budget of under 15 mW (display only) and delivers unlimited color depth (16.7+ million colors). The CMD3X2A display utilizes CMD's patent-pending Dynamic Nematic Liquid Crystal on Silicon(TM) technology to deliver refresh rates of up to 120 Hz (360 color fields per second) for rock-solid still images and support for full-motion video. Its reflective pixels (93% fill factor) overcome the pixelation, high power consumption, and low optical efficiency found in transmissive microdisplays and LCDs -- thereby delivering end users with virtually seamless images while consuming less power.


Included in the CMD3X2A viewfinder module is a state-of-the-art, high-image-fidelity illumination system. The system is comprised of a light mixer, LED assembly, and CMD's second-generation illumination controller, the CMD3XLB. Tight integration of these components deliver extremely high performance, high efficiency, and generous electro-optic performance, such as 100:1 contrast ratio and brightness exceeding 30 fL (foot lamberts).


An analog interface is supported between the image processing ASIC and the module. Power consumption of the module is 75 mW, which includes the display, illumination, and drivers. Interconnection of the CMD QVGA microdisplay to system electronics is achieved through an industry standard ZIF-compatible connector.


The CMD3X2A module is a configurable optical reference design platform that contains the complete set of optical elements required to deliver exceptional image quality to the consumer. Included in the optics package are polarizing films, diffusing films, illumination optics and imaging optics. The combination of these deliver an image size equivalent to an 11.1" H x 8.3'' V at 1 meter, 20-degree diagonal field of view, exit pupil of 6 mm, and eye relief of 18 mm.


A fully configurable, light (14 g), compact (26 mm H x 22 mm W x 22.8 mm D), rugged and easily manufacturable mechanical housing has been designed to integrate the display, illumination, optics and electronic components. The housing is designed to be constructed of impact-resilient polycarbonate material to ensure long-term durability.

"Unlike competitive offerings, CMD's reference design has been partitioned to enable OEMs/ODMs to accept one, several or all of the elements for a complete turnkey viewfinder module. OEMs/ODMs are not locked into a proprietary system solution, rather each OEM/ODM can select the elements that best suit their development capabilities,'' said Jim St. Jean, Digital Imaging Market Manager at CMD.

The CMD3X2A QVGA module reference design is now available and can be licensed from CMD via one of its worldwide distribution partners.

Additional Key Features and Benefits of the CMD3X2A Microdisplay System -- Low power, rich-color depth and high refresh rate to match market requirements for the digital imaging market

High refresh rate (up to 120 Hz or 360 colors/second) neutralizes color break-up, flicker, and motion artifacts

High fill-factor (93%) pixel pitch and pixel mirror size combination (12 micron x 12 micron/11.6 micron x 11.6 micron provides high optical efficiency and abrogates pixelation

Flex-lead package with ZIF connector enables small form factor end-user products

Low-power requirements (less than 15 mW display only, 75 mW with illumination and drivers)

Rich-color depth (typically 24-bit) supports the full range of content, including text, still images and full-motion video

CMD3X2A QVGA Microdisplay Chipset Evaluation Kit -- To assist OEMs in their design-in process, CMD offers the CMD3X2A Chipset Evaluation Kit. The kit includes everything necessary to evaluate and integrate the QVGA microdisplay solution, from the input side of the equation to the creation of images on the display. All of the necessary elements required to do both a qualitative and quantitative assessment are included in the evaluation system:

  • Viewer
  • CMD3X2A QVGA microdisplay
  • CMD3XLB illumination controller
  • Red-Green-Blue (RGB) LED illumination system
  • Image Sources
  • Flash memory for stored images
  • CMOS imager
  • Personal computer video graphics array (VGA) Interface
  • VGA loop-through output
  • Windows® 95/98 and Windows NT-based display evaluation/prototyping software
  • System documentation and cables

Availability and Pricing

  • QVGA Viewfinder Module
  • Reference design currently available for evaluation
  • QVGA Microdisplay Chipset
  • CMD3X2A QVGA microdisplay samples shipping now
  • CMD3X2A volume production begins in Q1, 2001
  • CMD3XLB Illumination Controller samples shipping now
  • CMD3X2A and CMD3XLB chipset price estimated at less than $25 in OEM volumes
  • CMD3X2A QVGA Microdisplay Chipset Evaluation Kit
  • General availability in Q4, 2000
  • Evaluation kit price is $2,500
  • The chipset and Evaluation Kit are available through CMD and its worldwide distribution partners