IHS iSuppli's research shows that the 311 earthquake in Japan is impacting the production of CMOS image sensors at two factories in Japan, affecting the production and distribution of cell phone cameras.

Toshiba's Iwate image sensor factory has been shut down. It produces logic chips and CMOS image sensors for mobile phone cameras. Similarly, Sony's CMOS image sensors for mobile phone OEMs have also delayed shipments.

According to IHS iSuppli's preliminary estimate, Toshiba is the fifth largest supplier of mobile phone image sensors in the world in 2010, accounting for 13.1% of global sales. Sony ranked sixth with a market share of 3.9%. Last year, the two companies together accounted for 17% of global mobile phone digital camera image sensor sales.

Although the production and distribution of CMOS image sensors have been affected, the supply of CCD, another major image sensor technology, appears to be unaffected, at least in the short term. Japanese suppliers such as Sony, Panasonic, Fujifilm, Sharp and Toshiba control the global CCD market.

Due to the higher image quality, CCDs are commonly used in digital cameras. On the contrary, lower-cost CMOS sensors are mainly used in mobile phones and other products. For these products, shooting is a secondary function.

Hua Jing and Canon Enterprises are Taiwan's digital camera manufacturers and OEM for major Japanese brands. The two companies stated that there has been no shortage of CCD supply from Japan in the near future. Canon's 90% of CCD devices come from Sony, and Huajing's 70-80% of CCD devices come from Sharp. Sharp's Japan CCD factory is far from the hardest hit, and Sony's CDD factory is located in Thailand.

Therefore, CCD supply should not be a problem in the short term. However, in the long term, the situation may change because the upstream material supply of the CCD manufacturer may be in a situation where it may face transportation and power problems.

Due to the impact of the earthquake, Japanese digital camera brands such as Panasonic, Canon and Nikon were forced to close some of the high-end production lines of digital cameras in Japan. These companies pointed out that since their low-end consumer models are mainly produced in factories in China and Thailand, or outsourced to Taiwanese companies, it is not expected that the earthquake will have a serious impact on these products.

Pamela Tufegdzic is a consumer electronics analyst at iSuppli Corporation.