In this work, we consider optimal design of Modal Power Distribution (MPD) based fiber optic sensors and compare power-meter and CCD camera based techniques for strain measurements. To the best of authors' knowledge, majority of the power-meter based MPD sensors use a single photo detector, and there is only one known work where two photodetectors are used with no optimization on photo-detector locations. Optimal measurement location selection problem and comparison of power-meter and CCD camera based sensor measurements were both addressed in this work. Based on our experimental data, more than 100% increased sensitivity is observed in the newly designed optimal strain sensor. It was also shown that there is a fixed nonlinear relationship between CCD based and power-meter based fiber optic sensor measurements. This allows estimation of power-meter measurements utilizing CCD camera images, which in turn simplifies the optimal detector location selection problem.© (2011) COPYRIGHT Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers (SPIE). Downloading of the abstract is permitted for personal use only.