Sony unveils the world's highest-resolution smartphone camera sensor

Jul 24, 2018, 03:52
Sony unveils the world's highest-resolution smartphone camera sensor

In short, enhanced images from your smartphone's camera.

Sony introduced its latest CMOS image sensor for smartphones.

48 megapixels takes the sensor to true SLR height but it's more than just about numbers.

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The new sensor boasts 48 effective megapixels which the Japanese manufacturer is labelling the "highest pixel count" in the industry. Sony says the 48MP sensor will rival that of high-performance SLR cameras, making it possible to capture attractive high resolution images with a smartphone. With each pixel measuring 0.8 micrometers, the sensor measure only 8 mm, just large enough for a 1/2-inch type sensor.

Finally, Sony says that this sensor is better placed for HDR capture because it has a four times great dynamic range than other sensors. It could result in poor light collecting efficiency per pixel, accompanied by a drop in sensitivity and volume of saturation signal.

To counter this, Sony talks up its pixel combining technology, which it says equates to 1.6µm at 12-megapixels.

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In many cases, higher resolution sensors are created to enable digital zoom and that's one of the functions that Sony is pushing with its new IMX586 sensor. Sony's 0.8-micron pixels are now the smallest on the market, however its use of a quad Bayer colour filter array helps each pixel coordinate with those that surround it to essentially create a larger pixel. For low-light scenarios, this means that the signal from the four pixels is combined to raise the sensitivity to that of 1.6μm pixels, making for brighter and less noisy shots with an effective 12MP pixel count.

But when shooting in bright scenes (e.g. daytime outdoors), a signal processing function is used to do an array conversion that allows the individual tiny pixels to be used for an ultra-high-res 48-megapixel photo. It's possible that Apple could use this sensor in its future iPhones models.

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