Sony's IMX586 Stacked CMOS Smartphone Image Sensor Packs 48MP Resolution

Sony's IMX586 Stacked CMOS Smartphone Image Sensor Packs 48MP Resolution

Sony's IMX586 Stacked CMOS Smartphone Image Sensor Packs 48MP Resolution

From Sony's press release it's clear the company is making a point to explain that it didn't just increase the pixel count for the sake of being able to brag about this milestone. The company has come up with a new sensor for smartphones. It also offers the world's first ultra-compact pixel size of 0.8 μm. It seems that Nokia's original vision of a high resolution sensor to provide more information for imaging software to chew on is coming full circle and that modern handsets might work on similar, if not identical, lines.

Sony says it has created the highest pixel count sensor for a smartphone with its new IMX586 sensor. The pixels measure in at just 0.8 microns, which will be the smallest on the market when the sensor begins sampling this September.

Is it best to have a high-resolution smartphone camera or a lower-resolution one with better light sensitivity? 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. In low light situations, such as shooting at night, the signal from the four adjacent pixels are added, raising the sensitivity to a level equivalent to that of 1.6 μm pixels (12 effective megapixels), to capture bright, low-noise photos and videos. In bright light, the built-in signal processing does an array conversion to yield an effective 48 MP image.

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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 is yet unknown when the first smartphones featuring the new Sony IMX586 will start shipping, but we expect manufacturers to start testing it in the last quarter of the year. It's possible that Apple could use this sensor in its future iPhones models.

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