camera sensor Stories July 29, 2015

Samsung reduces camera sensor thickness by 20% in quest for slimmer smartphones

Samsung has begun mass-production of a new 16MP camera sensor a full 20% thinner than existing modules, allowing slimmer devices without “bumps” and without compromising on quality, says the company.

Built with 1.0μm pixels, Samsung’s new 16Mp image sensor reduces the module’s overall height by 20 percent, compared to current 1.12μm-pixel based 16Mp sensor modules. Enabling a module z-height that is less than 5mm, the S5K3P3 offers designers the ability to develop a mobile device with minimal camera protrusion without compromising on resolution.

Smaller pixels usually means more ‘noise’ in photos, especially in low-light conditions, but the company says that the inclusion of physical barriers between pixels – something Samsung calls ISOCELL technology – dramatically reduces noise. It claims that ISOCELL allows it to deliver image quality on a par with 1.12μm-pixel sensors.

Samsung says that the new S5K3P3 sensor is available to mobile device manufacturers from today; bets on it appearing in the forthcoming Galaxy S6 edge+ and possible the Galaxy Note 5 – it gets its current flagship phone cameras from Sony.

camera sensor Stories August 2, 2013

More details emerge on Moto X’s Clear Pixel sensor – and why you should care

Motorola told us yesterday that the Moto X has a “10MP Clear Pixel (RGBC)” camera, and now Engadget has a little more info on this.

It’s the OmniVision OV10820, a 1/2.6-inch sensor with a video-friendly 16:9 aspect ratio and large 1.4-micron pixels. Its strong low-light performance comes through a two-chip approach. The sensor captures RAW images using a sensitive RGBC (red / green / blue / clear) color filter, and a companion chip automatically converts the resulting shots into the Bayer format that most imaging processors expect. The result is a high-performance camera that slots inside the Moto X without requiring any special effort.

RAW images allow a sensor to capture greater ‘dynamic range’. Picture a bright sunny day with a tree casting a shadow. With most sensors, either the shaded area would appear solid black or the surrounding area would appear too bright. RAW allows a sensor to retain detail across both bright and dark areas.

And the size of the pixels? These are again important for image quality, especially in low-light conditions. There has been a tendency for manufacturers to cram more and more pixels into a given sensor size, knowing that most consumers think a higher megapixel number has to mean a better camera. In practice, it can mean the opposite as the quality of indoor photos suffer because the pixels are too small. A larger physical sensor size enables larger pixels and better quality.

1.4 micron pixels are larger than most smartphone cameras, but not exceptional in todays high-end handsets. It’s larger than the 1.12 micron in the standard Samsung S4, the same as the S4 Zoom and iPhone 5 – but not as large as the 2 micron pixels in the HTC One.

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