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Foveon 1/1.8" X3 Image Sensor

By dpreview staff on Jun 21, 2004 at 18:03 GMT

Foveon has today issued a press release announcing the F19 1/1.8" Type CMOS 'Direct Image Sensor'. This press release essentially puts a name to the sensor to be used in the Polaroid x530 digital camera which was announced at PMA. As with previous X3 sensors the F19 captures three individual colors (red, green and blue) for each pixel location, in this case 1440 x 1080 x 3 layers. Hence this new chip is being labelled as a '4.5 Megapixel CMOS Direct Image Sensor'. This sensor is also designated to be used in the new HanVision HVDUO-5M digital camera which is aimed at industrial, scientific, medical, and communications applications.

Press Release:

FOVEON INTRODUCES THE FIRST SMALL FORMAT FULL-COLOR IMAGE SENSOR

4.5 Megapixel Direct Image Sensor Brings Revolutionary Patented Foveon X3 Full-Color Technology to Medical & Science Applications
Captures Color Like Film in 3 Layers

Santa Clara, CA, June 21, 2004 – Foveon Inc., a technology leader of award-winning high-quality digital camera image sensors, announced today the availability of the Foveon F19 sensor (FO18-50- F19), a 1/1.8-inch 4.5 Megapixel CMOS direct image sensor that incorporates Foveon’s breakthrough X3 technology to directly capture color in three layers, just like film. The company also announced that the F19 image sensor has been designed into the HanVision HVDUO-5M digital camera for industrial, scientific, medical, and communications applications.

Advanced Design of Foveon X3 Direct Image Sensor

The F19 direct image sensor employs Foveon’s unique X3 stacked-pixel design. Each stack of pixels contains a red, green, and blue pixel, eliminating the need for color interpolation and blur filters which are required for conventional CCD and CMOS image sensors. Color interpolation is used by CCD and CMOS image sensors to estimate the missing color information inherent in these image sensors, which only have a single layer of pixels. Blur filters are also used in CCD and CMOS image sensors to eliminate the color artifacts, which are introduced as part of the color interpolation. The Foveon X3 F19 direct image sensor avoids these image quality compromises by utilizing the X3 stacked pixel design. As a result, the Foveon X3 F19 sensor delivers the highest degree of full color, image sharpness, and artifact-free color detail possible with a 1/1.8-inch image sensor.

Variable Pixel Size Technology

The new Foveon F19 sensor also features Foveon’s powerful VPS (Variable Pixel Size) technology. VPS groups neighboring pixels together to form larger pixels that are optimal for high frame rate, reduced noise, and dual mode still/video applications. Other advanced Foveon F19 features include low fixed-pattern noise, ultra low power consumption, and integrated digital control.

New Camera for Scientific and Industrial Markets

Foveon also announced today that the F19 direct image sensor has been designed into the HanVision HVDUO-5M, a digital camera designed for industrial, scientific, medical and communications applications. Boasting 30-bit digital color output, real-time color processing, support for still and video sensor scan modes, and a CameraLink interface, the HanVision HVDUO-5M was made for applications needing exact color detail and flexible readout options. The camera is compatible with a wide range of C-mount optics and frame grabbers. It includes an automatic internal dark-frame shutter mechanism and controls for synchronized illuminators for flexibility in exposure control.

Current Line of Digital Cameras Using the Foveon X3 Direct Image Sensor

  • Sigma SD9 – The first digital camera to use the Foveon X3 F7 direct image sensor. The 10.2 megapixel image sensor won awards and accolades in the photography community.
     
  • Sigma SD10 – The first camera to incorporate the Foveon X3 F7N. The 10.2 Megapixel F7N direct image sensor is the second generation X3 image sensor, which increased the ISO range from 100 to 800, and added an extended mode option to ISO 1600. In addition, exposure durations were increased to 30 seconds for better low-light photography – important for the pro market.
     
  • The Polaroid x530, (available in September 2004), - will be the first point & shoot consumer digital camera to showcase the new F19 chip with Foveon X3 technology. Affordably priced at only $399, the Polaroid x530 has a modern retro look with the advanced Foveon sensor inside.

About Foveon X3 Direct Image Sensors

Foveon X3 image sensors are the world’s only direct image sensors, which capture red, green, and blue light at every pixel location, and are the first image sensors that leverage silicon’s inherent color separation property. When silicon is exposed to light, blue light is absorbed near the surface, green light is absorbed in the middle, and red light is absorbed deep within the silicon. Pixel sensors are stacked at the corresponding depths within the silicon so that red, green, and blue light is captured for each pixel location.

Other image sensors on the market such as CCD and CMOS image sensors have only one layer of pixels and use colored filters to capture a single color per location, resulting in color artifacts and image blurring. Foveon X3 technology is highly scalable for a wide range of cameras including digital still/video cameras, PDAs, cell phones, security cameras, and scientific cameras.

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