Sony redesigns back-lit CMOS for improved smartphone cameras
Sony has developed CMOS designs to offer improved performance on small sensors and is planning three such sensors for smartphones and similar devices. The 'Stacked CMOS' design builds on the backlit CMOS idea by building the light-sensitive photo element on top of the processing circuitry, rather than combining them in a single layer. This creates a greater light-sensitive area while also making more space for processing circuitry. The company has also demonstrated two feaures that use the extra circuitry space of the design.
The first of these features is what Sony is calling RGBW Coding, which appears to be another attempt at including clear (white) pixels in the sensor's color filter array. Sony has already used the idea to create brighter LCD panels and Kodak had previously promoted it for use in sensors (though we don't remember seeing it used).
The concept is to have some photosites featuring no color filter in front of them, so that they are exposed to more light (and therefore are less prone to noise), but lose the ability to distinguish between colors. This promises to improve low light performance but at the theoretical cost of some color resolution.
The HDR Video feature, meanwhile, attempts to boost dynamic range during video capture. Details from Sony are limited, beyond saying that the sensor works by 'setting two different exposure conditions within a single screen shooting' and then processing the different regions accordingly. We have requested more information.
Examples of an 8MP, 1/4" type sensor without either RGBW Coding or HDR video will become available from March 2012 with a larger, 13MP 1/3.06" type sensor following in June and a 8MP 1/4" sensor with both features arriving in August.
CMOS Technology Press release
Sony Develops Next-generation Back-Illuminated CMOS Image Sensor which Embodies the Continuous Evolution of the Camera
Expanding Shooting Enjoyment and Advanced Functionality of Smartphones and Other Devices
Tokyo, Japan - January 23, 2012 - Sony Corporation (“Sony”) today announced that it has developed a new next-generation back-illuminated CMOS image sensor which embodies the continuous evolution of the camera. This image sensor layers the pixel section containing formations of back-illuminated structure pixels onto chips containing the circuit section for signal processing, which is in place of supporting substrates for conventional back-illuminated CMOS image sensors. This structure achieves further enhancement in image quality, superior functionalities and a more compact size that will lead to enhanced camera evolution.
Hereafter, Sony will position it as the next generation back-illuminated CMOS image sensors, and unwaveringly strive to further develop this image sensor and expand its product lineup, thereby contributing to the further development of user-friendly cameras and to shooting enjoyment.
Features of stacked CMOS image sensor
- Large-scale signal processing circuits required for higher image quality and better functionality are built-in
- More compact image sensor chip size
- Even higher image quality of the pixel section by adopting manufacturing processes specialized for superior image quality
- Faster speeds and lower power consumption by adopting the leading process for the circuit section
Background of development
The popularization of smartphones and other devices in recent years has been accompanied by an increasingly diverse use of camera functionality. This has brought heightened demand for more sophisticated cameras, to ensure adaptability to a wider range of scenes and Sony developed this stacked CMOS image sensor to meet such demand. In addition to the higher pixel numbers, superior image quality and faster speeds which conventional image sensors pursued, the newly-developed image sensors further achieve more highly-advanced functionalities and a more compact size, thus paving the way for enhanced camera evolution.
As the first step towards the commercialization of its new CMOS image sensors, Sony has developed a model with built-in signal processing functionality, an element that usually requires external embedment. Samples will be shipped from March, 2012. Accordingly, models have been developed with Sony’s unique “RGBW Coding” function, which facilitates low noise, high quality image capture even in low light condition, and the proprietary “HDR (High Dynamic Range) Movie” function, which achieves brilliant color even when taking pictures against bright light.
About stacked CMOS image sensors
Conventional CMOS image sensors mount the pixel section and analog logic circuit on top of the same chip, which require numerous constraints when wishing to mount the large-scale circuits such as measures to counter the circuit scale and chip size, measures to suppress noise caused by the layout of the pixel and circuit sections, and optimizing the characteristics of pixels and circuit transistors.
Sony has succeeded in establishing a structure that layers the pixel section containing formations of back-illuminated structure pixels over the chip affixed with mounted circuits for signal processing, which is in place of supporting substrates used for conventional back-illuminated CMOS image sensors. By this stacked structure, large-scale circuits can now be mounted keeping small chip size. Furthermore, as the pixel section and circuit section are formed as independent chips, a manufacturing process can be adopted, enabling the pixel section to be specialized for higher image quality while the circuit section can be specialized for higher functionality, thus simultaneously achieving higher image quality, superior functionality and a more compact size. In addition, faster signal processing and lower power consumption can also be achieved through the use of leading process for the chip containing the circuits.
Feature press release:
To be Equipped in First Release of New Stacked CMOS Image Sensors, To Begin Sample Shipment
Tokyo, Japan - January 23, 2012 - Sony Corporation (“Sony”) today announced the development of two CMOS image sensor models designed for use in smartphones and other devices. They are equipped with Sony's unique “RGBW Coding” function which allows images to be captured with low noise and high picture quality even in low-light conditions. They also contain Sony's “HDR (High Dynamic Range) Movie” function which allows brilliant color to be captured even in bright settings. Sony has also developed a model with built-in signal processing functionality, an element that usually requires external embedment.
Sony has successfully developed new stacked CMOS image sensor technology that realizes higher image quality and superior functionality in a more compact size. The three newly developed next-generation back-illuminated CMOS image sensor models will be the first to utilize this technology. Samples will begin to successively ship starting March 2012.
Background of development (new functions)
The recent proliferation of smartphones and other devices has increased casual shooting opportunities and there is demand for the evolution of cameras to be able to shoot in a diverse range of settings. In particular, consumers want to easily take pictures in low light conditions or those with both low and bright lights. Sony has incorporated its two newly developed models with its unique “RGBW Coding” function which enables high-sensitivity shooting even in low-light conditions and its “HDR Movie” function which can capture images or video across a broad dynamic range of low-light to bright-light conditions.
About the key functions incorporated in the new CMOS image sensors
The built-in “RGBW Coding” function which adds W (White) pixels to the conventional range of RGB (Red-Green-Blue) pixels has realized higher sensitivity, enabling high-quality shooting with low noise even in dark indoor or night settings.
While the addition of W (White) pixels improves sensitivity, it has the problem of degrading image quality. However, Sony's own device technology and signal processing realizes superior sensitivity without hurting image quality. Furthermore, while the individual pixels of the newly developed models are extremely minute at 1.12μm, the incorporation of the “RBGW Coding” function has realized a SN ratio (signal-to-noise ratio) equivalent to that of a unit pixel size of 1.4μm under conventional methods, which in turn has enables the image sensors to achieve a higher resolution at a more compact size.
The new models are also able to output signals through the conventional RGB method, thus there is no need to change the signal processing adopted in existing devices.
The built-in “HDR Movie” function enables brilliant colors to be captured even in settings with a wide range of light including bright light.
Typically, when shooting with differing light levels, such as an indoor setting against a bright outdoor background, there can easily be blocked up shadows for dark areas or blown out highlights for bright areas. Such phenomena are a result of the combination of low-light and bright-light which have different optimal exposure conditions in the same shot. This function reduces this by setting two different exposure conditions within a single screen shooting and conducts the appropriate signal processing for the captured image information under each optimal exposure condition. This process generates an image with a broad dynamic range and enables shooting of both the background and subject matter with brilliant colors even in a bright environment.
Upcoming product launches (plan)
- Type 1/4 Stacked CMOS Image Sensor with approx. 8.0 effective megapixels
(equipped with camera signal processing function*1)
Sample shipments planned for March, 2012
- Type 1/3.06 Stacked CMOS Image Sensor with approx. 13.0 effective megapixels
(equipped with “RGBW Coding” and “HDR Movie” functions)
Sample shipments planned for June, 2012
- Type 1/4 Stacked CMOS Image Sensor with approx. 8.0 effective megapixels
(equipped with “RGBW Coding” and “HDR Movie” functions)
Sample shipments planned for August, 2012
*1 Not equipped with “RGBW Coding” or “HDR Movie” functions
Jan 20, 2015
Jan 16, 2015
Jan 14, 2015
Jan 12, 2015
|Owens Valley Milky Way by ed rader|
from Sign, sign, everywhere a sign..
|Break by Hank3152|
from Motion blur
|Camp by T bird|
from A Big Year - birds
|The Maasai Shepherd by cgravel|
from - African Man - (Portrait in Black and White + A Border)
Canon Australia's video series "The Lab" is designed to make photographers experiment and think outside the box. In the latest video a group of photographers create images based on their sense of taste.
The GH5 is expected to get a firmware update this summer to support 400Mbps internal recording. NewsShooter explores what memory cards you'll need to make it work.
Microsoft's new Surface Pro offers Intel's latest processor generation and improved battery life.
Riding a mountain bike downhill is dangerous enough in daylight, but potentially lethal at night. Which is where drones come in.
Rumors abound that Canon (and maybe Nikon) may produce a mirrorless camera based using their existing DSLR mount. Does this guarantee immediate great lens choice or a perpetually second-rate experience? Read more
According to rumors, the next camera from Nest will be able to capture 4K video, though that resolution will be only used for 'virtual' pan and tilt functions.
Boundary's Prima 'fully modular' backpack is expandable to 30L and has a removable camera case and tablet sleeve. Early Kickstarter backers can get one for $189.
Stanley Greene captured 'brutally honest' photographs in the war zones of the Middle East, Chechnya and Georgia. He was also one of the few African-American photographers working internationally.
Owners of Leica M cameras that suffer from peeling CCDs will be able to claim a free repair in the future so long as the camera was purchased within five years of the fault becoming apparent, the company has announced. Read more
No mic socket? No problem. In this video, Daniel Peters at Photo Gear News shows you how to make a lapel microphone using just a smartphone and a pair of earbuds.
The Carl Zeiss Jena BIOTAR 75mm F1.5 Red T lens is very rare and priced accordingly. It can be yours today for the low, low price of $15,000.
The MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) has developed a drone that does not require any human control for recording tracking shots. Read more
In this terrifying video, Iraqi journalist Ammar Alwaely narrowly misses a sniper's bullet, which takes out his chest-mounted GoPro. Warning: strong language. Watch the video
A new report expects action camera growth to increase about 15% by 2021, with Ultra HD cameras driving demand. Read more
Profiles for Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom have been released for Irix's ultra-wide 11mm and 15mm primes. Like all profiles, these correct for distortion and vignetting.
An upcoming firmware update from DJI will cripple its drones unless they are 'activated' on the company's website. Live streaming will be turned off and flight radius/altitude will be limited.
Brent from ShareGrid rounds up the 10 most common products filmmakers are renting from one another for productions; chances are good you own one or more of them.
DaVinci Resolve is making strong moves to compete with Premiere and Final Cut Pro, including affordable control panels for colorists. According to Premium Beat, they're really good.
If you are not planning to fly your drone commercially you are not required to register it with the FAA anymore. This decision was handed down by a federal court in Washington, D.C.
Whether you're syncing a flash, wondering why banding is appearing in your image or getting strange images from your camera's silent shutter mode, the way your shutter works has a role to play. Here's what happens when you press the shutter button. Read more
William Vazquez travels all over the world documenting humanitarian work. He spoke to us about the challenges of his work, the importance of research and why a multitool and duct tape are your best friends in the field. Read more
These ten film cameras stand the test of time. They are easy to find, affordable and capable of excellent results. Read more
Photographer Aydın Büyüktaş uses a drone, 3-D rendering and Photoshop to create mind-bending landscapes.
They're offering tips for composing selfies and converting to black and white.
Whether you're seeking ultra-high resolution, first-rate autofocus or 4K video capture, there are some supremely capable 'semi-pro' cameras available. Find out which models we liked best in our updated semi-pro camera roundup. Read more
With composition specified by the director, drones may one day be able to navigate a movie set on their own.
Canon has made the previous version, 1.1.0 available for download again.
Impossible? Not if you have a fast lens and 5 stops of stabilization.
This 'strictly limited edition' is a refurbished original Polaroid 600 redesigned with a custom two-tone paint job.
Nikon today announced a reorganization of its corporate structure which will see several divisions and business units closed or merged. Read more