Researchers at the MIT Media Lab have developed a methodology that allows for the capture of high-contrast scenes without clipped highlight areas in one single shot. Current HDR (high dynamic range) modes require several exposures that are then combined into one image to achieve similar results.

The photosites of an imaging sensors can be imagined as a bucket that fills up with photons as light is being captured. Once the bucket is full additional photons cannot be captured, information is lost and in the image the pixel shows as 100% white. This is commonly described as "highlight clipping". The MIT's Modulo camera prevents this from happening by "resetting" a photosite once it has filled up. The bucket is emptied, so that additional photons and image information can be captured. The system counts the number of resets and by doing this can calculate a brightness value for each pixel. 

The Modulo technology requires specific sensor technology rather than just a modified processing software which means we are probably still a few years away from the concept turning into tangible products. However, given the limited dynamic range of the small sensors that are commonly used in smartphone cameras the technology could be especially suitable for use in mobile devices. You can find more information about the project in the video below.

Source: MIT Media Lab | Via: Imaging Resource