Foveon has released specifications for the 'Foveon X3 5M CMOS Image Sensor'. This is a very interesting sensor because it is the same size as the now almost standard 1/1.8" type used in many of todays compact digital cameras. The X3 5M has 4.53 MPS (million pixel sensors) in an array of 1420 x 1060 x 3 layers. This sensor is also capable of 640 x 480 full color video (3 colors per output pixel) at an impressive 30 frames per second using Foveon's Variable Pixel Size (VPS) capability. Could this be a sign that we will soon see consumer level digital cameras with X3 sensors? (Note: According to our friends at Imaging-Resource mention was made of this sensor back in March but until now we had not seen the specifications).

Click here for help on x/y" type sensor sizes

Click here for the Foveon X3 5M CMOS Image Sensor Datasheet (460 KB, PDF)

Product Brief:

Foveon X3 5M CMOS Image Sensor (F19X3-A50)

The Foveon X3 5M is a 1/1.8-inch CMOS image sensor that incorporates the breakthrough Foveon X3 technology. Foveon X3 image sensors capture full-measured color images through a unique three-layer pixel sensor design. By capturing fullmeasured color images, the need for color interpolation and artifact-reducing blur filters is eliminated. As a result, the Foveon X3 5M delivers the highest effective resolution possible without color artifacts for the 1/1.8-inch optical format. The Foveon X3 5M features the powerful VPS(Variable Pixel Size) capability. VPS provides the on-chip capability of grouping neighboring pixels together to form larger pixels that are optimal for reduced noise, high frame rate or dual mode still/video applications. Other advanced features include: low fixed-pattern noise, ultra-low power consumption, and integrated digital control.


  • Foveon X3® Technology
    • Three pixel sensors are layered at each pixel location to achieve full-measured color.
    • Images have improved sharpness and immunity to sampling artifacts (moiré).
  • Variable Pixel Size (VPS) Capability
    • Several neighboring pixels can be averaged together on-chip to obtain the effect of a larger pixel.
    • Enables flexible video capture at a variety of resolutions.
    • Enables higher ISO mode at lower resolutions.Reduces noise by combining pixels.
  • On-Chip A/D Conversion
    • Integrated 12-bit A/D converter running at up to 40MHz.
    • Color sequential row readout onto a 12-bit tri-state output data bus.
  • Integrated Digital Control
    • Minimal external control logic required.
    • Data bus from the image sensor can be connected directly to DSP or video capture bus.
    • Image sensor control is via simple three wire serial interface.
  • Ultra Low Power
    • Advanced CMOS process technology results in ultra low power requirements.
    • Power consumption is less than 200mW during readout, less than 40mW in standby mode,and less than 1mW in power down mode. (Preliminary)
  • Low Noise
    • The Foveon X3 image sensor offers extremely low-noise readout and high dynamic range.
    • Proprietary readout circuits suppress fixed pattern noise artifacts associated with CMOS image sensors.


Effective Pixel Sensors 4.53 MPS (million pixel sensors)
1.51 million pixel locations x 3 layers
(1420 columns x 1060 rows x 3 layers)
Total Pixel Sensors 4.7 MPS (million pixel sensors)
1.57 million pixel locations x 3 layers
(1440 columns x 1088 rows x 3 layers)
Pixel Pitch 5.0 µm
Effective Area 7.1 x 5.3 mm
Effective Diagonal 8.8 mm
Aspect Ratio 4:3
Frame Rate 7 fps for 1420c x 1060r x 3 layers
30 fps for 640c x 480r x 3 layers (VPS)
Variable Pixel Size Increments Integer Multiples