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Samsung launches 64MP image sensor for smartphones

The 'megapixel wars' on smartphone cameras stopped some time ago but recently we are seeing an uptick in smartphone image sensor pixel counts, not because consumers demand higher resolution images but because many modern sensors use Quad-Bayer technology which combines four pixels into one, for better detail, lower noise levels and increased dynamic range.

Samsung has now launched the ISOCELL Bright GW1, the world's' first 64-megapixel sensor for smartphones. It comes with the same 0.8-micrometer pixels as the current 48MP sensor which means it will have a larger sensor surface and therefore better light gathering capabilities.

Cameras equipped with the new sensor model will typically output 16MP images, much in the same way as the current 48MP models from Samsung and Sony deliver 12MP images. That said, engineers will also have the option to read out complete 64MP images, which can make sense in good lighting where noise and/or dynamic range are less of an issue.

In addition to the 64MP model, Samsung is also launching a new 48MP variant. Mass production is expected to start in the second half of 2019.

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GinoSVK
GinoSVK

I'm highly skeptical about it, I just play with s10e camera for a while, and phone start overheat as hell. Current mobile chipset do not handle as much picture data.

1 week ago
retr01976

It's the quality of pixels, not the quantity.

1 week ago
GoodKnight
GoodKnight

That is what she said

1 week ago
marc petzold
marc petzold

@retr01976
And exactly for that reason, i do prefer a FF Sensor with with big pixels, means: low MP count. And not exactly the opposite, like this one here...a very small sensor, with a rediculous high MP count....but these sensors doing pixel binning, so 64->16, 48-12....anyway, i'd have prefered a 1/1.7" sensor, with 10 to 12 MP, just like it was being standart, on HQ compact cameras into 2012, before the RX100 with 1 inch sensor entered the scene. ;)

Good Light.

1 week ago*
RPJG

I tried to fit a FF sensor in my phone, but I had trouble with <insert punchline>.

1 week ago
Kona Mike

Why do "camera people" care about the hardware "phone people" take pictures with?

I'm glad phone people take pictures and care about photography, but I don't care if they buy camera equipment. I don't care if traditional camera manufacturers suffer or go bankrupt because of phones. It isn't my problem, I pick my equipment based on need then I go shoot

Just get it in your head phone pictures are good enough for most people.

Last week I was on the sideline shooting my kid's soccer game with a fairly decent DSLR and lens. Walking to the parking lot I over heard a parent talking about the awesome action photos they got on their phone of the game (from the grandstand). This parent's child is on my kids team. Before the end of the season, I'll hand out a few prints of each kid on the team, and will offer the files and more outtakes if they want them. From years of experience, I know 9 out of 10 parents will not ask for anything. I guess they are happy with their phone pics.

1 week ago
paleodawg
paleodawg

How will dedicated cameras ever recover from this?

Smartphones have already obliterated the lower to middle segment of cameras. With sensors like these, which can be made to work as an array, it is only matter of time untill all large sensor cameras are made obsolete.

PS: my honor view 20 with a single 48mp sensor is already making more detailed shots than my pana g9, even in harsh conditions.

1 week ago
WolfpackN64

They will replace small point and shoots. For stills and videos, they will always be significantly worse then DSLR's and dedicated Mirorless cameras.

1 week ago
paleodawg
paleodawg

One little problem though. Smartphones are already wrecking DSLRs and MILCs in studio comparison with a single tiny sensor. Once smartphone makers up their game and fill the back of the phone with dozens of sensors, single lens cameras will be relegated to junk sales.

1 week ago*
WolfpackN64

When you look at these pictures through a smartphone screen maybe? I can always tell a smartphone picture from a DSLR or MILC quite easily. Granted smartphones can take good pictures, but they're not in the same ballpark as serious cameras.

1 week ago
RPJG

Wolfpack, paleodawg is referring to using multiple sensors to achieve the greater surface area associated with large-sensor cameras. Things are already gradually heading that way, and the potential (and cost!) is there to keep adding sensors. That way, you can keep the slim phone form factor while still increasing the effective sensor size.

1 week ago
paleodawg
paleodawg

@wolfpack
lol, not a smartphone screen. I pixel peep on a 4k monitor and the smartphone wins from a dedicated camera.

Everything you say is relevant for a 2 year old smartphone. You might want to look into more recent smartphones to see how far they have come.

1 week ago
WolfpackN64

I have, and I can't say I'm ever impressed by them.

1 week ago
paleodawg
paleodawg

lol, can you at least specify which smartphone model(s) you used so that I may explain why you had lacklustre results, or are you going to just keep repeating the myth that smartphone photos only look good on smartphone screens?

1 week ago
WolfpackN64

I have a OnePlus One. Granted, not the best camera. Father has an iPhone 8. Not very spectacular. Mother has an iPhone 10. Not very spectacular. Went on Scout camp last year and someone took photos with his Galaxy S9.
We rejected the pictures for our montage because they wouldn't look good blown up. My old Olympus E-400 had better dynamic range then that camera.
From my experiance smartphones are just not up to snuff compared to DSLR's and MILC's and I'm quite puzzled at your claims to the contrary.

1 week ago
jxh

"They will replace small point and shoots. For stills and videos, they will always be significantly worse then DSLR's and dedicated Mirorless cameras."

Back in the film days, one shot 35mm because of portability and speed. Phone cameras now beat even good 35s back then. And again portability and speed are important.

1 week ago
jxh

"From my experiance smartphones are just not up to snuff compared to DSLR's and MILC's and I'm quite puzzled at your claims to the contrary."

testing using the same scenes and photographers, and not knowing which shots came from which source is where difference becomes difficult (not impossible, but surprisingly difficult). Otherwise it's easy to get expectation bias into the test.

1 week ago*
DtBB
DtBB

I miss the NX1

1 week ago
Franz Weber
Franz Weber

I miss the Commodore 64

1 week ago
DtBB
DtBB

Me too

1 week ago
Tony Northrup
Tony Northrup

"it will have a larger sensor surface and therefore better light gathering capabilities" BRACE FOR ATTACK

1 week ago
DtBB
DtBB

I double dare you to say that in mFT forums. LOL!

1 week ago
Josh683
Josh683

and why would DtBB joke about saying that in M43 forums? Because he already does say stuff like that in there just to troll.

Someone who is excited by conflict, crazy times.

6 days ago*
DtBB
DtBB

You are confusing things: just because I do not drink the mFT Kool-aid does not mean I am trolling. This is a common thing in that forum.

Also, why are you commenting in all my posts? You say I seek conflict but here you are again. Trying, and failing, in making me sound like a troll.

You sure do care a LOT about what I think about mFT right? So here it goes: competent for video, over-priced and bad IQ for stills.

6 days ago
Imager of
Imager of

When they reach 100mp, please get back to me. (I like to crop heavily)

1 week ago
4thnebula

Me too!

1 week ago
bobogdan78

You can laugh but with the Octa-Bayer technology they can reach 128 np (nanopixels).

1 week ago
danski0224

Are nanopixels really small Borg?

1 week ago
otto k

Samsung: Hold my beer

1 week ago
Rex C

Capable of larger sensor quality too.

As I understand stand it, smartphones will cache the 5-10 frames before and after and use those along with AI to fill in any blanks left by noise and improve dynamic range. With AI and various algorithms the processor can sharpen and improve detail and color also.

Cameras today have a relatively archaic "multi shot mode", but smartphones are going to use something significantly more advanced.

I don't think current larger sensors besides 1 inch and M43 are able to readout data fast enough to take advantage of this. And energy and heat become problematic too.

1 week ago
jxh

Even FF sensors can't read out anything near the speed of the small sensors. Microelectronics does not adapt well to such large structures (consider the micro SD--much smaller than fingernail)

The (relatively) long travel distances significantly limit the signal speed. Stacking, which works very well in phone size sensors is extremely difficult and expensive to build in FF sizes.

1 week ago
Rex C

Thanks. Great insight in to why (or why not)

1 week ago
otto k

When you read out the sensor you are counting electrons (measuring current or voltage - ADC). If the sensor has the surface area 10 times larger it collects 10x the light and you need to drain 10x electrons. If you want to do it in the same time you get 10x the current. Power is proportional to current squared so 100x the power. Or you do it slower. Or you skip pixels. Or you have to have 10x the ADCs. That's why Sony A9 has readout of 1/160s - more ADCs.

1 week ago
RED i

Phone sales are dropping they need magic to suck people into spending $1000 every 1-2 years on a new phone.

1 week ago
Fly18
1 week ago
danski0224

The current tactics aren't working on me :)

1 week ago
RED i

It never worked for me, I always buy cheapest touch phones I can get. There's lots of them from Samsung and Motorola for $170-220 CDN.

1 week ago
Dr_Jon

If it's larger, unless you make the phone thicker, the lenses are likely to be even wider angle...
(A 4mm focal length lens, with an IS unit, bulges out the back of my phone at a 7x crop factor.)

1 week ago
Jura S

... they are and will use prisms.

1 week ago
Dr_Jon

Then you're stuck with the sensor being no higher than the thickness of the phone, less a bunch of stuff.. wouldn't fit an iPhone XS sensor (active area 4.3mm high) in unless you had a maybe 8+mm thick phone (touchscreen->screen->backlight->sensor(note bigger than active area)->case back, plus some clearances.

1 week ago*
jxh

There is also the option of making a 'true telephoto' in the original sense, where the optical center of the lens is well in front of the first element.

1 week ago
Dr_Jon

I think that's a good idea, except with a focal length of maybe 4mm and having an optical stabiliser component in there somewhere I suspect it's hard to save much, e.g. 10% off of 500mm = worth having, on 4mm?

1 week ago
Horshack

Can it fold though?

1 week ago
tkbslc

Yes, once.

1 week ago
1 week ago
Horshack

@tkbslc, Haha, nice.

1 week ago
Tons o Glass 0 Class
Tons o Glass 0 Class

Dear industry, these pixels are too small.

Love,
Tons

1 week ago
EwanMC

Dear Tons, we the industry are faceless corporations and so therefore are incapable of loving you back.

Sincerely,
the industry.

1 week ago
tkbslc

I'm going to trust that top level sensor engineers know more about ideal pixel size than comment section theorists.

1 week ago
Dr_Jon

Dear Tons - that would be true if they were making an ILC camera and only using one exposure to make the final image, but their use-model is in cell-phones, with a huge budget for silicon and software, so they can combine a big bunch of images, shot in a very fast burst (small sensor = very fast read-out time vs. big sensor) and so have much better performance that you'd think...

1 week ago
Tons o Glass 0 Class
Tons o Glass 0 Class

Haha good stuff!

1 week ago
Max Iso
Max Iso

And battery life gets even more abysmal...

1 week ago
dqnielg

Battery life for phones has gotten better and better the past few years...

S10 is longer than s9 is longer than s8 is longer than s7:

Same general trend with most of the brands I've checked.

https://www.gsmarena.com/battery-test.php3

1 week ago*
Max Iso
Max Iso

And none of them had to process 64 million pixels from the sensor. That was my point. We know more pixels means more processing, we can see this with video, they need more bandwidth and the files are larger. Stills is no different.

1 week ago
dqnielg

Resolution has been increasing and yet battery life has also been increasing.

There may be more pixels to process but there are also shrinks to manufacturing process for CPU, GPU, and so forth. Processing demands might increase, but processing becomes more efficient. Same thing with laptops.

Your comment said "battery life gets more abysmal" and there's nothing to support that.

1 week ago*
SheepStar
SheepStar

The current Quad bayer setups are 48mp, so 60 isn't a drastic jump.

1 week ago
Bmark

Are they going to provide enough memory in the phone to store the larger images?

1 week ago
ultimoInfierno

Why should that be a problem?

My current iPhone 8 Plus has 256GB memory, and several smartphone models can be delivered with 512GB or more internal memory.

One of my App’s is capable of delivering 27 megapixel (multi exposure RAW) images delivered as up to 60 megabyte TIFF’s (not quite the same class as Olympus’ approach, but it works -portability and flexibility is better though ;-).

Another App handles 4K UHD Video 25 FPS PAL up to 135 megabit/second - and various resolutions up to 240 FPS. My Shure MV88+ delivers digital audio directly to my recording, and headphone listen-in is no problem either.

Combined with the Osmo Pocket, I have an extremely flexible travel kit, that will deliver in most situations - even before my GX80 camera has left the case/bag.

I can live with these restrictions, and when I travel a week or so I seldom use much more than 100GB on my phone (audio, video, images). At home, everything can be off-loaded to NAS and/or cloud.

I can live with that...

1 week ago*
dqnielg

Everything ultimo said. Between storage increases and cloud options this isn't an issue unless you're really mismanaging your resources.

1 week ago
Mortal Lion
Mortal Lion

That is the plan. There will also be 16 bit RAW support for even bigger files.

1 week ago
Fergus Ferguson

BTW, Canon just announced a new $2600 85mm lens to help turn around the drop in camera sales.

1 week ago
adengappasami

Lol

I am sure rp2 is on the way in September

1 week ago
Eniigma_21
Eniigma_21

Hot deal, $99 off?
Last time i checked price was $2,699

1 week ago*
panther fan

Nice. A larger than usual smartphone sensor with 16MP quad pixel resolution.

Makes you wonder why we don't have 24/100 MP quad pixel FF sensors

1 week ago
EwanMC

They do ... it's called a Foveon sensor.

1 week ago
Tons o Glass 0 Class
Tons o Glass 0 Class

An FF sensor with 0.8um pixel pitch would have 1.35 gigapixels maximum and 337.5 MP quad bayer. I for one wouldn't want something like this as the system would be diffraction-limited a little past f/1.4(!) with the full readout, but yeah I'd love to try out 150 MP or 37.5 quad bayer. This would use the same pixel pitch as Sony's 1" RX10/RX100 series cameras.

1 week ago
beatboxa

$.
That's why.

1 week ago
Fly18
Fly18

I hope Apple will end up using them in their iPhones.

1 week ago
cpharm86

Then we wonder why DSLR’s/ML camera sales are down. The younger generation is perfectly happy storing thousands of photos on their smartphones. Snap and post.

1 week ago
Becksvart

We aren't wondering. Phones are still pretty impractical for tele shots, at the very least, and I think enthusiasts will like the handling of cameras and the post processing latitude of some raw files for some time to come. Instant gratification is nice but it isn't all there is and never will be.

1 week ago
RED i

That's funny as I see way more younger people using ILC's and compact cameras when I'm out hiking or shooting at night. I see tons of tourists using phones but was surprised in the last 8 months how many younger ILC users there are. Every night club and rave I got to and '1-2 timer per weeks there always some younger club photos or two with an ILC.

1 week ago
cpharm86

I don't disagree that there might be more of an interest in ILC's and compact cameras. You might see more ILC/compact camera users on hikes and vacation destinations but still the majority using phones. I'm just saying you read about the slide in DSLR/ML sales. Phones are definitely taking a chunk of the business.
Convenience is a factor in this also.

1 week ago
Karroly

The vast majority of (young) people use smartphones but I can also confirm that some young people are interested by "real cameras". Will they be numerous enough for the real (affordable) cameras to survive ?

1 week ago
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