Sony announces industry-first 48MP smartphone camera sensor

Posted July 25, 2018

This is largely thanks to the ultra-compact pixel size of just 0.8μm, the smallest in any image sensor to date.

The company also declared the increased amount of pixels provided by the new sensor means "high-definition" images can be captured even with phones that use a digital zoom. With each pixel measuring 0.8 micrometers, the sensor measure only 8 mm, just large enough for a 1/2-inch type sensor.

Sony IMX586 will cram 48 megapixels into smartphone cameras
48MP Sony IMX586 imaging sensor announced, samples ship September

Once upon a time, smartphone cameras were judged by their megapixel counts.

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The IMX586 has an effective pixel count of 1.6 micrometers. In fact, more megapixels can actually work against photos taken in low light. Sony also claims 4x greater dynamic range than previous generation sensors that enables minimal highlight blowout in bright areas or loss of detail in dark areas of the image.

Add all of this together with a dynamic range that's four times greater "than conventional products", and it sure does sound like Sony's got a victor on its hands. At the same time, four adjacent pixels can be added together during low light shooting, yielding a 12-megapixel sensor that delivers "bright, low noise images", Sony said.

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The company has confirmed that the sample shipments will begin from September, and the price of IMX586 CMOS image sensor will be JPY 3,000 (roughly Rs. 1,800) excluding additional taxes that vary with each country.

Sony says that it has used the "Quad Bayer colour filter array, where adjacent 2x2 pixels come in the same colour, making high-sensitivity shooting possible". In fact, it was quite obvious that Sony would be the one to blur the lines between smartphone and a camera. Going by the spec sheet, other features of the sensor include full frame burst capture at 30 fps and support for 4K video recording at 90 fps and 1080p video recording at 240 fps.

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