Due to the ever growing need for mobile phones to be smaller, faster, and better, they are on the cutting edge of miniaturisation, and this has led to small sensors, small lenses, and as a result noise filled images with low dynamic range, with generally poor low-light performance.
This problem has led a number of companies to work on solutions to these problems, quite seperately from the more traditional camera market. Here's a run down of some of the latest technology coming up, and available, that you may not know about. While not currently available in traditional cameras in the same way, it may make it's way into the camera market at some point.
, manufacturer of sensors used in mobile phones, and the Nikon 1 series (detailed by Chipworks
), are working on new Clarity+ technology for mobile phone sensors, by altering the traditional RGB bayer array
, to give "double" the light sensitivity. Aptina say that they will then be able to use this technology to eventually put 20 megapixel sensors in smartphones, and are currently sampling 1/3.2 inch 12 megapixel (1.1micron) BSI sensors. Via ImageSensorsWorld
, says they can produce HDR images from a single shot:
The technology is said to work at a pixel level, "The sensor is optimized at the pixel level to deliver DSLR-level dynamic range from mobile and consumer cameras. Operating in a single exposure period at high-speed frame-rates, Binary Pixel imagers capture HDR images in real-time with on-the-fly processing, enabling hand-held photo and video capabilities with zero post-capture processing. Designed to be integrated in existing SoC architectures and can be manufactured using current CMOS image sensor technology." Although whether anyone has signed up to use this technology yet is to be confirmed. Via Engadget
, are working on a Light Field Camera sensor, much like the Lytro Camera
, but for mobile phones, with an expected resolution of 2 to 6 megapixels, from a higher resolution sensor, but as yet no other manufacturers have announced whether they will be implementing this technology into their own products. Via ImageSensorWorld
are releasing smartphones capable of HDR photography, as well as HDR video:
The Sony Xperia Z
uses a 13 megapixel RGBW sensor
, where the standard Red, Green, Blue (RGB) bayer array
has a White pixel as well for added light sensitivity. On offer with the camera phone is HDR photography as well as video.
HTC on the other hand, with the HTC One
, has a lower resolution (4mp) sensor which it calls an "UltraPixel sensor", with as a result, larger pixels for added sensitivity to light, they combine this with a bright f/2.0 lens and optical image stablisation for enhanced low-light performance, as well as offering HDR photography and video.
We are planning to review these new smartphones when available, and it'll be interesting to see if the small sensors, with added technology provides image quality to match dedicated digital cameras, and whether any of this technology would be useful in the more traditional camera market.