Sony announces industry-first 48MP smartphone camera sensor


Smartphone cameras could be getting some significant quality improvements in the near future, at least according to Sony. "The new Sony sensor features 48 effective megapixels, a pixel count which rivals that of high-performance SLR cameras, making it possible to capture handsome, high-resolution images even with a smartphone".

48 megapixels takes the sensor to true SLR height but it's more than just about numbers.

High resolutions on tiny sensors usually mean disappointingly noisy images, but Sony claims that the industry-first 0.8-µm bit buckets on the IMX586 were "designed and manufactured with techniques that improve light collection efficiency and photoelectric conversion efficiency over conventional products", possibly leading to crisp images despite the tiny individual pixel wells.

It believes the new complementary metal-oxide-semiconductor (CMOS) IMX586 sensor, capable of delivering an image resolution of 8000 x 6000, will achieve that.

Sony has also built the exposure control technology and signal processing functionality into the image sensor, allowing real-time output and a superior dynamic range that is four times greater than conventional camera sensors.

Sony announces industry-first 48MP smartphone camera sensor

In many cases, higher resolution sensors are created to enable digital zoom and that's one of the functions that Sony is pushing with its new IMX586 sensor.

Greater levels of detail are kept, the image is not washed out and there is not much grain.

'Generally, miniaturization of pixels results in poor light collecting efficiency per pixel, accompanied by a drop in sensitivity and volume of saturation signal, ' Sony says. That means photos will be captured with the equivalent of a 12-megapixel camera with 1.6-micron pixels, which should increase detail when a photo is zoomed in on.

Sony's image sensor business so far has been quite profitable racking in $5.9 billion in revenues in 2017.

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