Sony has introduced a new 48-megapixel image sensor which necessarily is the highest resolution mobile camera sensor the world has ever seen. The high pixel count isn’t the only superlative aspect with the new Sony IMX586 – as the new sensor is designated – but the other extremely positive aspect with it is that it measures 8mm diagonally, which makes it just right for its fitment on most smartphones without inducing an ungainly bulge at the rear.
However, while a high pixel count guarantees superior quality images, that again is applicable mostly in ideally lit conditions. In fact, this happens to be a known issue with sensors having high pixel count as the obvious fallout of such an arrangement is reduced pixel size. In the case of the IMX586, that turns out to be just 0.8 microns which can be quite a disaster when shooting in dimly lit conditions.
To counter that, Sony said it has come with a new solution in the form of the ‘Quad Bayer’ color filter arrangement. The technology, however, isn’t anything pathbreaking as what the Quad bayer does is it essentially merges four surrounding pixels to give rise to a single 1.6 micron unit of a pixel that acts like one. That comes to around the same amount of light sensitivity as does a 12-megapixel image shot using a 1.2-micron pixel.
For comparison’s sake, the Google Pixel 2 XL too employs a similar technology with the four adjacent pixels making for a single unit of 1.4 microns. And the Pixel 2 XL also happens to be one of the best smartphones to offer superior pictures even in low light conditions.
Also, the new IMX586 isn’t just about the clarity and precision of the highest order as the hardware is supported by superior processing technology as well. That, in turn, ensures faster output speeds as well as an enhanced dynamic range which, according to Sony, surpasses conventional mobile cameras by a factor of four. Another salient feature of the sensor is its ability to capture 4K quality videos at 90 fps.
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Sony has been off late focussing on the image sensor and its supporting technologies as a key growth area. The results has also been promising as well with most smartphones and digital camera featuring sensors perfected by Sony.