Sony 48MP will give smart phones and other compact devices a real digital zoom

SONY Corporation has announced the upcoming release of the IMX586 stacked CMOS image sensor for smartphone cameras with 48MP resolutions on a ½-inch chip only 8mm across.

Sony’s new sensor uses the Quad Bayer colour filter array, where adjacent 2 x 2 pixels come in the same colour, making high-sensitivity shooting possible. During low light shooting, the signals from the four adjacent pixels are added, raising the sensitivity to a level equivalent to that of 1.6um pixels (12 megapixels), for brighter images with less noise.

Sony exposure control technology and signal processing functionality are built into the image sensor, enabling real-time output and a superior dynamic range 4 times greater than conventional units. As a result, scenes with both bright and dark areas can be captured with minimal highlight blowout or loss of detail in shadows.

Miniaturisation of pixels usually results in poor light collecting efficiency per pixel and a drop in sensitivity and volume of saturation signal but Sony says it has overcome this thanks to techniques that improve light collection efficiency and photoelectric conversion efficiency over conventional products.

What does it mean for video surveillance? Primarily, that the world’s leading image sensor manufacturer is leaning in on digital zoom for consumer devices, a shift that could change customer expectations and would facilitate compact CCTV cameras with local and remote zooming capabilities of unprecedented power.