Smartphones with 48-megapixel cameras are coming

Image Source Sony

The IMX586 image sensor, made for the smartphones and other portable devices, is claimed to have the world's smallest pixel size of 0.8μm, making it possible to pack 48 effective megapixels onto a 1/2-type unit. Normally, such a high megapixel count on such a small chip would result in poor nighttime shooting capacities. This all means that in those low-light situations imaging data from four adjacent pixels is being added in order to achieve sensitivity comparable to that of 1.6 μm pixels. There are plenty of phones out there with high-resolution sensors taking mediocre photos because of crappy image processing software.

However, the new sensor, called IMX586, counters that effect with the introduction of a Quad Bayer color filter.

But the best thing about this sensor is the ability to combine the light captured from four adjacent pixels in low-light conditions, creating a very bright, effective 12-megapixel image (The P20 Pro uses the same trick, but it's only able to produce a 10-megapixel image in this way).

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The increased pixel count in the sensor will help to maintain high-resolution images even when using digital zoom according to Sony. Better dynamic range means that pictures with both bright and darker areas should have more detailed highlights and shadows.

Before we forget, the sensor is also capable of recording 4K footage at an outstanding 90 frames second, 1080p video at 240 frames per second and 720p clips at 480 frames per second. In fact, it was quite obvious that Sony would be the one to blur the lines between smartphone and a camera.

In its latest mid-term strategy paper, the company vowed to spend $9 billion in research and development in the next three years in order to become the top camera brand by 2021. "The 1.2" sensor can capture 8,000 x 6,000 pixels, which is a full 48 megapixels in 4:3 format.

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