Smaller pixels to reduce the thickness of mobile phones: Samsung introduces the first ISOCELL sensor with 0.64 micron pixels
When we talk about photography we usually think in megapixels, but the truth is that there are many other factors that influence when the photos turn out well. One of them is the pixel size. In principle, the larger the pixels, the more light they capture and the less noise they produce, so the photos come out “better”. Precisely for that draws attention what Samsung has announced a sensor with pixels as small as 0.64 micrometers.
Its about Samsung ISOCELL JN1, a sensor that goes against the current of what we are seeing in the industry. Without going any further, Samsung has to its credit sensors such as GN1 Y GN2, which have 1.2 and 1.4 micron pixels, respectively. Both these two and the new JN1 have the same resolution, 50 megapixels, and use pixel combining technology to capture more light. So why make pixels smaller? According to Samsung, for a matter of form factor.
Objective: reduce the thickness of the mobiles
According to Samsung, the ISOCELL JN1 is the industry’s smallest 50 megapixel sensor. 0.64 microns is 0.00064 millimeters, a figure that is too low but that makes more sense if we compare it, for example, with the average thickness of a human hair: 70 microns, or what is the same, 0.07 millimeters. The idea, therefore, is clear: smaller pixels = smaller sensors = less space occupied on mobiles.
This is precisely why Samsung says that “the new 0.64 micron ISOCELL JN1 will be able to be equipped in the most elegant smartphones of tomorrow”. In fact, given its size 1 / 2.76 inch, it could be implemented at the rear (wide angle or telephoto) and reduce the thickness of the camera modules by up to 10%. However, it could also be brought to the front, allowing the user to take higher resolution selfies.
The JN1, like its older brothers, has a 50 megapixel resolution, but it won’t shoot at 50 megapixels by default. Instead, the sensor will use Tetrapixel technology, Samsung’s system that combines four adjacent pixels into one to simulate a larger pixel and quadruple the sensitivity to light. That is using four 0.64 micron pixels will result in a larger 1.28 micron pixel. It’s funny, because that larger pixel is smaller than the GN2’s default pixels, which are 1.4 microns and result in a 2.8 micron pixel using Tetrapixel.
Combining four adjacent 0.64 micron pixels will result in a larger 1.28 micron pixel
Regarding proprietary technologies, Samsung has implemented Smart-ISO y Double Super PD. Smart-ISO changes the gain based on ambient light and offers HDR using two separate low and high ISO readings. Double Super PD is an evolution of Super PD that uses twice the pixel density (1/16 vs 1/32 pixels) to focus. That, in principle, should result in faster autofocus.
Finally, it should be noted that the sensor is capable of recording in 4K at 60 frames per second and in FullHD at 240 frames per second. When will we see it? We will have to wait. Samsung ensures that its ISOCELL JN1 is already being mass produced, so it is likely that sooner rather than later we will start to see it on the odd mobile.
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