48MP Sony IMX586 imaging sensor announced, samples ship September

Sony explains further: "during low light shooting, the signals from the four adjacent pixels are added, raising the sensitivity to a level equivalent to that of 1.6μm pixels (12MP), resulting in bright, low noise images".

A 0.8 micron pixel size might seem small and less efficient in capturing the entire light information, especially in low light. Usually higher pixel count means lower quality low-light photos, but Sony has managed to merge the best of both worlds. With each pixel measuring 0.8 micrometers, the sensor measure only 8 mm, just large enough for a 1/2-inch type sensor. Its 48MP camera comes with an increased 8000 x 6000 resolution, however Sony understands that it needs to do much more than bolster the number. On the contrary, Huwaei P20 is only able to achieve 40MP sensor which also packs a Quad Bayer arrangement.

The images on the left shows a shot from a conventional phone camera image (with 12 effective megapixels), while the right side shows photos from a camera with the IMX586 sensor (with 48 effective megapixels). Even scenes with both bright and dark areas can be captured with minimal highlight blowout or loss of detail in shadows. According to Sony, the sensor will be ready for sampling this September, and it'll cost device makers around $27 per unit.

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Naturally, this is a stacked sensor, meaning that the DRAM is combined with the sensor to give it processing power, like Sony's other recent sensors, so HDR video and super-slow motion are all likely to be possible.

The new sensor uses the Quad Bayer color filter array, where adjacent 2×2 pixels come in the same color, making high-sensitivity shooting possible.

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.

  • Delia Davidson