Sharp Unveils a New Point-and-Shoot Sensor Stuffed with 20 Megapixels

A few months ago we mentioned that compact camera manufacturers were approaching smartphone competition the wrong way. We posited that instead of adding creepy unique features like sleeping face recognition and make-up mode, they should instead be focusing on improving ease-of-use and image quality.

It seems that Sharp was listening — or at least had the same idea — because they just announced a new 20-megapixel 1/2.3-type CCD sensor for use in compact cameras, the RJ23G3BA0LT. 1/2.4-type CCD sensors are the tiny sensors found in most point-and-shoot cameras, but even though this sensor has smaller pixels crammed closer together, Sharp claims that it has the same sensitivity as current 16-megapixel sensors of the same size. Basically, they took the smallest sensor size available and packed an extra 4 million pixels onto it than ever before without losing any image quality.

Here’s a helpful diagram that shows how 1/2.4-type sensors stack up against other popular formats (it’s the smallest one):

The new sensor will also support 720p video at 30fps; and while sampling won’t start until later this month — with full-scale production of 200,000 sensors per day not scheduled until August — this might be one small step towards saving the compact camera from extinction. Of course, that’s only if smartphone manufacturers don’t start using the same technology to cram more pixels into their own creations.

(via Photography Blog via TogTech)

Image credit: Diagram by Moxfye

  • jdm8

    That a somewhat denser sensor can have the same sensitivity as a sensor of the previous generation is hardly a surprise, newer technology is often better than older technology.  In this case, it’s possible that newer, tighter fab resolution allowed this by reducing the gaps between photo sites, leaving the photo sites largely untouched in effective collecting area.

  • Stephan Zielinski

    Right.  1/2.3″.  6.16mm x 4.62mm.  Lowest useful sensel size still capable of meeting the Raleigh criterion, about 4 micrometers– at f/8 and 420 nanometer blue, of course.  Maximum usable resolution possible from a 6.16mm x 4.62mm sensor: 1540 x 1155 sensels– demosaicable into about 1.78 megapixels.

    On the other hand, this does imply one can, in fact, get 720p out of it.  (1080p is out– 1155 > 1080, but 1540 < 1920.)

  • will hall

    Just for perspective, the same pixel density on a full frame sensor would be about 600 megapixels

  • Tianlechen

    AH, so 600mpx it is!

  • Steve

    I don’t think most people using a compact need more than 6mp but it might be interesting to see what the image looks like when downsized. If it isn’t any better than a similar size 6mp sensor, then this is pointless.

  • mrbeard

    what they should be concentrating on is low light ability, i’ve lost count of the number of times an older person has complained to me that the photos they took at a wedding or function (the only time they use a camera), came out blurred or over exposed with the flash.

  • Jackson Cheese

    That’s going to be noisy as fuck.

  • Guest

    This is purely a marketing gimmick to attract the average consumer who thinks more pixels = better image quality. If you’re looking at a 20mpx image resized to fit on a standard computer screen, or printing a 4×6 (or even an 8×10) you won’t notice a whit of a difference between it and a 8mpx image. Why is petapixel buying the hype?

  • Marco Mignano

    The amount of pixels IS related to the detail. If you have more pixels you can capture finer details. More megapixels doesn’t mean better camera, but it can mean more detail. (Of course the better the glass the better the resolution..)

  • Stephan Zielinski

    Sadly, small sensors are diffraction limited– and better glass just gets one TO the diffraction limit, not beyond it.  I haven’t found a simple and easy to follow explanation of how this works yet, but there’s a complex and painful one at the Wikipedia article on “Airy disk”.

  • Marco Mignano

    You are right. I am obviously conscious of the fact that everything has a limit :) For example, I am MONEY LIMITED, so I can’t buy a Canon EOS-1 Dx in order to set my diffraction limit further! :P