Fujifilm’s new X-Trans sensors diverge from the traditional way CMOS sensors are designed by using an irregular pattern of red, green, and blue pixels. This allows the sensors to eschew the standard anti-aliasing filter, eliminating moiré patterns without putting an extra component in front of the sensor. Roy Furchgott over at The New York Times has an interesting piece on how the new tech is inspired by Fujifilm’s glory days in the film photography industry:
Old fashioned analog photographs didn’t get a moire pattern because the crystals in film and photo paper aren’t even in size and placement. That randomness breaks up the moire effect.
So Fuji built a new sensor employing what it knew from the film business. Instead of using the Bayer array, it created a pattern called the X-Trans sensor which lays out the red green and blue photo sensors in a way that simulates the randomness of analog film.
Furchgott does a good job of explaining the new sensor design (and its benefits) in an easy-to-understand way.
Old Technology Modernizes a Camera Sensor [NYTimes]
Fujifilm made quite a splash in the camera industry when it announced the sleek X100 back in September 2010, but since then the camera’s spotlight has been stolen by newer interchangeable-lens followups, namely the X-Pro1 and the X-E1.
When the X100 was discontinued back in July, many expected to see a followup announced at Photokina in September. It wasn’t. However, it now appears that the camera will be launched in early 2013, equipped with the same X-Trans sensor technology as its interchangeable-lens siblings.
Mirrorless cameras feature sensors larger than compact cameras and bodies smaller than DSLRs, but how do their sensor sizes compare with one another? To give you a better idea of how formats such as Nikon CX and Olympus/Panasonic Four Thirds stack up against each other, Digital Camera Database created this helpful graphic showing the relative sizes of each format.
In addition to analyzing the use of Sony sensors in Nikon DSLRs, Chipworks has also published an article that explores Canon’s full frame sensors. It’s quite technical, but the main points can be grasped without understanding the terms being thrown around:
On the process side, the 1D X is remarkable in that Canon continues to stay with the 0.5 µm process generation it has used for every APS-C and FF device analyzed. While the use of a mature fab likely gives Canon a competitive edge via lower manufacturing costs, it may also weigh heavily in its product development […] Given the geometric constraints of 0.5 µm design rules, Canon seems content to hang around the 21 Mp resolution for recent FF sensors through the use of shared pixels […]
So, back to the rumors of Canon allegedly readying a high resolution competitor to the Nikon D800. Will Canon finally move off that 0.5 µm generation? It is worth noting that September 2012 marked the 10 year anniversary of Canon’s announcement of the world’s first CMOS FF sensor, the EOS 1Ds […] every Canon FF sensor analyzed since has used the same 0.5 µm design rules. It is a credit to Canon that it has remained competitive by continuing to optimize its pixels fabricated in a relatively mature process.
What they’re saying is: if Canon wants to continue fighting in the megapixel wars with Nikon and Sony, it’s going to need to shake things up a bit in its sensor department.
Canon stays the course [Chipworks via CanonWatch]
P.S. If you’re into comparing the technical aspects of camera sensors, check out Digital Camera Database. It has a sensor comparison tool designed for you.
Electronics reverse-engineering company Chipworks has published an article that discusses and reviews Nikon’s use of Sony CMOS sensors in certain DSLRs:
The recent high profile Apple vs. Samsung patent infringement case further emphasizes the incestuous nature of the supply chain for components in consumer electronics. Apple has traditionally sourced a great many components for its smartphones and tablets from its competitor Samsung. An analogous relationship exists in the DSLR world where Nikon both designs its own CMOS image sensors (CIS) to be fabricated by a foundry partner, and sometimes uses CIS components from its camera competitor Sony […] What is somewhat interesting is that after a run of Nikon-designed CIS devices in Nikon FF and APS-C cameras, Sony has muscled its way back in for the FF format D800 […]
Sony supplies the CIS for the D800, a camera with the resolution (36.3 Mp) and performance that approaches the performance of medium format cameras for some applications […] While there are certainly those who groan at the prospect of cranking up the resolution of a FF sensor, the D800 appears to be a disruptive event in the FF camera segment – one that Canon is rumored to likely respond to.
Chipworks notes that the D800 has the smallest pixel size of any full frame sensor it has examined so far. Canon is reportedly hard at work testing tiny pixels of its own.
Full Frame DSLR Cameras – Nikon vs Sony [Chipworks via Image Sensors World]
Virtually all digital still cameras capture light using either a CCD or a CMOS sensor. Most consumers don’t know the difference, and — given the rate at which CMOS sensors are improving — both sensors perform equally well in most cases (Leica is rumored to be switching over to the CMOS camp with its upcoming M10).
However, that’s not what a PC World store in Ireland wants you to believe. The photo above shows an informational placard that was on display recently in one of its stores. The top image shows a scene shot with a CCD sensor, and the bottom image allegedly shows the “same scene” shot with a CMOS sensor. Hmmm…
Some time ago Sony announced a new series of “stacked” CMOS sensors that would bring a new level of quality to smartphone cameras. And now, several months later, rumors are floating about that Sony’s new LT29i smartphone — codenamed the Hayabusa — will be packing a 13-megapixel version of the new tech. Read more…
Samsung has developed what the company claims is the world’s first CMOS sensor that can capture both RGB and range images at the same time. Microsoft’s Kinect has received a good deal of attention as of late for its depth-sensing capabilities, but it uses separate sensors for RGB images and range images. Samsung’s new solution combines both functions into a single image sensor by introducing “z-pixels” alongside the standard red, blue, and green pixels. This allows the sensor to capture 480×360 depth images while 1920×720 photos are being exposed. One of the big trends in the next decade may be depth-aware devices, and this new development certainly goes a long way towards making that a reality.
(via Tech-On! via Gizmodo)
Here’s a photograph by the The Bangkok Post showing Sony’s sensor manufacturing plant in Thailand submerged under flood waters roughly 3 meters (~10ft) high. The shutdown of the 502,000 square foot, 3,300 employee plant doesn’t just affect Sony, as other companies — including Nikon and Apple (in the iPhone 4S) — rely on Sony image sensors as well.
(via Bangkok Post via Nikon Rumors)
Image credit: Photograph by Pattarachai Preechapanich/The Bangkok Post
Last year Canon announced the world’s largest CMOS sensor — an 8-inch chip that’s 40 times the size of those found in Canon’s full frame cameras. Now, a year later, the sensor is finally being put to good use, having found its way into the Schmidt telescope at the University of Tokyo’s Kiso Observatory. The extreme-sensitivity of the sensor has allowed astronomers to detect more faint meteors during a 1 minute period than could previously be seen during an entire year, and has the ability to record those meteors at 60fps. Now we’ll just patiently twiddle our thumbs and wait for the sensor to appear in an upcoming digital camera.
(via Canon via Photography Bag via Engadget)