Samsung's Isocell sensor to boost low-light and colour performance

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Lexy spent her formative years taking a lot of photos and dreaming in technicolour. Nothing much has changed now she's covering all things photography related for CNET.

A new sensor developed by Samsung could help improve photos taken in low-light conditions by producing a more true representation of colour than existing sensors.

(Credit: Samsung)

Called Isocell, the sensor was announced on the Samsung Tomorrow blog, which outlined the benefits of this system. Many phone camera sensors on the market use backside-illuminated (BSI) technology, which reverses the traditional orientation of photodiodes so they sit towards the top of the sensor. This makes it easier for light to hit them, rather than it having to travel through a layer of wiring.

However, there are some limitations to BSI sensors, as they have traditionally been more expensive to manufacture. Also, as the demand for more megapixels or resolution increases, pixel size has to decrease to accommodate this on a small sensor, which can increase the chances of crosstalk between pixels.

The image created by a traditional backside-illuminated sensor on the left, with Samsung's Isocell sensor on the right.
(Credit: Samsung)

Isocell tries to eliminate this crosstalk by forming a physical barrier between pixels, which in turn isolates each pixel. According to Samsung, this system reduces crosstalk by 30 per cent and will result in better colour rendition that's true to life. Dynamic range will also be boosted by 30 per cent. The Isocell sensor is also thinner than a traditional sensor, which means future camera units can be smaller.

At the moment, Isocell is currently being deployed in just one Samsung 8-megapixel sensor, which is due to hit mass production in the fourth quarter of this year. The Galaxy S4 currently uses a 13-megapixel sensor. The timing of the Isocell production run means that it's highly possible that it will make its debut in the Samsung Galaxy S5.

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Im Batman posted a comment   

Sounds promising... not reinventing the sensor but a nice fix for a traditional problem that they all face, so should work well.

Hopefully with this, if it does end up in the S5, then we don't end up with another HTC... where introducing a new camera technology they downgrade the megapixel count due to the new techs limitations but end up with a poorer image quality as a result.

Will be nice to see a break from the sony sensor strangle hold.

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