Samsung has officially unveiled their 108-megapixel smartphone camera sensor

Aug 14, 2019

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

Samsung has officially unveiled their 108-megapixel smartphone camera sensor

Aug 14, 2019

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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Teased by Xiaomi just a few days ago for their upcoming Mi Mix 4 smartphone, Samsung has now officially announced its new 108-megapixel ISOCELL sensor. This marks the first smartphone sensor to go beyond 100-megapixels, replacing Samsung’s 64-megapixel sensor announced in May, as their highest resolution smartphone sensor.

Samsung’s ISOCELL technology was first announced in 2013. It reduces “colour-cross talk” between neighbouring pixels by introducing a physical barrier between each one. Essentially, it stops colours bleeding from one pixel to the next to improve sharpness and increase colour accuracy.

The tiny 1/1.33″ sensor measures around 9.6 x 7.2mm, almost three times larger than the 1/2.5″ chips commonly found in many smartphones. Samsung says that the Tetracell tech incorporated into the sensor to “imitate big-pixel sensors” to produce brighter 27-megapixel images. It’s similar to Sony’s Quad Bayer technology, which combines four individual pixels on the sensor into a single image pixel in the image file.

Essentially, it’s a way to get around this problem. A problem that becomes more apparent the smaller your sensor and its pixels become. But also helps to reduce noise, particularly once you start increasing the ISO. Samsung says a “Smart-ISO” mechanism intelligently selects the appropriate level of gain according to the illumination of the scene for the optimal signal to noise ratio.

So, while it is technically a 108-megapixel sensor, and while you can likely get 108-megapixel image files with it (that’ll depend on the phone manufacturer and how they implement their version of the camera app), you’re generally going to get the best results when letting it do its 27-megapixel Tetracell thing.

For stills, that 108-megapixels results in 12032 x 9024 pixels. And for the video folks, the ISOCELL Bright HMX also supports video up to 6K resolution at 30 frames per second.

Samsung says that mass production for the Samsung ISOCELL Bright HMX begins later this month, but there’s no word on when we’ll see it in phones yet.

[via Engadget]

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John Aldred

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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6 responses to “Samsung has officially unveiled their 108-megapixel smartphone camera sensor”

  1. Don Barnard Avatar
    Don Barnard

    the real value of such high megapixel sensors won’t be realized until…
    they develop AI algorithms that let them pull 4k video clips (and 24 mp stills) that track the faces or framing in the scene and simply use selective cropping plus electronic image stabilization to pull out great images based on what areas of the sensor are actually needed to get the best image from parts of the sensor, while using the whole sensor to “fill in” the gaps…
    for example.. in a portrait… how much resolution does one need to display the out of focus background? 6 mp? and if the face is resolved at 12 mp but the eyes at 24? the combined effect would result in smaller files with more details.
    and same for video…. using parts of the frame at higher resolution and parts where you combine pixels to make larger pixels would allow for both sharpness in desired areas and less noise in other areas…

    1. Aaron March Avatar
      Aaron March

      Don Barnard Very good point/thinking.

    2. Don Barnard Avatar
      Don Barnard

      Aaron March JPEG does similar in software but I’m talking about doing this at the picture taking phase using the hardware. It would be similar, but you’d get the dynamic range and benefits of raw shooting with the file sizes of jpeg at the capture stage…

    3. Misael Nevarez Avatar
      Misael Nevarez

      Don Barnard I can only imagine the possibilities! ?

  2. Wouter Anquer Avatar
    Wouter Anquer

    Hey DIY photography. You are now using your newsletter e-mail to send me full page ads? Disgusting. Unsubscribed.

  3. Ignasi Jacob Avatar
    Ignasi Jacob

    Full frame, I guess..