The 150 megapixel photo sensors arrive, and it’s thanks to your smartphones

Reserved for medium-sized business boxes, these future sensors take advantage of manufacturing techniques that have made the success of small sensors of compacts and telephones. And demonstrate that the race for super definitions is not yet over.

Not enough definition on your old 8 Mpix Bridge? No worries: Sony will launch a sensor of not less than 150 Mpix in the course of 2018! Its semiconductor subsidiary (Sony Electronics) unveiled part of its technology roadmap for its future sensors last week and a 150 million monster called IMX411 surfaced.

Let’s start off with your enthusiasm: this sensor is a mastodon in terms of dimensions, since it measures 55 x 41 mm, the kind of monster that is found in large professional devices called medium formats. Such a giant would occupy half the surface of the back of your phone. So «no», your smartphone will never use it for comparison, the sensor of a case like the Sony A7R Mark II measures «only» 36 x 24 mm). On the other hand, it has benefited greatly from the technologies developed for smart phones.

Inheritance of small sensors

Small compact and telephone sensors are subject to electromagnetic interference caused by the high density of pixels and electronic circuitry.
It is to limit this interference and digital noise – and only to free up space to add pixels – that Sony launched the Exmor R 8 years ago. A type of sensor on which the circuits are at the rear and not in front of the skylights. According to the technical specifications published by the brand on the new giant sensor, it would be the first of this dimension to take advantage of this design called «Backlit». This process undoubtedly contributes to the prowess of Sony to add 50 Mpix to the maximum definition of such a sensor, which was for the time limited to 100 Mpix.

Sony is also the undisputed champion in the design of CMOS sensors dedicated to imaging, with strong growth in the field of photography expert / pro with its ranges RX and hybrids with full-format sensors. By putting the accelerator on the picture AND the design of components, it seems that Sony has made a good bet, know-how acquired on one side helping another’s products … and vice versa.

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