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Sony Makes a 48-megapixel Sensor, Smartphone Camera Wars to Start Again?

The company says this is the world’s first sensor with these many megapixels, and will join pixels together during low light photography.

Vishal Mathur |

Updated:July 24, 2018, 9:57 AM IST
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Sony Makes a 48-megapixel Sensor, Smartphone Camera Wars to Start Again?
The company says this is the world’s first sensor with these many megapixels, and will join pixels together during low light photography.
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The smartphone camera wars could resume again. Sony’s new IMX586 camera sensor could be exactly what drives the next smartphone camera innovation. According to Sony, this has the industry’s highest pixel count—48-megapixel, on a 8mm diagonal sensor, with the individual pixels shrunk to 0.8 microns. This makes the new sensor compatible with most smartphones, in terms of the size. This comes at a time when most smartphone cameras range between 12-megapixel and 24-megapixel, with a lot of play around pixel sizes and image processing algorithms.

The Sony IMX586 48-megapixel camera will join together four adjacent pixels during low light photography, yielding a 12-megapixel sensor that be able to reproduce detailing and colours better.

Sony says the IMX586's megapixel count should translate into greater details and better photography quality, particularly when using your phone camera’s digital zoom. Put it in perspective—even after cropping an image by 400%, you’ll still get a12-megapixel photo. Sony calls this the "Quad Bayer" color filter array, and it does sound similar to the Pixel Fusion tech that Huawei used in the P20 Pro smartphone.

Sony's signal processing tech will also allow fast output speeds and better dynamic range, as much as four times greater than conventional sensors. This new sensor can record 4K (4,096 x 2,160) video at 90 fps, and 1080p at 240 fps.

Many years after the 41-megapixel camera in the Nokia Lumia 1020 smartphone, we are now getting into the 40-megapixel camera sensor territory again.

These sensors will start shipping in September this year, and it is still not known which smartphones will use the IMX586 sensor. However, we believe that it will be only in early 2019 is when we will see the first line-up of phones boasting about this 48-megapixel camera—the first would most likely be one of Sony’s upcoming Xperia phones.
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