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Samsung's S5K3P3 Image Sensor Trades Better Quality For Smaller Size

Samsung announced its new image sensor, the S5K3P3, from its own lineup of ISOCELL camera sensors, which offer reduced height and size, as well as 1.0μm pixels, for a better fit inside next-generation ultra-slim smartphones.

“As a trendsetter in the mobile image sensor business, we are pleased to be the first to deliver the most advanced 1.0μm-pixel imager, which meets both high-resolution and slim design requirements for smartphone cameras," said Kyushik Hong, Vice President and Head of S.LSI Marketing at Samsung Electronics. "Starting with 16MP sensor, Samsung plans to further expand 1.0μm-pixel product category and lead the image sensor market for high performing slim mobile devices," he added.

By shrinking the sensor's pixels to 1.0μm, the overall height of the module is reduced by 20 percent (to under 5 mm) to deliver image quality that is on par with 1.12μm-pixel sensors.

Samsung said that its ISOCELL technology reduces color crosstalk of neighboring pixels, making it possible to create smaller pixels without affecting the quality of the sensor.

Even though Samsung promises the same level of quality on the sensors with smaller pixels, we're seeing the desire to make smartphones ever slimmer impact not just battery sizes and chip performance (or increased throttling), but also the progress in smartphone camera quality.

As HTC showed us years ago, the bigger the pixel, the more light it can capture. That means you either use a low resolution with a standard-sized sensor to get those big pixels, or you increase the sensor size. Some companies, such as Sony, have increased the sensor size significantly, but they have also added 21MP resolutions to those sensors, with pixels that are no bigger than what everyone else has.

Here, Samsung wants to keep the same 16MP resolution it used in this year's Galaxy S6. However, instead of increasing the size of the sensor, it wants to decrease it in order to better fit in a device that will be perhaps even slimmer than the Galaxy S6 (which is 6.8 mm).

The S5K3P3 sensor is already available today to other manufacturers, which means other companies could sell smartphones with high-end Samsung smartphone cameras as well.

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  • LordConrad
    High Megapixel cameras are completely unnecessary unless you're making poster size prints or doing ridiculously high digital zoom. I'd much rather have a phone with 8MP 2.0?m camera.
    Reply
  • JPNpower
    Just use a stacked circuitry approach like Sony's EXMOR RS sensor to have a smaller sensor overall. Thickness isn't THAT important, just add a camera bulge. Those tend to make the phones seem thinner anyway.
    Reply
  • JPNpower
    By the way, the larger pixel idea is a myth. Big pixels don't give you better performance. Sensor size is much, much, much, much, more important. Here's the more fleshed out explanation: http://www.dpreview.com/articles/5365920428/the-effect-of-pixel-and-sensor-sizes-on-noise/2.

    TL;DR, yeah each pixel gets more light, but as a whole, the sensor receives the same amount of light regardless of pixel size.
    Reply
  • Blazer1985
    @JPNpower:
    it is almost true. In theory by binning 4 pixel togather you would have the same light reaching the sensor as you would have on a single pixel as big as those four. In practice though the extra "borders" between the pixels will make you lose some light, same for the smaller micro lenses on top of each photosite.

    Take a look of what the Sony A7s is capable of in low light compared with other full-frame cameras.
    Reply
  • alidan
    High Megapixel cameras are completely unnecessary unless you're making poster size prints or doing ridiculously high digital zoom. I'd much rather have a phone with 8MP 2.0?m camera.

    this really depends, remember the nokia 41-48mp cameraphone?
    if you downscale the images to 8mp they were/may still be the best images you can get out of a phone, however you look at the images at their natural size, you see detail that would otherwise have been lost, it may not be the cleanest detail, but detail none the less, the image i remember was a comparison between the 8mp and 41~48 and looking at the person's shoe, on the 8 you couldn't read the text but on the bigger image you could, though it wasn't pretty.

    personally, what i want on a phone is i believe a higher iso so low light isnt so horrible, and a bigger lense/sensor so more light can get focused even if that means bulking out the phone a bit or putting some kind of protector on the lense.
    Reply
  • LordConrad
    16351548 said:
    High Megapixel cameras are completely unnecessary unless you're making poster size prints or doing ridiculously high digital zoom. I'd much rather have a phone with 8MP 2.0?m camera.

    this really depends, remember the nokia 41-48mp cameraphone?
    if you downscale the images to 8mp they were/may still be the best images you can get out of a phone, however you look at the images at their natural size, you see detail that would otherwise have been lost, it may not be the cleanest detail, but detail none the less, the image i remember was a comparison between the 8mp and 41~48 and looking at the person's shoe, on the 8 you couldn't read the text but on the bigger image you could, though it wasn't pretty.

    personally, what i want on a phone is i believe a higher iso so low light isnt so horrible, and a bigger lense/sensor so more light can get focused even if that means bulking out the phone a bit or putting some kind of protector on the lense.
    If I want higher detail I'll use my Nikon DSLR. For a phone I want a good snapshots, even in low light.
    Reply
  • JPNpower
    16351312 said:
    @JPNpower:
    it is almost true. In theory by binning 4 pixel togather you would have the same light reaching the sensor as you would have on a single pixel as big as those four. In practice though the extra "borders" between the pixels will make you lose some light, same for the smaller micro lenses on top of each photosite.

    Take a look of what the Sony A7s is capable of in low light compared with other full-frame cameras.

    But is it so? Not really. There is theoretically light loss due to borders, but that isn't the main issue. If it were so, nokia's 40+ mp sensors would be useless, and Sony's new 42mp full frame sensor would perform terribly compared to the 36mp sensor it replaces. We know that both of those points are false. Besides, that is why technology like Samsung's favorite BSI sensors and Sony's special stacked circuit sensors exist. Also, the reason that Sony's 12mp sensor is so good in low light is not because of the larger pixels, but because of the low electrical noise that it produces. That is why you want a camera with a larger sensor, like with Sony's Z series for low light. (Too bad that Sony fudged the software side though).
    Reply
  • JPNpower
    16352089 said:
    16351548 said:
    High Megapixel cameras are completely unnecessary unless you're making poster size prints or doing ridiculously high digital zoom. I'd much rather have a phone with 8MP 2.0?m camera.

    this really depends, remember the nokia 41-48mp cameraphone?
    if you downscale the images to 8mp they were/may still be the best images you can get out of a phone, however you look at the images at their natural size, you see detail that would otherwise have been lost, it may not be the cleanest detail, but detail none the less, the image i remember was a comparison between the 8mp and 41~48 and looking at the person's shoe, on the 8 you couldn't read the text but on the bigger image you could, though it wasn't pretty.

    personally, what i want on a phone is i believe a higher iso so low light isnt so horrible, and a bigger lense/sensor so more light can get focused even if that means bulking out the phone a bit or putting some kind of protector on the lense.
    If I want higher detail I'll use my Nikon DSLR. For a phone I want a good snapshots, even in low light.

    Well then you better save up for a big sensor smartphone then, like that behemouth from Panasonic. CM1 I think it was called.
    Reply
  • LordConrad
    16352136 said:
    16352089 said:
    16351548 said:
    High Megapixel cameras are completely unnecessary unless you're making poster size prints or doing ridiculously high digital zoom. I'd much rather have a phone with 8MP 2.0?m camera.

    this really depends, remember the nokia 41-48mp cameraphone?
    if you downscale the images to 8mp they were/may still be the best images you can get out of a phone, however you look at the images at their natural size, you see detail that would otherwise have been lost, it may not be the cleanest detail, but detail none the less, the image i remember was a comparison between the 8mp and 41~48 and looking at the person's shoe, on the 8 you couldn't read the text but on the bigger image you could, though it wasn't pretty.

    personally, what i want on a phone is i believe a higher iso so low light isnt so horrible, and a bigger lense/sensor so more light can get focused even if that means bulking out the phone a bit or putting some kind of protector on the lense.
    If I want higher detail I'll use my Nikon DSLR. For a phone I want a good snapshots, even in low light.

    Well then you better save up for a big sensor smartphone then, like that behemouth from Panasonic. CM1 I think it was called.
    And how would an 8MP 2um sensor be larger than the 16-20MP 1.1um sensors they're using now?
    Reply
  • JPNpower
    @LordConrad

    Pardon?
    Reply