updated 10:05 am EDT, Thu June 14, 2007
Kodak Panchromatic Sensor
Promising a revolution, Kodak on Thursday revealed a new sensor technology from its camera labs that could dramatically improve the quality of digital camera shots. The development extends the Bayer Pattern that forms the basis of virtually all camera sensors today to include panchromatic pixels that accept all colors in addition to the blue-, green-, and red-only pixels of the past. Software interprets the neutral light to produce the expected image. All the extra light results in as much as two to four times the same amount of light entering the camera as with traditional digital cameras, Kodak says; the difference amounts to one or two full F-stops in traditional photography terms.
The change should have a major impact on the quality of images from everyday cameras, according to the claims. Since less light is needed to produce a high-quality shot, the technique allows for greatly reduced noise in low-light pictures and ramps up shutter speed during sports shots and other fast-motion scenes. It also has the added benefit of improving resolution by allowing more pixels without dimming the final output.
Kodak fully expects to use the new approach to its EasyShare home cameras as well as in frequently noisy cameraphone sensors. Initial versions of the sensor will be ready for testing in winter 2008 and should make their way to production cameras later that year.