70-megapixel sensor paves the way for ultra high-resolution digital cameras

70-megapixel sensor paves the way for ultra high-resolution digital cameras

Summary: Think that the 8-megapixel camera inside the iPhone 5 is amazing? Belgium-based CMOSIS have developed a high-resolution CMOS image sensor capable of capturing 10,000 by 7,096 pixels.

TOPICS: Hardware
(Source: CMOSIS)

Think that the 8-megapixel camera inside the iPhone 5 is amazing? Or maybe you've splashed out more than $3,000 for a 36-3-megapixel Nikon D800E and you're feeling rather pleased with that. Well, in the words of Bachman–Turner Overdrive, you ain't seen nothing yet.

Belgium-based CMOSIS have developed an image sensor that blows away the competition. The CHR70M is a high-resolution CMOS image sensor that can capture an amazing 10,000 by 7,096 pixels, making it a 79-megapixel part. The sensor is a full-sized 35mm part, unlike the cropped sensors found in some cameras, such as the Canon 7D, and is capable of capturing up to three frames per second at full resolution.

The sensor itself is a marvel of engineering, with each diode pixel measuring only 3.1 by 3.1 micrometers, with every pair of diode pixels hooked up to a transistor. The sensor features either analog outputs, each running at 30MHz.

(Source: CMOSIS)

There are sensors that can boast higher resolution — the Leaf Aptus-II 12 featured an 80-megapixel sensor — but this sensor is much more sensitive and faster than any previously available.

High-resolution sensors become more and more important as the media industry begins to embrace technologies such as 4K resolution, and this technology will undoubtedly trickle down into consumer-oriented devices such as digital cameras and smartphones.

Topic: Hardware

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  • Pixel size

    if sensor size is small, but many pixel there. it is difficult to produce good images. we can not put too many pixel on small sensor. search for discussion at dpreview and you will know
    Utomo Prawiro
    • Yes, but...

      ...it is a for a Full Frame 36X24, bigger than APS-C, and not much people has FF, less the medium format gear. So most would have buy lenses etc. to migrate to FF anyway.
  • What are the applications for this?

    Will we see it in high end cameras soon? Or is this something that does not translate into consumer devices very well?
  • Great now I need a 128TB phone! Not.

    Wonder how long it will take for this to actually find a useful niche.
    Johnny Vegas
  • cleaning the sensor

    Great Article! New technologies present new challenges - I would like to know how does one clean the sensor (even if sealed) and as a photographer maintain the investment? A speck of dust may span a huge quantity of pixels or may create defective pixels - or maybe a mechanical issue with a small splatter of oil from a DSLR mirror? The existing software for processing probably doesn't exist yet - help!
  • 79 Mpx?

    "making it a 79-megapixel part"? .. more like 70,96 Mpx

    And resolution is not everything - I've got a 16.2 Mpx Nikon D5100 - and the primary reason why I chose it over many others, was the native very low noise up to high ISOs.
    Combine that with a nice lens, and you can suddenly do many things with your camera, which others with higher resolution / smaller pixel size sensors and cheap dark lenses can just dream of.
  • meh

    Diffraction is going to limit what you can do with such small photosites. I'd rather see them work on improving dynamic range instead of this pixel madness.
    • Not difraction

      The iphone has pixels smaller than 1.75micrometters for each side, this has 3x3 and so much bigger sensor size, difraction starts for a full frame around f/8
  • 12MP

    I find my 12MP Nikon D700 (full frame) is more than enough for me. A 70MP sensor isn't going to give me better quality, especially if we continue to use current lenses. You'll just end up with more pixels to allow somewhat better cropping.

    My other 3 Nikon bodies use CCD sensors of 6MP or 10MP and though not absolutely brilliant for low-light, sufficient for my day to day use, far better than CMOS sensors -- YMMV.
    • What about hummingbirds?

      Not in direct sun light, and in focus. You would need high speed and small aperture, and a High dinamic range to get those atonishing fotos of the colors and details of their feathers
  • Back in 2010...

    Canon announced a prototype 120MegaPixel CMOS sensor. Admittedly this was an APS-H sized sensor, but I believe that they also mentioned that if they scaled it up to a 35mm size it would be about 240Mp.

    Sensor resolution is one thing, lens resolving power is another. Now we have good sensors, we just need to make the lenses to go with them.
  • Hi-res sensors

    Isn't the photographic chain only as strong as its weakest link?

    I have a Leica M9 with 18mb full-frame sensor and am considering purchasing the Leica Monochrom, also 18mb but black and white only (I mention that because B&W resolution might be a different issue). Leica lenses are probably the best available.

    Is there a printer that can print up to or even beyond that performance?

    If not, then surely the latest Leica M with 24mb sensor is over-specced, let alone a 70mb sensor. (The 24mb Leica has other up-grades aside from a bigger sensor that might make it worth buying).

    So what, from the photographer's point of view, is the use of super sensors? I mean, Canon's pro model for press photographers only had, I think, an 8mb sensor because anything more would be lost in the printing process for newspapers.
    • what's the point

      The use of supersensors is not in landscape photography - certainly not if the goal is a print. The use is data collection. 240 million pixels is a data mine. Who knows what you can do with it - accurate 3d printing, fingerprints, surveillance, etc.

      Lens quality is an issue for larger faster lenses, but diffraction limit is the bigger hurdle. The tiny lens in an iphone for example is cheap and easy to make with same quality as $10,000 lenses - it just doesn't collect much light.

      Of course, diffraction limit was supposed to limit lithography in chip manufacturing and they've found all sorts of clever ways around it. Future image processing in digital photography will likely do the same