*1: As of February, 2014 (based on Sony's research)
The recent growth of smartphone users brought more opportunities to share video imaging and still imaging on the internet, and higher picture quality is required even for smartphone cameras.
As the result, smartphone models have started to feature HDR (High Dynamic Range) function to capture the brilliant colors even when pictures are taken against bright light.
Now, Sony is releasing "IMX214", 13M-pixel stacked CMOS image sensor with the unique SME (Spatially Multiplexed Exposure) -HDR technology.
The image sensor is able to output 13M-pixel HDR at the maximum of 30 frame/s, and stabilized and high resolution HDR imaging can be generated for both video imaging and still imaging.
* Exmor RS is a trademark of Sony Corporation. The Exmor RS is a Sony's CMOS image sensor with high-resolution, high-performance and compact size by replacing a supporting substrate in Exmor RTM which changed fundamental structure of ExmorTM pixel adopted column parallel A/D converter to back-illuminated type, with layered chips formed signal processing circuits.
The HDR imaging function is one of the effective methods to improve picture quality. The conventional software method to generate one HDR image combining several pictures is not appropriate to capture moving subjects since this method cannot fill the time gap between the respective pictures. Handling several frames is also difficult for high speed video recording which contains big signal processing data.
This time Sony released the IMX214 featuring SME-HDR technology, which is capable of outputting 13M-pixel HDR images. The technology sets two different exposure conditions during shooting and seamlessly performs appropriate image processing to generate optimal images with a wide dynamic range. Therefore, the IMX214 outputs 13M-pixel HDR at 30 frame/s, and brilliant colors are captured even when pictures are taken against bright light for both video imaging and still imaging. (See figure 1.)
As well, this image sensor is capable to handle 4K or 13M-pixel HDR shooting which was not possible in the existing IMX135*2 (featuring BME-HDR function). (See table 1.)
*2: 2012 August 20th News Releases
Sony has been adopted back-illuminated structure for shooting in the high sensitivity and low light conditions, and the IMX214 accomplished further improvements of pixel characteristics with the back-illuminated structure. The on-chip lens and photodiode were placed close to each other for better light collecting efficiency compared with the existing back-illuminated structure. Then incident light characteristics and color crosstalk were improved from the existing product with the back-illuminated structure. (See figure 2 and figure 3.)
The better color crosstalk resulted in higher performance in the color-processed SNR, and consequently high-picture quality can be provided even under low light conditions. Also more efficient incident light characteristics enabled the combination with high CRA lens, which contributes to reduce the height of the module, and adopting small F-number lens also allowed to capture brighter images even with short exposure time.
Cameras mounted on the recent smartphones have increasing demands for high-picture quality and compact size to compete on design of the smartphone itself.
The IMX214 adopts the Sony's specialized stacked structure and accomplished miniaturization while keeping the functions including SME-HDR technology for high-picture quality at the same time. The module size can be cut down and it contributes to the appealing smartphone design.
Solid line: IMX214 Dashed line: IMX135
Solid line: IMX214 Dashed line: IMX135
|Image size||Diagonal 5.87 mm||←|
|Total number of pixels||4224 (H) × 3176 (V)
Approx. 13.42M pixels
|4224 (H) × 3200 (V)
Approx. 13.51M pixels
|Number of active pixels||4208 (H) × 3120 (V)
Approx. 13.13M pixels
|Fabrication process||Back-illuminated process||Back-illuminated process
+ reduced height structure
|Unit cell size||1.12 µm (H) × 1.12 µm (V)||←|
|Output format||MIPI 4, 2 Lane||←|
|Control communication interface||I2C||←|
|Analog||2.7 +0.2/-0.1 V||←|
|Digital||1.05 ± 0.1 V||1.0 +0.15/-0.1 V|
|I/O||1.8 ± 0.1 V||←|
|Input clock frequency||6 to 27 MHz||←|
|Signal processing function
|Spot pixel compensation||✔||←|
|Full||Not supported||30 frame/s|
|4K||Not supported||30 frame/s|
|1080p||30 frame/s||60 frame/s|
*Sony reserves the right to change products and specifications without prior notice.
The IMX214 targets that even smartphones can capture clearer still imaging and video imaging, and all project members put our best effort starting from the design to the manufacturing phases.
Please try this image sensor evolving Sony's unique HDR technology and do not miss the opportunity to make a new imaging experience that Sony is striving for.