SONY IMX586 Stacked Sensor 48MP and High Frame Rates!

SONY IMX586 Stacked Sensor

Sony has released specs for a new IMX Cellphone oriented sensor that has a whopping 48 Megapixel photosite grid with a new Bayer altered pattern of quad pixel colors that aims to quadruple the dynamic range of the signal and increase detail retention significantly by supersampling every photosite and creating a final 12MP image with excellent characteristics.

As far as frame rates go we were glad to see very high-end read-out speeds for this sensor as full 4k video can max out at 90fps and other high fps settings include 1080p 240fps full area downsampling and 720p 480fps but with a cropped windowed frame extraction.  At 48MP or 12 regular De-Bayered then we expect the crop to be quite extreme at the 720p mode unless they do a 4 or 6MP downsample.

Sony IMX586 Stacked Sensor Frame Rates:

  • Full Sensor Read-out at 48MP  30fps
  • 4K(4096×2160) : 90fps
  • 1080p : 240fps
  • 720p : 480fps(w/crop)

We do not expect this sensor to be the best match for high-speed imaging, more related to high-end still image quality.  Other Sony IMX Sensors capable of 960fps at full HD 1080p should be available in phone designs going forward as in the Xperia XZ2.

Some experts expect the Sony Xperia XZ3 or XZ4 to feature the first use of this sensor to have a real upper hand on the image quality front.  Now that supersampling is a clear direction for phone sensors due to hitting an upper limit on what traditional pixel sensors can do, we expect to see this technique used in more CMOS designs as phones evolve.  Looking at the image data and samples below you can clearly see that the detail may even rival professional cameras when it comes to dynamic range and detail in good light.

The following data is a direct quote from the official Sony site for the IMX586 here: 

Sony IMX586 Stacked Sensor Main Features:

1.World’s first*3 0.8 μm ultra-compact pixel size enables industry’s highest*1 pixel count at 48 effective megapixels*2

Generally, miniaturization of pixels results in poor light collecting efficiency per pixel, accompanied by a drop in sensitivity and volume of saturation signal. This product was designed and manufactured with techniques that improve light collection efficiency and photoelectric conversion efficiency over conventional products, resulting in the world’s first*3 0.8 μm pixel size, with both high sensitivity and high saturation signal level.
This smaller pixel size allows the new product to deliver 48 effective megapixels*2 on a compact unit with 8.0 mm diagonal, which can be fitted on many smartphones. The increased pixel count enables high-definition imaging even on smartphones which use digital zoom.

Conventional image (12 effective megapixels)IMX586 image (48 effective megapixels*2)

2.The Quad Bayer array enables both high sensitivity and high resolution

By adopting the Quad Bayer color filter array, where the adjacent 2×2 pixels come in the same color, the new sensor delivers both high sensitivity and high resolution. In low light situations, such as shooting at night, the signal from the four adjacent pixels are added, raising the sensitivity to a level equivalent to that of 1.6 μm pixels (12 effective megapixels), to capture bright, low-noise photos and videos. When shooting bright scenes such as daytime outdoors, the built-in, original signal processing function performs array conversion, making it possible to obtain high-definition 48 effective megapixel images in real time.

Pixel array of the new sensor
(Quad Bayer Array)
(conceptual diagram)
Array conversion using original signal processing
(conceptual diagram)

3.Four times greater dynamic range than previous products and real time output

Original Sony exposure control technology and signal processing functionality are built into the image sensor, enabling real-time output and a superior dynamic range that is four times greater than conventional products. Even scenes with both bright and dark areas can be captured with minimal highlight blowout or loss of detail in shadows while viewing the image on the smartphone display.

Key Specifications

Model name IMX586
Number of effective pixels 8000 (H) × 6000 (V)48 megapixels*2
Image size Diagonal 8.000mm(Type 1/2)
Unit cell size 0.8μm(H)×0.8μm(V)
Frame rate Full 30fps
Sensitivity (Standard value: f5.6) Approx. 133LSB
Sensor saturation signal level (minimum value) Approx. 4500e
Voltage Analog 2.8V, 1.8V
Digital 1.1V
Interface 1.8V
Main functions Image plane phase-difference AF, HDR imaging
Output MIPI C-PHY1.0 (3 trio) / D-PHY 1.2 (4 lane)
Color filter array Quad Bayer array
Image output format Bayer RAW

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