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Pixel-Level Auto-ISO For One-Shot HDRs? Another (Mobile Device) Concept

By Matthew Saville on February 27th 2013

Mobile device camera developers are at it again, apparently.  They have developed a sensor technology for mobile device phones, that I desperately would love to see in professional DSLRs!

The science isn’t explained too perfectly in their “press-friendly” details page, but the company Rambus has published a description of their Binary Pixel technology HERE.

Basically, their sensor and “processing architecture” are doing something to different to increase dynamic range.  Instead of the current multi-exposure method that has become common in many cameras, from high-end DSLRs and even to mobile phones, Binary Pixel technology takes a more intelligent look at single exposures on a per-pixel basis.  How does it work?  That’s the million dollar question.  Their PR text page states:

The Rambus Binary Pixel technology mimics the brilliance of human visual processing by sensing photons using discrete thresholds similar to the rods and cones of the human eye. This “binary operation” creates dramatically better videos and photos from mobile and consumer devices that include the full gamut of details in dark and bright intensities.

slr-lounge-rambus-binary-pixel-technology

Is it a true per-pixel Auto-ISO setting?  Not exactly, I’m betting, because that would basically require a separate conversion circuit for every single pixel. However whatever they’re doing with “discrete thresholds similar to the rods and cones in the human eye” is probably going to be WAY better than the current method of simply boosting shadows and pulling back highlights in an image that has already come off the sensor.

It is only a matter of time before the adaptive characteristics of the human eye are more closely mimicked in digital imaging technology.

Either way, I hope that such developments of per-pixel dynamic range assessment are in our future.  No, I don’t just want more forgiving image files so that I can shoot sloppy and worry about it later.  Nor do I want to make every single one of my images look completely flat and shadow-less.  I simply wish there was a mode on my DSLR where I could instruct the image sensor to make the brightest point nearly white, and the darkest point nearly black, but don’t lose either no matter what the dynamic range is.  Unless it is the sun or a black hole, I’d love for my camera to simply adapt that dynamic range out there in the real world into whatever dynamic range the sensor itself is limited to.  .  Basically, I want cameras to do what the human eye can do.  ;-)

Click HERE to read the Rambus page describing their Binary Pixel technology.

Until next time, happy clicking!
=Matthew Saville=

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Matthew Saville is a full-time wedding photographer at Lin & Jirsa Photography, and a senior editor & writer at SLR Lounge.

Follow his personal wilderness adventures: Astro-Landscapes.com

See some of his latest wedding photography featured on: LinandJirsa.com

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Basit Zargar

    awesome

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  2. Timothy

    I had this exact idea a while ago, it’s exciting to see that someone’s trying it, and disappointing to see that it’s not in a dslr. My idea was to be able to set a bottom iso and a top iso, and the camera would automatically determine the iso of pixels between the brightest and darkest areas.

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