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Gear Rumors

Sony ‘Active-Pixel Color Sampling’ Sensor Will Revolutionize Industry in 2015 | Rumor

By Anthony Thurston on November 12th 2014

Think about a lot of the issues that you currently have with your camera’s performance: moire, rolling shutter (in video), ISO performance, under 10fps burst mode, etc. All of these issues would no longer be a problem if this rumor about some upcoming Sony sensor tech is legit.

sony-sensor

According to a report over on Sony Alpha Rumors, which is rating this rumor an SR4 (out of 5, with 5 being most reliable), Sony is poised to announce a new “Active-Pixel Color Sampling” sensor in 2015. This new sensor is technology completely different from what is in your current camera, which is based on Bayer methodology. This is also completely different from Foveon or other multi-layer technology.

[REWIND: Sony RX1R Full Review]

Unlike the two technologies above, which in their own way require pixels to be red, green, or blue color dedicated, this new Sony Active-Pixel Color Sampling sensor allows for each individual pixel to record red, green or blue. This means no need for dedicated color layers (Foveon), and no need for interpolating (Bayer). Now, this may sound simple, but the effects are wide and far reaching.

Sony-full-frame-sensor

In theory, this 4.81 MP sensor would produce images at roughly the same resolution as a 19MP Bayer Sensor-based camera. The pixels are larger, 4 times larger in fact, meaning better low-light/high ISO performance (rivaling/surpassing the A7s fairly easily). A camera using this sensor would also likely be able to shoot at greater FPS bursts than current Bayer sensors, which rely on their processors to interpolate the RGB data. On this sensor, all the data comes as-is, meaning the same processor from your Bayer-based camera could support much higher continuous frame rates.

IMX189AEG_zps3a4547ed

This is quite exciting stuff, if it does see the light of day and is viable in the market. The rumor is that Sony will announce the new ‘APCS’ tech in 2015, possibly releasing a new device utilizing the tech towards the end of the year.

Sony has already been on a tear in the photographic industry, coming out with tech like this. If it works as advertised above, it would almost certainly bring photographers in droves from the competition. I am very interested to see where this goes, and how it turns out.

[via Sony Alpha Rumors]

Anthony Thurston is a photographer based in the Salem, Oregon area specializing in Boudoir. He recently started a new project, Fiercely Boudoir to help support the growing boudoir community. Find him over on Instagram. You may also connect with him via Email.

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Dave Haynie

    Well, the reason a true RGB sensor at 4.7Mpixel doesn’t seem like it should produce images similar to those of a 19Mpixel Bayer sensor is, well, because it doesn’t. RGB sensor people usually at least divide by three… but the problem is, that’s not how human vision works. An RBG sensor will get 4.7M distinct spatial samples and 14.1 distinct color samples, while the Bayer sensor will get 19M distinct spatial samples and 19M distinct color samples. The interpolation does lower the effective spatial resolution a bit, but it’s not pixel bucketing.

    In fact, even very simple (bi-linear) interpolation is interpolating the missing color from four neighbors, which is more prone to color errors (edge artifacts) than a significant loss of resolution. Bi-cubic, spline, Lanczos, etc. de-mosaicing do a much better job (and yeah, those are very much related to algorithms used for clean image resizing — it’s essentially the same kind of problem).

    Another example of this: JPEG and MPEG typically toss out 3 out of every 4 color samples, but keep all luma samples. You can see this if you’re used to pixel peeping for it, but it’s not that dramatic. The human eye has 120 million luma sensors and 6 million color sensors. We just don’t care as much about color.

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  2. Arnold Ziffel

    I’m just wondering how much longer Sony is going to continue to supply sensors to Nikon, Pentax, and others. Seems to me it would be self defeating to share this new technology.

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    • Greg Geis

      It all depends on their profit margins, volume and licensing agreements. There are more reasons than just the sensor that pushes people to one manufacturer or another… Just look at Canon. It could be a sweet piece of business Sony to pump out mass volumes of sensors to other major players in the industry. The larger volume probably let’s them devote more resources to extending their lead. Maybe that will change one day, but I hope they keep it up.

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    • Scottie Nguyen

      They will share it as long as the others pay them for the sensors according to the laws of economics. Now that they got Nikon hooked, they got Nikon by the balls. If the start raising sensor pricings on Nikon, what is Nikon suppose to do but pay for it. There Sony alpha cameras are doing well too. They are smart to design mirror less where Nikon and Canon are still asleep not having any ideas that mirror less will one day be the standard like digital killed off film. Surprise that Nikon and Canon have no clue that full frame mirroless is the future. Zzzzzzzzz for Nikon and canon

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  3. Greg Geis

    I don’t know know what the manufacturing cost increase is to do 1/8000 on a FF sensor, but if I were to guess, I would almost guarantee it was killed in a round table discussion about how to protect D810 sales rather than a manufacturing cost analysis. “We want it to surpass the 5D Mark III, but not step on the D810…”

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    • adam sanford

      It’s just that one would think the easiest way to keep the D750 out of the D8XX space is to only offer a 24 MP sensor… which is what they did. That should clearly delineate the product lines, right? Once you commit to that, why not max everything else out?

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  4. Greg Geis

    Stuff it into the D760, and while they’re at it, why not go ahead and bump it up to 1/8000s shutter and 1/250 synch speed? Or would Nikon be afraid of making a camera that’s “too good?” Probably not, but they would probably reserve it for a D5 where the masses won’t enjoy it…

    All of course assuming the rumor has substance…

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    • adam sanford

      I’m kind of amazed that a $2,300 body like the D750 doesn’t have a 1/8000 shutter. We expect Canon and Nikon to nerf the specs of the 6D and D610 in a few places — AF, fastest shutter speed, burst rate, video modes, etc.– but a mid-level FF rig like the D750 being limited shutter wise confuses me. Does a 1/8000 shutter require a more robust design or cost more to build?

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    • Stan Rogers

      THAT might be the hard part. I see a lot of people drooling about relatively high-pixel count sensors with higher-than Bayer real resolution. The higher-than-Bayer resolution looks just fine from here (Foveon’s one way to do it, yes, but the Hasselblad 50MP multishot also does it). The report seems to indicate, though, that the effective filtration is being cycled at each pixel — it only reads one colour at a time. Since light is probabilistic, if the filter cycle speed gets too high, you’re almost certain to get a lot of chroma noise. (If it gets too low, you really restrict the number of shutter speeds available.) The piece has a heavy emphasis on video, and that’s probably for a very good reason; I wouldn’t expect to see this sensor on a stills camera that allows high shutter speeds AND high ISOs.

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    • Scottie Nguyen

      They can’t make it too good or else it will kill the sales of the D800/d/810. They have to make it “less” somehow for an “intermediate” price to sell. You know it’s all business. This is the real reason why they never did the D710, to protect the sales of the D800 series

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  5. dimitris stilio

    Unless the cameras equiped with such a new sensor, can be combined with the existing e-mount lenses, then it will be a failure.
    Sony if notorious for not supporting its system with enough lens choices (even putting obstacles to 3rd party companies [read Sigma] to put out their own offerings). We (Sony users) already have complaints with the e-mount series.
    Imagine if this new technology requires a new mount system and new lenses…it will be not before 5 years after the camera initial offering that the lenses will be there.
    So let’s wait to see.

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  6. Connor Katz

    Sounds very interesting, although they might want to find a better acronym. APCS can easily be ready as APSC. Sony next year: Come check out our revolutionary APSC sensor. Everyone else: Yawn. : )

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  7. Greg Silver

    I’m liking where Sony is taking there sensors. Although I’m not sure how effective a 4.81 MP sensor will be for larger prints.

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    • Anthony Thurston

      Greg, as mentioned in the post, the 4.81MP sensor would have the same resolution (in theory) as a 19MP Bayer sensor. So it would be plenty for most anything, expect maybe large billboards or stuff like that.

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    • adam sanford

      Seems that way, Greg, but the math gets a little nutty with these. The various Sigma DP bodies had (different) sensors that had a similar ‘X megapixels really captures the detail of 2-4X the megapixels’ and have been proven out in some subjective comparisons.

      I remember the Camera Store TV guys (see YouTube) reviewed one of the Sigma DP rigs and took shots to print, took a careful eye to them and were pretty impressed. Those cameras had crippling other problems, though, so they never really caught on.

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    • adam sanford

      Sony continues to innovate on the sensor front, and I won’t deny as a Canon guy (but certainly no fanboy) that I’m pretty jealous about that. These guys are churning out innovations right now.

      I just wish Sony would balance that innovation with some practicality. They would do well to hire some relatively experienced (and likely boring/dull to their standards) Canon/Nikon engineers/test photographers and get the ‘basic photographer’ details sorted. Every time I go into a Sony store and muck around with a Sony A7 or SLR rig, it feels completely alien to hold, change settings, review, and shoot. This is not the usual ‘it’s another brand, you dummy — of course it will be weird’ sort of feeling, as I can pick up a Nikon and figure out where the buttons/switches are and just shoot. There’s just something alien and awkward about the user experience in my hands. But I know they are building legions of fans the past few years, so your mileage may vary.

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    • adam sanford

      That said, when we all inevitably own Sony mirrorless rigs in 5-10 years given their *comical* head start on Canon and Nikon, their menus/ergonomics might seem less odd… as it will be the only option out there. :-P

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    • Greg Silver

      I’m still a little sceptical hearing 4.81 MP has the same quality as 19 MP. Hoping this isn’t just marketing but actual fact. I’m all for this if it is indeed better at lower resolution.

      I remember the marketing buzz behind the camera on the HTC One and them saying why their 4MP is better than 8MP. Yes it was a very good camera but in the end it couldn’t compete with upcoming models at 16MP.

      In the automotive industry there’s a saying, “There’s no replacement for displacement” To ‘some’ degree I think this would pass on to the digital camera world.

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    • Scottie Nguyen

      Making new sensor technology is the hard part. Just ask Canon. Getting the camera format in terms of frame rates and focusing like Canon and Nikon is the easier and I have no doubt Sony can figure that out rather easily. If Canon comes out with the same lame old technology in the 5d4 and 1DX2, it will be the decline of the Roman empire. 2015 and 2016 could the turning of a new dynasty as they have been picking a lot of steam in the last 2 years. Nikon jumped on their ship and I believe Nikon has the best camera in the industry. Canon perhaps should start using their sensors if they want to keep up. With a Sony sensor, Canon would once again be on top. Sony is just so innovative. So interested in the new Samsung’s new NX1 sensor and how they are going to do !!!

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