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Image Sensors of the future?

Discussion in 'Open Discussion' started by Malcolm Schweizer, Sep 26, 2016.

  1. Malcolm Schweizer

    Malcolm Schweizer Mu-43 Regular

    33
    Sep 10, 2012
    US Virgin Islands
    Malcolm Schweizer
    I wonder what will be the norm in 10 more years? I suspect "Megapixels" will be a joke. "Gigapixels" or even "Terapixels" will be the new standard. They will find a way to use DNA from our cornea to create image sensors that use bioengineered light gathering elements. They would be grown in labs and each sensor would be one micron thick and have billions of little DNA cells that sense light.

    Perhaps we will see new terms such as "Microfresnel Glass" which breaks the image down into pixels using tiny microprisms and directs it more evenly to individual pixels, or perhaps breaks it up into primary colors and there would be a pixel for each primary color per microprism. I'm talking about microscopic sized prisms all laser etched into a piece of glass so finely that it just looks like clear glass, but when you put it next to the sensor, it actually focuses the light so you get a clearer, brighter, color-specific image to each individual pixel.

    In the more near future, I believe monster image sensors will sprout from the latest Hasselblad and Fujifilm offerings, and will grow to 4x5, 5x7, or even 8x10 (inch) large format sensors for studio work. Someone will find a way to simplify the file compression so that images of that size can still be managed. I mean- what's keeping us from making monster sensors other than the sheer size of the files that would be produced by such a large sensor?

    What about interchangeable sensors, just like we have interchangeable lenses. Each sensor could be tailored for specific needs- one for high ISO, one for low ISO and very fine detail, one for high-speed action photos, etc. Perhaps high-end lenses of the future would come with a matching sensor.

    Another one: Nanopixel Blending. This technology would have a nanopixel between each individual pixel. It would read the light gathered by the adjacent pixels and then tune the pixels so that they blended from one shade to the next- so the resulting pixels would graduate uniformly from one to the next in hue/tint/shade. Something like this somewhat exists, but I'm talking each pixel would have a nanopixel on either side of it which specifically blends each side of the pixel to the pixels adjacent to it.

    Just some thoughts while I sit and read up on all the latest sensors, and look back at how an 8MP sensor used to be amazing.
     
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  2. SVQuant

    SVQuant Mu-43 Top Veteran

    845
    Sep 20, 2015
    SF Bay Area, California, USA
    Sameer
    I suspect you mean retina and not cornea. Just for reference, the human retina contains about 120 million rod cells and 6 million cone cells (source: Photoreceptor cell - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia). Only the cones detect color. Also, a DNA cell detecting light (not that these do so anywhere which I am aware of) is not enough as you will also need to get a readout to be able to actually generate an image.

    The physical size of the silicon wafer is a limitation. Also, the ability to get a defect free sensor that size would probably be prohibitively expensive. There are multiple mechanical challenges with larger wafer sizes.
     
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  3. Malcolm Schweizer

    Malcolm Schweizer Mu-43 Regular

    33
    Sep 10, 2012
    US Virgin Islands
    Malcolm Schweizer
    I knew I should have googled that. Yes- retina is what I meant.

    Good point on the silicon limitations. I was also wondering if some other replacement would be found. For instance- lab-created sapphire is replacing watch crystals. Maybe some lab-created substance. Same goes for lenses- who knows?

    It's okay to dream. I'm just amazed by all the innovation in just a few years. It's part of why I have waited to get a high-end camera.
     
  4. SVQuant

    SVQuant Mu-43 Top Veteran

    845
    Sep 20, 2015
    SF Bay Area, California, USA
    Sameer
    I think that dreaming is a good thing. My point with quoting the retina numbers was that we may not need much more in terms of megapixels than we have already to get to the limit of human perception. Technology is very cool and the direction of change is often unexpected. I am sure that biosensors and other cool things lie in our future.

    One direction which seems to me to be very probable is that cell phone photography will kill the consumer camera business and future developments in imaging will be a sharply bifurcated market where amateurs like me will have slim pickings. Time will tell.
     
  5. Malcolm Schweizer

    Malcolm Schweizer Mu-43 Regular

    33
    Sep 10, 2012
    US Virgin Islands
    Malcolm Schweizer
    Yes, I already saw where Lumix is making a cell phone- so it's a camera that doubles as a phone as opposed to vice-versa. One thing I don't like about today's technology is that now EVERYBODY is a photographer, but on the flip-side of that, it also means more people get interested in photography and that helps drive the consumer market for specialty cameras.
     
  6. TheMenWhoDrawSheeps

    TheMenWhoDrawSheeps Mu-43 Regular

    154
    Jun 15, 2016
    i doubt we will see huge leap in MP in the future sensors - canon is already capable producing 60MP/120MP sensors, so does sony - yet, they aren´t really implementing it yet - higher MP means less room for manuver - we need much more overall tech impovement - sharper lenses, better IS for handhelding etc. sure they will come out eventually, but rather as a marketing feature.

    now what is gonna happen for certain is increas in dynamic range. that will be next playground for sensor improvements.

    i also belive that one of the next steps will be instant sensor readout. we still have rolling shutter, and unability to synch flash with electronic shutter - this would open much more doors and possibilities for next gen cameras.

    except for that, i would rather see better usability of current tech. High res. shot showed, that you don´t need large sensor nor high mp count to produce comparable pictures. it´s not the tech that limiting us, but the technology of how we use it. a smart combination of hardware + software can achive wonders.
     
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  7. Speedliner

    Speedliner Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 2, 2015
    Southern NJ, USA
    Rob
    hologram generators and a 3D solid-penetrating imager.
     
  8. Leighgion

    Leighgion Mu-43 Regular

    119
    Aug 1, 2012
    Madrid, Spain
    Leigh L Pang
    It's not my area of expertise, but my understanding of chip fabrication argues against the proliferation of larger sensors. One of the bottlenecks in tech is that chip fabrication hasn't really changed all that much, so the cost of a chip per square mm has remained relatively constant. The price of electronics falls not so much due to economics of scale, but from advances that allows more functions to be crammed onto a smaller chip, thus shrinking the needed real estate and reducing the price. Image sensors are expensive because their size is an integral part of what defines their performance. Add to that the fact that the larger the chip, the lower the yield of usable samples and the economy just isn't working right now.

    Far as the megapixel race, I think we're already reaching the point where the higher numbers are becoming less valuable both practically and for marketing. A parallel can be drawn to the CPU megahertz wars of the 90's; Intel was the clock speed champion, but found itself reaching a dead end as they hit diminishing returns and found themselves producing tiny furnaces as waste heat piled up. Intel ended up abandoning their Pentium IV architecture and going back to the simpler P3 design to focus on efficiency. That path led to the Intel i3, i5 and i7 processors today, which have much lower clock speeds, but are multicore and light years more efficient. A modern 2.2 Ghz i7, even without software to leverage its multiple cores, stomps 3+ ghz CPUs from the old P4 line.

    AA filters are starting to disappear to improve sharpness. Processing algorithms are always evolving and improving. Image sensors themselves are continually refined so the next generation performs better than the last at a given size. I think the future is here, where instead of going from 36 to 72 megapixels, we go from 36 mp to 36 superior megapixels.
     
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