Sony has announced that its upcoming image sensors for smartphones and mobile devices will feature a new RGBW Coding. Usually photo pixels are encoded with RGB (Red, Green and Blue) but this W component stands for White, and is apparently used to store extra information about luminance. Sony is then able to use the extra information to improve the brightness of low-light photos for example – and the company claims that it can do so without adding a lot noise to the image.On another topic, Sony’s new sensors also come with an HDR Movie function. HDR or High Dynamic Range is typically useful when capturing a movie with very different levels of brightness in the environment which can lead the subject to be “washed out” because it was over-exposed. With HDR, the image can be captured with two exposure conditions and a final image, with minimum over-exposition, can be constructed.
It’s great to see a sensor maker pushing something else than “megapixel”. The new race is towards low-light performance and image quality, and although Sony does not make a lot of noise about it, a lot of device manufacturers have been ordering Sony’s sensors for their next-gen products.