At Inter Bee 2018, Panasonic is introducing the first camera equipped with an “Organic” 8K sensor (36M pixel, 60 FPS), which should push the light sensitivity and dynamic range farther than existing CMOS sensors.

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Ubergizmo spotted this technology back in 2013 when the research was first announced, and products should arrive onto the market in “fall 2019” in the form of the AK-SHB 810 camera, according to Panasonic. The “organic” word comes from the fact that the sensor uses an organic thin film to convert photons to electrons.

According to its creators, the theoretical advantages of this new Panasonic image sensor can be summarized in a few key points:

  • The organic sensor uses a global shutter, like expensive CCD sensor. That’s unlike common smartphones or DSLR CMOS sensors which rely on a rolling shutter as a trick to gather a little bit more light. For a quick rolling shutter explanation, watch the video below
  • The sensor has a higher light sensitivity (100X in theory), which is great for low-light captures
  • The sensor has a higher dynamic range for extremely high-contrast scenes

Global shutters are extremely important when taking pictures of fast-moving scenes because it will prevent distortions that are proportional to the speed at which things move, thus greatly improving image quality in these conditions. Panasonic does point out a large caveat: this works only for shutter speeds higher than 1/120: that means it can be used in bright lighting only. For slower shutter speeds, it will fall back to a rolling shutter mode.

The higher dynamic range is obtained by improving the light to electric conversion and the subsequent charge storage. When a sensor pixel can hold more charge, it means that it can perceive a higher brightness without capping: its upper (dynamic) range is expanded.

Finally, the sensor has a neutral density (ND) filter, which makes it possible to reduce the brightness without altering color hues, and without requiring changing the camera’s aperture or shutter speed. This extra flexibility is one more tool that would give the camera software an opportunity to improve image quality.

It’s not clear how big the sensor is, and how fast this technology could trickle down into devices we care more about like smartphones or compact cameras. However, this is one of the exciting reasons to attend “pro” shows like Inter Bee where such technologies are introduced and where we can meet with engineers that have designed the system.

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