Samsung today introduced the ISOCELL GN2, a new 50-megapixel (Mp) image sensor with large 1.4-micrometer (μm)-sized pixels, The GN2 offers up to 100Mp imaging, improved auto-focusing through Dual Pixel Pro technology, HDR capabilities, and Smart ISO Pro. The sensor aims for prosumer videographers, allowing them to take video at 8K resolution and 120 FPS (at 4K). Read on.
The ability of a camera manufacturer to develop and produce its own sensor is a significant advantage in all aspects. For instance, we’ve reported previously on Nikon developing its own high-end CMOS sensor, Sigma struggling with the production of its Full Frame Foveon X3 sensor, and the strategic business decision made by Canon to offer its own sensor for 3rd party companies. Camera manufacturers know that the power is within the sensor. Samsung knows that too. And here, the ISOCELL GN2 is presented.
With enhancements to its predecessor, (ISOCELL GN1), the new ISOCELL GN2 features new technologies that are aimed to satisfy the demand of pro photographers and videographers. The ISOCELL GN2 characterized by 100 Mp, Dual Pixel AF, HDR, and 4K at 120FPS capabilities, and supports full-HD videos at 480 FPS. Furthermore, the sensor allows shooting up to 8K resolution. Explore the spec slide below. The details are underneath.
Low-Light shooting capabilities
The 1/1.12-inch ISOCELL GN2 is a highly versatile image sensor when it comes to image resolutions. With 50 million 1.4μm-sized pixels on hand, the GN2 offers exceptionally detailed photographs in regular settings. In low-lit environments such as indoors, the sensor can simulate a larger 2.8μm-pixel with four-pixel-binning technology to absorb more light, delivering brighter and sharper images.
Ultra-high 100Mp resolution
The GN2 offers an option to take pictures in 100Mp and up to 8K resolutions. In 100Mp mode, the GN2 meticulously re-arranges the color pixels using an intelligent re-mosaic algorithm, creating three individual layers of 50Mp frames in green, red, and blue. These frames are then up-scaled and merged to produce a single ultra-high 100Mp resolution photograph.
Dual Pixel Pro for autofocusing
The ISOCELL GN2 is Samsung’s first image sensor to offer Dual Pixel Pro, the company’s most advanced phase-detection auto-focus solution yet. By employing two photodiodes within every pixel of the image sensor, Dual Pixel Pro makes use of one hundred million phase detecting agents for ultra-fast auto-focusing. In addition, the solution also offers all-direction focusing by splitting the pixels not only vertically, as with Dual Pixel, but also diagonally. This diagonal cut allows the focusing agents to better recognize the top and bottom of the frame, allowing the sensor to get in focus quickly even when there are no pattern changes in a horizontal direction. Low-light focusing and tracking of moving objects are improved as well, as every pixel of the sensor works as focusing agents. Check out the video below which demonstrates this capability.
For taking pictures in mixed-light environments, such as sunsets or indoors with daylight coming through a window, the GN2 increases its dynamic range with a staggered-HDR (High Dynamic Range) feature, a time-multiplexed HDR technology that uses rolling shutters over the same pixel arrays to capture multiple frames in short, middle, and long exposures. By maximizing the dynamic range, staggered-HDR ensures rich detail and vivid color in highlights and dark shadows within the scene, making it an ideal solution for shooting high-contrast sights. Staggered-HDR is able to reduce the energy consumption of a sensor by up to 24-percent when compared to the predecessor’s real-time HDR mode, contributing to the improved energy efficiency of the overall system.
Dual ISO function
The GN2 also comes with Smart ISO and Smart ISO Pro. Smart ISO intelligently sets the sensor’s conversion gain, allowing the picture to be taken using an optimal ISO; low ISO for brighter outdoors or high for dimmer indoors. Unlike Smart ISO, which uses readouts from a single ISO per picture, Smart ISO Pro, which uses an intra-scene dual conversion gain (iDCG) solution, takes readouts from both high and low ISO to instantly create high dynamic range images with less motion-artifacts. In addition, in extreme low-light, Smart ISO Pro quickly takes and processes multiple frames in high ISO, raising the light sensitivity close to one-million ISOs and taking mobile night photography to greater heights. Check out the video below which shows the technology behind the Smart-ISO Pro, presented by Samsung and specified for the ISOCELL GN2L:
The Samsung ISOCELL GN2 is currently in mass production. The sensor aims to be implemented on smartphones, however, these technologies and capabilities may be utilized on prosumer cameras as well. Once you have the sensor, you almost solved the problem. It’s nice seeing so many companies invest their R&D on sensors, which leads to a sensors’ arms race that pushed the technology even further. Let’s wait and see when and where this sensor will be implemented and what it produces.