The First Smartphone Image Sensor With 100% PDAF Coverage Unveiled

OmniVision Technologies claims to have developed the first image sensor with 100% phase detection autofocus (PDAF) coverage designed for smartphones. The company says its new 50-megapixel sensor allows for improved distance calculation, faster autofocus, and better low-light performance.

This new sensor combines the high resolution of 50 megapixels with 1.0-micron pixel size, selective conversion gain, and a 1/1.5-inch optical format with quad phase detection (QPD) autofocus technology and on-chip re-mosaic. That QDP enabled OmniVision to use 2×2 phase-detection autofocus across the sensor’s entire image area for true, 100% coverage.

“Unlike the microlens and half-shield PDAF technologies, which only capture 3-6% of the phase-detection data, QPD uniquely captures 100% of this data,” the company writes. “In combination with on-chip remosaic for the QPD color filter array, the result is premium image quality for the wide and ultrawide main cameras in flagship and high-end smartphones.”

The company doesn’t stop at autofocus gains and claims that its sensor also provides the best low light performance in its class. It does so via the combination of the large 1.0-micron pixel size, low noise thanks to selective conversion gain, a high conversion gain mode, and the larger 1/1.5-inch size.

“Additionally, this sensor offers excellent HDR through 2- and 3-exposure staggered HDR timing, along with selective conversion gain for the optimum balance between low-light image quality and HDR,” Omnivision continues. “These features provide mobile designers with maximum flexibility to select the best HDR method for the contrasting light and dark areas in any scene.”

Built on OmniVision’s PureCel Plus-S stacked die technology, the OV50A integrates an on-chip, QPD color filter array and hardware remosaic, which the company says provides significantly improved autofocus performance along with high quality, 50-megapixel output or 8K video, in real-time. This sensor can also use near-pixel binning to output a 12.5MP image for 4K video with four times the sensitivity, which OmniVision says yields a 2.0 micron-equivalent performance for preview and video.

Video can be ouput at up to 30 frames per second in 8K, 60 frames per second in 4K, and 240 frames per second in 1080p Full HD.

“In either case, the OV50A can consistently capture the highest quality images, as well as enabling 2x digital crop zoom with 12.5MP resolution and fast mode switch,” the company writes.

OmniVision also says that the gap between full-size cameras (which it calls DSLRs in its press announcement) has steadily been shrinking, and the company claims that this advancement will further serve to close it.

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