Everything from candlelit birthday parties to risquÃ© In-the-Club image captures are getting a boost from new color filtering technology. Eastman Kodak Co. (Yes, that Kodak) has developed a way to double the light sensitivity of the image sensor used in every digital camera from expensive SLRs to Cameraphones.
Intended to replace an industry standard developed by a Kodak scientist in the mid 1970s, the new technology is expected to appear first in mass-market point and shoot cameras and Cameraphones sometime early next year. An important aspect of this new technology is that it lends itself to widespread adoption by a large number camera manufacturers and different types of cameras. Kodak expects to provide other camera manufacturers with samples of the technology in 2008.
While new technology like this often first appears in high end products and then slowly makes its way into the mainstream, the most benefit from this will be reaped by the cameraphone industry, a traditionally inexpensive digital camera incarnation. In order to fit smaller cameras that achieve the same or better resolution, the industry has been producing image sensors with smaller sensors. Small sensors mean small pixels, which in turn lends itself to reduced light sensitivity.
The new technology adds a new type of image sensor cell to the traditional array of green, red, and blue light-sensitive cells. These new cells, called Panchromatic cells, are sensitive to all wavelengths of light and therefore collect more light information as it strikes the sensor. Software algorithms tweaked to fit these new sensor arrays lead to faster shutter speeds, which means better blur-reduction in low light settings.