Sony develops curved CMOS sensor for improved low-light photography

Photo: Killian Bell/Cult of Android

Photo: Killian Bell/Cult of Android

Smartphone cameras have improved tremendously in the last couple of years but low-light photography still remains their achilles heel. While OIS has helped improved matters drastically, the overall images in low-light from smartphone cameras are still only barely usable.

Sony now in a bid to improve low-light imaging performance of its sensors has created a new curved CMOS sensor via its proprietary “bending machine” that looks like a human eye and which in turn allows it to┬átake in more light.

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According to the company, the curvature has helped in increasing the light sensitivity by 1.4 times at the center and by 2 times at the edges. There are other advantages of a curved lens as well including the fact that it can be paired with a flatter lens and an larger aperture, thereby letting in more light. According to Kazuichiro Itonaga, device manager with Sony’s R&D platform in Atsugi-shi (Japan), the curvature is of the same level as found in a human eye.

The Japanese company has created two such sensors — one for digital cameras and the other for smartphones. The former is 43mm in size measured diagonally while the one meant for smartphones is 11mm in size. Sony also showed off a few image samples at the Symposium but did not provide any images from competing smartphone cameras for comparison purposes.

Curved sensors have been created in the past but Sony’s work is more closer to being mass manufactured.