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Kodak Announces New Sensor Technology that Improves Low-light Performance

Read about Kodak's new color filter array that adds clear pixels to improve images taken in low light.

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June 14, 2007 - Kodak today introduced new sensor technology that promises to improve the quality of photographs taken in low light. The new color filter array mixes clear pixels, which collect all light wavelengths, with the traditional red, green, and blue pixels found on most color image sensors. The additional light collected by the sensor could potentially allow the camera to operate at faster shutter speeds in low-light conditions, reducing motion blur.

"This represents a new generation of image sensor technology and addresses one of the great challenges facing our industry – how to capture crisp, clear digital images in a poorly lit environment," said Chris McNiffe, General Manager of Kodak’s Image Sensor Solutions group in a press release. "This is a truly innovative approach to improving digital photography in all forms, and it highlights Kodak’s unique ability to differentiate its products by delivering advanced digital technologies that really make a difference to the consumer."

In 1976, Dr. Bryce Bayer of Kodak developed the Bayer Pattern; half the pixels are sensitive to green wavelengths with the other half are split between red and blue. According to Kodak, the addition of panchromatic (clear) pixels will increase the sensor’s light sensitivity by 2-4x. The sensor also uses smaller pixels, which will improve resolution, according to the release.

The sensor was developed by John Compton and John Hamilton, according to Kodak’s company blog.

"We wanted to enhance the low-light performance of digital sensors, to see what it would take to get better sensitivity," said Compton in an interview posted on the Kodak company blog. "For years the industry has been using Bayer filter array that was invented by Kodak researcher Bryce Bayer back in 1976 - we wanted to see if we could improve on that," added Hamilton.

The technology is applicable to both CMOS and CCD sensors. Kodak is incorporating the new technology into CMOS sensors for consumer markets, including digital cameras and cell phones, according to the release. The company also plans to use it in industrial and scientific imaging products. Samples of the new sensor will be released in the first quarter of 2008, according to the company blog.

Click here for more information about the technology.

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