Panasonic doubles color sensitivity of digital camera sensors

The electronics firm said it can replace the color filter arrays now used to capture color information in image sensors

Panasonic has developed a new way to drastically increase the color and light sensitivity of digital cameras including those used in smartphones.

The Osaka-based electronics manufacturer said Monday its method replaces the color filter arrays widely used in such devices to capture individual colors, using tiny prism-like color splitters instead. The company said the new method can double the color sensitivity of image sensors, leading to far brighter images under the same lighting conditions or similar image quality at half the light.

Most image sensors on the market detect only the intensity of light they are exposed to, and so must rely on filters to provide color information. Each pixel in a sensor sits under a tiny filter that lets through only a single color. In the widely used Bayer filter, light is filtered into red, blue and green, with green given half the total pixels and the remainder split between the other two colors.

But Panasonic said this filtering method blocks much of the light before it reaches the sensor pixels, letting only 25 to 50 percent through. The company's "micro color splitters" use a super-thin transparent and refractive material to diffract light into combinations of white, red and blue, with no loss of light, which can then be translated back into standard colors mathematically.

The new filters can be used with existing image sensors, including the most commonly used CCD and CMOS varieties. The company said they can be manufactured using existing chip production techniques, and the computations involved are based on a newly developed method of analyzing the optics involved.

A Panasonic spokeswoman said the company doesn't have a schedule for commercializing the new technology.

The company said the new method for filtering colors is described in the latest issue of the publication Nature Photonics. It said it has obtained or applied for 21 Japanese patents and 16 overseas patents in regards to the new technology.

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags popular scienceconsumer electronicsPanasonicdigital cameras

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Jay Alabaster

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Essentials

Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive

Learn more >

Mobile

Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive 

Learn more >

Exec

Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450

Learn more >

Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards 

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive 

Learn more >

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?