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The new sensor will enable clearly luminated images from atmospheres as dark as a movie theater. (Source: Korea Electronic Technology Institute)
Researchers don't want you to worry about bright flashes in dimly-lit scenes anymore

Our eyes will possibly get some relief from the blinding flash of cameras in low-light scenarios.  South Korea's Electronic Technology Institute announced the development of a new image sensor chip that allows digital cameras to capture vibrant images without a flash in dark spaces.

The digital camera equipped with the chip will be able to take high-resolution photos or video-recordings at 1 lux.  The camera will be able to snap pictures in places such as theaters, underground traffic tunnels, or dark-lit bars and clubs.  The chip promises clear pictures with light as bright as the lighting from a candle 1 meter away in a dark room and is said to be 2,000 times more light sensitive than other sensor types.  The will initially be used for camera phones, CCTV cameras and vehicle rear-view cameras.

Institute officials stated that state-run Korea Electronics Technology Institute has developed the single carrier modulation photo detector (SMPD) chip using nanotechnology.

The institute already spent roughly 11 billion won ($10.5 million USD) on the development of the SMPD chip over the past four years.  The expected earnings from the chip exportation is about 2 trillion won ($2.2 billion USD) annually

No news has been released yet about the production details of the chip, nor has there been any pricing estimates on the chip.

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Wow I cant wait.
By Mitch101 on 5/22/2007 5:49:47 PM , Rating: 3
Wow I was just about to upgrade my digital and now hearing about this I will put it off.

If there is one thing that is bad about digitals is low light conditions. I also hope it improves low light video capture which I assume it does since it improves pictures in low light conditions.

RE: Wow I cant wait.
By tehfire on 5/22/2007 6:12:12 PM , Rating: 3
Yeah, same here.

I doubt it'll be cheap or practical anytime the applications it is designed for (cell phone cameras, car cameras, etc.) I get the feeling like it's a pretty low-resolution sensor for now...

RE: Wow I cant wait.
By tdawg on 5/22/2007 6:15:22 PM , Rating: 3
When compared to film, many digital slrs produce cleaner images than their film counterparts at equivalent isos. P&S digital cameras are worse off, of course.

If you're going to hold out for this, I'm thinking you may be waiting quite a while and will have to pay a pretty penny once this comes out.

Also, besides security uses, do we really need ISO 130000?

RE: Wow I cant wait.
By ira176 on 5/22/2007 11:20:35 PM , Rating: 2
I could be wrong, but I thought that you would want a lower ISO for dimmer situations, not higher.

RE: Wow I cant wait.
By tdawg on 5/23/2007 12:27:23 AM , Rating: 3
Actually, the lower the ISO, the more light you need to capture an image. More light can be obtained with a slower shutter speed (longer exposure to light) or larger apertures (f-stop).

RE: Wow I cant wait.
By TennesseeTony on 5/23/2007 7:19:51 PM , Rating: 3
do we really need ISO 130000?

Absolutely. ISO 3200 is inadequate for early evening sport shots, I'm getting lots of motion blur, due to the "slow" 1/60th to 1/100th shutter speeds.

Another area extreme ISO (without the noise) would be useful is in astrophotography. Those beautiful color shots of nebulas and galaxies take HOURS to expose. As you can imagine, it's a bit tricky to keep the telescope pointed precisely for an hour or three. A shorter exposure time in that area would be very appreciated.

Also, high ISO lets you use a faster shutter of course, so the need for expensive Image stablized lenes is then debatable.

RE: Wow I cant wait.
By Justin Case on 5/22/2007 6:32:28 PM , Rating: 3
The proposed uses (cell phones, security cameras) suggest that the quality isn't really good enough for digital cameras.

The article is very vague, with no links to sources, etc., so it's hard to say much more about it. I'm pretty sure the part about "vibrant images" and "replacing a camera flash" were added by the author of the article, not the chip manufacturer...

RE: Wow I cant wait.
By Roy2001 on 5/22/2007 10:02:34 PM , Rating: 2

RE: Wow I cant wait.
By gsellis on 5/23/2007 8:47:02 AM , Rating: 3
You may want to go ahead and buy your camera. The "to product" time may kill you. RED Cinema has taken a year and 1/2 to develop a product with a new chip. There task was harder, but still...

More info
By Fritzr on 5/23/2007 12:30:16 AM , Rating: 6
Planet82 has licensed this from the University.

Some links to what they say

More at Marketwire including link to tech specs

RE: More info
By zsouthboy on 5/23/2007 10:37:49 AM , Rating: 2
All the press releases say is the word "nanotechnology", over and over again. There is no meat to them.

Wow - the chip has magic that "enables it to sense light wavelengths into the infrared band."

You mean, just like ALL CCD and CMOS sensors built today?

Furthermore - "Unlike photodiode-based CMOS and CCD technologies, which require millions of photoelectrons per pixel unit to create an image, the SMPD is able to react to tiny amounts of photons in light levels less than 1 lux, the equivalent of the light from one candle a meter away."

Uh, no. We can and do make images with many, many less than "millions of photoelectrons per pixel" already.

I also like how they completely avoid giving you any information about that "tiny amount" of photons - 1 lux means nothing.

It looks a lot like pushing for venture capital, than actually having a product, to me. Buzzwords abound.

RE: More info
By zsouthboy on 5/23/2007 10:48:53 AM , Rating: 2
RE: More info
By US56 on 6/1/2007 2:15:05 AM , Rating: 2
I've spent a lot of time in the last several years coming up to speed on potential digital surveillance camera technology and had never heard of this before the Dailytech story. I attempted to read everything on the Planet82 English language site. It's not that clear, partly due to poor translation and possibly due to the fact that I skipped the optional Physics class in my major (minor regrets). There is nothing much available for developers, no substantive tech info, no parts, no product development partnerships nor products of any form in the pipeline that I can determine. There are many search hits but all seem to have resulted from the two appearances at CES and Planet82 press releases. It seems too good to be true and probably is. The comments by 'zsouthboy' are, unfortunately, probably right on the money.

By quiksilv3r on 5/22/2007 5:16:48 PM , Rating: 5
Finally! Now I can stalk people at night too!

RE: Finally
By BladeVenom on 5/22/2007 5:32:17 PM , Rating: 2
Paris Hilton will love this.

RE: Finally
By AntiV6 on 5/22/2007 5:42:27 PM , Rating: 2
No more Night vision lenses for her. =(

RE: Finally
By Xerstead on 5/27/2007 8:28:28 AM , Rating: 2
We'll get full colour instead :)

I will keep my flash
By luhar49 on 5/23/2007 3:36:57 AM , Rating: 3
This is certainly a useful evolution of technology.
But I would certainly not put aside my flash just yet.
Nothing beats a proper flash for getting good exposure for shots in poor light.

High ISO shots are ok if capturing the moment(press reporting, sports) is more important than actual picture quality.

RE: I will keep my flash
By rtrski on 5/23/2007 9:55:12 AM , Rating: 3
Me too, but you know, even if this supposed "1000x light sensitivity" gets scaled way back, even by two orders of magnitude to 10x by the time it reaches 'full' digital cameras (maybe its sensitive to the light but not sufficiently so for frequency discrimination, e.g. you get a 'black and white' picture vs. color, or maybe there's issues with near-neighbor pixel isolation on the current design) that would still be one hell of an improvement, especially for applications where flashes become bulky and difficult to use (e.g. underwater photography, where internal flashes are more or less useless due to backscatter in the water, and even external flashes still have a far more limited range of use than in air).

Will be interesting to see how this pans out in terms of market penetration and further development.

But even with this, you might still use a flash, but now get ISO-100 equivalent noise quality at exposure times you used to only be able to use at ISO-400 or whatever. Or the flash can be scaled down in intensity, thus extending battery life significantly. I'm sure lighting will continue to be an important part of photography even if the full quoted capability came to fruition with no caveats.

I want to see sensor specs.
By zsouthboy on 5/22/2007 6:00:40 PM , Rating: 2
Put up or shut up, get-everyone's-hopes-up researchers.

1 lux tells me jack shit.

I *hardly* believe that they made a sensor 1000x more sensitive to current tech. But of course, I'm willing to look at data and claims.

RE: I want to see sensor specs.
By ronster on 5/23/2007 3:58:26 AM , Rating: 2
Sample images would be nice too. If this is going to make a splash in digital photography I want to know what the noise performance and dynamic range of this thing is. Given the sample applications in the article suggest camera phones and CCTV then i'm not overly confident one of these is going to turn up in a decent DSLR body anytime soon.

By s12033722 on 5/23/2007 10:54:10 AM , Rating: 2
Color low-light imaging has been around for a little while already in the form of electron-multiplying CCDs. That's a 60 fps color camera that is capable of both low-light and normal-light operation, has very good noise performance, and is a real, shipping product.

By s12033722 on 5/23/2007 10:55:27 AM , Rating: 2
Oh, by the way, the Salvador Imaging camera I mentioned is good down to 1 lux as well - for reference, 1 lux is overcast starlight.

I doubt its picture quality
By justsay on 5/23/2007 7:51:34 PM , Rating: 2
given the initial use of the chip, camera phones, CCTV cameras and vehicle rear-view cameras, I don't believe it's able to generate the same decent picture quality as the chip we are using today. And what about well-lit environment or even sunshine, how fast shutter speed is required or do we have to mount several NGD filters on lense before we take a picture?lol

RE: I doubt its picture quality
By casket on 5/24/2007 9:35:54 AM , Rating: 2
"given the initial use of the chip, camera phones, CCTV cameras and vehicle rear-view cameras, I don't believe it's able to generate the same decent picture quality as the chip we are using today."
-- Not necessarily. One common link here is "flash-less". Camera phones don't have a flash... so something like this could dramatically improve their quality.

By ryedizzel on 5/23/2007 2:17:59 AM , Rating: 2
this is awesome news, i just hope they roll it out to digital cameras soon for a decent price. that would be the only reason i would seriously consider upgrading.

What about the flip side?
By TheGreek on 5/23/2007 10:02:44 AM , Rating: 2
Will this sensor overload in bright light more easily or does this mean increased range? Digital cameras already suffer enough from blown highlights.

As for Paris Hilton, this also means some people will probably be spending more money to buy her more Vodka.

By AlvinCool on 5/23/2007 11:05:34 AM , Rating: 2
I see industrial applications for this type of technology. A camera that eleminates shadows during measurment and viewing of the manufacturing process could be quite useful. We already have them but for all the different types of lighting we have to change for different colors it gets time consuming. If we could really "see" in the dark we might be able to forgo the lighting we now use

Old news
By IgorLevicki on 5/28/2007 6:29:15 AM , Rating: 2
Nothing to "wow" about here except that it took them so long to start releasing such technology into the public.

There are cameras (which you can buy if you have enough cash) with sensitivity as low as 3 µLux so 1 Lux they promise is still not the best you could get.

There are also cameras which can register a single photon. So, as I said, nothing new here except that something like that will be commercially available at some (yet undisclosed) point in the future.

“Then they pop up and say ‘Hello, surprise! Give us your money or we will shut you down!' Screw them. Seriously, screw them. You can quote me on that.” -- Newegg Chief Legal Officer Lee Cheng referencing patent trolls

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