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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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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.

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