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Panasonic patent shows describes a new sensor tech.


The guys from Egami found a new patent from Panasonic. Apparently Panasonic found a way to adjust the exposure time for every single row of pixels depending on the subject. So if for example you take a picture of a landscape where usually the sky is much brighter the sensor exposure time will be shorter on the upper lines than on the lower lines. Smart idea but as usual…just a patent for now!


The after vote morning at

  • Anonymous

    OK, a built in digital variable ND filter….probably better than doing it in PP. As long as your horizon is flat!

  • OK, a built-in variable ND filter. Probably better than doing it in PP, as long as your horizon is flat!

    • Anonymous

      huh? the posting said adjusting “exposure time”, that’s not an ND filter, that’s called a shutter.

      • Anyway will we look this in GH3, or this for early.?

        • Mr. Awesome

          Nope. This would act similarly to a gradient ND filter. There is no way to achieve this through simply changing your shutter speed.

  • Solar

    Even though I am an Oly fan, it is refreshing to read something about a topic other than the EM5. Keep it coming Admin.

    • dau


    • If Panasonic make that patent is the not long time to that come in Olympus too.

  • Yun

    That might be the revolution sensor that everybody is waiting for . Resurrect the L series to GL , things will turn out perfectly .
    Don’t forget to increase the no of focus points , to make it even greater .

  • Camaman

    Finally… :-)
    Although only 50% useful.
    Adjusting exposure sensitivity to pixels individually or at least small clusters is the final answer. :-)

    • Duarte Bruno

      I’d say it’s more like 5% useful. :(

      • I simply don’t want to imagine iA mode with that. My simple guess : for the worse, sometimes for the better.

    • Duarte Bruno

      Unless we think video where it could be 100% useful.
      Alternated lines could have a 100%-200%-400%-800% exposure difference which would result in a 1,2,3,4 EV gain in DR when the camera goes binning the sensor readout!!!

      • Useful by long time shutter too.

  • physica

    Unless the sensor able to adjust the exposure independently per pixel . It is still not very useful …. Not every picture will have a evenly separate high-low exposure zone…..we have hills , mountain , different terrain , and buildings….

    What I’m think about is , I remember that Samsung had a patent of translucent display technology…. Will it applicable for somewhat as a variable ND ? (I’m just thinking…. Don’t too serious..)

    • Anonymous

      sure it’s still useful even at a row level, you could adjust adjacent rows to be a tiny bit off set from each other and get greater dynamic range. In the simplistic example, assume your shutter speed was set at 1 second, imagine for a second that this is an electronic global shutter. Now assume the camera actually exposes the image for 1.1 second and 0.9 second on each row alternating.

      In the most simple example you would get pixel peeping banding, but realistically you can use an algorithm to average out the so it doesn’t happen (at the price of per pixel detail I guess). But you get the point… they can come up with a good processing algorithm but more of the original highlight / shadow detail is captured so it’s just up to the processing after that.

      • Esa Tuunanen

        > Now assume the camera actually exposes the image for 1.1 second and 0.9 second on each row alternating.
        Lot more complex demosaicing for not even half stop extra DR.

        Would be more usefull only after this full RGB pixel’s sensor which doesn’t need demosaicing.

        Anyway would be just simpler to do like Sony and add HDR mode in which camera takes automatically multiple exposures and combines them.

      • Duarte Bruno

        I see your point and now it looks like a lot more viable approach albeit with a possible impact on resolution.

        Now we know where this is heading right?
        VIDEO!!! :)

  • Martin

    Why would the exposure time pattern have to follow the horizon exactly? As long as no sensor line intersects with both the brightest highlights and the darkest shadows, a line-by-line adaptation of exposure time is perfectly adequate.

    • I’m thinking of a situation where mountains are involved Martin. I would use such an exposure feature while skiing, or on sunsets in the mountains.
      Camaman’s idea would be useful. If they could adjust the exposure by clusters, you would then get really good shadow detail, while also exposing correctly for highlights. Effectively giving an amazing DR.

      • Martin

        I agree that Camaman’s suggestion would provide an even more versatile approach, but it simply is unrealistic, unless you’d like to cannibalize a lot of sensor area by extra circuitry, thereby reducing SN ratio due to smaller pixel structures. As the sensor read-out is line-based, a line-by-line electronic shutter anyhow is present (it is what gives us the annoying rolling shutter effect) and diversifying exposure time on a line-by-line base requires just marginal extra circuitry at the border of the chip without affecting pixel size. A pixel-based (or pixel-group based) electronic shutter would, however, require buffer circuitry close to the pixels, thereby reducing pixel size to make room for the extra circuitry.

  • observer

    At its worse it can be a variable ND filter application or a HDR filter application…

    But I believe its main intent is a more intelligent pixel binning in video method of taking advantage of pixel oversampling of the huge number of pixels in a sensor and reduce it to 4kx2k video resolution.

    It also suggests that there is no need for a moire or AA filter as this problem can be handled at the sensor level.

    It is all speculations at this stage…

    • Martin

      Why should this have any impact on the necessity of an AA filter? Selectively modifying the exposure does only influence the quantization error and saturation effects in the A/D stage, yet has no effect whatsoever in the (geometric) frequency domain. Consequently, the sampling theorem would require exactly the same amount of AA filtering to avoid Moire or other aliases induced by missing band-limitation of the sensor signal.

      • observer

        The panasonic patent stated:

        “For each row, to change the (exposure time) charge-storage time

        * Choice of priority and priority resolution moire reduction ”

        It states above that this patent allows the choice of priority(higher) resolution OR moire reduction.

  • bli

    What if you want to take landscape pictures in portrait mode?
    Anyway: individual pixel sensivity would enable HDR pictures with a single exposure.

  • That would be great if implemented, because a graduated ND filter is one of the few filters that are in theory necessary for digital sensors with limited dynamic range. But practically, sticking a ND filter to a lens is so unexact because the effect also depends on the Aperture. So a “electronic graduated ND filter” would be a huge help in landscape photography.

  • Raist3d

    Whenever they figure out to do the same thing per pixel, now, that would be quite something.

  • If the technology is effectively implemented in a rows-based fashion, than it would pave the way for a matrix based implementation. This could be huge and could really change landscape photography (and I say that as someone that routinely shoots 9-12 exposure bracketed sequences for HDR timelapses).

  • Max

    anyone know about patents? Can you get a patent for an idea, even if you have not made a working “proof of concept?” I mean we can come up with all kinds of ideas to patent without having a way to implement them.

    • ED

      No you cannot.

  • Ryan

    All of this kind of tech makes photography less fun. In camera hdr’s ect….

    • You don’t need to use it. That’s the great thing about technology. If you want to, you can still use manual cameras with film if you like…they still exist. If you want to shoot digital all manual, you can. If you want to use every feature in the business, you can.

      For me, anything that helps me get the final image I want is a welcome thing. it’s not something I’d use often, but it would be great if done right.

  • bilgy_no1

    Are’n’t the sensors read out in vertical columns at the moment? This is what creates the ‘rolling shutter’ effect in video cameras. Vertical readout would not help to increase DR in landscapes (unless you take them in portrait mode).

    • no they’re read in rows I think… the rolling shutter comes because the rows at the bottom are read later than the rows near the top, so you get a skewing of vertical features in the picture if there’s any horizontal movement or the camera/subject

  • Is just me or this is similar EXR sensor concept? On EXR it is just non variable and in odd-even pairs…

    Controlling the sensitivity on each individual pixel to obtain the least possible amount of noise while retaining good detail would be awesome, but would add a lot to the demosaicing process, not to mention the amount of data to be read from the sensor or some temporal artifacts from different exposure times per photosite. I guess a global shutter needs to exist first :/

  • CRB

    Panasonic officially giving up on having better DR sensors….lol…just kidding

  • It’s an interesting idea, that can be useful for some imaging applications, both the consumer and the industrial sensors. Among other interesting patents, Panasonic patent application US20110316983 proposes to use parallax from polarization split lens to determine the distance to the object.

    BTW, Panasonic, Fujitsu and Renesas have begun talks to merge their system chip operations, according to the newspapers sources. The parties are aiming to setting up the new company at the end of the business year through March 2013. Panasonic is also reported to independently strengthen its image sensor operations. It’s not clear if this business is a part of the discussed merge.

  • Anna_T

    Yeah ! like gradual filters, you better don’t live in the mountains, or anywhere where the land isn’t flat.

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