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Sony is developing a 150-megapixel sensor with some serious detail

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Sony's 150-megapixel backlit sensor likely won't be in anything at a consumer price point, but the tech could power some serious medium-format cameras.

Sony’s backlit sensors could surpass three-digit megapixels as soon as 2018. A report recently released by the company’s imaging sensor division, Sony Semiconductor Solutions Corporation, includes a roadmap that has the company releasing 150-megapixel backlit sensors in 2018.

The report, part of an exhibit at the CeBIT 2017 conference in Germany in March, says the 100 million pixels will capture the detail on microscopic structures as well as allowing for a much bigger crop and zoom capabilities while maintaining detail. Those zoom capabilities are likely to make the sensor an option for aerial inspection drones and surveillance.

The sensor roadmap already includes a frontlit 100-megapixel sensor called the IMX211 already inside the Phase One XF. A monochrome version of that same sensor is due out this year.

Next year, that sensor will get an upgrade with backlighting, according to the company’s projected roadmap, with the IMX461. A backlit sensor moves the circuitry to the back of the sensor, resulting in better low-light performance. A150-megapixell sensor with a backlight design is also slated for launch in 2018 — the IMX411, which will come in both color and monochrome versions.

The report doesn’t hint at what cameras the sensor may be coming too but suggests the ultra high resolution could be used for aerial photography, surveillance, cultural heritage, and inspection. Sony also produces imaging sensors for other companies, including Nikon and Phase One. With the earliest version in the Phase One XP, it wouldn’t be much of a stretch to expect an updated medium format camera in addition to the drone photography and surveillance applications the report suggests.

The report also indicates that Sony is currently developing high-sensitivity sensors for nighttime use in security, as well as concentrating efforts on image sensors with a high framerate to increase the response time for applications such as industrial robots and self-driving cars.