New smartphone sensor abandons megapixel race for improved noise reduction

omnivision latest sensor enhances sensitivity low light smartphone camera
Tyler Hendy
Sensor maker OmniVision Technologies says its latest smartphone sensor is one of their strongest, yet the latest version actually has fewer megapixels than the previous one. The OV12890 abandons the megapixel race, instead favoring enhanced noise reduction and enough speed to record 4K/2K video at 60 frames per second.

While many consumers don’t look past the number of megapixels, at a certain point, more megapixels on a small sensor actually degrades the image quality, adding grain to the images. OmniVision’s latest 1.55-micron, 12-megapixel sensor has a 1/2.3-inch surface area, but thanks to the stacked design, it can fit into a space that’s just 10 by 10 mm, making it ideal for high-end smartphones. The company says the sensor offers improved light sensitivity, as well as a faster 12-bit readout. The company’s earlier version offered 16 megapixels and is used in smartphones like the Lenovo Moto G Plus.

“As cameras for premium smartphones continue to improve, we see the resolution race slowing down and increasing emphasis placed on pixel performance and image sensor size as key to ever-higher quality mobile images and video,” OmniVision senior technical marketing manager, James Liu, said in a press release. “The OV12890 is our newest big-pixel stacked die image sensor for the mobile market, and represents one of our strongest offerings for premium smartphones. The feature-rich OV12890 captures exceptional images and video in a compact package, making it a top-flight imaging solution for flagship mobile devices.”

While 4K is becoming increasingly common, most smartphones and even dedicated cameras with the feature can only reach 30 fps. But the faster readout architecture on the OV12890 makes the 60-fps frame rate possible – users don’t have to choose between the higher resolution or the faster frame rate normally only available with regular HD.

That speed also allows the sensor to capture stills as quick as 45 fps, plus achieve a 240 fps in 1080p – useful for creating slow motion videos.

The sensor isn’t expected to be enter smartphone production until the end of 2016, and no smartphone partner has been announced.

Mobile

Sony's Xperia 1 flagship will be available to pre-order starting June 28

Sony took the wraps off of three new phones at Mobile World Congress 2019, including the new Xperia 1, which is the company's new flagship phone and the first with a 4K OLED display with a 21:9 aspect ratio.
Home Theater

Looking for the best 4K Ultra HD TVs you can buy? Here are five great options

If it's time to upgrade your old 1080p to a new 4K model but you don't know what to look for, fear not, as we're here with a list of the best 4K Ultra HD TVs to help make your buying process as easy as possible.
Mobile

Buying an old iPhone? Find out what sets the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6S apart

We take a close look at the specs and features as we pitch the iPhone 6S vs. iPhone 6 to see which device comes out on top. If you're looking to save some cash by buying an old iPhone, which one should you buy? Find out inside.
Mobile

We tried all the latest and greatest smartphones to find the best of 2019

Smartphones are perhaps the most important and personal piece of tech on the planet. That’s why it’s important to pick the best phone for your individual needs. Here are the best smartphones you can buy.
Photography

Hasselblad X1D II 50C is a faster, cheaper, more refined medium-format camera

The sequel to the world's first medium-format mirrorless camera, the Hasselblad X1D II 50C is all about performance improvements and a refined shooting experience. It gains a new processor, OLED EVF, and 3.6-inch LCD screen.
Deals

The Canon PowerShot SX420 bundle gets a massive price cut from Walmart

Looking for a feature-packed and lightweight camera? You may want to check out the Canon PowerShot SX420. Right now, Walmart is offering this model at a huge discount. Normally $611, it is available for only $189.
Product Review

The Nikkor Z 24-70mm f/2.8 S redefines sharp -- but is it worth the cost?

Nikon’s new mirrorless cameras now have a bright, versatile workhorse zoom that can be used without an adapter. Here's how the Nikkor Z 24-70mm f/2.8 S stacks up -- and whether it's worth $2,300.
Deals

The best budget-friendly GoPro alternatives that won’t leave you broke

Cold weather is here, and a good action camera is the perfect way to record all your adventures. You don't need to shell out the big bucks for a GoPro: Check out these great GoPro alternatives, including some 4K cameras, that won’t leave…
Photography

Hasselblad’s CFV II and 907X are a modern take on a photography classic

The CFV II 50C digital back is compatible with V system cameras from nearly the middle of last century, while the new 907X camera body turns it into an ultra-compact medium format machine using X system lenses.
Apple

Good news for Mac photographers — Lightroom now available from Mac App Store

Getting your hands on a copy of Adobe Lightroom CC just got a bit simpler for Mac users. The popular photo-editing app launched on the Mac App Store today, allowing photo editors to skip ordering from Adobe and go right to the App Store.
Photography

Take control of your photographic lighting with the best camera flashes for 2019

A good external flash makes your camera more capable and opens up new creative lighting options for you. Here are the best camera flashes you can buy for Nikon, Canon, Sony, Fujifilm, Olympus, and Panasonic cameras.
Photography

Sandmarc crams cinematic video flare into a tiny iPhone anamorphic lens

Looking for some unique flare for your iPhone videos? The Sandmarc iPhone Anamorphic lens captures a wider aspect ratio, oval bokeh, and horizontal flare. The new iPhone lens, designed for video, uses a clip or case-style attachment.
Photography

The 2019 class of camera phones is great, and we tested them to find the best

It's the middle of the year, which means it's time for a mid-year camera shootout to find the best among our top phones of 2019. We pit six phones against each other, including the OnePlus 7 Pro, Pixel 3a, and Galaxy S10 Plus.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Illuminated keyboards and a retro gaming console

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!