New color filter doubles camera light sensitivity

— 2:03 PM on June 14, 2007

Eastman Kodak has announced a new color filter system approach it says can "more than double" the light sensitivity of CMOS and CCD image sensors used in digital cameras. Conventional cameras detect light using a red, green, and blue color filter array, but as EE Times reports, Kodak's approach uses a fourth colorless "panchromatic pixel" to gather a black and white image with high light sensitivity. RGB pixels then fill in color information to produce the final image.

The new color filter system, offered in a family of new patterns depending on applications and system architecture, are a departure from the widely used standard Bayer pattern—an arrangement of red, green and blue pixels—also created by Kodak.

While building on the Bayer pattern, the new technology adds a "fourth pixel, which has no pigment on top," said Michael DeLuca, market segment manager responsible for image sensor solutions at Eastman Kodak. Such "transparent" pixels—sensitive to all visible wavelengths—are designed to absorb light.

DeLuca calls the technology "the next milestone" in digital photography, comparing its significance to that of the introduction of ISO 400 color film in the 1980s. Kodak expects to sample the first sensors using the new technology in the first quarter of next year. The company's primary target for the technology is consumer cameras, EE Times says.
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