Panasonic’s 8 K new CMOS sensor

Panasonic just announced a new global shutter CMOS sensor capable of shooting up to 60 frames per second at 8K (36MP) resolution. This one, instead of using a backside illuminated (BSI) design like Sony, they used an organic photoconductive film (OPF), which allows for simultaneous readout of all the pixels on each frame.

Panasonic says the sensor has the following advantages:

  1. 8K resolution, 60fps frame rate, 450k saturation electrons and global shutter function are realized simultaneously.
  2. Switching between high sensitivity mode and high saturation mode is possible using gain switching function.
  3. The ND filter function can be realized by controlling the voltage applied to the OPF.

BSI sensor compared to CRA

The following diagram illustrates the difference between the BSI sensor and the OPF sensor. The OPF design allows for chare storage and readout functions to be completely independent. Which allows for high-speed noise cancellation and high saturation technology. This is what allows for the 60 frames per second performance.

This will be an exciting piece of technology for the videographer and photographer alike, with a sensor that has a 5 stop built-in neutral density filter.

In-pixel Noise Cancellation

The OPF sensors have the ability to suppress noise at a very high speed, this is important as cameras take a lot of time to do noise suppression, which restricts the photographer’s ability to capture shots at a reasonable speed. The following diagram shows Panasonic’s new “in-pixel coupled noise canceller” which uses a negative feedback loop. You can see from the diagram that the traditional method does the cancellation in a column but the in-pixel technology does it at each pixel.

In-pixel Gain Switching.

The in-pixel gain switching technology in this OFP sensor makes it possible to capture a greater dynamic range than normal sensor technologies. The following photographs illustrate the difference this technology can make, this is especially apparent in figure 6 where a dimly lit room is shot against a sunny garden. You can see far more detail in both the room and the sun flooded garden using this technology.

Sensitivity Modulation Technology 

On big problem with motion and electronic shutters is a phenomenon called “rolling shutter” which can distort objects in motion. In this new sensor, all the pixels are imaging at the same time rather than in a sequence, something Panasonic is calling “global shutter.” The global shutter technology illuminates rolling shutter all together, as you can see in the illustration below.

This is how Panasonic explains this technology:
In the conventional global shutter type silicon image sensor, it is necessary to add new elements such as transfer circuits and charge storage capacitors in order to accumulate charges simultaneously in all pixels. As a result, the area of the photodiode and that of the additional circuits must compete for space, there is a problem that the pixel size cannot be reduced and the amount of saturation electrons cannot be increased. On the other hand, in the OPF CMOS image sensor, since there is no need for additional elements, it is possible to realize small cell, high resolution sensors, and by incorporating large capacitors in the circuit part with a large available area, accurate imaging with no distortion from dark scenes to extremely bright scenes is possible. For example, as shown in Fig. 9, with the OPF CMOS image sensor, when buildings are photographed while panning [5] at high speed, even in scenes with high contrast like a bright sky and dark windows, it is possible to acquire image data maintaining all gradations of the whole area without distortion.

Electronic Neutral Density Filter

Neutral Density filters come of course in all sizes and shapes and consume a lot of time when you are using them unless you are highly skilled you often have to experiment with settings and filters to get the effect you are trying to achieve. Pansonic by building a neutral density capacity into the sensor has made this task much simpler, less expensive and more immediate. This is done again by controlling the voltage to the sensor changing its sensitivity. The following illustration shows just how much more flexible a camera is when it uses this technology.