Latest in Camera

Image credit:

Sony's first 'curved sensor' photo may herald better images, cheaper lenses

Steve Dent, @stevetdent
July 8, 2014
Share
Tweet
Share

Sponsored Links

We've seen plenty of curved screens, but Sony has just revealed the first picture taken with a curved image sensor that may one day bring cheaper, smaller lenses and higher photo quality. Regular, flat camera sensors have a rather large problem called "Petzval field curvature." That occurs when light rays passing through the edge of a lens fall in front of the sensor's focal plane, rather than on it. As a result, optical designers must add costly elements to lenses, which also makes them heavier and more complex. The shot above flaunted by Sony is just a test and there are no high-resolution samples available yet; in fact Sony has indicated that high-megapixel sensors may be a ways off. However, it does mark the first image shown from Sony's curved CMOS sensor and a possible new direction for its digital camera division.

A sensor with the edges bent toward the lens takes care of many optical sins. Sony built its prototype curved sensor flat, bent it into a shape known as a "Petzval surface" and reinforced it with a ceramic backplate. That geometry permits shorter, lighter lenses with larger apertures that let more light in. In addition, such a design also reduces light falloff at the edges of a typical flat CMOS sensor, and the process of bending a sensor introduces strain in the photodiodes that actually benefits them by reducing noise. Finally, Sony added that its sensors work the same way as the human eye to fix optical issues, and even have a similar level of curvature.

As such, Sony has constructed a 2/3-inch prototype sensor typically seen in compact cameras, along with a full-frame version. As it happens, the latter sensor would work very nicely in an RX1-type camera. When such sensors arrive commercially, they're likely to be used in fixed lens and not mirrorless or DSLR models to start with, since they wouldn't work with any existing lenses on the market. In fact, there's a rumor that a possible RX2 will be announced in September at Photokina 2014 -- we're not holding our breath for a curved sensor on it, but you never know.

All products recommended by Engadget are selected by our editorial team, independent of our parent company. Some of our stories include affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission.
Comment
Comments
Share
Tweet
Share

Popular on Engadget

Google is testing a way to activate Assistant without wake words

Google is testing a way to activate Assistant without wake words

View
Google Fi's phone subscription gets you a Pixel 4a for just $15 per month

Google Fi's phone subscription gets you a Pixel 4a for just $15 per month

View
California Uber drivers sue company over Prop 22 app notifications

California Uber drivers sue company over Prop 22 app notifications

View
NASA shares first images from OSIRIS-REx's touchdown on Bennu

NASA shares first images from OSIRIS-REx's touchdown on Bennu

View
Jabra's ANC update for the Elite 75t earbuds is now available

Jabra's ANC update for the Elite 75t earbuds is now available

View

From around the web

Page 1Page 1ear iconeye iconFill 23text filevr