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Sony unveils new 21MP Exmor RS sensor with 192 point autofocus

Sony has detailed its latest Exmor RS IMX230 smartphone image sensor, with 21 megapixels and 192 point plane phase detection autofocus. The sensor might find its way into the Xperia Z4.

Published onNovember 17, 2014

sony xperia z3 compact review aa (11 of 21)

In Japan earlier today, Sony announced its latest camera sensor designed for smartphones – the Exmor RS IMX230. The sensor marks the first time that Sony, or any other mobile image sensor company, has included image plane phase detection autofocus in a smartphone sensor.

Sony’s new auto focus technology enables the camera to accurately capture quick-moving objects for both still photos and video, with all the necessary calculations carried out automatically by the sensor’s internal processing circuit. Dedicated phase detection autofocus pixels are incorporated into the screen of the image sensor, which track the distance to the subject. The sensor supports up to 192 different auto focus points.

Sony IMX230 HRD video sample
Left: HDR movie from the IMX135. Right: IMX230 HDR video.

The IMX230 also features a range of image and video capture options that we have come to expect from high-end camera sensors. HDR video can now be capture at a full 4K and can also be used with still images too. Video capture options come in at 30fps 4K, 60fps 1080p, and 120fps (slow motion) 720p.

Sony has kept the same 21 megapixel density with its latest sensor and also plans to release a 16 megapixel version in the future. Sony is unlikely to want to squeeze in an even higher number of pixels as this could result in more noise and inferior low light performance. However, the sensor is now sized at 1/2.4″, making it smaller than the Z3’s 1/2.3″ module.

The Exmor RS IMX230 is scheduled to start shipping out in April 2015, which might make it available in large enough quantities for Sony’s 2015 flagship smartphone.

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