Jump to content

Is there a con to smartphone-style ISOCELL sensor?

I have been wondering a bit lately about why aren't there any proper APS-C or Full Frame camera that use smartphone-like ISOCELL sensor (sensor with smaller pixels size that allows more light to be captured in very limited space)?

 

I mean, I get it, proper DSLR or mirrorless already have a much larger sensor size than any smartphone so they don't have to resort to this technology. But if shooting on an ISOCELL means capturing more light (and thus giving you better low light images or higher resolution) at the same area of sensor, why isn't there any camera with, say a Full Frame ISOCELL that give you near Medium Format level of low light or  image quality?

 

Are there a major drawback to this technology that makes it unsuitable for traditional cameras or just the lack of interest by both the consumers and the manufacturers?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Link to post
Share on other sites

2 hours ago, e22big said:

I have been wondering a bit lately about why aren't there any proper APS-C or Full Frame camera that use smartphone-like ISOCELL sensor (sensor with smaller pixels size that allows more light to be captured in very limited space)?

 

I mean, I get it, proper DSLR or mirrorless already have a much larger sensor size than any smartphone so they don't have to resort to this technology. But if shooting on an ISOCELL means capturing more light (and thus giving you better low light images or higher resolution) at the same area of sensor, why isn't there any camera with, say a Full Frame ISOCELL that give you near Medium Format level of low light or  image quality?

 

Are there a major drawback to this technology that makes it unsuitable for traditional cameras or just the lack of interest by both the consumers and the manufacturers?

There’s drawbacks to everything and if ISOCELL was better in a full camera it would have been used. You have to remember that the overall raw image quality when using a phone isn’t massively important because of the amount of processing that happens whereas an a DSLR or mirrorless system your professional customers will be editing off of those RAW images. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Link to post
Share on other sites

1 hour ago, Imbadatnames said:

There’s drawbacks to everything and if ISOCELL was better in a full camera it would have been used. You have to remember that the overall raw image quality when using a phone isn’t massively important because of the amount of processing that happens whereas an a DSLR or mirrorless system your professional customers will be editing off of those RAW images. 

I shoot my S22 Ultra in full manual and RAW all the time, because it actually looks better compared to relying on the phone image processing. A lot of the time, the processing only helps when your images already look sh*t and so its fake details don't look all that bad compared to the rest (that and HDR and maybe a bit of colour science) 

 

A phone can take great image with its ISOCELL sensors even without the AI magic. Actually that might be the case in the vast majority of case (unless you're Google.) So clearly, ISOCELL as hardwares can be of some use. 

 

Although I have a theory that it may mess up with details from a more distance subject a lot more than usual. Something like leaves or tree brunches in distance background (like in wild shot) always look funny compared to my Nikon DSLR, especially during a relatively cloundy day but I don't know if that's from ISOCELL or something else.

 

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Link to post
Share on other sites

1 minute ago, e22big said:

I shoot my S22 Ultra in full manual and RAW all the time, because it actually looks better compared to relying on the phone image processing. A lot of the time, the processing only helps when your images already look sh*t and so its fake details don't look all that bad compared to the rest (that and HDR and maybe a bit of colour science) 

 

A phone can take great image with its ISOCELL sensors even without the AI magic. Actually that might be the case in the vast majority of case (unless you're Google.) So clearly, ISOCELL as hardwares can be of some use. 

 

Although I have a theory that it may mess up with details from a more distance subject a lot more than usual. Something like leaves or tree brunches in distance background (like in wild shot) always look funny compared to my Nikon DSLR, especially during a relatively cloundy day but I don't know if that's from ISOCELL or something else.

 

 

There’s a “raw” mode but it’s not actually RAW. It’s always got AI into it. For a start the Samsung doesn't output a 108MP image, it pixel bins. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Link to post
Share on other sites

2 minutes ago, Imbadatnames said:

There’s a “raw” mode but it’s not actually RAW. It’s always got AI into it. For a start the Samsung doesn't output a 108MP image, it pixel bins. 

Well, that's the whole point of ISOCELL sensor isn't, the sensor are there for the pixel binning pretty sure there's no AI involved in that. You also get 12mp image even when you used a third party camera app that Samsung has no control over.

 

And in that context, unless you shoot on a film, your digital camera's also do image signal processing.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Link to post
Share on other sites

1 hour ago, e22big said:

Well, that's the whole point of ISOCELL sensor isn't, the sensor are there for the pixel binning pretty sure there's no AI involved in that. You also get 12mp image even when you used a third party camera app that Samsung has no control over.

 

And in that context, unless you shoot on a film, your digital camera's also do image signal processing.

Pixel binning is done through AI, third party apps can also do that. 
 

Yes and no. If you’re shooting raw on a DSLR or mirrorless it won’t be sharpening or messing with the digital file more than is necessary to put out the image. RAW on phone cameras just generally means they don’t compress the fuck out of it 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Link to post
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...

Hi !

There are three main reasons which explain why the ISOCELL technology is not used on larger sensors than the ones in the smartphones :

 

  1. ISOCELL technology was developed to compensate the "crosscall" in the sensors with very small photodiodes. This is a physical phenomenon during which photons to pass through the "walls" between two photodiodes. For a given area, the more photodiodes you have, the smaller they are and the thinner are the walls between them. ISOCELL technology is supposed to reduce this light leak while preserving enough photosensitive surface for each individual photodiode. For example, on a Samsung Galaxy S22's main sensor (1/2.83'' sensor size, 40 MP resolution), each photodiode is only 0.7 µm (or 700 nanometers) on each side. Which, besides, smaller than the wavelength of the extreme red color and almost near InfraRed. So each photodiode is separated from the adjacent by a "wall" measuring only a few nanometers. I don't have the exact measurements in mind, but, let's say, if we keep a relative thinness of 1/100th of a photodiode, that's 7 nanometer thick. On a 40 MP APS-C sensor, a photodiode is 3.05 µm, or 3050 nanometers (and 2.86 µm for Canon APS-C). And on 24x36 mm sensor, with a 40 MP resolution, a photodiode is 4.65 µm large (or 4650 nanometer). For each case, if we keep a relative thinness of 1/100th a photodiode, that would make a "wall" of 30.5 nanometer for and APS-C sensor and 46.5 nanometer for a 24x36 mm sensor. And this thickness is big enough to naturally prevent from light leaks without having to use the ISOCELL technology.
  2. When developing APS-C and 24 x 36 mm sensor, designers can focus (no pun intended) on other issues than light leakage. For example, they can use the extra space and the extra depth of the sensor to work on speed reading, heat dispersion, micro-lenses array, color filters, global shutter, etc. And all are these aspects are more beneficial to the photographer.
  3. ISOCELL is a technology patented by Samsung. And, as far as I know today, the biggest ISOCELL sensor is the ISOCELL GN2, which is a 1/1.2'' sensor (8 mm x 10.67 mm). In term of surface area, it is 10 times smaller than a 24x36 mm sensor and 4.4 times smaller than and APS-C sensor. As the ISOCELL technology is expensive, and the consumer camera market is far smaller than the smartphone market, it is more profitable for Samsung to produce, on their wafers, more small sensors than less big sensors.

 

I hope this will answer a little bit your question 🙂

NB: there is the ISOCELL 2G1, which is a 1/1.7'' sensor intended for automotive industry. But with a resolution of only 3840x1920 pixels (< 7.4 MP, photodiode of 2.1 µm), it is not suitable for photographic purpose on today's mirrorless and DSLR cameras.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
 Share


×