New 50MP Samsung camera sensor with Dual Pixel Pro brings one autofocus to rule them all
Samsung just unveiled a brand new 50MP sensor that will be an heir to the GN1 unit that it unveiled last year, but with improvements so numerous that it could see a much bigger uptake from phone manufacturers than its predecessor. Looking at the ISOCELL GN2 specs we hope that Samsung uses it in more of its upcoming Galaxy phones:
- Huge 1/1.12" sensor size with large 1.4 micron physical pixels (vs 1/2.3" and 1 micron for the rumored Sony 50MP IMX766 in OnePlus 9 and Find X3)
- 50MP/100MP shots
- Default 12.5MP mode with binned 2.8 micron pixel giants
- New Dual Pixel Pro autofocus with both left/right and top/bottom focusing phases
- Efficient Staggered-HDR and Smart ISO Pro for greatly improved dynamic range
- 120fps 4K slow-motion video
Samsung outs new Dual Pixel Pro and staggered-HDR phone camera features
First off, it marks the debut of Samsung's newest autofocusing technology called Dual Pixel Pro. The genius of Samsung's Dual Pixel tech that was later mimicked by all camera sensor and phone makers, was that it uses all of the sensor's pixels for focusing, not just a few scattered throughout, and with two vertically separated photodiodes it is able to capture left and right phases to merge the focus, just like the human eyes do.
This is why Samsung was the first able to introduce true continuous autofocus while recording video, but now with Dual Pixel Pro it takes things to the next level. Instead of seprataing the two focusing diodes at the base of each pixel vertically, it splits them diagonally, so that not only the left and right focus phases can be merged, but also the top and bottom ones. This would result in a picture that is never out of focus, including moving objects.
Furthermore, the 1/1.12-inch ISOCELL GN2 is big, really big, and offers true 1.4 micron pixel size for collecting more light, not the virtual big pixels of the 108MP sensor in the Galaxy S21 Ultra that are in fact only 0.8 micron large. The new 50MP sensor can also bin adjacent sensors, for a 12.5MP photo with giant 2.8 micron pixel light information, so besides focusing, its light sensitivity should also be better than what's in the S21 Ultra.
In addition, Samsung's new 50MP sensor introduces a technology called Staggered-HDR, a "time-multiplexed HDR technology that uses rolling shutters over the same pixel arrays to capture multiple frames in short, middle, and long exposures." Not only would this allow Galaxy phones to capture trickier dynamic range scenes that have a lot of bright lights and shadows but it is also 24% more energy efficient than the current HDR tech in the S21 series, for instance, so the camera unit would be gentler on the battery, too.
Color us impressed, and we can't wait to see the sensor in action, as it has to battle Sony's formidable IMX766 that will be in phones like the OnePlus 9 and Find X3 Pro before the spring has rolled out.