Samsung showcases its giant 200MP sensor by photographing a cat

Samsung showcases its giant 200MP sensor by photographing a cat
Samsung officially unveiled its humongous 200MP camera sensor last year. The ISOCELL HP1 promised a lot with its all-new ChameleonCell technology and massive pixel count but we’re yet to see a device with this sensor onboard.

Rumor has it that Motorola will launch the Frontier model in July, sporting the aforementioned sensor, and some leaked images showing the designation on the camera bump kinda corroborated that.

Now, Samsung has taken things into its own hands and launched a promo video of the new sensor in action, photographing a cute cat and subsequently printing out a huge billboard from the image captured with the ISOCELL HP1.

Samsung and cats

As we all know, the online space just loves cats, and you shouldn’t mess with them (shameless Netflix plug here). The cat starring in the video is a cute one, and the final result - stunning.

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However, it’s worth mentioning that the sensor itself was mounted on a special stand featuring two printed circuit boards with lots of elements (we don’t know what algorithms are in play here), and furthermore - the professional optics involved in this PR stunt are really far from anything you could ever see in a smartphone.

The image was also captured in a controlled environment with studio lighting, and a bunch of professionals doing their magic. All the disclaimers during the video clip also leave the notion that the result won’t be easily replicated with a mobile phone (if at all).

That being said, using a mobile phone camera sensor to print a 28 x 22-meter billboard is impressive in its own right. The level of detail and the colors are astounding. Let’s see what this magic sensor is all about.


The 200MP number stands out on the spec sheet but it’s not the only trick up the HP1’s sleeve. The ChameleonCell technology is a new way of grouping pixels together to create larger ones. The tech is known as “pixel binning”, and Samsung has been using it in pretty much every sensor from the past couple of years.

By combining the information from several pixels into one, Samsung effectively increases the pixel size of the sensor. The ISOCELL HP1 has 0.64-micron pixels, which is tiny by modern standards (the iPhone 13 Pro Max has a camera with 1.9-micron pixels, for example).

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That’s where pixel binning comes into play. While previous iterations of the idea only allowed 4 pixels to be combined into one, the ChameleonCell technology can group 4, 8, and 16 pixels to act like a one with a larger size.

This means that the ISOCELL HP1 (and potentially all the phones equipped with it) can shoot 200MP images with 0.64-micron pixels, 50MP images with 1.28-micron pixels or 12.5MP ones with 2.56-micron pixels.

In perfect (studio) conditions, the 200MP mode can achieve great results - as seen in the cat poster video. But in day-to-day situations, being able to shoot 12.5MP shots with huge pixels is much more practical and useful, especially in low-light conditions.

Last but not least, the ISOCELL HP1 should allow smartphones to shoot 8K/30fps videos, using the quad-pixel binning mode.

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