Archives for August 2017

Olympus OMD EM10 Mark III review

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The Olympus OMD EM10 Mark III is a compact mid-range mirrorless camera aimed at photographers who want the flexibility and quality of an interchangeable lens camera without the size and cost of higher-end bodies. Check out my in-depth review!…

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Teledyne DALSA Introduces WLP to its LWIR Imaging Platform

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Teledyne DALSA demonstrates its Wafer-Level-Packaged (WLP) 320 x 240 Vanadium Oxide microbolometer. Why is it such a big deal? The vacuum packaging cost is a major contributor to the micorbolometer imager price and its reduction is a breakthrough for the whole industry.

The company says: "Our novel wafer-level packaging (WLP) approach to microbolometer manufacturing in an optimized MEMS infrastructure gives us the ability to dramatically alter the traditional price-performance tradeoff.

Our advanced capabilities in wafer processing allows us to bond multiple 200 mm wafers precisely in a 3D stack that eliminates the need for external chip packaging--packaging which can account for 75% or more of device cost.

By stacking a cap wafer, using world-leading vacuum sealing technology, onto a CMOS high-speed readout circuit (ROIC) wafer populated with VOx pixels, we deliver smaller, lighter devices with leading edge performance and game-changing lower costs, enabling compact detectors with advanced integrated features that will drive the next phase in the evolution of uncooled IR imaging.
"

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Teledyne DALSA on Growth Potential

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Photonics.com publishes Teledyne DALSA article "Sensor Market Set to Soar." It nicely re-arranges the IC Insights data to show the growth potential of different markets:

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Renesas is Back in Image Sensor Business!

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Renesas has been formed from combined semiconductor businesses of Mitsubishi, Hitachi and NEC, all of them used to be image sensor manufacturers in the past. However, up to now, Renesas was not in image sensor business. This was especially surprising as the company kept filing for new image sensor patents and publishing papers over all these years while having no image sensing products in its portfolio. Now, this paradox has been resolved...

BusinessWire: Renesas announces a new high-sensitivity 8.48MP CMOS sensor (RAA462113FYL) for 4K security cameras. The company also talks about existing 2.12MP product that is already in mass production, but has never been widely announced.

The new sensor supports a line-by-line HDR mode in which long exposure data and short exposure data are output separately for each line. This allows video capture for high-contrast scenes. Samples of the RAA462113FYL are now available and mass production is scheduled to begin in December 2017.

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Corephotonics on Smartphone Zoom Evolution

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EETimes publishes Corephotonics article "Evolution of Zoom Camera in Smartphones." Few quotes:

"The future of mobile dual cameras is brighter than ever. Adoption rates surpassed analysts' predictions, and all major OEMs plan to launch or have already launched handsets with zoom dual cameras. Now the race begins for higher zoom factors, better optical stabilization, lower Z-heights and better low-light performance — anything that improves the overall camera and handset user experience. In this paper, we discussed some ways to increase the zoom factor and reduce the Z-height while maintaining superior image quality."

Oppo camera with 5x folded zoom and 2 axes OIS is said to represent the latest advances in smartphone zooms:

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Autosens Detroit 2017 Videos

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Autosens publishes videos from its Detroit conference in May 2017. Here is few of them talking about image sensing:









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Qualcomm and Himax Collaborate on 3D Sensing

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PRNewswire, GlobeNewsWire: Qualcomm and Himax jointly announce a collaboration on low power active 3D depth sensing camera for use cases such as biometric face authentication, 3D reconstruction, and scene perception for mobile, IoT, surveillance, automotive and AR/VR.

Qualcomm expertise in computer vision and algorithm with Himax's technologies in wafer optics, sensing, driver, and module integration are combined in a fully integrated SLiM (Structured Light Module) 3D solution. The SLiM is a turn-key 3D camera module that delivers real-time depth sensing and 3D point cloud generation with high resolution and high accuracy for indoor and outdoor environments. Qualcomm and Himax will commercialize the SLiM for a wide array of markets and industries with mass production targeting in Q1/2018.

"Our 3D sensing solution will be a game changing technology for smartphones, where we will enable the Android ecosystem to provide the next generation of mobile user experience," said Jordan Wu, President and CEO of Himax. "Our two companies have worked together for more than four years to design the SLiM 3D sensing solution to meet growing demands for enhanced computer vision capabilities that will enable amazing new features and use cases in a broad range of markets and applications. We are pleased to partner with Qualcomm Technologies to put together an ecosystem and to enable the revolutionary computer vision solutions for our customers globally in a timely fashion."

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Apple Testing Different LiDARs and Cameras

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Macrumors publishes images of Lexus car with Apple-equipped set of LiDARs and cameras. Apparently, Apple is testing different configurations and comparing the data quality coming from them:


Thanks to OB for the link!

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Sony FE 55mm f1.8 ZA review-so-far

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Sony's FE 55mm f1.8 ZA is a prime lens for Alpha mirrorless cameras that delivers close to standard coverage on full-frame bodies. It was one of the first lenses available for the FE mount, but remains a popular premium option. Check out my sample images!…

The post Sony FE 55mm f1.8 ZA review-so-far appeared first on Cameralabs.

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Yole on Automotive Sensor Market

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Yole Developpement releases "Automotive sensing: a mature yet highly dynamic market" report. Image sensors of all sorts is a significant part of this market:

"Despite just 3% growth in the volume of cars sold expected through to 2022, Yole expects an average growth rate in sensors sales volumes above 8% over the next five years, and above 14% growth in sales value. This is thanks to the expanding integration of high value sensing modules like RADAR, imaging and LiDAR.

Among all sensing technologies located in the car, three main sensors will drastically change the landscape: imaging, RADAR and LiDAR sensors. Imaging sensors were initially mounted for ADAS purposes in high-end vehicles, with deep learning image analysis techniques promoting early adoption. It is now a well-established fact that vision-based AEB is possible and saves lives. Adoption of forward ADAS cameras will therefore accelerate.

Growth of imaging for automotive is also being fueled by the park assist application, and 360° surround view camera volumes are skyrocketing. While it is becoming mandatory in the US to have a rear view camera, that uptake is dwarfed by 360° surround view cameras, which enable a “bird’s eye view” perspective. This trend is most beneficial to companies like Omnivision at sensor level and Panasonic and Valeo, which have become the main manufacturers of automotive cameras.

LiDAR remains the “Holy Grail” for most automotive players, allowing 3D sensing of the environment. In this report Yole’ analysts highlight the different potential usages of this technology, which will transform the transportation industry completely.

“We expect tremendous growth of the LiDAR market within the next five years, from being worth US$300 million in 2017 to US$4.4 billion by 2022,” details Guillaume Girardin from Yole. LiDAR is expected to be a key technology, but sensing redundancy will still be the backbone of the automotive world where security remains the golden rule.
"

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AI News: Movidius Miriad X, Cambricon Raises $100M in Series A Round

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TomsHardware: Intel Movidius releases Miriad X Vision Processing Unit (VPU) with a dedicated Neural Compute Engine. The SoC includes vision accelerators, a Neural Compute Engine, imaging accelerators, and 16 SHAVE vector processors with a total of up to 4 TOPS (Trillion Operations Per Second) of performance in 1.5W power package:


Medium, China Money Network: China-based Cambricon AI startup raises $100M at reported $1b valuation. Cambricon was founded by Prof. Chen Tianshi in 2016 as a spin-off from the Institute of Computing Technology of the Chinese Academy of Science. Its processor, the Cambricon-1A, is claimed to be the first commercial chip for deep learning applications and can be used in robotics, drones, autonomous vehicles and consumer electronics. It is said to have a better performance when running mainstream AI algorithms, is more energy efficient and has a higher integration density.

The total revenue of the AI-related deep learning chip market is forecast to rise from $500M in 2016 to $12.2b in 2025 at CAGR of over 40%, according to Tractica market research.


Update: Digitimes reports that Cambricon expects to roll out hundreds of millions of AI SoCs for smart terminal devices and servers in the next three years, the CEO Chen Tianshi said. Cambricon will license its processor instruction set to more enterprises engaged in AI applications. In this regard, Huawei's HiSilicon Kirin 970 chipset, to be released in September, is to carry the IP instruction set for Cambricon-1A co-processor.

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Canon EF-S 10-18mm IS STM review-so-far

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The Canon EF-S 10-18mm IS STM is a compact and light-weight ultra-wide zoom for Canon’s cropped-frame DSLRs with APSC sensors. Announced in May 2014, it provides a smaller and more affordable alternative to the earlier EF-S 10-22mm USM, which previously was Canon’s only ultra-wide option for its cropped-frame DSLRs. With the newer lens coming in…

The post Canon EF-S 10-18mm IS STM review-so-far appeared first on Cameralabs.

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Corephotonics Shows iPhone 7+ Zoom Jumps, Presents its Smooth Zoom Solutions

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Corephotonics posts a nice video showing iPhone 7 Plus optical zoom jumping in video mode, compares it with its own zoom solution:





The company also presents its dual camera solutions for mobile applications:

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Yole Hypotheses on iPhone 8 3D Technology

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Yole Developpement analyst Pierre Cambou posts his guesses on what technology might be used in Apple iPhone 8 3D camera:

"Until earlier this year everyone thought 3D cameras would appear on the rear of Apple’s new iPhones, as is the case in the Lenovo Phab 2 Pro, in order to develop Augmented Reality applications. This changed radically when Ming Chi Kuo, an analyst from KGI Securities, confirmed in April 2017 that there would be a front 3D camera... Most analysts speculate that this camera would exploit “structured light”, because of Primesense’s involvement. However, Yole maintains its original idea of a Time of Flight (ToF) camera on the front due to the nature of the application, which is to be a new revolutionary user interface."

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Xintec Reports Losses

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Digitimes comments on CSP packaging company Xintec ongoing losses:

"Xintec used to rely on orders from OmniVision. However, the acquisition of OmniVision by a group of China-based investors led by state-owned Hua Capital Management in 2016 has had an adverse impact on Xintec's business in the image sensor field, the observers indicated. Xintec is also facing increased competition from its China-based rivals in the fingerprint sensor sector.

Nevertheless, Xintec is reportedly among the companies joining Apple's and Qualcomm's 3D sensing supply chains, which also included its largest shareholder Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC). Xintec may begin to see the light at the end of tunnel as early as 2018, the observers noted.
"

From the earlier Xintec report:

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Sony FE 35mm f1.4 ZA review-so-far

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The Sony FE 35mm f1.4 ZA is a standard wide prime lens for Sony's mirrorless cameras. It's one of many 35mm lenses now available for the full-frame mirrorless Alphas, but it's the brightest model with autofocus, and a superb performer. Check out my sample images.…

The post Sony FE 35mm f1.4 ZA review-so-far appeared first on Cameralabs.

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Nikon D850 review

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The D850 is Nikon's highest resolution DSLR to date with a new 45 Megapixel full-frame sensor, as well as fast burst shooting at 7fps. The D850 also inherits the 153-point AF of the D5 making it perfect for sports and wildlife. In our in-depth review we test the D850 for both landscape and pro sports shooters!…

The post Nikon D850 review appeared first on Cameralabs.

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Intel Comments on Qualcomm 3D Camera

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One of Intel RealSense group members publishes his comments in subtitles on Qualcomm 3D camera video:

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KGI Compares Apple and Qualcomm 3D Camera Technologies

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Macrumors and IF News quote KGI securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo saying that Apple 3D camera technology is 1.5-2 years ahead of Qualcomm one. Apple is expected to use 3D frontside camera in one of its upcoming iPhones for face recognition and user interface.

"According to Kuo, Qualcomm is dealing with immature algorithms and an unfavorable hardware reference design for smartphones due to form factor design and thermal issues. Qualcomm may also be impacted by Apple's choice of suppliers. Many key component suppliers have already allocated resources to Apple, so Qualcomm has to find different suppliers in order to obtain sufficient resources."

So far, only Xiaomi 2018 flagship phone is expected to use Qualcomm 3D solution with volumes less than 10M units, according to Kuo. Even this might be cancelled, depending on the new iPhone success.

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Omron Vision Platform

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Omron shows its HVC-P2 vision platform capabilities:

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Feisol TT-15 Mark II mini tripod review

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Feisol's TT-15 Mark II is a high-end table-top tripod, boasting surprising stability, strength and weather-resistance thanks to its anodized aluminium frame, carbon fiber legs and rubber feet. Find out why it's become my favourite accessory in my review!…

The post Feisol TT-15 Mark II mini tripod review appeared first on Cameralabs.

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Sony Promotes 4K Slow Motion Imaging

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Sony video shows 8x slow motion 4K video attributed to the recent progress in its CMOS sensors:

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Yole and WCP Mobile Depth Sensing Report

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Yole Developpement and Woodside Capital Partners publish "Smartphone Depth Sensing" report dated by July 2017. Few slides from the review:

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Entry Level Smartphone SoCs Support Dual Camera

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PRNewsWire: Spreadtrum announces mass production of its LTE SoC platforms: SC9853I manufactured in Intel's 14nm foundry process with Octa-core 64-bit Intel Airmont processor; and Spreadtrum SC9850 series. Both SC9853I and SC9850 series emphasize dual-camera processing capability. Both include a built-in 3DNR to improve night shooting and features like refocusing, real-time face beauty, 3D modeling and AR. SC9853I supports 16MP dual camera, while SC9850 supports 13MP dual configuration.

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Sony Proposes BCMD with Reduced Dark Current

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Sony patent application US20170229493 "Pixel circuit and imaging apparatus" by Kouichi Harada and Toshiyuki Nishihara proposes dark current reduction in bulk charge modulated device (BCMD).

"...the above image sensor needs to read 1000 times in one frame for example, and has problems of increase in read voltage and increase in read time. Also, as the number of reads per frame increases, dark current of the FD increases proportionally. As a result, the dark current of the FD becomes the main component of the dark current of the pixel. The dark current of the FD is unable to be reduced easily, and thus even if the conversion efficiency can be set to 600 μV/e−, the accuracy of detecting one photon is reduced. If there is no FD, the accuracy of detecting one photon is improved.

...According to the present technology, it is possible to obtain an excellent effect that the dark current of the FD in the image sensor is eliminated, and that the conversion efficiency of converting the electric charge to a voltage can be improved.
"

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TrinamiX 3D Sensor Paper

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BASF spinoff Trimamix publishes an arxiv.org paper "Focus-Induced Photoresponse: a novel optoelectronic distance measurement technique" by Oili Pekkola, Christoph Lungenschmied, Peter Fejes, Anke Handreck, Wilfried Hermes, Stephan Irle, Christian Lennartz, Christian Schildknecht, Peter Schillen, Patrick Schindler, Robert Send, Sebastian Valouch, Erwin Thiel, and Ingmar Bruder.

"Here we introduce Focus-Induced Photoresponse (FIP), a novel method to measure distances. In a FIP-based system, distance is determined by using the analog photoresponse of a single pixel sensor. This means that the advantages of high-density pixelation and high-speed response are not necessary or even relevant for the FIP technique. High resolution can be achieved without the limitations of pixel size, and detectors selected for a FIP system can be orders of magnitude slower than those required by ToF based ones. A system based on FIP does not require advanced sensor manufacturing processes to function, making adoption of unusual sensors more economically feasible.

In the FIP technique, a light source is imaged onto the photodetector by a lens. The size of its image depends on the position of the detector with respect to the focused image plane. FIP exploits the nonlinearly irradiance-dependent photoresponse of semiconductor devices. This means that the signal of a photodetector not only depends on the incident radiant power, but also on its density on the sensor area, the irradiance. This phenomenon will cause the output of the detector to change when the same amount of light is focused or defocused on it. This is what we call the FIP effect.
"

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Qualcomm on VR Motion Tracking Setup

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Qualcomm presentation "On-device motion tracking for immersive mobile VR" discusses 4-camera setup in the company's VR headset:

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First Report on CIS Reproducibility, Variability and Reliability

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Albert Theuwissen releases the first report on "Reproducibility, Variability and Reliability of CIS" in a 5-year series. The 175-page report contains 118 figures and 98 tables with data on QE, FPN, DSNU, Qsat, DR, SNR, DC, and more.

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Coolpad CEO Quantifies Dual Camera Advantages

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Coolpad, one of the large China-based smartphone makers that uses 13MP monochrome + 13MP RGB dual camera in its devices, says about the benefits of that configuration:

"The two lenses may look the same, but they have very different functions. One shoots in RGB to produce a color image, while the other takes care of the monochrome images. The monochrome lens brings out the detail, and engage more light than the RGB lens when in low-light condition, which takes care of the colors. The Dual camera 2.0 technology in Cool Dual actually enhanced the overall clarity of the image by 20%, help reduce image noise by 8% and improved brightness by 20%. “With these, we believe the real dual 13MP cameras brings us smart framing and the 6P lens gives customers the best quality of pictures”, said Jeff Liu, Coolpad Group CEO."

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Sony FE 90mm f2.8 Macro review-so-far

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The Sony FE 90mm f2.8 Macro G OSS is a medium telephoto for Sony's mirrorless cameras. It's the first Sony Macro corrected for its full-frame bodies, upon which it'll deliver 1:1 / 1x magnification from a distance of 28cm. A sharp performer, check out my sample images in my review-so-far.…

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