Cats are a popular photography subject, but to Samsungapparently they are also a great test material to evaluate the quality of its most ambitious camera sensor in history, and it is the one that probably will adorn the Galaxy S23 series next year.
The Samsung Team I take the company’s developing 200-megapixel smartphone camera sensor for a test and ended up capturing and then printing a gigantic 616-square-meter canvas of a cat’s face, all to show the level of detail it can bring out. Just to be clear here, the sensor was not inside a phone. Instead, it was plugged into a custom circuit board without any other enhancements, so it could show its true potential unadulterated.
The RAW image taken by the sensor was printed onto the massive canvas to bring out all the exposed details in the cat’s fur and eye color. This was apparently no easy feat, as the entire canvas, which is about 1.5 times the size of a basketball court, had to be printed in 12 separate segments which were then stitched together, loaded onto a truck and rolled out on a building with a crane.
The effort here is commendable, and the result looks impressive too. But not everyone is going to take full-resolution 200-megapixel photos every time when the camera sensor finally finds its way inside a Samsung phone. In addition to being difficult to edit and post-process, these photos will consume internal storage very quickly. Take, for example, full-resolution 108-megapixel photos captured by phones like the Galaxy S22 Ultra, which can be around 20MB on average.
The camera sensor in question is the ISOCELL HP-1, and is touted as the industry’s first 200-megapixel smartphone camera sensor. The sensor has 0.64 micron pixels, which is significantly smaller compared to the pixel size of lower resolution camera sensors. As in the world of camera sensors, the smaller the pixel size, the less data it can capture, producing images that are not as bright and detailed.
This is where pixel-binning technology comes into play. It essentially combines adjacent pixels into a larger super pixel that can bring in more optical data to produce better photos. In the case of the ISOCELL HP-1, it performs 16-in-1 pixel binning, thanks to a technology called Chameleon Cell.
In a nutshell, a 4×4 grid of 16 adjacent pixels is combined to artificially create a larger superpixel with a massive 2.56 microns in size, while the effective photo resolution is reduced to a manageable 12.5 megapixels. The resulting large pixel absorbs more light to deliver well-lit, detail-rich photos, even in low-light settings.
Samsung’s upcoming camera sensor is also capable of shooting 8K video at 30 frames per second without any digital cropping. The company has yet to announce any concrete plans for the sensor, but if one had to make an educated guess, the upcoming Galaxy S series flagship is the most likely candidate to come armed with this massive camera sensor. Motorola is also rumored to be working on a high-end phone that employs a 200-megapixel rear camera.