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OmniVision’s new 50MP OV50A smartphone sensor promises ‘DSLR level’ phase detection autofocus performance

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OmniVision’s new 50MP OV50A smartphone sensor promises ‘DSLR level’ phase detection autofocus performance: Digital Photography Review

Sensor manufacturer OmniVision has announced the specifications for the OV50A, a new 50MP 1/1.5″ smartphone camera sensor that offers 100% phase detection autofocus (PDAF) coverage.

The OV50A is built using OmniVision’s PureCel Plus-S stacked die technology and offers 50MP resolution with one micron pixel size, selective conversion gain, on-chip remosaic and quad phase detection (QPD) autofocus. OmniVision explains in its press release the benefits of its QPD autofocus technology, which it claims offers ‘DSLR level’ autofocus performance:

‘QPD enables 2×2 phase detection autofocus (PDAF) across the sensor’s entire image array, for 100% coverage. Unlike the microlens and half-shield PDAF technologies, which only capture 3–6% of the phase detection data, QPD uniquely captures 100% of this data for improved distance calculation, faster autofocus and better low-light performance.’

The QPD autofocus technology works not unlike Canon’s Dual Pixel AF technology. However, whereas Canon’s only has two pixels split left and right underneath a single micro lens, OmniVision splits each micro lens with four pixels, paired diagonally, to achieve focus. The advantage of this design is that unlike Canon’s Dual Pixel AF, the four diagonally-paired pixels provides cross-type (horizontal and vertical) sensitivity for consistent performance regardless of camera and subject orientation.

OmniVision also touts the sensor’s low-light performance as ‘the best in its class via the unique combination of a large 1.0 micron pixel size, selective conversion gain’s low-noise, high conversion gain mode, and […] the large 1/1.5” optical format.’ The sensor offers 2- and 3-exposure HDR blending, which works with the selective conversion gain to capture the most dynamic range possible.

The sensor can output 8K video at 30 frames per second (fps) as well as 4K video at 90 fps and 1080p at 240 fps. The 4K video can use near-pixel-binning for improved low-light performance when light is at a premium. Video output maxes out at 3.5Gbps via the sensor’s CPHY MIPI interface.

OmniVision suggests this sensor is destined for the standard and ultra-wide-angle cameras inside flagship smartphones. The sensor is said to be available in the second quarter of 2021, but no specific smartphone manufacturers were mentioned as customers.

Press release:

OmniVision Debuts Its First Image Sensor With 100% Phase Detection Coverage for Superior Autofocus in Flagship and High End Smartphones

Combination of 1.0 Micron Pixel and 1/1.5” Optical Format With Selective Conversion Gain, 50MP Resolution and QPD Provides Premium Still and 8K Video Captures for Wide and Ultrawide Main Cameras

SANTA CLARA, Calif. – Feb. 16, 2021 – OmniVision Technologies, Inc., a leading developer of advanced digital imaging solutions, today announced in advance of Mobile World Congress Shanghai the OV50A image sensor, combining 50MP resolution, 1.0 micron pixel size, selective conversion gain and a 1/1.5”optical format with quad phase detection (QPD) autofocus technology and on-chip remosaic. QPD enables 2×2 phase detection autofocus (PDAF) across the sensor’s entire image array, for 100% coverage. Unlike the microlens and half-shield PDAF technologies, which only capture 3-6% of the phase detection data, QPD uniquely captures 100% of this data for improved distance calculation, faster autofocus and better low-light performance. In combination with on-chip remosaic for the QPD color filter array, the result is premium image quality for the wide and ultrawide main cameras in flagship and high end smartphones.

“One of the biggest selling points for mobile phones is camera performance, and they have been steadily closing the gap with DSLR cameras for years,” said Arun Jayaseelan, staff marketing manager at OmniVision. “Our QPD autofocus technology now makes that gap even smaller, by bringing DSLR level autofocus performance to smartphone cameras.”

The OV50A image sensor also provides the best low-light performance in its class, via the unique combination of a large 1.0 micron pixel size, selective conversion gain’s low-noise, high conversion gain mode, and its distinction as OmniVision’s first high end mobile sensor to be offered in the large 1/1.5”optical format. Additionally, this sensor offers excellent HDR through 2- and 3-exposure staggered HDR timing, along with selective conversion gain for the optimum balance between low-light image quality and HDR. These features provide mobile designers with maximum flexibility to select the best HDR method for the contrasting light and dark areas in any scene.

Built on OmniVision’s PureCel® Plus-S stacked die technology, the OV50A integrates an on-chip, QPD color filter array and hardware remosaic, which provides significantly improved autofocus performance along with high quality, 50MP Bayer output, or 8K video, in real time. This sensor can also use near-pixel binning to output a 12.5MP image for 4K2K video with four times the sensitivity, yielding 2.0 micron-equivalent performance for preview and video. In either case, the OV50A can consistently capture the highest quality images, as well as enabling 2x digital crop zoom with 12.5MP resolution and fast mode switch.

Output formats include 50MP, or 8K video, with QPD autofocus at 30 frames per second (fps), 12.5MP with QPD autofocus at 60fps, 4K2K video with QPD autofocus at 90fps, 1080p at 240fps and 720p at 480fps. All of these options can be output at up to 3.5 Gsps per trio, over the sensor’s CPHY MIPI interface.

OV50A samples are expected in Q2 2021. Contact your OmniVision sales representative for more information: www.ovt.com/contact-sales.

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On this day: Hasselblad launches first medium format mirrorless

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On this day: Hasselblad launches first medium format mirrorless


We’d never before seen so much silicon wrapped up in such a small package

Photo: Samuel Spencer

The Hasselblad X1D beat Fujifilm to the market by three months in 2016 to become the first mirrorless medium format camera. It wasn’t the first “affordable” (or, at least, sub-$10,000) medium format option: that credit goes to Pentax and its 645D and Z, but it was the first larger-than-full-frame digital camera to be designed as a self-contained ILC with no mirror.

It was built around the same 50MP CMOS sensor as the 645Z, which also underpinned the Fujifilm GFX 50 models, producing some excellent image quality. Hasselblad’s modern minimalist design was eye-catching, and the operability improved significantly through a series of firmware updates (though it never offered the mass-market slickness of the GFX models).

One of the factors that allowed the Hasselblad to be so small was the decision to build leaf shutters into all the XCD lenses, rather than having a physical shutter in the camera body. This resulted in a camera that could sync with flashes all the way up to each lens’s maximum shutter speed. Though this came at the cost both of higher lens prices and of polygonal bokeh, as the shutter/aperture mechanisms had relatively few blades. This second issue was somewhat resolved by an update that allowed the aperture to be opened a fraction beyond the widest listed value, so that the blades don’t intrude on the image.

Click here to see the nearly 200 photos we’ve published from the X1D

Alongside the X1D came the first series of medium format lenses designed specifically for 44x33mm digital, giving some excellent results (to the point that moiré is a significant risk even when stopped-down to F5.6, given the lack of low-pass filter on the X1D’s sensor). It also led to the only instance we’ve seen of a manufacturer referring to equivalent f-numbers. It’s probably no surprise that it would be one of the only companies to solely produce larger than full-frame systems.

We were in the fortunate position to borrow a Hasselblad, Pentax 645Z and Fujifilm GFX 50S at the same time and use them alongside one another, and looked at their comparative strengths and weaknesses. We hope to do something similar with the more refined 100MP cameras from Hasselblad and Fujifilm in the coming months.



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On this day: Hasselblad launches first medium format mirrorless

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On this day: Hasselblad launches first medium format mirrorless


We’d never before seen so much silicon wrapped up in such a small package

Photo: Samuel Spencer

The Hasselblad X1D beat Fujifilm to the market by three months in 2016 to become the first mirrorless medium format camera. It wasn’t the first “affordable” (or, at least, sub-$10,000) medium format option: that credit goes to Pentax and its 645D and Z, but it was the first larger-than-full-frame digital camera to be designed as a self-contained ILC with no mirror.

It was built around the same 50MP CMOS sensor as the 645Z, which also underpinned the Fujifilm GFX 50 models, producing some excellent image quality. Hasselblad’s modern minimalist design was eye-catching, and the operability improved significantly through a series of firmware updates (though it never offered the mass-market slickness of the GFX models).

One of the factors that allowed the Hasselblad to be so small was the decision to build leaf shutters into all the XCD lenses, rather than having a physical shutter in the camera body. This resulted in a camera that could sync with flashes all the way up to each lens’s maximum shutter speed. Though this came at the cost both of higher lens prices and of polygonal bokeh, as the shutter/aperture mechanisms had relatively few blades. This second issue was somewhat resolved by an update that allowed the aperture to be opened a fraction beyond the widest listed value, so that the blades don’t intrude on the image.

Click here to see the nearly 200 photos we’ve published from the X1D

Alongside the X1D came the first series of medium format lenses designed specifically for 44x33mm digital, giving some excellent results (to the point that moiré is a significant risk even when stopped-down to F5.6, given the lack of low-pass filter on the X1D’s sensor). It also led to the only instance we’ve seen of a manufacturer referring to equivalent f-numbers. It’s probably no surprise that it would be one of the only companies to solely produce larger than full-frame systems.

We were in the fortunate position to borrow a Hasselblad, Pentax 645Z and Fujifilm GFX 50S at the same time and use them alongside one another, and looked at their comparative strengths and weaknesses. We hope to do something similar with the more refined 100MP cameras from Hasselblad and Fujifilm in the coming months.



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Our favorite ‘natural worlds’ pictures: DPReview Editors’ Challenge results

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Our favorite ‘natural worlds’ pictures: DPReview Editors’ Challenge results


June includes multiple days devoted to celebrating nature, including World Environment Day (June 5), World Oceans Day (June 8) and World Rainforest Day (June 22). In that spirit, we chose ‘Natural Worlds’ as the theme for our most recent Editors’ Choice photo challenge, with over 100 readers submitting entries.

We love seeing your work! Thanks to everyone who submitted. We couldn’t call out every image we liked, so we restrained ourselves to a baker’s dozen (in no particular order).

If you don’t see your work here today, don’t despair. We’ll soon announce a new Editors’ Choice challenge.

Also, a quick reminder to keep comments constructive and civil. These are images submitted by your fellow readers who took the time to share their work. Rule #1: Be nice. That’s it, there is no rule #2.



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