Nikon announces 4K, 1,000-fps video sensor with adaptive exposure
Nikon cameras have had excellent sensors in them for many years, principally because Sony's been making them. But this new sensor could be a game-changer, with super-slow motion, huge dynamic range, and exposure live-adjusted throughout the image.
Announced at the International Solid-State Circuits Conference in San Francisco, the new CMOS sensor has a resolution of "approximately 17.84 million pixels" and a square shape around 1 inch diagonally. Its high-speed readout allows you to shoot 4K video at up to 1,000 frames per second – putting it in contention with monsters like the Phantom Flex 4K costing upwards of a hundred grand. Even at 1,000 fps, it still offers a wide dynamic range of 110 dB, but if you slow down to 60 fps that figure jumps up to 134 dB.
And it's got a pretty neat process for dealing with overexposed and underexposed areas in the image; the new sensor runs two image sensors on top of one another. The top sensor's pixels are grouped into blocks of 16x16, effectively making it a 256 x 256 superpixel array, and as light passes through it on the way to the bottom sensor, each superpixel on the top layer takes its own exposure measurement and uses it to control the exposure time for the group of 256 smaller pixels below it.
In this way, you end up with a camera that lets more light into areas of the image that need it, and less light into the bits that are too bright. A terrific idea and we're fascinated to learn how well it does the job, what the output looks like, whether those superpixel exposure chunks are visible in the image, how far this thing can be pushed, and what kind of things you'll be able to do with the image afterwards.
There's no word yet on a camera featuring this new sensor, or when we can expect to hear more, but it certainly looks like a pretty special piece of kit, and we're looking forward to hearing more.
Source: Nikon (in Japanese)