Business Wire: Aptina introduced an APS-C format 16MP MT9H004 image sensor. The new MT9H004 sensor offers high sensitivity, low dark current, and low readout noise in addition to 16MP still image capture at 10fps. Leveraging the company’s latest dynamic response (DR) pixel technology innovation, called DR-Pix technology, the new APS-C format imaging solution delivers a 5dB increase in SNR under low-light conditions without sacrificing the performance in high-light environments, where it can achieve a max SNR of 47dB. Aptina’s new solution also offers advanced features, such as live view video support, and 1080p/30fps HD video recording.
What set Aptina's announcement apart of some others is that the company explains how these improvements have been achieved, a rare example of openness (Youtube link):
“Designed by our Japan design center to provide the highest image quality possible, our new APS-C format sensor delivers the maximum signal-to-noise ratio across all scene lighting and ISO speed conditions,” said Junichi Nakamura, Aptina’s Japan Design Center Director. “The positive reception our sensor has received from DSLR camera makers underscores the SNR and inter-scene dynamic range performance we’ve been able to achieve.”
TSR estimates CMOS image sensor shipments for the DSLR market to be 12.5 million in 2013, up from 4 million in 2007, with much of this growth coming from the emerging compact mirrorless segment of the market. “Our new sensor is only the first step in our effort to secure a prominent position in this exciting market,” said Sandor Barna, GM of Aptina’s Camera Business Unit.
Aptina DR-Pix technology page describes the 2-gain approach:
Aptina’s innovative approach to improving low light performance without compromising image quality utilizes a dynamic response pixel, called Aptina DR-Pix technology. Aptina DR-Pix technology combines two modes of operation in one pixel design – low conversion gain (LCG) mode for large charge handling capacity in bright scenes and a high conversion gain (HCG) mode with increased sensitivity and low read noise for low-light scenes. The inter-scene DR equal to 82.9 dB due to the low read noise of the HCG mode. In comparison, without the HCG mode of operation, the sensor’s DR would be limited to 69 dB of intra-scene DR in the LCG mode.
The sensor's 4.79um-sized pixel schematics is given in Aptina's white paper:
Sampling now, Aptina’s new 16MP MT9H004 image sensor is available in a 116-pin CLCC package. Mass production is scheduled for Q1 2011.