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High-fidelity feline: Samsung is after the internet’s collective heart with collosal 200MP cat photo

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Last September, Samsung announced the ISOCELL HP1 mobile image sensor for smartphone cameras. Its resolution sets the ISOCELL HP1 apart from Samsung’s other impressive image sensors. The sensor has a whopping 200MP resolution, the highest in a smartphone. Samsung’s current flagship smartphones include a 100MP image sensor, which is still extremely high for a smartphone and much higher than the 12MP sensors found in Apple’s popular iPhone lineup.

To show off its ISOCELL HP1 image sensor, Samsung has printed a massive 616 square meter (2,021 square feet) photograph. The image is 28m wide and 22m high, which is about one a half times the size of a basketball court.

‘I have always wondered just how big you could go when it comes to printing out a 200MP image,’ said Minhyuk Lee, an engineer from the Sensor Solutions Team at Samsung’s System LSI Business. ‘As exciting as it was, the challenge was a demanding one, as this was our first time showcasing the quality of an image sensor that has yet to be adopted in smartphones.’

The 200MP image sensor is still under development and hasn’t found its way into Samsung’s consumer products. The team chose to take a picture of a cat because the team wanted to test the image sensor with a moving subject, and they decided that a cat would allow them to show off a lot of detail. Plus, it’s a ‘popular photography subject.’ A win all around.

The photo was captured using a test board. Once the composition was lined up, engineers modified settings for focus and exposure and then captured a series of photos. Photographer Hyunjoong Kim said, ‘I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw the raw image enlarged to 100%. I was truly astonished by the degree of detail. In that moment, I knew any prejudices I had previously had regarding smartphone photography had been proven wrong.’

The 200MP image sensor will offer benefits beyond pure resolution. By capturing an image with so many pixels, users have a lot of flexibility for cropping and digital zoom without sacrificing image quality. 200MP is plenty for versatile 8K video recording too, of course.

The ISOCELL HP1 can record full-resolution 16,384 x 12,288 images at up to 7.5 frames per second. If you require more speed, the sensor can shoot 50MP images at up to 30fps and 12.5MP images at 120fps. The image sensor includes Samsung’s proprietary ChameleonCell technology that allows for different pixel binning approaches, including 4-to-1 and 16-to-1, for improved low-light performance at the expense of megapixels. In our original coverage, we wrote, ‘The HP1 sensor uses a color filter array in which each of the primary colors covers a 4 x 4 group of photodiodes (effectively a 12MP Bayer pattern). The camera then interpolates the missing R, G or B values within these 4×4 regions, in its high-res mode, using what Samsung calls its ‘re-mosaicing’ algorithm. This algorithm has been trained using machine learning to produce more plausible results than simple mathematical interpolation.’

The ISOCELL HP1 may soon be finding its way into smartphones. Last week, Motorola teased a new smartphone with a 200MP camera. while details are scarce ahead of a July announcement, Motorola will likely adopt the ISOCELL HP1 for its 200MP smartphone. Click here for more information on the upcoming Motorola smartphone and Samsung’s 200MP image sensor.


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