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Sony reveals 21MP Four Thirds stacked CMOS sensor capable of 120 fps full-width readout

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Sony Semiconductor Solutions has published a product information sheet detailing the specifications for the IMX472-AAJK, a 21.46MP Four Thirds stacked CMOS image sensor. As it stands, this is the first known instance of a stacked CMOS sensor for Four Thirds-sized cameras and the accompanying readout speeds makes for some impressive imaging capabilities.

However, despite speed that could underpin impressive video (and AF) capabilities, the pixel count appears to be too low to deliver the ‘5.7K’ output promised of the forthcoming Panasonic GH6.

The IMX472-AAJK measures 21.77mm diagonally and features a total of 22.93M pixels, with 21.46M effective pixels and 20.89M active pixels. The sensor features a 27dB Programmable Gain Amplifier (PGA) circuit and 12-bit A/D converter with a 14 lane (8 lane + 6 lane) Scalable Low-Voltage Signaling with Embedded Clock (SLVS-EC) interface. This all adds up to the sensor being able to readout 12-bit images up to 20.89M pixels at just over 120 frames per second (fps) and 10-bit images at just over 158 fps.

A full breakdown of the readout speeds at various resolutions and bit-depths.

What this means is the sensor should be able to offer full-width oversampled 4K video at up to 120 fps with full dynamic range. It also means it could boost Panasonic’s Depth From Defocus (DFD) autofocus performance, should this sensor be used by Panasonic in a future GH-series camera system.

This specific version of this sensor also appears to have readout modes specifically designed for phase-detection autofocus systems. That doesn’t necessarily mean we’ll see that in any forthcoming Panasonic cameras, but OM Digital Solutions, on the other hand, could have something up their proverbial sleeves.

The product information sheet shows the ‘AAJK’ variant is a Quad Bayer sensor, but it’s not out of the realm of possibilities for a conventional Bayer version to be available for camera manufacturers as well. For instance, the specs of the Quad Bayer IMX299CJK line up extremely well with those of the conventional Bayer sensor used in Panasonic’s GH5S.

Sony Semiconductor Solutions doesn’t specify when this particular sensor will be available to camera manufacturers in the product information sheet, but historically speaking, if it’s on the Sony Semiconductor Solutions website, it’s likely already available to customers.


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