8-Megapixel CMOS image sensor captures HD video with low power

August 15, 2014 // By Graham Prophet
This addition to Toshiba’s 1.12-micron CIS product series is suited for HD high-frame-rate image capture and ultra-low-power operation in smartphones and other portable devices.

The 1.12-micron back-side illuminated CMOS image sensor (CIS) enables high-performance image capture and video recording for handheld mobile devices. The T4KA3 8-megapixel (MP) sensor targets midrange smartphones, tablets and action cameras with 720p resolution, enabling HD video capture at a rate of 240 equivalent frames per second (fps).

The T4KA3 operates at 15% lower power and is significantly smaller in area than Toshiba's prior 8MP sensor, making it one of the world's smallest chips at this pixel count and enabling the development of smaller camera modules. In addition, the product incorporates Toshiba Bright Mode technology, which boosts image brightness by up to four times. This capability enables users to continuously record and smoothly play back video on their handheld devices at an fps rate twice that achievable without Bright Mode.

Another key feature of the T4KA3 is High Dynamic Range (HDR) technology. While non-HDR cameras take pictures at one exposure level with limited contrast range, losing detail in bright or dark areas of a picture, HDR takes multiple pictures at different exposure levels and intelligently stitches them together. The result is a picture with better image quality and brighter, more natural looking colours. Toshiba's alternate-row, dual-exposure HDR also reduces motion artefacts and eliminates frame buffer requirements without compromising frame resolution or speed.

Optical format of the T4KA3 is 1/4 inch, and pixel count is 3280 (H) x 2464 (V). The sensor has 8 kbit of one-time-programmable (OTP) memory for automatically storing two settings of lens shading correction data, and the setting can be quickly changed with a single command to accommodate changing light conditions.

The first product in the series, the 13MP T4K82 (pictured above), was announced earlier in 2014. It also features both Bright Mode and HDR technology, and enables 240 fps HD video capture for higher-end mobile devices with 1080p resolution.

Toshiba Electronics Europe; www.toshiba-components.com