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Digital Cameras

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Digital Cameras

Foveon X3 DSLR image sensor

Ilse Jurrien
Photokina report
Tuesday 26th, September 2006
Posted by: Ilse Jurrien

Foveon released the 14.1 megapixel X3 DSLR image sensor, the highest resolution X3 sensor available and the latest product from Foveon. In addition to providing image quality suitable for professional photographers, the new X3 sensor incorporates design and process enhancements which improve performance at long exposures and high ISO speeds, and also provides a 40% increase in pixel count compared to the previous X3 DSLR sensor. Foveon’s proprietary X3 technology is the only image sensor technology that stacks red, green and blue pixels vertically, increasing the information density of the recorded image while simultaneously eliminating the color sampling artifacts found with other image sensors.

Foveon X3 sensor

Foveon X3 image sensor for Sigma SD14
The new X3 sensor packs 14.1 million pixels, each 7.8µm in size, into a 3-dimensional array of 2652 x 1768 x 3 pixels with an active image area measuring 20.69 x 13.79 mm. The sensor can be read out at speeds up to 5 frames per second. The new sensor will soon be available in the Sigma SD14 camera, the newest Digital Single-Lens Reflex (DSLR) camera offering from Sigma Corporation of Tokyo, Japan. “We are pleased to have the new Foveon sensor for our latest DSLR camera - the unique ability of the X3 sensor to capture fine color details is the perfect match for our high performance Sigma lenses,” said Kazuto Yamaki, COO of Sigma Corp. “The new Foveon sensor not only provides a path for our existing camera owners to upgrade to a higher level, but also increases the attractiveness of the camera to new owners."

Foveon X3 sensor for Sigma DP1
In addition to the SD14, a new class of compact camera that leverages the high-performance of the Foveon DSLR sensor will also be launched by Sigma. The compact camera, named the DP1, will offer the same unprecedented performance from the 14.1 megapixel sensor in a small and user-friendly form factor. “The ability to pack such high quality in a consumer point and shoot camera is another of the tremendous advantages of X3 technology,” Yamaki said.

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Foveon X3 image sensor - Rich color detail
“This new sensor represents a major step forward in the capability of Foveon X3 technology, providing the color detail and richness users expect from X3 image sensors, while adding increased resolution and improved quality in the captured image,” said Rich Turner, Foveon’s VP of Product Marketing. “Sigma’s bold product strategy combined with the best-in-class optical performance makes the new cameras an ideal showcase for our image sensors.”

Foveon X3 sensor

Foveon X3 DSLR image sensor - Availability
This latest X3 sensor design is being fabricated by Foveon’s semiconductor foundry partner, Dongbu Electronics, headquartered in Seoul, South Korea. Dongbu is a leading image sensor foundry and their top quality image sensor manufacturing capabilities and technology leadership were major factors in the successful development of this new sensor. In addition to the cameras from Sigma, the new Foveon X3 image sensor will also be available through Alternative Vision Corp., Foveon’s sales partner for scientific, instrumentation, and government markets.

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