Sony announce groundbreaking backlit CMOS sensor with a global shutter

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Sony has announced what many photographers have considered the holy grail of mirrorless: a 1.46-megapixel back-illuminated CMOS sensor that has global shutter. The new sensor, announced yesterday, is the first-ever CMOS sensor of over 1MP that has both back-illumination and global shutter.

Backside illumination (BSI) uses an arrangement of imaging elements on the sensor to increase the amount of light that’s captured, improving low-light performance. Since its first appearance in 2015 in Sony's a7r II, the technology has become common in consumer cameras. Last year, Nikon’s D850 became the first 45+ megapixel BSI sensor.

However the weakness of BSI shutters is they suffer from rolling shutter, which means the individual pixels in a photo aren’t captured at the same time. Instead, they are captured row-by-row, with the delay as the sensor scans the image sequentially often leading to a phenomenom called rolling shutter.

This is particularly evident on fast moving subjects, like this image of a helicopter and its blades below:

Sony’s new sensor has a global shutter function, which allows every single pixel in the frame to be captured at exactly the same time with no lag.

In the real world, this means an electronic shutter could record undistorted action pictures, improving sync times with flash, and work with LED lighting without banding.

Here’s a sample photo Sony captured with the new sensor. The moving fan is displayed without a rolling effect:

Sony haven't indicated when they expect this tech to hit consumer cameras, but we reckon it won't be long. 

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