Low-light photography gets a boost

Written by Brett Thomas

May 23, 2007 // 5:07 p.m.

Tags: #camera #ccd #lux #south-korea

We all know the scenario - you're in a bar, or at a wedding, and someone wants a picture. And right before that happens, a light so bright that you see spots for ten minutes strobes repeatedly in your eyes. We all hate it, don't we? Fortunately, it may just be time to say goodbye to the flash - for good.

Developers at the South Korea Electronic Technology Institute (KETI) have announced an amazing breakthrough - a new sensor that can take a bright, clear picture in just one lux of light. If you don't remember tables of physics metrics, one lux is equal to the light output of one candle from one meter away - that's not a whole lot of light. The sensor is purported to be over 2,000 times more light sensitive than current technologies allow.

The new sensor, dubbed the single carrier modulation photo detector (SMPD), is designed to replace current CCDs in modern digital cameras. But before it makes the rounds into a Canon or Nikon near you, it will find itself in CCTV cameras, reverse/rearview cameras in vehicles, and mobile phones. Each of these technologies requires a significantly lower resolution, allowing the technology to be perfected before hitting the 10.1 Megapixel photo buffs among us.

Exactly when we'll start finding the chip in our cameras hasn't been disclosed, though it certainly sounds like it will be soon. KETI has invested a mere $10.5 million USD over four years into designing the new sensor, which is expected to net about $2.2 billion USD in returns each year. How's that for return on investment?

Do you have a thought on the breakthrough? Looking forward to throwing those flashes away? Tell us about it in our forums.
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