It’s shocking to think how much photography has changed in just a few short decades. It was only recently that taking personal photos meant buying analogue film rolls and carefully choosing what you took photos of because you only got a certain number of shots per roll.
But now, the photographic process is packed into a series of chips and software inside our smartphones. There have been some significant developments in the area of smartphone photography lately too, with solutions like Samsung’s ISOCELL image sensor taking mobile photography to another level.
The film photography era
As millennials and Generation X might recall with nostalgia, and some members of Generation Z may never have experienced, as recently as a couple of decades ago personal photography still involved recording photos to analogue film rolls. Rolls of film were covered with a substance called photoresist, which would react with the light that penetrated the camera lens when the shutter button was pressed, recording an image to the film. You had to be careful not to expose the film to light, as it would cause a reaction and erase the pictures. After the film was taken to the studio, the staff there would immerse the film in fixer solution, removing its vulnerability to light. Then the staff at the studio would shine a light through the film to transfer the pictures to photo paper, ready to be picked up by the customer.
The process of developing photos generally took several hours or days, and would seem needlessly lengthy and complicated to many of us now. Regardless, the experience of going down to the photo shop, receiving your photos, and seeing them for the first time as you rifled through the stack had an analogue romance that a lot of people still miss today.
The arrival of digital
The inception of digital cameras was a massive change. Suddenly, people could view the photos they’d taken directly on their camera screens, and they only needed a PC to edit their photos and share them all over the world.
The introduction of smartphone cameras represented another huge leap forward for digital photography. Now, the ability to capture images and share them was right there in people’s pockets, and taking photos became a natural part of their everyday lives. What’s more, the ongoing sophistication of image sensors has led to smartphone photography becoming increasingly innovative and intelligent over time.
What is an image sensor?
An image sensor is a semiconductor that receives lights and converts them into signals in order to create images. The components inside an image sensor include a microlens, color filter, photodiodes and a series of metal lines. Light is collected through the microlens, and then the light is separated into red, green and blue by a color filter that is usually arranged in a Bayer pattern – a grid of red, green and blue squares. The Bayer pattern imitates the sensitivity of the human eye, with each pixel storing color value according to the colors on the filter. When the light reaches the photodiode, the photoelectric effect causes a charge, changing the color value into an electrical signal that can be processed by the digital device.
How Samsung ISOCELL is changing the game
Debuted in 2013, Samsung’s ISOCELL image sensor line includes premium solutions optimized for the modern standard of ultra-thin devices with high-quality, in-built cameras. The company’s ISOCELL technology, for which the sensor line is named, generates physical barriers between pixels to avoid color crosstalk, allowing high color fidelity and outstanding image quality. In a world where many of our experiences are summed up by what we capture of them, the ISOCELL line is ensuring that high quality cameras can be delivered in compact, multi-functional smartphone packages.
The signature features that make ISOCELL different
The ISOCELL Plus technology makes the aforementioned pixel separation capability of ISOCELL sensors possible. This technology improves pixel performance by reducing optical loss and solving a lot of the issues that come along with pixel downsizing, including color crosstalk.
The Smart-ISO technology presents a solution to the problems that go along with use of single fixed native ISO. Incorporating one low and one high amplification ISO, the Smart ISO optimizes dynamic range and reduces noise by intelligently selected amplification levels. The Smart-ISO reduces the noise concerns that come with use of a lone low amplification sensor in low light, while also reducing color loss issues that can occur when sensor only can use a high implication ISO in bright environments.
Samsung’s innovative Tetrapixel Technology additionally enables next-level low-light photography with its ability to blend four pixels into one. Unlike conventional RGB sensors, pixels with the same color filter are placed next to one another in groups of four in an image sensor. When the camera is shooting in low-light conditions, the algorithm combines information and data from each group, essentially transforming four smaller pixels into a larger pixel. In bright lighting conditions, the re-mosaic algorithm remaps the pixels into a conventional RGB pattern through an algorithm called re-mosaic algorithm to produce high-resolution photos.
As smartphones get increasingly slimmer and are required to pack more in, top-drawer innovations are required to make sure their camera arrays remain highly capable in a range of different environments. Now, as mobile photography becomes an increasingly integral part of their lives, users can proceed safe in the knowledge that Samsung’s ISOCELL range is there to ensure that they will be able to ‘cherish the moment’ wherever they may go.
* Technological term of 'Tetrapixel' was updated in July 2022