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View Full Version : Foveon 1/1.8" X3 Image Sensor


Suhit Gupta
06-26-2004, 05:00 PM
<div class='os_post_top_link'><a href='http://www.dpreview.com/news/0406/04062102foveonf19.asp' target='_blank'>http://www.dpreview.com/news/0406/04062102foveonf19.asp</a><br /><br /></div><i>"Foveon Inc., a technology leader of award-winning high-quality digital camera image sensors, announced today the availability of the Foveon F19 sensor (FO18-50-F19), a 1/1.8-inch 4.5 Megapixel CMOS direct image sensor that incorporates Foveonís breakthrough X3 technology to directly capture color in three layers, just like film. The company also announced that the F19 image sensor has been designed into the HanVision HVDUO-5M digital camera for industrial, scientific, medical, and communications applications."</i><br /><br /><img src="http://www.digitalmediathoughts.com/images/foveonf19.jpg" /><br /><br />It appears that this sensor will be the one used in the Polaroid x530 digital camera which was announced recently at PMA. The X3 follows the same properties as the previous Foveon sensors where light is captured in its constituent red, green, and blue colors at every pixel location on the sensor. This is done by leveraging siliconís inherent color separation property. The property of silicon is such that blue light is absorbed at the surface of the chip, red light at the bottom while green is absorbed in the middle. The X19 will be able to capture 1440 x 1080 x 3 layers. Hence this new chip is being labeled as a '4.5 Megapixel CMOS Direct Image Sensor'.<br /><br />All of this sounds excellent, but Foveon was supposed to be this breakthrough technology over two years ago and it really never became as popular as some theorized. I wonder how successful the Polaroid x530 will be. Did anyone invest in a camera with a Foveon chip?

Jason Kravitz
06-26-2004, 05:43 PM
I think part of the reason this chip didn't take off is because the bigger camera companies invested a lot of money on their own proprietary image sensors so there was only one camera that I am aware of, the Sigma SD9, that used the original Foveon chip.

The SD9 was a $2000 3mp SLR camera that came out before the popularity of consumer level dSLR's and was missing features of other high end dSLR's (no ISO 800,1600,3200, no JPG output so all pictures are RAW files etc)

The SD10 came along and fixed many of these holes but was released around the same time the less expensive 6mp digital rebels were increasing in popularity.

I think this is a really cool technology, I don't know how noticeable the quality is currently - perhaps another few iterations and some buy in from other companies (Polaroid is a good start) and it might catch on.

Lee Yuan Sheng
06-26-2004, 05:44 PM
It's probably a Not Developed Here thing.

Canon has their CMOS tech.
Nikon has tie ups with Sony as well as their LBCAST tech.
Sony, Panasonic and Sanyo make a ton of chips
The rest probably have long term deals with the above 3.

So that leaves Foveon with an uphill task, and they haven't seem to be very aggressive to court the traditional Japanese camera makers. Which gives us bit players like Sigma (ewww) and Polaroid.

Jason Dunn
06-26-2004, 06:06 PM
When I first read about the X3 sensor and saw the sample images, I was really excited about getting a camera with the X3 sensor. When none of the big camera players adopted the sensor though, my enthusiasm cooled quite a bit - a camera is more than just the sensor, and the Sigma camera never impressed me very much. In hindsight, perhaps Foveon should have just sold their technology to one of the big camera makers. Or perhaps they tried that and this was their last option...