Samsung Bolsters Low-Light Mobile Photos With ISOCELL Plus Camera Sensor Tech

Samsung Galaxy Note 8
Samsung is rolling out a new image sensor technology called ISOCELL Plus that aims to deliver better looking photos taken with a smartphone and other mobile devices, especially when lighting is less than ideal. In short, ISOCELL Plus allows CMOS image sensors to capture more ambient light, which in turn significantly increases light sensitivity and color fidelity in photos. This can help reduce the unwanted 'noise' and graininess that plague photos taken in darker areas.

As any photographer will attest, proper lighting is the key to taking a nice looking photo. The more light (or photons) a camera sensor is able to taken in and hold, the more accurate it can transmit the right color information to the photodiode. That is where Samsung's ISOCELL technology, introduced in 2013, comes into play.

"ISOCELL forms a physical barrier between the neighboring pixels, reducing color crosstalk and expanding the full-well capacity. This enables each pixel to absorb and hold more light than the conventional backside-illuminated (BSI) image sensor design for superior image quality," Samsung explains.

Click to Enlarge (Source: Samsung)

Samsung's ISOCELL Plus works in similar fashion, but adds an optimized pixel architecture and new material to the mix. In regular ISOCELL cameras, metal grids form over the photodiodes to reduce interference between the pixels. But because metal can reflect and absorb light, there are situations where this structure causes optical loss. ISOCELL Plus solves this problem by replacing the metal barrier with a new material developed by Fujifilm.

"This development is a remarkable milestone for us as it marks the first commercialization of our new material. Through continuous cooperation with Samsung, we anticipate to bring more meaningful innovation to mobile cameras," said Naoto Yanagihara, corporate vice president of Fujifilm.

Galaxy Note 8
Samsung Galaxy Note 8 Camera Interface

According to Samsung, ISOCELL Plus delivers up to a 15 percent enhancement in light sensitivity, leading to higher color fidelity when taking a photo. It also enables sensors to equip 0.8-micrometer and smaller sized pixels without a drop in performance. As such, it's suitable for use in higher resolution cameras that top 20 megapixels.

Samsung is showing off its new technology at the 2018 Mobile World Congress Shanghai. The company did not say when ISOCELL Plus will be adopted by smartphones, though we have a hunch it will show up in the next round of Galaxy devices.