CES 2012: Fujifilm’s New CMOS Sensor Uses Novel Color Filter Array

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Fujifilm’s X-Pro digital camera, a compact 16-megapixel camera with removable lenses and a viewfinder that switches from optical to electronic, revisits the company’s film photography roots in a novel way.

Digital photography has a challenge not faced by film photography—dealing with aliasing, that is, when photographing a repetitive pattern, the pixels can create odd and distracting patterns, called moire patterns. To prevent these patterns from forming, digital cameras use a low-pass filter to resample the image, reducing the resolution.

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Fujifilm took a different approach, announced today at the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Film doesn’t suffer from moire patterns because the “pixels”, that is, the particles of silver halide, vary randomly in size. Taking a lesson from film’s makeup, Fujifilm designed a CMOS sensor with color pixels arrayed irregularly in six-by-six squares, compared with the conventional two-by-two arrays. The X-Trans CMOS sensor is essentially the same size as other sensors used in Advanced Photo System cameras (a smaller format than full-frame digital SLRs). But, Fujifilm says, produces higher resolution pictures because the camera does not include that low-pass filter; it doesn’t need it.

The X-Pro body will cost around $1700, lenses about $600 each, available in February.

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