One of the first images shared by Panasonic revealing what is, at least to our knowledge, still a prototype version of an 8K cinema camera that would use this organic sensor technology.

Back in February 2018, Panasonic announced it was developing an organic 8K image sensor that offered wide dynamic range (WDR) and a global shutter at up to 60 frames per second (fps). While little has been revealed about that sensor since then, it appears as though the technology is still in development, as Panasonic has revealed additional information about the 35MP Super 35mm sensor.

Comparing typical BSI CMOS image sensor design (left), Panasonic’s new OPF/CMOS image sensor (right). Note how thin the OPF layer is compared to a traditional silicon photodiode. This allows a large area to be devoted to circuitry, and also means each pixel can accept a wider cone of incident light. This increases the CRA (chief ray angle) from the traditional 30-40º to 60º.

As we explained in our initial coverage of the sensor, this 8K sensor ‘combines an organic photosensitive film that sits atop CMOS circuitry.’ This design separates the light capturing element from the readout element, meaning you don’t get the compromises and trade-offs that all-silicon CMOS designs bring.

Separating the light capture process from the sensor’s readout means that you can stop the sensor being light sensitive, then take the time to read the entire sensor. In conventional CMOS the exposure is ended by starting the readout process, so you can only close your shutter at the rate that you can read-out all the lines of pixels.

Likewise, creating a charge storage area separate from the light sensitive part of the pixel allows greater charge storage capacity and hence wider dynamic range capture.

Finally, having a thinner light-sensitive element that’s closer to the surface of the sensor allows light capture from a wider range of angles, decreasing how much work the microlenses have to do to maximize light capture.

According to this latest report from Monoist, which showcases new images of the prototype 8K cinema camera Panasonic first showed off back in October 2018 and has once again highlighted at the 4K/8K Technology Expo 2021 in Majuhari Messe, Chiba, Japan, this 8192 x 4320 pixel sensor will offer up to four times the dynamic range of a traditional CMOS sensor.

The sensor appears to stem from what was initially billed as a collaboration between Fujifilm and Panasonic back in June of 2013. Fujifilm was said to be working on the photosensitive organic film but has not been mentioned in recent updates, suggesting the development of the film technology has been completed and Panasonic is continuing to work on turning the technology into a finished product on its own.

Panasonic shows off the incredible dynamic range of this new organic sensor.

The demonstration of working samples at trade shows suggest the technology is nearly ready for primetime. We don’t yet know what the sensor’s power consumption will be like, nor whether it’ll be practical to include it in a consumer stills/video camera, so it’ll be interesting to see whether it can compete with the performance and considerable price of the stacked CMOS chips that are now being seen in camera manufacturer’s high-end models.

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