Foveon’s proprietary X3 technology is the only image sensor technology that stacks red, green and blue pixels vertically, increasing the information density of the recorded image while simultaneously eliminating the color sampling artifacts found with other image sensors.
The new X3 sensor packs 14.1 million pixels, each 7.8µm in size, into a 3-dimensional array of 2652 x 1768 x 3 pixels with an active image area measuring 20.69 x 13.79 mm. The sensor can be read out at speeds up to 5 frames per second.
The new sensor will soon be available in the Sigma SD14 camera, the newest Digital Single-Lens Reflex (DSLR) camera offering from Sigma Corporation of Tokyo, Japan. “We are pleased to have the new Foveon sensor for our latest DSLR camera – the unique ability of the X3 sensor to capture fine color details is the perfect match for our high performance Sigma lenses,” said Kazuto Yamaki, COO of Sigma Corp.
“The new Foveon sensor not only provides a path for our existing camera owners to upgrade to a higher level of quality, but also increases the attractiveness of the camera to new owners.”
In addition to the SD14, a new class of compact camera that leverages the high-performance of the Foveon DSLR sensor will also be launched by Sigma. The compact camera, named the DP1, will offer the same unprecedented performance from the 14.1 megapixel sensor in a small and user-friendly form factor. “The ability to pack such high quality in a consumer point and shoot camera is another of the tremendous advantages of X3 technology,” Yamaki said.
“This new sensor represents a major step forward in the capability of Foveon X3 technology, providing the color detail and richness users expect from X3 image sensors, while adding increased resolution and improved quality in the captured image,” said Rich Turner, Foveon’s VP of Product Marketing. “Sigma’s bold product strategy combined with the best-in-class optical performance makes the new cameras an ideal showcase for our image sensors.”
This latest X3 sensor design is being fabricated by Foveon’s semiconductor foundry partner, Dongbu Electronics, headquartered in Seoul, South Korea. Dongbu is a leading image sensor foundry and their top quality image sensor manufacturing capabilities and technology leadership were major factors in the successful development of this new sensor.
In addition to the cameras from Sigma, the new Foveon X3 image sensor will also be available through Alternative Vision Corp., Foveon’s sales partner for scientific, instrumentation, and government markets.
Foveon Inc. was founded in 1997 by Dr. Carver Mead, a pioneer in solid-state electronics and VLSI design, and professor emeritus at the California Institute of Technology. The company’s mission is to become a leading supplier of image capture solutions through the development of innovative technology and products. Foveon, located in Santa Clara, CA, is led by CEO and veteran Silicon Valley inventor and entrepreneur Federico Faggin, and is privately held.
About Foveon X3 Technology
Foveon pioneered the direct image sensor product category with its X3 sensor technology in 2001. Foveon X3 sensors are built using a pixel layering concept in which red, green, and blue pixels are stacked on top of each other. All competing color image sensor technologies rely on a pattern of red, green, and blue pixels that arranged next to each other. By stacking pixels, Foveon achieves a higher pixel density, increasing the image quality obtainable per unit area of silicon. The stacked pixel array has the added benefit of eliminating color sampling artifacts, without requiring the use of an optical blur filter.
Founded in 1961 by Michihiro Yamaki, Sigma has become one of the world’s largest suppliers of after-market lenses for single-lens-reflex cameras. Sigma’s product line currently consists of digital cameras, over 50 lenses with focal ranges spanning from 8mm to 800mm, as well as flashes and lens accessories. Through sustained reinvestment in precision manufacturing, design automation and world-class excellence in optics, Sigma has focused its efforts on delivering high quality products at the highest value to its customers.