Sony is moving in the right direction. Instead of increasing the megapixel count on the tiny image sensor that does not have much of an impact on picture quality, Sony has decided to improve the light gathering capabilities of the image sensor itself: the Exmor R CMOS light sensor is born. Compared to a conventional CMOS image sensor, Sony’s Exmor R sensor is twice as sensitive according to the company.
Better Light Capture The Exmor R sensor is unique in that the light receiving surface composed of photo diodes are moved in front of the metal wiring. The metal wiring can reflect some of the photons and by having the photo diodes right behind the on-chip lens and color filter light can be absorbed much more effectively. More light equals better quality, especially when there is little light to begin with. DSLRs have excelled at taking pictures with less light compared to compact digital cameras. The reason is simple: the DSLRs have larger image sensors. Larger image sensors allow you to grab more light compared to smaller image sensors. But by tweaking the structure of the image sensor itself, Sony has improved the light capturing capability enabling even tiny digital cameras like its Cybershot DSC-TX1. The slightly larger DSC-WX1 with optical zoom also uses the Exmor R sensor.
Low Light Darn Right! David Pogue published an article titled “Low Light Becomes a Highlight” on August 19, 2009 on The New York Times. He reviews Fujifilm’s FinePix F200EXR and Sony’s WX1 and comes away with this conclusion: “…the Sony WX1 pretty much mops the floor with the Fuji… The Sony WX1 is nearly irresistible for its low-light abilities, HD video, sweep panorama and burst mode. Still, in good light, a Canon PowerShot still offers better color and sharpness.” David notes that the Fuji is six months old and that a new model, the F70EXR, will be coming out next month. You can see the difference in low-light capabilities and it does seem Sony has a gem in the Exmor R sensor.
Hands-on: Sony DSC-TX1 review by techradar.com – “Clean, slim and easy to use, the TX1 carries on Sony’s seemingly effortless task of bringing cameras with both style and substance to the market.”
3-inch Touch LCD I really like the way Sony went with the TX1. The company’s designers put nearly all of the functions of the TX1 into the user interface on the 3-inch LCD. The touch LCD can be a tad hard to see in direct sunlight but in most cases it seems you’ll have little trouble getting to the settings you wish to change.
The megapixel race is over. Thank goodness! With 10 megapixels both the WX1 and TX1 has enough. Now companies are focused on improving real photo quality. Sony has done a remarkable job of redesigning the core of a digital camera: the image sensor. With the Exmor R image sensor integrated into the WX1 and the ultrathin TX1, Sony has raced ahead to capture the hearts of those who have been yearning for better quality photos especially in low-light situations. And that includes me. You can pre-order Sony’s Cybershot DSC-TX1 on Amazon.com for US$379.99 and the WX1 for $349.99.