iPhone with RAW?


The OV12825 is a 12.6-megapixel RAW CMOS image sensor designed specifically for high-performance mobile applications. Offering both DSC-quality photography and full 1080p/60 high-definition (HD) video with electronic image stabilization (EIS) makes the sensor a highly attractive solution for high-end feature and smart phone manufacturers.

Look at these features: 12.6 megapixels, 1080/60p, RAW, image stabilization, backside illuminated pixels. I’m not a fan of ever-increasing pixels on image sensors, but 12 megapixels should be enough. Akira Watanabe, a man­ager of Olympus Imaging’s SLR plan­ning depart­ment:

We don’t think 20 megapix­els is nec­es­sary for every­body. If a cus­tomer wants more than 12 megapix­els, he should go to the full-frame mod­els. I per­son­ally believed, before start­ing the E-System, that 12 was enough. We inter­viewed many pro­fes­sional pho­tog­ra­phers, peo­ple in stu­dios, about how many they needed in the future. Before we started, the sys­tem, we had a rough idea we’d be at a plateau at 12 megapix­els.

Maybe the next iPhone will be hitting this 12-megapixel plateau. Megapixels aside, I’m excited about 1080p video capture and stills in RAW. Will the A5 CPU from Apple be able to handle 1080p video capture, display, and take 12-megapixel photos lag-free? Probably since Apple touted the A5 had 9x the graphics power of the A4.

Backside illumination, which is in the current image sensor in the iPhone 4, doesn’t completely offset the smartphone’s inability to capture in low-light environments, but it does help. Apple should consider improving the lens from f/2.8 to something a little faster, say f/2.0 or even f/1.8.

Smartphones like the iPhone will continue to encroach upon compact digital cameras and at some point there will be little difference. The always-connected feature of smartphones allow instant sharing and thousands of photograph apps augment the smartphone’s capabilities beyond what can be found on regular digital cameras. But today if you’re looking for best-in-class photo and video quality the smartphone falls short; the heavy but capable DSLR with video capability (or a mirror-less variant) is currently your best choice.