November 12, 2014

Sony's Innovative New Sensor Will Shoot 6K Video at 240fps & 2K at 16,000fps

Sony 6K Sensor 16,000fps
Innovation in digital sensor technology has seemingly moved at a snail's pace over the past few years. However, a leaked document with details about an upcoming Sony sensor suggests that we should be preparing for a massive leap forward in the very near future.

Early information about the new sensor, which was leaked on the the Chinese technology site cnBeta, states that the sensor will come in at a size of 1.5" -- a rough equivalent to Micro 4/3 -- and that it will be able to record 6K video at up to 240fps and 2K video at an astounding 16,000fps. 

While those numbers are impressive, it's the way in which this new sensor is designed that makes it truly innovative. Instead of using the traditional bayer method of color interpolation, where there are individual pixels for the red, green, and blue channels, the new sensor has pixels that can sample each of the three colors using a technology called Active Pixel Color Sampling. Essentially this means that the new sensors only need 1/3 of the pixels in order to output the same resolution. At 4.85 megapixels, a number that seems minuscule compared to many modern cameras, this new sensor will be able to output data roughly equivalent to a 15 megapixel sensor.

Sony 6K Sensor 16,000fps

Another implication of the Active Pixel Color Sampling technology is that these sensors can have much larger pixels than traditional sensors, which in theory, means that we might be seeing low-light performance in the future that exceeds even that of the venerable Sony A7s.

At a sensor size resembling that of Micro 4/3, it's hard to say where this particular sensor will end up. Many have already speculated that it's heading for a new line of Xperia smartphones, although at that size, it seems doubtful. What seems more like likely is a line of high-end mirrorless cameras. Additionally, it seems probable that the Active Pixel Color Sampling technology is moderately scalable, and that this 1.5" sensor is only the first in an entirely new generation of sensors that may end up in all of, or at least most of Sony's cameras, including future variations of their cinema line. Add to that the fact that Sony sells sensors to third party camera manufacturers, and it's entirely plausible that this technology will be widely available within a few years.

For further reading on this new sensor, head on over to Image Sensors World    

Your Comment

24 Comments

I have my doubts that we'll ever see that level of performance in an available product for a very long time though

November 12, 2014 at 6:07PM

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Tom Hornblow
Camera operator, Steadicam
295

Exactly. I've been to enough trade shows and sponsored cocktail mixers over the years to know that new products, especially expensive ones, trickle into the market at a glacial pace.

November 15, 2014 at 8:03PM

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Ivan Salinas
Filmmaker
193

Holy shit-balls!

November 12, 2014 at 6:14PM

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I'll take 4K at 60fps in a cam that weighs less than 400 grams.

November 12, 2014 at 7:49PM

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Tom Holton
UAS Specialist
267

sony is making me nervous after I bought the fs7 . I don't think it would come for at least 3 years from now.

November 12, 2014 at 8:19PM, Edited November 12, 8:19PM

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Aurelien Brentraus
Director/Cinematographer
241

Unfortunately, the fastest computer processor in the world couldn't transcode 2K at 16,000 fps at any sort of quality. Not to mention it would require quite a large battery to power the processor.

November 12, 2014 at 8:34PM, Edited November 12, 8:34PM

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Zachary Will
Cinematographer
826

Maybe so, but the fact that each individual pixel can sample red, green, and blue means that there's no need for a complicated debayering process, which should significantly lighten the load for the processor. It's probably still going to be incredibly energy-intensive, but I have faith that the Sony engineers will make this work in a way that is economical for the end user.

November 12, 2014 at 10:38PM

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Rob Hardy
Founder of Filmmaker Freedom
4510

Nobody wants to play it at 16000 fps. Play it at 30 or 24 and you have a wicked slowmo. (And I think the fastest processor in the world COULD play 16000 fps)

http://mashable.com/2014/06/23/china-fastest-supercomputer/

November 14, 2014 at 8:52AM

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Sony has been killin it lately!

November 12, 2014 at 11:00PM, Edited November 12, 11:00PM

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Walter Wallace
Spokesperson/Entrepreneur
1260

"Innovation in digital sensor technology has seemingly moved at a snail's pace over the past few years." -- WHAT?!

I literally stopped reading right there. Ten years ago we were all shooting on XL-2s. Six years ago, the first affordable 4K camera became available to professionals in the form of RED One. One year ago, Phantom gave us 4K RAW at 1000 FPS and Black Magic gave us a 4K RAW S35mm camera with 13 stops of dynamic range for less than $3,000.

Digital sensor technology is advancing faster now than ever before, and being ignorant of that fact makes it extremely difficult for me to take the author's opinion seriously. I can't imagine any working cinematographer publishing such an ignorant statement and attaching their name to it.

November 12, 2014 at 11:06PM

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Sean Finnegan
Director of Photography
74

With the exception of slightly higher resolutions and maybe some extremely high frame rates from niche manufacturers like Phantom, how much has digital imaging in the filmmaking space really changed in the past three or four years? Most manufacturers are still using some basic variation of the CMOS technology that has been commonplace for ten years. Even the Dragon sensor, which was supposed to blow us all away with its 18 stops of dynamic range was only a marginal improvement over the MX sensor.

Of course, we hear all the time about curved sensors and graphene sensors and all kinds of crazy sensor developments that may never see the light of day. So again, in terms of all of the cameras that have hit the market in the past four years, the actual sensor technology inside of those cameras hasn't really changed much. Really, the only thing that's rapidly changing is the way in which camera manufacturers process the data coming off the sensor. That's really what you're talking about in your examples above, but that's a completely different topic.

November 13, 2014 at 3:02AM

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Rob Hardy
Founder of Filmmaker Freedom
4510

I really wish it were bigger though. That's a trend I was hoping Alexa would lead. I cry a just a little bit when a company has another big M4/3 announcement.

November 13, 2014 at 5:59AM

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Josh Paul
Most often DP, Direct or Gaff
1259

What about DR though

November 12, 2014 at 11:23PM

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Miguel Sotto
Cinematographer
260

i would love to know the dynamic range of the sensor...???...definitely its not going to endup on the xperia Z4 thou i expect the phone to have 'out of this world' features and specs,and if we relied on the Z4 rumors even 'out of this galaxy' features and specs...

November 13, 2014 at 2:04AM

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Edwin Mathenge
Cinematographer,Editor,Sound Editor,Director
122

1600 fps sounds kindda believable, but 16000 fps is probably incorrect. But 1600 fps at 2k is pretty insane. Sony is doing some superb job.

November 13, 2014 at 8:59AM

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sanveer mehlwal
Filmmaker
248

35mm-sized sensor like this with bigger photosites, wider latitude and amazing low light abilities? Sing me in, Freddie.

YEAH, SCIENCE!

November 13, 2014 at 1:59PM

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Terma Louis
Photographer / Cinematographer / Editor
1367

I would take 5K @240fps and 2K @ 8000 fps if it weren't Micro 4 / 3rds. Super 35mm please! This is freaking cool stuff though. Glimpse of the future.

November 13, 2014 at 6:04PM

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Gene Sung
DP / Director
683

Having that resolution and frame rate in a sensor is cool, and the lack of debayering will help some of the processing, but what about record speed of the media? Or the dynamic range of the sensor? Is it rolling shutter or global? Or the sensor's 'look' (color science). I believe this is a step in the right direction and it will probably be the next type of sensor technology that takes over CMOS, but we won't likely see this sensor technology in higher end cameras for quite a few years. Just look at how long it took CMOS to overtake CCD.

November 14, 2014 at 7:12AM

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Looks like Canon and Nikon will use a similar sensor - in 2080

November 14, 2014 at 8:26AM

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I think Japan hosting the 2020 Olympic games has been helping to push the R&D of a lot of cutting edge sensors from companies like Sony, and hopefully Canon. They already intend to record the games (not necessarily broadcast) them in 8K so having things like high FPS for 4K by that time is probably something they expect to have in the market by that time. Should look amazing.

November 14, 2014 at 10:33AM, Edited November 14, 10:33AM

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Einar Johnson
DP / Editor / Creative Director
178

This will take porn production to a whole new level!

November 14, 2014 at 1:37PM

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Anyone buying SONY stock after this leak? Between this and their OLED technology, they're looking pretty good right now I'd say.

November 15, 2014 at 8:28AM

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Mike Holt
VTR / DIT/ Media Management
208

Seriously can you guys use another font? This one is far too slim at times harder to read, and almost impossible to read in my Nexus5.

November 15, 2014 at 11:55PM

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Isaac Alonzo
Photographer / Cinematographer
307

Yeah, the new font is gorgeous...but hard to read on iPad mini or smaller screens. Maybe a quick fix is to make it black instead of grey.

November 23, 2014 at 8:49PM

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Daniel Mimura
DP, cam op, steadicam op
2255