Rochester (NY) – Kodak claims it now offers the world’s highest resolution image sensor for digital photography. Two new sensors aims at professional and commercial photography increase picture resolution to 31.6 and 39 million pixels, up from a maximum of 22 million the company offers today. The chips will initially be integrated in cameras with prices starting at $20,000.
Kodak’s announcement adds new dynamic to digital image sensor market. Even if 39 megapixel cameras are far beyond the reach of most consumers and may even have corporations and professional photographers think twice if they want to spend serious cash on such a device, it provides all digital photography enthusiasts an outlook what the future will bring.
And Kodak’s new sensors are evidence that the industry is far from reaching the end of being able to scale the size of image sensor pixels while preserving their capability of catching enough light to create high quality images.
The new sensors are the KAF-39000 sensor which will produce images in a resolution of 7216 x 5412 pixels for a total of 39,052,992 pixels. There will be also the KAF-31600 sensor, which offers a resolution of 31.6 megapixels.
The flagship KAF-39000 puts the sensors in a 36 mm x 48 mm imaging area; the size of the KAF-31600 is slightly smaller at 33 mm x 44. Each pixel has a size of 6.8 micron, down from 9 micron of the 22 megapixel model. Michael Deluca, spokesman for Kodak, said that the challenge of creating the higher resolution chip was not so much the scaling itself, but to free up enough space for collecting light. He said that the performance of the 6.8 micron sensors “is comparable” to the 9 micron version, but declined to describe the performance as “the same.”
Deluca did not provide specifics on pricing and availability of the sensors, but mentioned that “there are enough image sensors to meet demand” and that the price of one image sensor is measured “in the thousands of Dollars.”
Accordingly, digital cameras equipped with the chips are not what you will be able to purchase at Circuit City or Best Buy. Danish digital photography company Phase One currently is the only company that announced digital backs using the new sensors. Available today, the P30 model with the 31.6 megapixel sensor is offered for $20,000. The P45 model with the 39 megapixel image sensor will follow in November for a price of $33,000.
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