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    Foveon X3 Technology In-Depth
    Author: David Pitlyuk
    Date Posted: April 10th, 2002
    Pages: 1 2 3 4 5 6
    >> Discuss This Article

    Variable Pixel Size

    The technology sounds pretty impressive huh? That's what I thought when I heard about it, but there's even more. X3 technology enables a new capability that will open the door to a entirely new breed of camera (as best stated by Foveon). That new breed is a digital video camera and a digital camera that can shoot high-resolution images integrated into one device. While DV camera's can take still pictures, like my brothers Sony DV cam, which saves the picture onto a Sony memory stick, but the quality isn't that great. That's because in order to accommodate both still and video functions the camera must sacrifice performance in one mode to do the other well.

    This is where something called variable pixel size comes in. Foveon explains this best:

    Because Foveon X3 image sensors capture full color at every pixel location, those pixels can be grouped together to create larger, full color "super pixels."

    So this is how it works, signals from a group of pixels can be read as one pixel. So if you have a block of 4 pixels, they can be grouped together and the camera will read it as one. Another good example from Foveon:

    For example, a 2300x1500 image sensor contains more than 3.4 million pixels. But if VPS is used to group those pixels into 4x4 blocks, the image sensor would appear to have 575x375 pixels, each of them 16 times larger than the originals. The size and configuration of a pixel group is variable-2x2, 4x4, 3x5, etc.-and is controlled through sophisticated circuitry integrated into Foveon X3 image sensors.

    Here's an image which helps to clarify the idea:

    So how does this help allow the image sensor to support both video and still without any compromise in quality? Because if you want full-color images at video rates, just reduce the resolution. Since the sizing of pixels can be done in an instant, the X3 image sensor can capture a high-resolution still photo in the middle of recording a video.

    The X3 Image Sensor Go the the next page
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    1. Introduction/Mosaic Capture Vs. X3 Capture
    2. Variable Pixel Size
    3. The X3 Image Sensor
    4. The F7 Image Sensor
    5. The F10 Image Sensor
    6. Conclusion

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