Panasonic has announced its first camera to use the organic film sensor it announced in February. This comes five years after announcing a collaboration with Fujifilm and seven years after the technology was patented. The AK-SHB810 uses the technology to offer 8K resolution at 60p and ‘global’ shutter.
The camera comes in the form of a ‘head unit’ that attaches via fiber-optical cable to an offboard processing unit. It should be available in 2019 with the Japanese press release talking about providing an 8K broadcast system in time for 2020, when Tokyo will host the Olympic Games. Panasonic also mentions feature film production, which explains the use of the industry-standard ‘PL’ mount.
|In a conventional CMOS sensor, the silicon acts as the light-sensitive medium, charge storage and readout circuitry: reading out the pixel ends the exposure, so the shutter behavior is determined by the readout rate. In the organic film/CMOS chip, the two processes are independent, so the exposure can be stopped for the whole sensor to give a global shutter, with readout occurring in the background.|
As well as avoiding any ‘rolling shutter’ skewing effect, Panasonic highlights that a global shutter means that flashguns fired while recording won’t cause partial bright bands across the image (something that could be distracting in broadcasts of indoor sporting events).
In addition, the sensor design allows the sensitivity of the capture medium to be varied to give a continuously variable virtual ‘ND Filter’ effect. The company also promises wide dynamic range capture, though puts no figures on this.
|This figure shows the stepless, electronically-controlled ‘ND filter’ effect of the Panasonic sensor.|
All these features stem from a fundamental aspect of the new sensor: the separation of the light gathering function of the sensor from the readout process and its circuitry.
The global shutter can be achieved because the light sensitive layer can be turned on and off (or its sensitivity varied) by varying the charge applied to it. This means that the whole film layer can capture a frame and then be made inactive while the CMOS circuitry underneath reads-out. In turn, this means the capture pattern doesn’t have to be defined by the sensor’s readout rate: progressively working down the frame.
The ability to vary the sensitivity of the organic film layer by adjusting the charge applied to it provides the virtual ‘ND filter’ affect, which can mimic ‘whole stop’ NDs or be continuously variable.
Pricing is not mentioned in the press release (Google Translated).