In an interview on i-micronews.com with Sony’s Yasuhiro Ueda, SVP and Senior General Manager of Image Sensor Business Division, Ueda explains how Sony’s innovations and adaptation to new market challenges allowed the company to innovate while the global camera market was shrinking.
The lengthy interview is a fascinating look at Sony’s business operations in digital photography.
Ueda revealed that Sony invested 35B Yen (about US$289M) in new facilities to increase production of CMOS sensors.
Since the i-micronews.com site is aimed at the imaging sensor manufacturer market, the interview is relatively technical, but an important take away is that Sony’s in house CMOS manufacturing facilities allowed it to outpace rivals as the digital camera market transitioned from CCD to CMOS.
Today you find many digital still cameras achieving the resolution of 24 million pixel digital SLRs without low pass filters. Some people may want better images and higher resolution, other people may want good quality but with a low pixel count. The direction depends on the camera producer’s approach. Your opinion is reasonable but we feel there are two directions.
Some people want to take pictures of the Eiffel tower during daytime. You don’t need the smallest sensors since it’s bright enough and you can enjoy a good image with high resolution. If you want to do the same at night this is also possible with pixel summation in order to reduce the noise and in this case you don’t need too many pixels.
Some people ask for greater pixel count as the application range is higher. On the other hand some find it bothersome and just ask for larger sensors. The demand is coming from the customers and we are prepared to answer either way.
In this related background article from i-micronews.com, the CMOS market is likely to be worth US$16B by 2020, and Sony’s one of the world’s leading producers of CMOS chips.
Ueda sheds some light on the cellphone market as well, pointing out that advances are needed to bring SLR-quality images to cell phones, and while that might take some time, it’s interesting to see that companies like Sony are working to radically improve image quality.
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