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05-15-2008, 02:27 PM   #1
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Interesting Samsung Patent Application

United States Patent Application: 0080112651

Although the circuitry and fabrication is likely complicated, the concept is amazingly simple:

Improve sensor dynamic range by setting a counter when a pixel gets filled up, resetting the pixel to zero, then adding to the counter if it gets filled again. The charge left in the pixel once it does not fill up completely is simply added to the number of times the pixel was filled up to get extended highlight range out of the sensor.

This would add some integration time while you set the counter and reset the full pixels, so it has some limitations, but the here's hoping that this innovation from Samsung shows up in a Pentax camera in the near future.

Comments?

Ray

05-15-2008, 02:29 PM   #2
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QuoteOriginally posted by Ray Pulley Quote
United States Patent Application: 0080112651

Although the circuitry and fabrication is likely complicated, the concept is amazingly simple:

Improve sensor dynamic range by setting a counter when a pixel gets filled up, resetting the pixel to zero, then adding to the counter if it gets filled again. The charge left in the pixel once it does not fill up completely is simply added to the number of times the pixel was filled up to get extended highlight range out of the sensor.

This would add some integration time while you set the counter and reset the full pixels, so it has some limitations, but the here's hoping that this innovation from Samsung shows up in a Pentax camera in the near future.

Comments?

Ray
Ingenous indeed!

- Bert
05-15-2008, 03:03 PM   #3
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Cool. I sort of wondered why they couldn't also do something like have a pixel report the time it filled up if it did. It wouldn't be as accurate as this method, but knowing the total exposure time, and the amount of time to fill you could project a value the pixel would have for the total exposure.

Say you shoot 1/100th

Say a highlight fills in 1/200th of a second to a value of 4096

You can estimate the value of that pixel at 8192 for the full exposure.

Either way you have to have some sort of logic to detect full pixels.
05-15-2008, 07:12 PM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by Geekybiker Quote
Cool. I sort of wondered why they couldn't also do something like have a pixel report the time it filled up if it did. It wouldn't be as accurate as this method, but knowing the total exposure time, and the amount of time to fill you could project a value the pixel would have for the total exposure.

Say you shoot 1/100th

Say a highlight fills in 1/200th of a second to a value of 4096

You can estimate the value of that pixel at 8192 for the full exposure.

Either way you have to have some sort of logic to detect full pixels.
And you would need a clock at each pixel location.

05-15-2008, 07:17 PM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by Ray Pulley Quote
United States Patent Application: 0080112651

Although the circuitry and fabrication is likely complicated, the concept is amazingly simple:

Improve sensor dynamic range by setting a counter when a pixel gets filled up, resetting the pixel to zero, then adding to the counter if it gets filled again. The charge left in the pixel once it does not fill up completely is simply added to the number of times the pixel was filled up to get extended highlight range out of the sensor.

This would add some integration time while you set the counter and reset the full pixels, so it has some limitations, but the here's hoping that this innovation from Samsung shows up in a Pentax camera in the near future.

Comments?

Ray
Nice idea - all it needs is a counter to count the number of times it fills up. Thats a small peice of extra real estate. The time to reset the pixel and counter is microseconds - negligable compared to typical shutter speeds.

How come noone thought of this before?

It may need a separate readout circuit for the counter though.
05-15-2008, 07:29 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by Ray Pulley Quote
United States Patent Application: 0080112651

Although the circuitry and fabrication is likely complicated, the concept is amazingly simple:

Improve sensor dynamic range by setting a counter when a pixel gets filled up, resetting the pixel to zero, then adding to the counter if it gets filled again. The charge left in the pixel once it does not fill up completely is simply added to the number of times the pixel was filled up to get extended highlight range out of the sensor.

This would add some integration time while you set the counter and reset the full pixels, so it has some limitations, but the here's hoping that this innovation from Samsung shows up in a Pentax camera in the near future.

Comments?

Ray

If it works that would be sensational!!

Thanks for the info, Ray.
05-16-2008, 03:23 AM   #7
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That could theoretically mean almost unlimited dynamic range.
05-16-2008, 03:38 AM   #8
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Dammit, I thought of that months ago!

05-16-2008, 04:49 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by *isteve Quote
How come noone thought of this before?
Like ftpaddict, I think this is a common idea and many had it, incl. myself. I guess that it is actually non trivial to uncharge a saturated cell. During normal readout you shift charges to neighboring cells (at least for CCD).

A saturated cell has a couple of tens of thousand of electrons. If you use this for HDR (and everything else is useless), every cell in the brighter areas would decharge dozens or hundreds of times during an exposure -- not a good idea to decharge by short-circuiting a cell every time it saturates...

Maybe, the patent explains how to solve this.
05-16-2008, 05:05 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by Ray Pulley Quote
I am very confused.

Samsung filed their patent entitled "High dynamic range image sensor and method and medium for measuring charges in pixel" one year after publication of a patent entitled "High dynamic range active pixel CMOS image sensor and data processing system incorporating adaptive pixel reset"
->High dynamic range active pixel CMOS image sensor and data processing system incorporating adaptive pixel reset - Patent 7079178

Both patents are almost identical. Is the patent system this broken?

And no, the patent does not explain how to solve the overheating problem from constant decharging saturated cells.
05-16-2008, 06:29 AM   #11
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You have to apply for your patents in every country you expect to sell/manufacture your invention. The US patent application coincides with the preceeding patent that was filed in Korea in 2006. Keep in mind that being almost identical is not against the rules. The earlier patent calls out for a way to adaptively reset each pixel in a row to determine DR. Reading that patent I understand it to explain how resetting pixels in each row at different times rather than reading the entire row/array, writting and then storing the pixel saturation information is a good way to get around the delay differential needed for dark vs light areas of the image being captured.
05-16-2008, 06:55 AM   #12
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HDR at a pixel level.

I would call it HDR at a pixel level!
05-16-2008, 06:58 AM   #13
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Could this be the "secret weapon" that had been rumored to be coming in the K20D? I remember references to some sort of technical advance that would send Nikon & Canon scrambling, but it would be too late because Pentax would have already patented the easiest/cheapest route to this particular advancement. Hmmm...
05-16-2008, 08:33 AM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by Geekybiker Quote
Cool. I sort of wondered why they couldn't also do something like have a pixel report the time it filled up if it did. It wouldn't be as accurate as this method, but knowing the total exposure time, and the amount of time to fill you could project a value the pixel would have for the total exposure.

Say you shoot 1/100th

Say a highlight fills in 1/200th of a second to a value of 4096

You can estimate the value of that pixel at 8192 for the full exposure.

Either way you have to have some sort of logic to detect full pixels.
VERY GOOD IDEA! And also a lot faster in taking images, since there is no waiting to the fill up the charge device over and over again.
I hope for you that Samsung / Pentax now does not copy this idea and files it as a patent

- Bert
05-16-2008, 08:59 AM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by *isteve Quote
And you would need a clock at each pixel location.
Not really. It would just need to know its location. Send a signal to some controller when full and the controller could tag that pixel's time when full.
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