Samsung’s new 50MP ISOCELL GN2 sensor offers faster autofocus and better low-light performance
Samsung has been giving some tough competition to Sony in the mobile image sensor space lately. Samsung was quick to sense the renewed consumer demand for high megapixel count sensors and swiftly rolled out sensors ranging from 32MP going all the way up to 108MP. As it set its eye to reach the top spot and displace Sony, Samsung is expanding its portfolio with one more sensor in the form of 50MP Samsung ISOCELL GN2.
The Samsung ISOCELL GN2 is a direct successor to the last year’s ISOCELL GN1 and comes with several notable improvements, including increased pixel size, improved autofocus performance, better HDR capture, and more. The megapixel count remains the same at 50MP, but Samsung is pairing it with a larger 1/1.2 sensor and bigger 1.4-micron pixel size, which should help improve low-light performance. Moreover, when used in a 4-in-1 pixel binning configuration, the sensor doubles the pixel size (2.4-micron) to output brighter images with increased light sensitivity. Samsung also offers a hybrid 100MP mode that employs a re-mosaic algorithm to create three individual layers of 50MP frames in green, red, and blue and then upscales and merges them to produce a final high-res 100MP shot.
One of the important upgrades on the ISOCELL GN2 is the new Dual Pixel Pro technology for phase detection autofocus (PDAF). Samsung says the new technology allows all-directional focusing by splitting the pixels both vertically and diagonally, contributing to quicker focus in low-light and improved tracking of moving objects. This sounds a lot like OmniVision’s Quad phase-detection technology on its new OV50A sensor and Sony’s 2×2 On-chip Lens solution.
HDR performance also sees an upgrade as the ISOCELL GN2 is now able to capture high-contrast scenes with an increased dynamic range through the staggered-HDR feature. The staggered-HDR captures multiple frames in short, middle, and long exposures using rolling shutters to strike an optimal balance between highlights and shadows.
The Smart ISO is another new addition to the ISOCELL GN2, allowing the camera to take both high and low ISO values to quickly create a high dynamic range image while keeping the motion artifacts down. The Smart ISO Pro also promises good results in extreme low-light conditions by quickly taking and processing multiple frames in high ISO.
Finally, the sensor can shoot 8K videos, 1080p at 480fps, or 4K at 120fps.
The Samsung ISOCELL GN2 is in mass production. Samsung did not detail when we can expect the sensor to make its way on commercial phones. If we had to guess, it could be featured on the upcoming Mi 11 Ultra, which is reportedly packing a 50MP primary camera.