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[filmscanners] Re: Foveon

The inventor of this new chip was thinking out of the box (he's a
physicist, not an engineer, so maybe that explains it)... He's also no
youngster.  Dr. Mead, no stranger to brilliant inventions, is 67 years old.

The concept takes advantage of the way light reacts when it passes
through silicon.  Basically, the light penetrates to different depths
based upon its color.  The sensors are capable of determining the light
color based upon the depth the photon travels into the silicon.

Besides the obvious fact that this is working a lot like film which uses
several layers of sensitized silver that are positioned between light
separating filters, it is ultimately cheaper to produce, and doesn't
place the processor demands on the camera that the bayer matrix does to
convert it into a usable image.  This probably will mean lower
electrical consumption, lower component cost and count, faster capture,
and more light sensitivity.  It might also be sharper.

The other thing about this design is that since each pixel sensor is a
complete "unit" fully capable of recording full color and luminescence,
the size and shape of the pixel can be altered or ganged.  This means
the same chip can be used in both high resolution applications like
digital photography, and lower resolution digital video, all within the
same camera, altering the res with a push of a switch.

Pretty neat stuff.

The first version of the camera using the higher res version of the chip
will be available in a month or two from Sigma, which is incorporating
it into a SLR at about $3000 US.  The smaller chip, out in about 6
months, or less, will end up in lower res digital cameras selling for
under $1000.

The possibilities are probably just being scratched.  I can see some
every fast slide scanners that capture the full image in one go... in a
fraction of a second.


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