> Next generation CMOS sensors puts great photography in to your pocket

  • Posted on: 27 January 2021
  • By: tihomiry

You no more need large sensors and heavy equipment to do good general photos. The recent development of image sensors put silicon chip capabilities to it's limit by
designing BSI CMOS sensors. Sony is the leading manufacturer with it's EXMOR R line. Sony sensors are wide used in specialised astronomy cameras as QHY, ZWO and ToupTek. Pentax and Nikon also use Sony sensors.

Now we can have sensors with smaller pixel size providing good QE, dynamic range and noise levels. Recent development of phone photography kills the DSLR sales as most of the users are not professional photographers and they do not need to buy heavy and expensive equipment for their needs. To address that mirror-less cameras comes to stand between DSLR and mobile, providing light equipment with large sensors and professional capabilities.

However for applications like astrophotography, we still would prefer a DSLR, as the live view is not capable to provide us good enough preview into the dark.
We need it to focus and recognise the objects into the filed. Pentax is the only brand that will keep its focus on DSLR and will release APS-C flagship DSLR K3 III with the great Sony 26MPix BSI sensor Sony IMX571

We can do some great stuff with just a small planetary camera as QHY5III178 or mobile phone as Motorola One Vision.
Instead of having larger optics we can have sensors with finer pixels and better design. Still could limits us things like atmospheric turbulence, optics quality and allowed pixel sampling by your tracking. Check out this pixel sampling calculator : https://astronomy.tools/calculators/ccd_suitability

I have tested Motorola one vision which is equipped with Samsung ISOCELL GM1 sensor. It uses pixel binning technology to switch from 48MPix to12Mpix by combining pixel signal and improving sensitivity, noise and DR.
This sensors are now widely used across many phone models. Also it has improved design to reach great quantum efficiency with almost no lost of detected photons :
Here is ISOCELL GM1 sensor information: https://www.samsung.com/semiconductor/minisite/isocell/newsroom/blog/iso...

I did some test shots and I am impressed by the low light performance of ISOCELL. Despite there is still some noise, it is incredible result for that small sensor. It bets most of the DSLRs produced before 2010 and for sure all with the old CCD sensors.
In conjunction with the unlimited capabilities of the software that you can have on your phone, this is a powerful photography tool. It has all the needed manual control settings like ISO and shutter speed.
The only thing that keeps you away from the serious photography is that you have only the build in optics :)

Milky way with Motto One Vision (one shot 30s) RAW. Then processed:
Milky Way

Paris from above with Motto One Vision and on phone processing. Impressive Dynamic Range :
Paris from Monpernase

Nowadays we are so into the globalization and technologies, that I can submit observation plan to a remote, professional observatory at the other part of the word!

This is a comparison of my not modified Pentax k5 DSLR and the same, but modified one without IR-cut filter.

Astrotracer is a great way to take advantage of the Pentax DSLR camera in-body shake reduction mechanism. It is available since Pentax k5 and track celestial bodies by moving the sensor. Here is what is it ablout:

Staying at my home inspires me to make some documentation of my experience. I got a dedicated drive for my astrophotos and start reorganize them by objects. Here is an article of the most recent process I use on my photos. Enjoy: )

For a few months from now Betelgeuse (Alpha Orion) dim so much, that it looks as bright as the stars in the Orion belt. This is not so disturbing and does not mean that cataclysmic events are happening with it.