Thursday, June 21, 2007Home

New Kodak sensor claims to eliminate noise

Last week, Eastman Kodak announced a new super-sensitive sensor, one that will eliminate the need for a flash in low light settings. This is a bold claim, and is sure to get a lot of attention, what with Kodak's name recognition and ISO being the new buzz-word for digital cameras (following "now with ten additional megapixels!").

Recently, a higher ISO (a term for the speed of photographic exposures, adapted to digital to indicate a sensor's general sensitivity to light) has been hyped by many camera-makers as the "remedy" for noisy images taken in low light with point-and-shoot cameras.

What they don't tell you is that 1000 ISO (among the highest available) doesn't make much of a positive difference if the camera isn't an SLR. I was relieved that Kodak hasn't plastered the term all over its press announcements. This new invention seems to be something different indeed.

From Reuters:

The world's biggest maker of photographic film says its proprietary sensor technology significantly increases sensitivity to light. Image sensors act as a digital camera's eyes by converting light into an electric charge to begin the capture process.

The technology, in fact, doesn't govern the ISO at all. Kodak is reaching into its stockpile of patents to make innovations they hope will give them an edge in a market dominated by Nikon, Canon, Fujifilm, and other "beasts from the east." It's a strategy they employed with their successful line of inkjet printers. Observers are already voicing doubts about the present situation, however.

Two words: we'll see. I know I haven't been too kind to Kodak in the past. My admiration of the company and its legacy is in no way diminished, but its management in the age of digital photography has been all but a disaster. When I learned that they were retiring their legendary color film, only to phase out their low-end digital cameras about a year later, I became very doubtful about the future of the company.

I want to see Kodak do well, as much as anyone. Here's hoping they recover from the last few years and become more than a nostalgic icon.

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