Low-light photography may become easier

There is an new development in photo imaging chip technology. Korea Electronics Technology institure has developed a single carrier modulation photo detector (SMPD) chip which allows digital cameras to take images without a flash in dark spaces.

This sounds like a pretty exciting development (obviously I would need to wait and see the results) as low light situations are the bane of photos. Direct flash, the one available to anyone using a compact, is terrible for photo taking. It flattens everything and leaves your subjects looking washed out. Not using flash results in a blurry and grainy image: while this might look passable on your 2 or 3 inch lcd, it looks awful on a screen or printed out.

Obviously if your lucky enough to have a decent SLR you've got a better range of ISO, the choice to use indirect flash, and lenses that probably have a greater aperture range. However you are still going to struggle to get a decent quality image.

DailyTech stated:

The digital camera equipped with the chip will be able to take high-resolution photos or video-recordings at 1 lux.  The camera will be able to snap pictures in places such as theaters, underground traffic tunnels, or dark-lit bars and clubs.  The chip promises clear pictures with light as bright as the lighting from a candle 1 meter away in a dark room and is said to be 2,000 times more light sensitive than other sensor types.  The will initially be used for camera phones, CCTV cameras and vehicle rear-view cameras.

This definitely sounds like it won't be something that will be pushed for professional photography uses, which makes me wonder about the potential quality of the images.

Planet 82 state:

SMPD-enabled devices take clearer, crisper images in low-light situations without the distortion or energy-drain of a flash. Planet82 SMPD technologies include a black and white, full-color VGA and two mega pixel color sensors.

Full colour VGA is not a very high resolution. So amazing though this technology might be, it definitely sounds like they are pushing at the (admittedly massive) mobile phone segment.  Certainly this would be a boon for anyone who uses their phone as their camera, and I am sure that the potential power of this could make it's way into higher end camera solutions.

Even if it is a low resolution chip, I could easily foresee a double chip situation where the camera intuitively switches to the low-light chip for certain situations.

There are no details that I could find about production or release schedules.

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