Samsung Electronics’ Image Sensor Engineers Overcame a Dramatic Challenge — print a photo taken with Samsung’s 200 megapixel (MP) mobile image sensor onto a massive 616 square meter canvas.
Read on to find out how the 28-meter-wide, 22-meter-tall photograph (about one and a half times the size of a basketball court) came out.
“Our desire to really test the limits of the 200MP high-performance image sensor and its image quality is behind this challenge,” said Changwan Kim, Project Manager, Global Marcom Team, Device Division. Solutions at Samsung Electronics.
“I’ve always wondered how far you can go when it comes to printing a 200MP image,” said Minhyuk Lee, Sensor Solutions Team Engineer at Samsung System LSI Business. “As exciting as it was, the challenge was demanding, as it was the first time we demonstrated the quality of an image sensor that has yet to be adopted in smartphones.”
Taking a photo with an image sensor still under development, for a camera module that is not yet fully optimized, is a very delicate task. Nevertheless, the team decided to outdo themselves by working with a living, moving subject rather than an inanimate object.
“Choosing a cat as a subject was a difficult decision. It gave us a lot of hurdles to overcome, like capturing such an active subject with a test board,” said Minhyuk Lee. “However, the team concluded that the subject needed to be something that would show a high level of detail and was a popular photography subject at the same time.”
The team calculated several variables while preparing to shoot in an unstable environment. They even built a custom adapter to allow them to attach various DSLR camera lenses to a breadboard. “Ultimately, we thought it was more important to capture the scene under the same conditions as smartphone users,” said Kaeul Lee from the Sensor Solutions team. “For this reason, we opted for a smartphone camera module without any other help. The results were very satisfactory.
As the photo was taken using a test board, the photographer first checked the screen and adjusted the composition. Next, engineers tweaked the settings to optimize exposure and focus. After observing the cat’s movements, the film crew then used different methods to take a series of photos. Photographer Hyunjoong Kim was curious to see the result as 200MP resolution is not easy to find even in DSLR cameras. “I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw the 100% enlarged raw image,” said Hyunjoong Kim. “I was truly amazed at the level of detail. In that moment, I knew that all the preconceptions I had before about smartphone photography had been proven wrong.
The printing process was far from easy, as obviously an image of 616 square meters cannot be printed in one go. The image was to be printed on twelve separate 2.3 meter long pieces of fabric and then sewn together. The print was then transported on a truck and installed on the wall of a building using a crane.
“When the image was rolled out for the big reveal, its sheer scale really struck me, and not just because of its actual size,” Changwan Kim said. “The moment I saw the 200 million pixels representing the stunning detail of the cat’s eyes and fur, I was overwhelmed by all the effort that went into developing this final product.”
For the team, the challenge of truly visualizing the next-level capabilities of 200MP technology was exciting. Going forward, Samsung will continue to expand its leadership in the high resolution market.
“The ultimate benefit of the 200MP image sensor is to allow users to capture an image that can be enlarged and cropped without compromising image quality,” Kaeul Lee and Minhyuk Lee said in a final comment. “The 200MP image sensor will soon become the optimal solution for 8K video recording.”
Going forward, keep an eye out for new experiences the miniature-sized ISOCELL mobile image sensor will deliver next by following Samsung Newsroom.