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Phone cameras have always been considered to be excellent additions to mobile devices. On the long run, we presume that smartphone cameras will reach such a high quality level that buying a separate compact camera will not make too much sense. This day has not come yet, unfortunately. With all the technological advances made in the last couple of years, most smartphone camera still act as potatoes, as the internet saying goes. Sure, there are a couple of exceptions, among which there are some Sony and Nokia models, but again, nothing terribly impressive.
A ray of hope comes from Toshiba, who announced on Wednesday the shipment of a brand new camera sensor. The T4KA3 image sensor will take 8 MP photos and will be available for smartphones and tablets. The sensor is in the smallest class for 8 MP sensors and supports HDR. But the most impressive feature is the ability to take videos at an ultrahigh frame rate. While most smartphone camera sensors record videos at 30 fps, T4KA3 is able to record HD videos at 240 fps.
If you are not satisfied with that, we can get even more fps, but you will have to settle for a resolution of only 800 X 480 (WVGA). Full HD videos can be shoot at 60 fps with T4KA3 image sensor.
Another impressive camera comes as an accessory specifically designed for iPhone 5/5s. Flir One comes as an external accessory and records infrared images.
T4KA3 image sensor comes with ‘Bright mode’ supporting technology
So how did Toshiba manage to achieve such an impressive performance? The 240 fps and 400 fps are available in the ‘Bright mode’. Toshiba explains that the main challenge in designing a high rate fps image sensor lies in how light is captured. The company managed to conceive an image sensor which can capture light four times faster than its regular counterparts.
Moreover, the T4KA3 image sensor is a low-power device. Compared to another Toshiba mass produced image sensor, the T4K35, the T4KA3 image sensor uses up to 85 percent less power.
Right now the new image sensor is available as a sample for a price of 1.200 Yen. Mass production is scheduled to start only in April 2015, which seems like forever. Toshiba has an 8 million units production target per month for the T4KA3 image sensor.