Imaging Developer Claims Massive Low-Light Improvements

Author: Brian Karas, Published on Jul 27, 2016

In the early days of megapixel, binning was a crutch used to compensate for poor low-light performance.  Low-light sensitivity improvements have mostly eliminated the need for binning, but one company has an interesting argument for bringing it back.

We had a conversation with Rick Puetter, the Chief Scientist at Pixon Imaging about their "intelligent" binning approach, which they call ExDRA (Extended Dynamic Range Architecture).

This report examines Pixon's technology and its potential in the security market

** *** ***** **** ** *********, ******* *** * ****** used ** ********** *** **** ***-***** ***********.  ***-***** *********** ************ have ****** ********** *** **** *** *******, *** *** ******* has ** *********** ******** *** ******** ** ****.

** *** * ************ **** **** *******, *** ***** ********* ** ***** ******* ***** ***** "***********" ******* ********, ***** **** **** ***** (******** ******* Range ************).

**** ****** ******** *****'* ********** *** *** ********* ** *** security ******

[***************]

***** ********

**** **** *****-******** ***, ***** ***** *** ** **** ****** ** a ***** *** ******** ******** ** **** ** ****** * single ***** **** ******** **** *********** ** *** ******.  ***** WDR ******** ******** ** ****** **** ********* *********, ***** ******** ******** of ********* ***********. *** *******, * *** ***** ***** **** ******** of *** ***** **** **** ******** ******** **** **** **** a *** ****** ***** **** *** ****** ******.

*** ******* *** *** *****, **** *********** *******, ** ** compensate *** **** ***-*****.  ***** *** ** *********** ******* ******** lighting ***** ***** ***** ******.

***** ******** *** ********* ***** ** * ************** ******* ** how ***** ********** *** ******* ** ***** **** ***** **** otherwise **** ************:

 

Pros *** **** ** *****

*** ******* ******** ** ***** ** **** ** ******* ********** in ******** ** *** ***** **** *********.  ***** **** *** resultant ***** ** ***** ****** ******* **** *** ****** *****, which ***** **** ****** ****** ** ***** ***** ******.

***** **** ******** ************** ** ****** ******* ** *** ********** components ** ***** *** ******** ***** ** *** **** ********** charges.

 

***** **** ************ ***** ****** *** ******** **** ***** ****** features **** *** ** ************/***********/*********** ***** ***-***** *********** ************.

*** ******** ** ** ***** ***** **** **** *** **** image ******** *** *** **** ******* ** ****, *********** ******** or ********* ********* **** ** * *** *****. ***** **** does *** ******* * **** *******, ***** ********** ******-****.

How ***** ** ***********

*** **** ** ***** ** * *** ** ***** ********** algorithms **** **** ** ****** ******** ******* ** *** **** electrical ******* ****** *** ** ** ***** ******.  *******, ******** sensor ******* ******* ****, ** *** ********** ******* *** ********* as **** ** *** ******* ** ******* ****.  ** ******* this, ***** ********* ********** ****** ****** ********** **** ***** *** same ********** ******* ** ** **** ******** *****, **** ******* binning, *** **** * ** **** ********** ***** ** ** image ****** ********* **** (***, ***, ***.) ** *********.

*** ********** ****** ****** ************ ***** *** *** *********** **** to ******* ****** ****** *** **********, ********* ** *****, *** this **** ******* ***** **** ***** *********** ** ******** ****** designs.

What ***** ** *******

*** ******* ***** ** ******* *** ***** ********** **********, *** corresponding ****** ******* ** ********* **** **** ** ****** **** produce ***** *******.  *** ******* ***** ***** ** * "****** digit ******* ** *** ****** ****", ********* ** *** ***** Scientist.

Pixon ********

***** ** * ******** ** ********, ** *********** *&* *** ************* ******* ***** ** **********. ***** has ***** ******* *********** ************, **** ** ***** ********* ** haze ******* ** ******.  ***** ** * ****** ** ******** starting ** ****, *** *** **** **** ******** ******** ***** ~April ****.

*** ******* ***** ** ******* *** ********** **** * **** variety ** *******, **** ******-***** ******* ** ******** *** ******* vision *******.  *** ** ***** ********** ****** ****** ** ********* ExDRA, ***** *** *** *************** ** *** ********** *** ** a ******** *******, *** ** *********** ******** ** ****.

ExDRA *******

** **** ********* *** ****** *****, *** ** ********** *** interesting ******** ** ********* *********** ** ***-*****. ** ***** *** convince ****** ************* ** ***** ***** ******* *********** ***** ***** prove ******** ** *** ******** ******.

 

Comments (20)

Are these gains theoretical only at this stage, is there a working prototype?

Why wouldn't the additional noise generated by the extra readouts of the charges outweigh the benefits of the selective binning?

If there are any on-die changes to the substrate, wouldn't these possibly reduce the fill factor as well, offsetting gains?

If Rick is monitoring, I'm curious if he has seen this patent and can comment on the similarities and differences between his own...

We think that given market direction, the biggest impact will be in CMOS sensors. No one builds something like this right now, although charge domain binning in CMOS has been done before, and the technology is proven. We have performed the multiple binning in CCDs in our lab, and the actual gains are exactly what you'd predict theoretically. Not surprising. This is not rocket science and astronomers (like me) have been doing sensor binning for decades to increase low-light sensitivity. The new idea here is to do multiple, different binnings in a single exposure without performing a distractive read between the different binnings, and then to use the best parts of the multiply-binned exposures to form the very best image available.

Thanks Rick.

Can you clarify these statements?

Pixon developed additional sensor design components that allow the same electrical charges to be read multiple times, once without binning, and then 1 or more additional times as an image binned different ways (2x2, 3x3, etc.) as necessary

and

The new idea here is to do multiple, different binnings in a single exposure without performing a distractive read between the different binnings

Are you saying there are multiple reads between binnings or not?

Hi. I'll try to clarify. Regarding the "additional sensor design components", there are lots of possibilities. And frankly, what will be implemented would be up to a licensee of our technology. Concerning the binning and readout scheme, again there are multiple possibilities. But illustrate with one of the simplest. Here the sensor would be exposed and readout as usual. Then, without reseting the collected charges, charges in a group of pixels would be binned on the gate of a single output amplifier and the sensor would be readout again. The sensor is then reset and is ready for another exposure. So in this example there are two binnings per exposure, one readout for each binning, followed by sensor charge reset.

Here the sensor would be exposed and readout as usual. Then, without reseting the collected charges, charges in a group of pixels would be binned on the gate of a single output amplifier and the sensor would be readout again.

Thanks. So what I was trying to ask originally, in imprecise language no doubt, was whether the noise generated from the first read degrades the charge read out in the second read.

Ah. Thanks for the clarification. No, the noise of the first read should not contaminate. It is a voltage noise in the readout amplifier, but it should not generate any signal charge that is collected on the gate of the amplifier(s). So the charge signal is uncorrupted. When the charge is binned and regathered on another amplifier gate the noise voltage associated with the new readout is different, independent, and the level of noise generated is that associated with, and typical of, a single amplifier read.

No, the noise of the first read should not contaminate.

Generally speaking, we hear that "the act of measuring alters that which it measures", imperceptibly in everyday experience, e.g. a tire pressure gauge must let some air out of the tire to get a reading, but in a quantum system this can be quite significant.

Does this not apply to multiple readouts (measurements), or is it an insignificant effect?

No. I am a physicist and understand what you are saying. But this acts as a semi-classical system. The charge is preserved. If the transfer is efficient (in CCDs the transfer is 99.999%, or so, efficient), meaning that charge is not lost, we are okay. Now CMOS devices are not that efficient since the voltages (and wells) are not that large (deep). Still, charge is nearly 100% preserved, and signal is not lost. FET gates in CMOS devices are classical devices, and have very high resistance, meaning that there is no leakage or loss (or addition) of charge. And the noise associated in reading the unit cell is transitory and doesn't affect the charge on the amplifier gate. All in all, this doesn't act like a "quantum system" in the sense of measurement affecting the system, or change in signal charge. And measurement uncertainties don't enter here, with the exception that there are read noises when the FET is read due to various noise processes. And depending on the sophistication of the readout circuitry, and the unit cell architecture, some of this noise can be measured and cancelled (e.g., CKT noise, etc.)

Thanks, that makes sense.

One thing I'm curious about, what about inpixel FPN fixed pattern noise readouts, (for noise reduction) which can't be measured with out charge destruction? Do you do without them in the non-binned readouts or somehow capture a single FPN reading (per frame) applicable to all the readouts?

Hope I'm making sense. :)

Fixed pattern noise is always a problem. But this can be corrected if one takes care. And no, we want to measure this if possible, and perform all the corrections that we can. Also, the fixed pattern noise will be reduced in the binned images, as binning is sort of a averaging procedure. Still this is a concern and needs to be respected.

My brain just melted.

Doesn't Sony have this in there ultra low light cameras?

Not sure, but I just saw this video using a new Starvis Sensor.

Looks like a nice sensor, but what kind of product name begins "Starv"?

Clip was made from Analog output at 480 lines

they sad for now

Благодарим Вас за перевод.

That funny comrade :)

No, Sony doesn't have this in their low-light sensors. They do perform charge-domain charge transfer, however, the technology needed for ExDRA. However Sony uses this to perform global shuttering on their devices. They transfer charge, but do not bin them.

Any progress getting this adopted in the industry?

Hi Luis. No, we have not yet been successful in having this adopted. We have presented it to multiple significant players. Some were quite interested, but were not capable of integrating this in their product. Others show adequate capability to adopt it, showed modest interest, but were too busy bringing out new features of their own to which they were already committed. But we haven't given up, and are looking into ways to ease the barrier to adoption.

What’s your take on this imager/camera?

Canons New 4 Million ISO 2MP Camera

Do you think it’s all they say? Is the price likely to come down significantly?

Login to read this IPVM report.
Why do I need to log in?
IPVM conducts unique testing and research funded by member's payments enabling us to offer the most independent, accurate and in-depth information.

Related Reports on WDR

4MP Camera Shootout - Axis, Dahua, DW, Hanwha, Hikvision, Uniview, Vivotek on Sep 24, 2018
4MP usage continues to climb, especially for low cost fixed lens models. To see who was best, we bought and tested seven 4MP models from Axis,...
Vivotek 4MP Camera Tested (FD8379-HV) on Sep 13, 2018
Next in our series of updated 4MP testing, we bought and tested Vivotek's FD8379-HV, and entry level 4MP model claiming "top-notch quality video in...
October 2018 Camera Course on Sep 13, 2018
Today is the last day to save $50 on the October 2018 Camera Course, register now. This is the only independent surveillance camera course,...
Dahua Low-Cost 4MP Camera Tested (N44CL52) on Sep 10, 2018
4MP use continues to increase, especially in low-cost models, according to integrators in our 2018 Resolution Usage Statistics. We bought Dahua's...
Hikvision Value Express IP Cameras Tested Poorly on Sep 05, 2018
Even lower cost Hikvision products? Their new Value Express line is marketed for applications where "budgets are limited and performance is...
Hikvision PanoVu Mini Tested (Multi-imager + PTZ For ~$500) on Aug 07, 2018
Hikvision has released their first PanoVu Mini multi imager, the PanoVu DS-2PT3326IZ-DE3, with four 1080p imagers, including a PTZ and integrated...
Uniview Super Low Cost 4MP Tested on Jul 25, 2018
Even lower cost than Dahua and Hikvision, China's self-proclaimed 3rd place company, Uniview / UNV, is offering aggressive pricing including for...
Axis ~$100 Camera Tested on Jul 17, 2018
Axis has released their lowest cost camera ever, the Companion Eye Mini L, setting their sights on a market dominated by Hikvision and Dahua. Can...
Digital Watchdog Low Cost 4MP Camera Tested on Jul 02, 2018
Based on member 4MP testing requests, we bought and tested Digital Watchdog's low-cost 4MP DWC-MTT4Wi to see how it performs in real world scenes,...
Panoramic Fisheye Camera Shootout - Avigilon, Axis, Dahua, Hanwha, Hikvision, Oncam And Vivotek on Jun 27, 2018
IPVM tested Avigilon, Axis, Dahua, Hanwha, Hikvision, Oncam And Vivotek 12MP panoramic fisheye cameras head to head, as shown in the test setup...

Most Recent Industry Reports

Ladders For Installers Guide on Sep 25, 2018
Ladders are one of the most important pieces of worksite equipment for the surveillance technician. Too often, however, even highly experienced...
Favorite Access Control Reader Manufacturer 2018 on Sep 25, 2018
Favorite reader votes are in, and it is not close. A global access giant ran away with the votes in a one-sided contest. But for many, the...
Genetec Takes Aim At 'Untrustworthy' 'Foreign Government-Owned Vendors' on Sep 24, 2018
Genetec is taking aim at 'untrustworthy' 'foreign government-owned vendors'. This is not a new theme for Genetec as nearly 2 years ago, Genetec...
4MP Camera Shootout - Axis, Dahua, DW, Hanwha, Hikvision, Uniview, Vivotek on Sep 24, 2018
4MP usage continues to climb, especially for low cost fixed lens models. To see who was best, we bought and tested seven 4MP models from Axis,...
Alexa Guard Expands Amazon's Security Offerings, Boosts ADT's Stock on Sep 21, 2018
Amazon is expanding their security offerings yet again, this time with Alexa Guard that delivers security audio analytics and a virtual "Fake...
UTC, Owner of Lenel, Acquires S2 on Sep 20, 2018
UTC now owns two of the biggest access control providers, one of integrator's most hated access control platforms, Lenel, and one of their...
BluePoint Aims To Bring Life-Safety Mind-Set To Police Pull Stations on Sep 20, 2018
Fire alarm pull stations are commonplace but police ones are not. A self-funded startup, BluePoint Alert Solutions is aiming to make police pull...
SIA Plays Dumb On OEMs And Hikua Ban on Sep 20, 2018
OEMs widely pretend to be 'manufacturers', deceiving their customers and putting them at risk for cybersecurity attacks and, soon, violation of US...
Axis Vs. Hikvision IR PTZ Shootout on Sep 20, 2018
Hikvision has their high-end dual-sensor DarkfighterX. Axis has their high-end concealed IR Q6125-LE. Which is better? We bought both and tested...
Avigilon Announces AI-Powered H5 Camera Development on Sep 19, 2018
Avigilon will be showcasing "next-generation AI" at next week's ASIS GSX. In an atypical move, the company is not actually releasing these...

The world's leading video surveillance information source, IPVM provides the best reporting, testing and training for 10,000+ members globally. Dedicated to independent and objective information, we uniquely refuse any and all advertisements, sponsorship and consulting from manufacturers.

About | FAQ | Contact