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 ** *********** ******** *** ******** ** ****.

** *** * ************ ******** *******, *** ***** ********* ******* ************ ***** "***********" ******* ********, ***** **** **** ***** (******** Dynamic ***** ************).

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

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

ExDRA ********

**** **** *****-******** ***, ***** ***** *** ** **** ****** of * ***** *** ******** ******** ** **** ** ****** a ****** ***** **** ******** **** *********** ** *** ******. Where *** ******** ******** ** ****** **** ********* *********, ***** combines ******** ** ********* ***********. *** *******, * *** ***** would **** ******** ** *** ***** **** **** ******** ******** with **** **** * *** ****** ***** **** *** ****** detail.

*** ******* *** *** *****, **** *********** *******, ** ** 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 ********

***** ** * ******** **********, ** *********** *&* *** ************* ******* ***** ** **********. Pixon *** ***** ******* *********** ************, **** ** ***** ********* or **** ******* ** ******. ***** ** * ****** ** research ******** ** ****, *** *** **** **** ******** ******** since ~***** ****.

*** ******* ***** ** ******* *** ********** **** * **** 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

Pelco GFC 4K Dome Camera Tested (IMP831-1ERS) on Mar 12, 2019
Pelco has finally released their first 4K IP camera, after years of competitors' releases. Is this move too late? Or is their new GFC Professional...
8MP HD Analog Tested (Dahua / Hikvision) on Jan 30, 2019
HD analog has promised higher resolution for years, but has lagged substantially behind for years. Now, both Dahua and Hikvision have started...
Verkada Cloud VMS/Cameras Tested on Jan 28, 2019
Verkada is arguably the most ambitious video surveillance startup in many years. The company is developing their own cameras, their own VMS, their...
Camera Course Winter 2019 - Last Chance on Jan 24, 2019
This is the last chance to register for the Winter 2019 Camera Course. This is the only independent surveillance camera course, based on in-depth...
Milesight Company Profile on Jan 22, 2019
Milesight Technology, a Chinese company building an International branded business, says they are slowly building their presence through a series...
WDR Tutorial on Jan 11, 2019
Understanding wide dynamic range (WDR) is critical to capturing high quality images in demanding conditions. However, with no real standards, any...
Worst Products Tested In Past Year on Jan 09, 2019
IPVM has done over 100 tests in the past year. But which products performed the worst? Which ones should users be most aware of? In this report,...
8MP / 4K Fixed Lens Camera Shootout - Dahua, Hikvision, TVT, Uniview on Dec 17, 2018
8MP / 4K fixed lens models are now common in lower cost lines, with nearly every Chinese brand and their OEMs now offering multiple options. To...
Ubiquiti $79 Flex IP Camera Tested on Dec 07, 2018
U.S. Manufacturer Ubiquiti has released a 1080p, integrated IR IP camera, selling it directly for $79, making this one of the least expensive IP...
Hanwha L Series Lowest-Cost Camera Tested on Dec 04, 2018
Hanwha has released their lowest-priced IP camera line ever, the L series, that competes on price with low cost competitors Dahua and...

Most Recent Industry Reports

Avigilon Launches 'Renewed Products Program' on Mar 19, 2019
There are lots of 'pre-owned' cars but pre-owned IP cameras? While such programs are common in other industries, in video surveillance, they are...
Hanwha Tax Evasion Probe, Camera Division Implicated on Mar 19, 2019
A Hanwha group subsidiary was raided as part of a tax evasion probe. While a Korean news media report listed the raided entity as 'Hanwha...
Genetec Security Center 5.8 Tested on Mar 19, 2019
Genetec has released Version 5.8. This comes after a wait of more than a year that caused frustrations for many Genetec partners. Our previous...
Retired Mercury President Returns As Open Options President on Mar 18, 2019
Open Options experienced major changes in 2018, including being acquired by ACRE and losing its President and General Manager, John Berman who...
Large US University End-User Video Surveillance Interview on Mar 18, 2019
Schools have become targets in modern days of active shooters and terrorist fears. The need for video and access security is high. Universities...
Hikvision Favorability Results 2019 on Mar 18, 2019
Hikvision favorability results declined significantly in IPVM's 2019 study of 200+ integrators. While in 2017 Hikvision's favorability was...
ONVIF Favorability Results 2019 on Mar 15, 2019
In the past decade, ONVIF has grown from a reaction to the outside Cisco-lead PSIA challenge, to being the de facto video surveillance standard...
Installation Course - Last Chance on Mar 14, 2019
This is the last chance to register for the March Installation course. This is a unique installation course in a market where little practical...
City Physical Security Manager Interview on Mar 14, 2019
This physical security pro is the Physical Security Manager for the City of Calgary. He is a criminologist by training with an ASIS CPP credential....
US Drafting Separate Rule for NDAA Dahua/Hikvision 'Blacklist' on Mar 14, 2019
The most debated provision of the NDAA ban of Dahua, Hikvision, Huawei, et al. is the so-called 'blacklist' provision which would ban any company...

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