New backside-illuminated CMOS sensors from Sony are to allow for greater low-light shooting capabilities, along with the ability to record HDR video. Sony's "RGBW Coding" adds a white pixel to the arrangement, improving sensitivity, with on-board signal processing helping to improve the image quality. Meanwhile, the proprietary HDR Video function will help avoid blowing out highlights when shooting against bright light. Sony has developed a new manufacturing technique for these sensors, "stacking" circuitry to reduce overall sensor size and power consumption. An 8-megapixel sample without RGBW coding or HDR Video will ship in March, with fully-functioning 13-megapixel and 8-megapixel samples due in June and August respectively. The sensors seem to be primarily designed for use in smartphones, an area in which Sony has a large market share — for example, the iPhone 4S features a Sony CMOS sensor — so we could be seeing these pop up around the world soon enough.

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