- Samsung Semiconductor has announced the 108MP Isocell Bright HM3 sensor.
- It’s the main camera sensor on the Galaxy S21 Ultra.
- It offers improved autofocus performance, 12-bit image output, and better snapshots in low light.
The Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra was the first time we saw a 108 megapixel camera in a flagship phone (Xiaomi’s Mi Note 10 is a mid-range device) that contained an Isocell Bright HM1 sensor.
Unfortunately, after launch, it quickly became apparent that the S20 Ultra was suffering from significant autofocus issues as it had difficulty focusing on objects in some scenarios. Fortunately, the Galaxy S21 Ultra is equipped with the new 108MP Isocell Bright HM3 sensor and is trying to fix some weaknesses around the HM1.
For starters, Samsung Semiconductor confirmed it too Android Authority that the sensor offers a new Super PD Autofocus Plus function for more precise autofocus.
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“Super PD Plus adds AF-optimized microlenses over the phase-detection focusing means, increasing the measurement accuracy of the means by 50%,” said the company, adding that it was specifically designed to enhance photos of fast-moving objects and snapshots in low light. There’s no word on whether this will improve autofocus performance when taking close-ups of objects (as some users have reported problems with it on the S20 Ultra as well), but this problem could be due to the inherent size and associated focal length of Samsung’s 108MP sensors be .
The second major upgrade over the S20 Ultra’s sensor is the Smart ISO Pro technology (as opposed to Smart ISO on the HM1). Similar to the previous sensor, this feature delivers real-time HDR by capturing both high and low ISO frames and then combining them. This time around, however, Samsung Semiconductor is promising 12-bit images – which the Galaxy S21 series can actually output – as well as a 50% improvement in photosensitivity and thus better shots in low-light conditions.
The Samsung Isocell Bright HM3 has a lot in common with the HM1, which means a sensor size of 1 / 1.33 inches and 0.8 micron pixels. You also get back the non-binning technology, which combines data from nine neighboring pixels into one and produces images roughly equivalent to the results of a 12MP 2.4 micron camera. Samsung also promotes “seamless” transitions between 12MP and 108MP modes.
We’re going to put the Galaxy S21 Ultra cameras (including the 108MP shooter) to the test. Would you buy a smartphone with a camera over 100 MP? Take our survey near the top of the page!