New details of the Atomos 8K shutter have emerged, and it looks to be the “world classic” image sensor that the company’s CEO Trevor Elbourne boldly stated it was.
With an aspect ratio of 17×9, the Atomos’ developed processor is capable of capturing 12-bit 8k HDR video at up to 60 frames per second and a resolution of 8192×4320.
The “Sapphire F8” processor has a host of other professional cinematic features that make Atomos’ first foray into image sensors an impressive debut.
Chief among them is support for a global shutter, enabling a camera to read all the information on the sensor at once, rather than line by line with rolling shutter designs.
Moreover, the Sapphire F8 supports phase detection autofocus and a 12-bit analog-to-digital converter, or ADC across all modes. “Often you trade off ADC precision,” Elbourne told PetaPixel, “but we don’t do that. That’s fairly unique.”
While those features are pretty impressive for a first-time image sensor design, particularly an 8K model with a global shutter, perhaps the most impressive feature of the Sapphire F8 is that is’ incredibly stingy when it comes to its low power draw.
The F8 uses so little energy for its operation that Elbourne says a future camera design can avoid using fans to keep the sensor cool, and also reduce the overall size of the camera in order to be lightweight and mobile.
Elbourne says that the main problem with compact 8K cameras is the heat that is generated by the tremendous amounts of power that is required to process that amount of data on the fly.
He points out the heat problems that Canon has experienced with the R5, however, the Sapphire F8 doesn’t experience that struggle. “You can give more power to other features in the same form factor. Lower power gives you more design options,” Elbourne adds.
In the PetaPixel interview, the CEO of Atomos goes on to say that Atomos was deep into the development of the processor with plans to create their own 8K cinema camera. Having put together a crack team of engineers formerly from Sony and Canon, the company was all set to make a huge splash in the camera business.
Elbourne says that was before fellow Australian cinema gear company Blackmagic Design had released their own cinema camera and its market momentum forced Atomos’ to reconsider and ultimately abandon plans for a new camera.
“The opportunity for someone else to come in with a new camera that was doing very similar things and work in a similar market segment meant it was getting a bit crowded and we thought the opportunity was diminishing,” Elbourne says.
Though plans for their own camera were eventually dropped, the development of the image sensor continued. Five years later, Atomos has a fully developed 8K image sensor ready for any interested camera manufacturers looking to wean themselves off the dependency on a major sensor provider like Sony.
“Sony doesn’t want Panasonic, ultimately, to make better cameras than they do,” Elbourne says. To that end, Elbourne believes the timing is right for a more competitive market without the tension of relying on a competitor for such a critical camera part.
The Atomos Sapphire F8 is ready to go, with a manufacturer all lined up to provide it. Elbourne says that the company is in discussions with several manufacturers, but the question remains whether the 8K window is beginning to close.
It would take several years for a camera to emerge, even if Atomos were to enter into a camera deal today. With Blackmagic already selling a 12K camera, and the rapid pace of digital design and innovation, higher resolution designs will surely be emerging before then.
Unless Atomos has begun the next step in design for a greater resolution sensor. If that’s the case, then they have a leg up, no matter the timing.
[source: Peta Pixel]
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