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Microsoft's Curved Sensor - Thinking Outside the Box


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#1 Tim Tyler

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Posted 19 June 2017 - 01:30 PM

The Project Vermont Team set out to solve one of the most well-known optical issues in conventional photography: field curvature.

 

field_curvature_cropped-300x181.png

 

Field curvature exists because lenses don’t want to focus on a plane. A lens delivers sharpest focus along a curved path, rather than on a flat sensor. The result: objects appear out of focus across the image. By curving the focal surface, we eliminate the need for the lens to address field curvature and can use the resulting optical design freedom to improve other aspects of the system. Specifically, we can improve resolution, light-gathering capability, lateral chromatic aberration, distortion and illumination uniformity while also reducing system size, complexity and cost.

 

Project Vermont

https://www.microsof...roject-vermont/

 

Highly curved image sensors: a practical approach for improved optical performance

https://www.osapubli...=oe-25-12-13010


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#2 Simon Wyss

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Posted 20 June 2017 - 01:23 AM

One good idea in the video realm for a change


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#3 Mark Kenfield

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Posted 20 June 2017 - 02:00 AM

I assume such a sensor would require lenses redesigned so that the don't correct for field curvature?
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#4 Dom Jaeger

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Posted 20 June 2017 - 08:10 AM

I assume such a sensor would require lenses redesigned so that the don't correct for field curvature?

 

Indeed, all previous lenses would be unsuitable. Bit of a fly in the ointment.


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#5 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 20 June 2017 - 09:31 AM

I think this is mainly being considered for fixed-lens cameras, where it would make the lens design a lot easier.


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#6 Tyler Purcell

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Posted 20 June 2017 - 08:47 PM

I don't know how you can make a pixel curve. That would introduce a whole new problem.
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#7 Mark Kenfield

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Posted 20 June 2017 - 10:23 PM

I don't know how you can make a pixel curve. That would introduce a whole new problem.

 

What's that?


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#8 Tyler Purcell

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Posted 20 June 2017 - 10:50 PM

What's that?


Umm, how can you "curve" a pixel and keep them the same shape across the entire imager?
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#9 Gregg MacPherson

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Posted 20 June 2017 - 11:05 PM

In one of those articles they talk about how they deform the sensor into a spherical surface.  I couldn't tell if each pixel took this deformation or if it's accommodated by the space between the pixels.  If one had to deform the pixels themselves,  they are so small relative to the surface curvature that the deformation for each pixel would be very small.

 

But it is puzzling,  the motivation.  It could make all existing lenses obsolete.  Maybe its an idea that will be applied to mass volume stuff with tiny sensors like cell phones...?


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#10 Simon Wyss

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Posted 21 June 2017 - 12:00 AM

Man, a little go-ogle and Wikipedia tells

 

https://www.dpreview...d-better-images

 

it’s been around for some time.


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#11 Robert Hart

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Posted 21 June 2017 - 12:30 AM

Nothing really new. The Kodak Brownie 127 snapshot camera of the mid 1950's ran roll film over a horizontally curved film plane.

It will be interesting to see where they go with a spherical sensor. There will be all manner of possibilities with VR image aquisition.


Edited by Robert Hart, 21 June 2017 - 12:32 AM.

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#12 Tyler Purcell

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Posted 21 June 2017 - 01:13 AM

Nothing really new. The Kodak Brownie 127 snapshot camera of the mid 1950's ran roll film over a horizontally curved film plane.


Umm, it has a very slight curve, nothing like this new imager. Plus, going horizontal or vertical isn't a problem, especially at not much of an angle. When you do BOTH horizontal and vertical, now you add a whole new can of worms.
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#13 George Ebersole

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Posted 21 June 2017 - 01:24 AM

The first thing that comes to mind is better miniature effects' shots, but since everyone uses CGI these days ...


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#14 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 21 June 2017 - 04:11 AM

I think the intention is to flatten out distortions inherent to the lens, which would put everything back in square. That's sort of the point.

 

P


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#15 Gregg MacPherson

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Posted 21 June 2017 - 04:22 AM

Phil,  are you taking the piss?  Flattening out distortions sounds like a crude description of what the best lens designers have achieved already (for flat film planes and sensors).  


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#16 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 21 June 2017 - 04:36 AM

I think the idea is that if we didn't have to build that sort of correction into the lens, the lens would end up being better, cheaper, or some combination of the two. There have been attempts at similar things as regards chromatic aberration, where some interchangeable-lens cameras can be aware of the lens and its settings, and automatically correct aberration digitally. Yes, it's possible to correct for chromatic aberration optically, but there are downsides to doing so.

 

Again, I think this tech is really intended for either simple interchangeable-lens cameras, or fixed-lens cameras, for things in the consumer world - not necessarily for high-end cinematography devices.


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#17 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 21 June 2017 - 11:45 AM

This certainly; currently, isn't for anything at all "pro" it's the idea to simplify the design of lenses (and minimize the use off elements therein) by making the sensor itself essentially into a corrective optic by deforming it based on the design of the whole thing. This would be great in cell phones or gopros, or anything where you have a small sensor and a fixed lens. While they mention going up to APS-C size in their tests (in the paper provided) it's much more an idea to help get the most out of the tiny sensors in phones etc.


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#18 George Ebersole

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Posted 21 June 2017 - 05:41 PM

So it's essentially marketing to draw more buyers to a product, and not really an improvement on existing industry grade tech.  Go figure.


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#19 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 21 June 2017 - 06:10 PM

Based on the theory, I don't think that's entirely fair - it could make things better without making them bulkier or more expensive, or it could make things less bulky and cheaper without sacrificing performance. Regardless of the market segment at which it's targeted, those are worthwhile things.

 

P


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#20 Simon Wyss

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Posted 22 June 2017 - 12:14 AM

The direction is towards XL capture. When you have enough light and can afford an f/2.8 opening to begin with you don’t need that. Tens of thousands of small-gauge film cameras have been in use with triplet lenses like this. At f/1.4 and wider sharpness looks different.


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