How does the pixel binning technology of mobile phones work?

In this article, we will examine the ability of pixel binning in mobile photography; What this technology is and how it works.

BingMag.com How does the pixel binning technology of mobile phones work?

In this article, we will examine the ability of pixel binning in mobile photography; What this technology is and how it works.

Many smartphones these days come with an advanced camera system. But by no means is this advancedness limited only to the size of their sensor. Most of the activities that make a phone perform well in terms of photography take place behind the scenes. In fact, you don't see them, but they have a significant effect on improving the quality of images. One of these things is the technology of combining pixels, which is called Pixel Binning in Latin.

If you are a fan of Samsung products and have been following the news about this company recently, you probably You have come across the term nona-binning or Adaptive Pixel. A phrase that actually refers to the same pixel combination and makes the performance of the phone noticeably improve in conditions where the ambient light is not favorable. But does this really happen? In this article, we decide to investigate this technology and its effect on mobile photography.

Why do smartphone cameras use pixel combination technology?

BingMag.com How does the pixel binning technology of mobile phones work?

Before explaining the aforementioned technology and how it works, we must see why such a feature exists at all. If you look carefully, you will see that smartphones have many limitations in the camera department. Among these things, we can mention the limitation in the size of the sensor. The camera sensor is exactly where the millions of pixels are located. Pixels whose task is to receive ambient light and if there are not enough pixels in a sensor, that means the performance of the phone's camera in absorbing light and as a result photography in the night light will also face problems. Of course, absorbing light does not necessarily mean that you can capture better images at night; Not only this happens, but in general (in any lighting condition) the amount of noise in the images is reduced and their details are seen more and better.

But there is a problem. If we want to put many pixels in the smartphone camera sensor, the size of a sensor should also increase. This issue is not very useful for smartphones at the moment because the camera module of a phone is part of its design and it cannot be designed too big because there must be enough space to install the processor, motherboard, speakers, various sensors, etc.

In order for the smartphone manufacturers to cope with this limitation, they have devised a good and smart solution that helps them instead of increasing the sensor size too much and as a result the design of the phone is out of the conventional mode. Pixels are reduced so that more of them can be placed on a sensor. In this way, theoretically, the resolution of the sensor increases without the need to increase its physical size.

For example, a 12-megapixel sensor in the iPhone 13 uses pixels with a size of 1.9 micrometers. But the size of the 48 megapixel camera sensors of the iPhone 14 Pro Max is 1.22 micrometers. On the other hand, the size of the sensors used in the 108 megapixel Galaxy S22 Ultra camera reaches 0.8 micrometers, which is one of the smallest pixels used in smartphone cameras.

What is pixel composition and how does it work?

BingMag.com How does the pixel binning technology of mobile phones work?

Now that we have a proper understanding of why pixel blending technology is used in smartphone cameras at all Well, it's time to see what this feature is and how it works. Pixel combining technology is an image processing technique in which 4 or more adjacent pixels in a camera's sensor are combined together to create a larger sensor. Samsung calls the large sensors tetrapixel or nanopixel, which actually consists of the average performance of all the pixels inside it. It moves to blend with its neighboring pixel. In other words, this combination does not take place at the hardware level, but is a software technique; In this way, the data obtained by a pixel is combined with the data of the adjacent pixel by the software to create a metadata. iPhone 14 Pro Max and Galaxy S22 Ultra are two products that use pixel combination technology at different levels. The representative of the American company uses a 48 megapixel camera with 4 in 1 (2 in 2) pixel combination technology, and the Samsung representative is equipped with 9 in 1 technology (with a 3 in 3 array). Thus, the resolution of the images produced by the iPhone 14 Pro Max and the Galaxy S22 Ultra is 12 megapixels (12 x 4=48 and 12 x 9=108).

Reducing the resolution in this way allows the phone's camera to process images much faster, so you can view an image immediately after recording it. On the other hand, shooting at full resolution will put a lot of pressure on the processor and it will take a while to process the image.

Megapixels and Megabytes

Note Megapixels and Megabytes The two concepts are completely different. Megapixels refer to the number of pixels in a sensor, while megabytes refer to the size of images. The former is a fixed value, while the latter changes depending on the type of image you're capturing.

For example, the Galaxy A53 uses a 64-megapixel camera with 4-in-1 pixel blending technology. supports. Thus, the output images of this sensor are 16 megapixels by default. This sensor can record images with a resolution of 4624 x 3468 pixels, or in other words with 16,036,032 pixels. (Each megapixel means 1 million pixels and as a result 16 megapixels means 16 million). If you shoot in full mode, then the image you receive will have a resolution of 9248 x 6936 or 64,144,128 pixels. They have a fixed number of pixels, but their size can vary. Sometimes you photograph in an environment with enough light and the volume of the images increases due to the presence of high details, sometimes you see that in an environment with low light, your image is recorded with a very small volume. In both modes, their resolution is equal.

Pixel composition does not necessarily mean better images

BingMag.com How does the pixel binning technology of mobile phones work?

When your phone's camera supports pixel binning technology, it doesn't mean that it can capture a better image. Pixel compositing is actually a solution to a fake problem. Since companies couldn't put a big sensor on the phone to fit more pixels on it, they decided to design the pixels smaller. Meanwhile, larger pixels can absorb more light even if they are placed on the sensor in a smaller number.

In comparison, a large pixel that is formed from a pixel combination must have the information of other adjacent pixels. and then guess what the final image will be like. This process sometimes takes a long time and sometimes it doesn't work properly at all and the final image is not captured as well as we expect. This is why Samsung phones sometimes over-process images, but the images captured by iPhone phones are usually more natural and have stable performance. The megapixels of the phone's camera are exaggerated, and this issue has made users think that the more megapixels, the better the quality of the camera. Not only is this not true, but even if a sensor uses pixel combination technology, it does not necessarily mean the quality of the images it captures is higher. It states that it is. The only benefit of having a large sensor is that you can get more quality when you digital zoom. More megapixels don't tell you anything about color rendering, white balance, dynamic range, or anything else in general other than what it says. So don't be fooled by the companies.

The advantage of the pixel combination technology is not because of the technique itself. It is because of the excellent performance of the image processing algorithms that make the images processed in the best possible way. For example, you can see the performance of Google Pixel 6 phones, how great they are in recording images thanks to these algorithms. These are the algorithms that do all the hard work of making an image high-quality, and they must work properly.

Sometimes you'll see that a pixel-composite image is better than a full-resolution image. This is not at all surprising, because it is much more difficult to apply image processing algorithms on a sample recorded with full resolution than on an image recorded with its pixels combined, since it requires much more processing power.

combination. Pixel bypassing is a problem, not a feature!

The purpose of pixel blending is to theoretically increase the resolution of an image. This process is done in such a way that the pixels are reduced as much as possible to speed up the processing process. As a result, you can immediately see the image you captured.

The clarity of the image is important, not unimportant, because it often happens to us that we want to zoom in on an image without losing its quality. But figures such as 108 megapixels and 200 megapixels are nothing more than playing with numbers and are merely advertising.

The best solution to find out if the smartphone you are going to buy has a good camera or not. is that reviews from Read unbiased sites and see the pictures they post. Don't be too quick to be fooled by the large sensor or the images that the manufacturer claims are taken by a phone. If you care about the phone's camera, try to spend a few weeks and read the reviews very carefully so that you can get what you want.

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