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Sony Shines Spotlight On Exmor Sensor Technology at NAB

After enduring a horrendous year of Japan’s earthquake and subsequent Tsunami last spring and, later, the flooding in Taiwan, which led to a shortage of solid-state memory components, Sony Electronics is exhibiting at this year’s 2012 NAB Show in Las Vegas with a renewed sense of pride to have weathered the storm. With all of this behind them, Sony is once again exhibiting under the banner theme of “Beyond HD” by spotlighting its “Exmor” CMOS sensor technology and featuring it in a wide range of single sensor cameras, from small handheld models to large 4K digital cinematography cameras.

“[2011] was a strange year for us,” said Alec Shapiro, senior vice president of Sony Electronics, Professional Solutions of America. “This year we have probably one of the strongest product lineup of new introductions that we’ve ever walked into an NAB with. We’re very proud of that.”

Developed in house at Sony’s factory on the island of Kyushu in Japan, the Exmor sensor uses a “Column-Parallel A/D Conversion Technique” to create sharp and noise-free images that have garnered rave reviews from those that have used Sony’s new generation of cameras. Sony said the technique combines the speed of the CMOS sensor with advanced image sensor technologies accumulated through the development of Emmy Award winning CCDs. The result is enhanced resolution along both the space and time axes, across a number of its camera product families. It’s also meant lower cost.

“By taking the three-chip image sensor and prism out of the camera and replacing it with a single CMOS sensor, we can take advantage of reduced size, weight and power consumption and significantly lower the cost,” said Tatsuro Kurachi, senior manager in Sony’s Professional Solutions of America group. “This is not to say that we are eliminating CCDs from our products, but the trend among our less-technical customers needing small, mobile and intuitive acquisition tool under tight budget is leading us in that direction.”

Kurachi said that a high-speed imaging sensor must combine high-sensitivity with low noise. In a CMOS sensor, the pixels, signal readout circuit, analog-to-digital conversion circuit and controller are all built into a single chip. By optimizing the composition and operation of each circuit, he said Sony has achieved previously incompatible goals of increasing both speed and image quality.

For broadcasters and cable operators that have committed to Sony’s XDCAM HD products, the company said it would show new features and functionality for its Media Backbone family, which connects disparate pieces of equipment and software for integrated production workgroups, and digital news production solutions. This includes new ways of archiving and repurposing HD material shot on optical disc.

“XDCAM is going to be a significant story at NAB,” said Shapiro. “We will have a number of new products in this area on display. We’re filling out the rest of the workflow solution and preserving our customers’ investment in XDCAM acquisition, which has been significant.”

Sony will also showcase 3-D technology in its booth, including the PMW-TD300 shoulder-mount model, and the HXR-NX3D1U NXCAM compact camcorder (which they announced last year). Along with filling out its line of OLED professional production and broadcast monitors with new additions, It will also show a prototype 46-inch autostereoscopic (no glasses) 3-D screen. A “Beyond HD: theater screening area will screen 2K, 4K and 3-D material shot with Sony cameras.

“I think it’s fair to say that Sony has shown great resiliency in bouncing back from the unfortunate circumstances of last year and is now ready to put the focus back on the products and technology on display,” Shapiro said. “I think attendees to the show will be very pleasantly surprised.”