Samsung 50MP ISOCELL GN2 Brings Dual Pixel Pro AF, Staggered-HDR

When Samsung launched its first 100x Space Zoom camera on the Galaxy S20 Ultra last year, it was criticized for neglecting one important aspect of digital photography, the autofocus performance. Since then, Samsung has been careful to improve AF in its flagship phones and its next one might take it to the next level, or so Samsung boasts. Going beyond its own Dual Pixel brand of PDAF, Samsung is announcing a new 1.4μm 50Mp ISOCELL GN2 sensor that carries a Dual Pixel Pro version of its AF tech, along with other tricks that improve the sensor's low-light performance.

Dual Pixel is Samsung's take on the common Phase Detection AF technology, utilizing all pixels on a sensor for both RGB and phase detect light data. This, it says, already has a huge edge over normal PDAF as it doesn't sacrifice picture quality for autofocus. Like all PDAF-based solutions, however, it still has the same weaknesses, especially when dealing with horizontal patterns.

Dual Pixel Pro solves that by splitting the green pixels diagonally rather than just vertically. This allows those pixels to not only recognize left and right phases of an image but also top and bottom, addressing PDAF problems that occur when taking shots of horizontal stripes. It also improves focusing in low-light situations and on fast-moving objects.

The Samsung ISOCELL GN2 also features what Samsung bills as staggered-HDR, using rolling shutters to capture images in different exposures. Compared to the real-time HDR used in most sensors, Samsung says it uses 24% less power while still delivering vivid highlights and dark shadows.

The 50MP sensor also has other tricks, like four-pixel-binning under difficult lighting conditions or using a mosaic algorithm to create a 100MP picture. The Samsung ISOCELL GN2 is already in mass production so we will most likely hear soon which phones will be using it.