Samsung’s new 108MP ISOCELL HM3 sensor offers better autofocus and low-light output

Samsung has today launched the Galaxy S21 series smartphones, with the star of the show being the Galaxy S21 Ultra, and for good reasons. While it packs top-of-the-line smartphone hardware, it also serves as the debut platform for Samsung’s latest camera innovation – the 108MP Samsung ISOCELL HM3 sensor that comes with a host of notable upgrades and new tricks for an even better output in terms of image clarity, dynamic range – and more importantly – autofocus performance.

Super PD Plus tech drastically improves the autofocus performance for moving subjects

The ISOCEL HM3 is a 1/1.33-inch sensor that uses 0.8μm pixels, and performs 9-in-1 Nonacell pixel-binning to deliver images of 12MP size. However, the biggest upgrade here is the introduction of a new technology called Super PD Plus for improving autofocus stability. “Super PD Plus adds AF-optimized micro-lenses over the phase detection focusing agents, increasing measurement accuracy of the agents by 50-percent,” claims Samsung. The company adds that its latest innovation makes sure that moving subjects are always in sharp focus, and low-light performance gets a boost as well. 

Image: Samsung

In addition to it, the ISOCELL HM3 has another trick called Smart ISO Pro, which Samsung defines as a high-dynamic-range (HDR) imaging technology that relies on an intra-scene dual conversion gain (iDCG) solution. When it comes to action, it clicks two frames at low and high ISO value, and then combines them to deliver a sharper image with 12-bit color depth and a lesser amount of noise. This approach is different from what many other sensors do, something that involves merging shots captured at different exposure values.  

Smart ISO Pro merges two images taken at different ISO for 12-bit color depth

The sensor also takes advantage of a dedicated low-noise mode that is said to enhance light sensitivity by up to 50% to capture brighter and more detailed photos in low-light scenarios. Samsung also claims to have reduced the energy uptake under preview mode, thanks to the new sensor design for ISOCELL HM3, which is already under mass production. 

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