Kodak To End Flash Photography?

Kodak says they may be able to end the need for flash photography and the resulting red-eye with a new sensor. From Reuters:

The world’s biggest maker of photographic film says its proprietary sensor technology significantly increases sensitivity to light. Image sensors act as a digital camera’s eyes by converting light into an electric charge to begin the capture process.

Kodak’s new proprietary technology adds “clear” pixels to the red, green, and blue elements that form the image sensor array, collecting a higher proportion of the light striking the sensor.

Manufacturing customers interested in the design will likely get a chance to sample it in early 2008, but Kodak’s McNiffe was unsure when devices using the technology would be in stores. The technology could be used at first in devices such as cell phones and eventually products made for industrial and scientific imaging.

This could change the look of Blue States Lose rather severely. Tragic.—MEGHANN MARCO

Kodak says camera sensor may eliminate flash [Yahoo!]
(Photo: Meghann Marco)


Edit Your Comment

  1. tcp100 says:

    So are they implying a higher ISO sensitivity? This is a rather vague overview of whatever this might be; and sounds like they’re only applying it to snapshots.

    It can’t obsolete the flash – strobes are used for all kinds of things, including filling in shadows and creating lighting effects – that a sensor wouldn’t affect.

    I find it odd that Kodak seems to imply that the only implication of a highly sensitive sensor (what, ISO 12800 or something?) is elimination of the flash? They’re also increasing photosites by 25%; which means reducing the resolution of the device by that amount compared with a CCD/CMOS with an equal number of photosites and a typical RGB bayer-interpolated filter.


  2. zolielo says:

    I have seen a camera that can take fairly good shots in near total darkness. I was impressed… It should be a generation or two before that tech makes it to the consumer level, but it will happen.

  3. sizer says:

    This is a bit of overhype – first, you only gain one to two stops of speed, which translates to half to one quarter the shutter speed. Which is nice and means you can get away without flash in some situations where you normally would need it, but that’s not sufficient for many other situations.

    Second, you lose half your color resolution, which is already fairly low because the Bayer filter means you already only have 1 blue, 1 red, and two green pixels for every 4 physical pixels and now you have half as many. They’re compensating for this the way you normally compensate for the missing pixels on a normal Bayer filter, and it should be fine for the low end cameras with jpeg compression that it’s intended for anyhow. But you are still getting less color information up front.

    So while this is clever it is nothing magical – I was hoping for more sensitive sites.

  4. Uriel says:

    usually they want that flash to dilate the pupils, as it makes them seem “more attractive”. Red eye is no big deal if you have the right tools.

  5. mantari says:

    Nice to see Kodak getting into the modern photography business. (No, seriously.)

  6. endless says:

    Anti redeye flash is designed to contract the pupils.

    Ive never heard of flash or any other bright light doing otherwise.

  7. GrumpyMD says:

    I certainly agree with tcp100 and sizer. Additionally, the increase in sensitivity usually comes with a decrease in fine detail in the pictures, causing the photos to look like a pointilist picture at very high ISO’s. Pushing up the ISO rating does not necessarily mean you’re getting good photos.

  8. hudsong says:

    Sounds like it will cause the photo to be relatively low quality, at least for pros. It’s a pretty bad blanket statement to title the article anything about ending flash photography, because flashes do a hell of a lot more than make low light photos useable.

  9. arachnophilia says:


    look at the press release on dpreview: [www.dpreview.com]

    more usable high-iso pictures, but that’s possibly the worst performance at iso 1000 i’ve EVER seen used in the “before” example. we’re talking camera phones, here people. your average point-and-shoot, exposed correctly, does about as well as their “after” example.

    this is not the end of flash photography. flash, used correctly, will always be an invaluable tool for the photographer, both professional and amatuer. as the above person said, flash has a lot of uses other than “low light.” flash is best used in full daylight, for lowering the dramatic contrast it creates.

    more usable high iso is always a good thing, but those samples are still pretty bad.

  10. nequam says:

    @endless: the anti-redeye flash is also designed to avert your pupils from the direct line of the actual flash. This prevents the flash from striking your retina when your pupils are dilated by the low light conditions that require the flash in the first place.

  11. TechnoDestructo says:

    Kodak might have gotten on the digital bandwagon a bit late but they have been pursuing it with a vengeance ever since.

    3 years ago I bought my first digital camera, and there were no Kodaks I’d consider (horrible purple fringing, terrible controls)…they could still work on their controls, but damned if they aren’t putting out some really interesting technology these days.

  12. shoegazer says:

    Sounds like the typical Marketing / Engineering disconnect: as usual the marketers are talking out of their ass.

  13. OnceWasCool says:

    Flash is WAY over used. I have a Sony Cyber-shot and the flash is almost never used. Makes great pictures full of soft color. Flash makes them all look like a whitewash or haze.

    Try this at home! Take the same picture with and without flash.

  14. Harlan says:

    To see amazing photos taken with flash, check out the Flickr group Strobist.com. Even getting more-sensitive image sensors (which is a good thing) won’t in any way eliminate the importance and artistic possibilities of well-constructed flashes. Flash does a lot more than merely front-lighting underlit scenes. If you’re using a direct on-camera flash, of course you’re going to get crappy washed-out pictures.

  15. The Reviewer says:

    I have read about this announcement from Kodak on everything from Giz to CNN, and while I am mega stoked about it if it works, I think right now this should fall into the realm of Gizmodo, and not the consumerist. When it works, and they have a demo, then we can pee our pants a little on every site on the ineternet.

  16. shdwsclan says:

    multiple ccds are part of the solution, and cmos is also…

  17. endless says:


    from the canon USA website:

    ” The idea of this feature is that by one means or another, the camera sends out light to your subject before the picture is taken. Since the subject’s pupils normally tend to dilate, or get wider, in dim light (and get smaller in bright light conditions), the idea is to reduce the level of red-eye by making the user’s pupils appear smaller before the picture is taken. With smaller pupils, there’s less area to be marred by red-eye, and even if it does show up in your pictures, it’ll tend to be less noticeable.

    Some cameras do this by rapidly flashing the flash unit with “pulses” of flash illumination, for a second or two before the picture is taken. The hope is that your subject’s eyes will react to these rapid pops of light and the pupils will become smaller. A moment later, that actual picture is taken, with the flash firing again, but at (usually) greater power…..”



  18. arachnophilia says:


    Kodak might have gotten on the digital bandwagon a bit late but they have been pursuing it with a vengeance ever since.

    a bit late? you might want to check those patents again — kodak holds the one for the first commercially available digital camera.


    Flash is WAY over used. I have a Sony Cyber-shot and the flash is almost never used. Makes great pictures full of soft color. Flash makes them all look like a whitewash or haze.

    Try this at home! Take the same picture with and without flash.

    also try using a bounce flash, a soft-box, or a reflector. straight-on flash is bad as a lightsource, yes. and lower-level consumer cameras typically over-use it, but there’s no a reason a good photographer can’t find a better technique.