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New KODAK Image Sensor Technology Boosts Photo Quality

June 18, 2007

Next-generation color filter patterns deliver higher quality photos under low-light conditions by providing a significant increase in light sensitivity.


ROCHESTER, NY -- Eastman Kodak Company (NYSE:EK) introduced a groundbreaking advancement in image sensor technology that will help make dark, blurry digital photos a thing of the past.

Kodak's new sensor technology provides a significant increase in sensitivity to light when compared to current sensor designs. With this new technology, users will realize a 2x to 4x increase in sensitivity (from one to two photographic stops), which will improve performance when taking pictures under low light and reduce motion blur when imaging moving subjects. In addition, this technology enables the design of smaller pixels (leading to higher resolutions in a given optical format) while retaining imaging performance.

This breakthrough advances an existing Kodak technology that has become a standard in digital imaging. Today, the design of almost all color image sensors is based on the "Bayer Pattern," an arrangement of red, green, and blue pixels that was first developed by Kodak Scientist Dr. Bryce Bayer in 1976. In this design, half of the pixels on the sensor are used to collect green light, with the remaining pixels split evenly between sensitivity to red and blue light. After exposure, software reconstructs a full color signal for each pixel in the final image.

Kodak's new proprietary technology builds on the existing Bayer Pattern by adding panchromatic, or "clear" pixels to the red, green, and blue pixels already on the sensor. Since these pixels are sensitive to all wavelengths of visible light, they collect a significantly higher proportion of the light striking the sensor. The remaining red, green, and blue pixels are then used to record the color information of the scene.

To reconstruct a full color image, Kodak has also developed new software algorithms specifically designed to work with the raw data generated from these new image sensors. These sophisticated algorithms use the more sensitive panchromatic pixels to act as the luminance channel of the final image, and derive chrominance information from the color pixels on the sensor. Leveraging over 30 years of Kodak image science, these new algorithms support the increased sensitivity provided by these new pixel patterns, while retaining the overall image quality and color fidelity required by customers.

"This represents a new generation of image sensor technology and addresses one of the great challenges facing our industry—how to capture crisp, clear digital images in a poorly lit environment," said Chris McNiffe, General Manager of Kodak's Image Sensor Solutions group. "This is a truly innovative approach to improving digital photography in all forms, and it highlights Kodak's unique ability to differentiate its products by delivering advanced digital technologies that really make a difference to the consumer."

Kodak is beginning to work with a number of leading companies to implement this new technology in system-wide solutions and to streamline the design-in process.

Kodak is developing CMOS sensors using this technology for consumer markets such as digital still cameras and camera phones. As the technology is appropriate for use with both CCD and CMOS image sensors, however, its use can be expanded across Kodak's full portfolio of image sensors, including products targeted to applied imaging markets such as industrial and scientific imaging. The first Kodak sensor to use this technology is expected to be available for sampling in the first quarter of 2008. For additional information regarding this technology, please contact Image Sensor Solutions, Eastman Kodak Company at (585) 722-4385 or by email at imagers@kodak.com. For more information on Kodak's entire image sensor product line, please visit the company's Web site.

About Eastman Kodak Company
Kodak is the world's foremost imaging innovator. With sales of $10.7 billion in 2006, the company is committed to a digitally oriented growth strategy focused on helping people better use meaningful images and information in their life and work. Consumers use Kodak's system of digital and traditional products and services to take, print and share their pictures anytime, anywhere; Businesses effectively communicate with customers worldwide using Kodak solutions for prepress, conventional and digital printing and document imaging; and creative professionals rely on Kodak technology to uniquely tell their story through moving or still images.

More information about Kodak (NYSE: EK) is available at the company's Web site.


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