Fujifilm has patented a new sensor technology that includes Hybrid AF pixels, meaning that these pixels can be used for focusing as well as light transmittance.
The X-mount mirrorless cameras are capable of very quick autofocus speeds. The Fujifilm X-E2 and X-T1 are two of the fastest cameras on the market when it comes to AF speeds as they can achieve it in merely 0.08 seconds.
The company’s “trick” consists of using Phase Detection pixels, which are embedded on the sensor. As light is hitting them, they will be able to focus rather quickly. However, the downside is that they do no transmit light, so image quality is reduced.
Fuji believes that it has found the perfect solution and has decided to patent it. The answer is called Hybrid AF pixels and will consist of pixels playing a double role: to aid focusing and to transmit light.
New Fujifilm Hybrid AF pixel technology to allow faster AF speeds and to improve image quality
The Fujifilm Hybrid AF pixel patent reveals that the company could implement such pixels into its future sensors. They are referred to as “hybrid” because they can do two things at once. This new technology will allow the pixels to increase the autofocus speed while gathering light.
The fact that they can transmit light does not mean that the pixels can do it with a 100% efficiency. Fuji’s patent description specifically says that they will not operate as a regular pixel, so expect the efficiency to be much lower than 100%
The good thing is that the Hybrid AF pixels will gather some light, which means that image quality degradation will not be as severe as it is right now. In simple terms, Fujifilm will be able to improve the image quality of its sensors, while preserving fast AF speeds.
Usually, Fuji is getting its image sensors from Sony, albeit with a delay. This could mean that the company is ready to make its own sensors and that it will ditch the PlayStation manufacturer.
Fujifilm’s idea sounds similar to Canon’s Dual Pixel CMOS AF, but the approach differs
The Fujifilm Hybrid AF pixel technology may sound familiar to you. Canon has introduced the so-called Dual Pixel CMOS AF technology in the EOS 70D DSLR camera.
According to Canon, its pixels are capable of Phase Detection and light gathering when using the 70D in Live View Mode.
In theory, these appear to be identical. However, the approach of the X-mount camera maker is different from Canon’s, as explained by Egami.
We have to warn you that this is just a patent and it does not necessarily mean that Fuji will implement this system into one of its cameras in the near future, therefore do not raise your expectations for now!