PRESS RELEASE: New Kodak 29MP Sensor…Hmmmm

ROCHESTER, N.Y., November 2, 2010 – Eastman Kodak Company (NYSE:EK) has set a new benchmark for high-resolution image capture with announcement of the KODAK KAI-29050 Image Sensor, the highest resolution CCD image sensor based on Interline Transfer technology.

With 29 million pixels, the KODAK KAI-29050 Image Sensor provides the critical level of detail required in demanding applied imaging applications such as industrial inspection, aerial photography, and security. Based on Interline Transfer CCD technology, the device combines exceptional image quality with a true electronic (or “global“) shutter – allowing high-quality image capture without the need for a mechanical shutter.

The KAI-29050 is the latest product to be based on the KODAK TRUESENSE 5.5-Micron Interline Transfer CCD Platform, an advanced technology that provides significant advances in pixel size, frame rate, and image quality. The entire family of products – ranging in resolution from 1 to 29 megapixels, and in 17 different resolution and color combinations – can be supported from a single set of electronics, simplifying camera design for manufacturers and shortening time-to-market for new camera products. The KAI-29050, as well as Kodak’s entire portfolio of Image Sensor products, will be on display at the Vision 2010 Trade Show, which opens Nov. 9 in Stuttgart, Germany.

“Camera manufacturers have responded very favorably to the ‘plug-and-play’ design of our 5.5-micron pixel product family, and have encouraged us to continue extending this platform to additional formats to allow them to serve an even broader set of customers,“ said Chris McNiffe, general manager of Kodak’s Image Sensor Solutions group. “Our new 29-megapixel image sensor nearly quadruples the resolution available in this product family, and brings the wide-ranging features of this platform to applications that require the highest level of image detail. With a portfolio that spans from 1 to 29 million pixels, customers now have great flexibility in selecting the best image sensor for their application without the need to sacrifice image quality or performance.“

The 29-megapixel KODAK KAI-29050 Image Sensor sets a new benchmark for high-resolution, low noise image capture for applied imaging markets. Designed in a 35mm optical format and supporting frame rates of up to four images per second, the new device shares the progressive-scan readout, broad dynamic range and excellent smear rejection available from other members of the KODAK TRUESENSE 5.5-Micron Interline Transfer CCD product family. Like other members of the 5.5-micron pixel portfolio, the image sensor is housed in a Pin Grid Array (PGA) package that shares pin-out and electrical definitions with the entire family of products, including the use of one package pin that can be used to identify the specific sensor being used. Lower resolution members of the portfolio, including the 1-megapixel KODAK KAI-01050 and 2-megapixel KODAK KAI-02050 Image Sensors, are also now available in a common Ceramic Leadless Chip Carrier (CLCC) package that enables development of more compact camera designs without sacrificing imaging performance.

This high degree of portfolio integration – based on the use of a common, high-performance pixel as well a shared package design – allows manufacturers to develop a single set of “plug-and-play“ camera electronics that can be used with all members of the image sensor family, simplifying camera development and shortening time to market for a full suite of cameras.

The KAI-29050 joins two other products – the 720p format KODAK KAI-01150 Image Sensor and the 1080p format KODAK KAI-02150 Image Sensor – as the first devices to use the KODAK TRUESENSE Color Filter Pattern. This advanced technology provides a 2x to 4x increase in light sensitivity compared to a standard Bayer color sensor by adding panchromatic (or “clear“) pixels to the standard red, green, and blue elements that form the image sensor array. By offering full color image capture with the light sensitivity normally associated with a monochrome camera, this technology provides a critical performance advantage for light starved applications that require access to color detail. All three devices are also available in standard Bayer color and monochrome configurations.

The KODAK KAI-29050 Image Sensor is sampling today in limited quantities, with production scheduled for mid-2011. The KODAK KAI-01050 and KAI-02050 Image Sensors are available today in PGA packages, with CLCC packages scheduled to be available Q1, 2011. Engineering Grade devices of the KODAK KAI-01150 Image Sensor are available today in both PGA and CLCC packages, with Standard Grade devices scheduled to be available Q1, 2011. The KODAK KAI-02150 Image Sensor is available today in both PGA and CLCC packages.


  1. Phase one medium format also released a sensor without color filtering and Bayer interpolation.
    “colour interpolation reduces resolution……a digital camera with an AA filter, and which uses a Bayer Matrix (which means almost every DSLR currently on the market), in theory loses as much as 50% of its potential resolution.”
    They tested the 45mp achromatic vs the 65mp Bayer (twice – two guys did separate tests). One could not see a resolution difference the other thought the 65mp was a bit better.
    So a 29mp achromatic sensor would resolve like a 40mp Bayer sensor (give or take).

    Add in the silent shutter….Hmmm.

    Just don’t use the body from the Titanium Limited Edition.

    • I’m like the only person in the world that likes the M9Ti. I think they should use it. It looks tough as nails where as M9s look like jewels. I’d love to see an M a photo journalist would actually use. The Ti looks like that camera.

      Also it looks hugely practical. No bottom plate, LED frames etc…

      Now the price…whaaaaaaaaaaaat?!

  2. This doesn’t sound like an M sensor to me. Wouldn’t it need to accept the short flange distance that made it so hard to make the M9 in the first place?

    Plus Leica isn’t on the same timeline as Canon and Nikon. I’d be pretty pissed if I were an M9 owner if I heard even one rumble about a successor at this point. I’m not sure their base is going to be interested in shelling out another $7000 (or more) dollars for a few more megapixels any time soon.

    As for more megapixels in an M…I wouldn’t be surprised if the next model is around 25-30…but I think the improvements to come are going to be latitude, and live view. Such high resolution files are nice but small cameras don’t need to also be large format. My 21mp raws are work enough for my iMac, and my film scans doubly stress it (and this is an i7 I’m talking about).

    the only reason i hope to see a new M is so I can finally afford one used.

  3. Absolutely, I agree with Dan, apart from the increase in sensitivity which would be great the most interesting thing is electronic shutter incorporated into the sensor.

  4. I wrote a very long comment on interchangeable sensors for the M series some time ago and still believe it is the way forward. My suggestion was a weather proofed body that was built to last like a M3. Leica would then upgrade the sensor and processor every 2 years for $2,000. That way you have a state of the art M forever and Leica have a guaranteed cash flow every 2 years without the need to put together a whole new M which is very slow and grinds their cash flow to a halt and irritates customers having to wait. I would sign up for the 2 year rotation in a heart beat.

  5. Hmzzzzz, 29 Megapixels, in sync with Moore’s law. But wait a minute, who needs it, since most pictures these days end up on the web and even galeries nowadays exhibit photo’s on large pixelated LED-screens? What I would like is a sensor that is small in order to create a smaller camera. On I can stick in the backpocket of my jeans and carry around anywhere. With 12 megapixels and the image quality of say a D700 and an ISO range to go with it. Give me something as small as possible, as light as possible, as versatile as possible and please include a 14-150 mm (35 mm equivalent) lens so I can take pictures of what I want and how | want it. Put this on the market for around a 1000 dollars and I will be the first in line to buy it. So mr. Art4Education (or Mrs, I don’t know), you are absolutely spot on. Give me an interchangeble sensor as well in order to be able to upgrade to even faster sensors of the future. Now if there is one brand which could arise to the challenge that brand is called Apple, so mr. Jobs why not endow us with an Icam (c) allong these lines. Greetings, Ed

  6. I think the most interesting aspect was the Discardment of the physical shutter. I’m used to 1/1000 max and 1/50 sync on my m6. So this puts the strobist mentality of a d40 into an m body…

  7. It would be really cool if Leica would allow upgrades in sensors while retaining the body of an older camera. This way, for a few iterations, the camera would be able to keep up with the updates.

    • I have often thought that it would be “easy” to make a film M-body into a digital body. Just replace the rear film door with the sensor back, slip the wiring ribbon through the film channel, and add an electronics base. The only thing you would need to add would be your iPhone, iTouch, or iPad to view your images in the field. Of course, the electronics will need a bit more miniatureization to make this possible.

      • Some years ago, a sensor back for film reflex cameras was commercially available (I believe it was a sensor for Nikon and Canon reflexes) but the product never really took off. Today the Hasselblad H2F can be used as both a digital and film camera. So why not a Leica with both film and digital capability… ?

  8. So what if this comes to a M10 who really want that?
    I think the people once have a M10 will scream out immediatly for a…..yes right! a M11….

    Far as I can see my M9 delivers more than enough detail and contrast…..
    So my picture won’t be any better with this 29mpCCD or a 32mp or a 40 or 50p

    Dynamic range someday will come to 1:16…. that will be interesting for movie makers

    and again…….I didn’t give Leica a dime for it’s future some years ago, but they suprised me, they stick their game…offering a high quality camera and dito lenses for photography and the the RF way of using that.

    If they go for adapting virtual zooming, video or any other thing…the japanese will do better and cheaper. Virtual zooming is an idea comming from the DoP guy from Angenieux adn would be very nice addition to the already ‘software’ dominated moviemaking.

    For what it’s worth…it Could be NOT the M10 but the R10…..and so openup high end digital photography for all those thousands and more wonderfull R Elmarits, Summicrons, Summiluxes etc…

    Leica is a Lovely Tiny Company whcih is an island of easy and simplicity in the middle of the digital nr 6 hurricane….

    • You are – dare I suggest – both right and wrong. You seem to be saying that your M9 is plenty good enough for you right now, so why bother improving it? The M9 certainly delivers great pictures – there is enough proof of that on this very web-site. However, in my humble opinion, the M9 is not a particularly good camera in low light (I’m being polite). Imagine if you can, some years in the future, an M10 with interchangeable sensor capacity – a camera that could take the very latest hot sensor that came onto the market. To install the new sensor, you would simply flip a switch, the old sensor (the sensor that came with the camera ) would fall out of the camera and plop into the waste basket. You could then then pop in let’s say Kodak’s latest super ultra high detail Black-Hole Sensor, or perhaps a Fuji black and white 50000 iso Zapum sensor… interested? ! I certainly would be!
      Who would have predicted 10 years ago that Leitz would ever get into the digital game at all – let alone with their beloved M range-finder series? And yet, here we are in 2010 quite used to the idea that the M9 is digital. How natural and normal that seems to us. … 🙂 !

      • Hi A4E

        I like the idea of flipping the sensor….but it would be nice if in 2/3 years
        there is a factory-upgrade for that, together with new processor etc….let say for 1500$ max,,,,
        I agree low-light could be much better, I know because I use to have and whas spoiled with ……my Canon 5DmkII with Zeiss lenses…technically superior to most of the digital others…

        So agree on your remarks, however I didn’t mean to say that the M9 shouldn’t be better, of course where only at the beginning of the Digital era. I will not live long enough to see photography in 2075 …but I guess tha peopel with something like a camera will be like ancient profession.

        I moved to M9 (and M7) just because it’s basic…giving me a relaxed way of shooting. Of course I am 59 and grew up with Asahi Pentax, Nikkormat and other mechanical Camera’s and I have been working as a Machenical Instrument maker in Photography…. so I love Camera’s like Leica for their extreme mechanical technology, it’s formula 1 like in Watches you have them too like IWC etc…
        Engeneering at the max.

        The new generation, under 25, 99,9% don’t think in a photographic way, they see images a temporarely thing to communicate.
        Altough I meet sometimes young people dreaming of a Leica and working with a 70 Pentax KX,,,

        So to me Digital wasn’t natural, but now with working in Light Room 3…I found my ‘old development dark room’ on my Mac…. love it !


  9. This new 29 megapixal sensor if incorporated into an M10, would allow for ‘virtual zooming’ for the first time on an M range-finder camera. Virtual zooming is something that I predict will come eventually to all cameras – especially to the very popular point and shoot cameras. For those that are unaware of the concept, virtual zooming is simply using a high resolution sensor, coupled with a wide angle lens to zoom from a wide to a telephoto field of view. When shooting wide angle, the whole sensor’s surface would be used. When shooting telephoto, only a central portion of the sensor would be used. This technique should not be confused with ‘interpolation’ which is basically taking a pixel and cloning it to artificially increase resolution. For virtual zooming to work successfully, the wide-angle lens must be of exemplary quality and especially sharp in the centre of the image area – this should not be too much of a problem with Leitz lenses. In practice, one would only need to buy a single lens for his/her M10 – let’s say an 28mm. That 28mm lens would have the capacity to ‘zoom’ to every focal length up to 135mm (and beyond!). Of course, the viewfinder would have to be modified too – it would be a electronic/optical finder similar to that of the Fuji X100… 🙂

    • Art4Education I believe your virtual zooming is the same as ‘digital’ zoom which has been on most if not all point and shoots for the last 10 years. Of course the problem they always have is that they are a small sensor with an average lens, whereas with a full frame sensor and high quality optics the options are much better. That said I don’t believe this sort of thing will ever really replace optics because you always loose IQ.

      • I don’t think Art4Education is taking about digital zoom, digital zoom would be what he mentioned “interpolation”.
        However, I think this whole “virtual zooming” just makes a lazy photography, if you want to get closer to your subject, then just “get closer”, physically.
        “virtual zooming” won’t give you a better perspective if you wanted to anyway.

    • Hey, you’d always be able to do “virtual zooming” in PP: just crop to a smaller central area!
      Your VZ technique does exactly that: discards a frame of outer pixels, increasing the magnification at the expense of resolution. After all, you are saying that with a higher resolution sensor, we would be able to recompose and crop in PP at a greater extent. Well, forgiveness, but that’s somehow obvious.

  10. Hmmm is right….do one of these guys inhabit M9’s, and might we be seeing a future M10 sensor or projenitor? The 720 p video option sounds blah for an M series camera, but a 2-4x increase in light sensitivitity and cleaner R/G/B separation (foveon like?) could make for a very interesting options…Plus a momochrome version? hmmm is right….

    My guess is: too early to start thinking M10, there will probably be an M9.2, with cosmetic improvements, but this may be the future for an M10…

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