Do the Sony A1 and the A7S III have THE SAME SENSOR?

A teardown of a damaged Sony A7S III sensor by astrophotography site Landingfield and a subsequent examination under a microscope appears to show the A7S III sensor uses groups of four photosites to create each ‘pixel’ on the A7S III sensor. According to Landingfield, the sensor actually has 48 million effective pixels. 

This process is known as ‘pixel binning’. By combining the light values from four small photosites you can get the effect off a single larger (and more sensitive) one. It’s used widely in the latest camera phones, may of which have sensors with 4x the actual photosites as the pixels in the final image.

It’s also used by some cameras for capturing video where the sensor resolution is far higher than that needed for video. However, most camera makers prefer ‘oversampling’ if possible and ‘pixel binning’ is a bit of a dirty word.

Sony A7S III sensor under a microscope showing pixel binning design

Landingfield’s stripdown of a Sony A7S III sensor shows a 2×2 pixel-binning design rather than 12 million large individual photosites. (Image credit: Landingfield)

Oversampling vs pixel binning

Steve Liem

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