With the Xiaomi Redmi K30 5G and the OnePlus 7T Pro, we have the two current Sony IMX generations compete against each other. You can find out how big the differences between the new IMX686 and the IMX586 in everyday life are in our camera comparison of the two Sony camera sensors.
With a diagonal of 1 / 1.72 inches, the new 64 MP Sony camera sensor IMX686 is significantly larger than its 1/2 inch predecessor IMX586. However, due to the higher resolution of the current IMX generation, little – actually nothing – has changed in the size of the individual pixels. With both IMX sensors, these are 0.8 μm in size.
We will take a closer look at whether the Japanese manufacturer managed to make a big splash in the field of Smatzphone photography using various photo motifs and lighting situations.
Pixel binning for better low-light qualities
The Quad Bayer color filter in both Sony IMX image sensors can combine 2×2 adjacent pixels to form a large pixel, so that images with a resolution of 12 megapixels and 16 megapixels are created. 4-in-1 pixel binning increases the actual edge length of the individual pixels from 0.8 µm to a calculated 1.6 µm, which means that more light and, accordingly, image information can be captured. According to Sony, this should noticeably increase the sensitivity to light in the pictures in poor lighting.
In very good lighting conditions, the new Sony IMX686 camera sensor enables detailed shots and the image sharpness of the Redmi K30 is also at an appealing level. Compared to the OnePlus 7T Pro, which uses last year’s IMX586, the 64 MP camera sensor in pixel binning mode shows a little more image content in the photos. However, the Redmi smartphone has an astonishing amount of image noise in the recordings, even if the subjects have a relatively large amount of ambient light.
This situation does not change even with the native resolution of both sensors. Again, the IMX686 reveals many image errors in the Redmi K30. Chromatic aberrations are also clearly visible in the area around the trees in the house motif.
Shooting in the dark
In the dark, the new Sony image sensor in the Redmi K30 reaches its limits despite the pixel binning. The sharpness of the image in particular is not very convincing, even with the fairly well-lit street scene – the same applies to the pictures taken with the IMX586. However, there is massive image noise in the photos of the Redmi smartphone, significantly more than in our comparison photos with the OnePlus 7T Pro.
Without 4-in-1 pixel binning, the brightness in the pictures is significantly reduced and massive image noise and blurring increase. There are no real improvements to the IMX686. Without much light, pictures with the native resolution of both Sony camera sensors can hardly be used.
An appealing photo quality with a smartphone is not only based on technically sophisticated image sensors, but also depends on other camera components, such as the optics and their arrangement. Nevertheless, our comparison between the new 64 MP Sony camera sensor IMX686 and its predecessor IMX586 shows that Sony has not succeeded with the IMX686. The latter certainly still has a lot of potential, since Xiaomi couldn’t tease out all of the photo quality from the sensors even with the predecessor. Chromatic aberrations in the images of the Redmi K30 are more a product of lenses with poor quality than a problem of the camera sensor itself.
In low light, the new Sony sensor still has a lot of problems, despite pixel binnings. Since the super pixels of the IMX686 are primarily dependent on well-functioning algorithms in order to minimize noise, visible advances in software can certainly be seen in the course of the year.