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Comparison test Sony IMX686 vs. IMX586: The big camera revolution comes to nothing

IMX revolution through pixel-binning technology
IMX revolution through pixel-binning technology
With the Xiaomi Redmi K30 5G and the OnePlus 7T Pro, we have the two current Sony IMX generations competing against each other. Our camera comparison of the two Sony camera sensors will determine how big the differences between the new IMX686 and the IMX586 are in everyday life.
Marcus Herbrich/Christian Hintze, T. Hinum (translated by Christian Hintze), 🇩🇪 🇷🇺

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. With the size of the individual pixels, however, little - actually nothing - has happened due to the higher resolution of the current IMX generation. With both IMX sensors, these are 0.8 μm in size.

Using various photo subjects and lighting situations, we will take a closer look at whether the Japanese manufacturer managed to make a big splash in the field of smartphone photography.

Pixel binning for better low-light qualities

The Quad Bayer color filter in both Sony IMX image sensors can combine 2x2 adjacent pixels to form one large pixel, so that pictures with a resolution of 12 megapixels and 16 megapixels are created. The so-called 4-in-1 pixel-binning process 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 photosensitivity in the pictures in poor lighting.

Daylight shots

In very good lighting conditions, the new Sony IMX686 camera sensor enables detailed shots and the image sharpness on 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 fact 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.

Sony IMX586 - pixel-binning mode
Sony IMX586 - pixel-binning mode
Sony IMX686 - pixel-binning mode
Sony IMX686 - pixel-binning mode
Sony IMX586 - pixel-binning mode
Sony IMX686 - pixel-binning mode
Sony IMX586 - pixel-binning mode
Sony IMX686 - pixel-binning mode
Sony IMX586 - 48-MP mode
Sony IMX586 - 48-MP mode
Sony IMX686 - 64-MP mode
Sony IMX686 - 64-MP mode
Sony IMX586 - 48-MP mode
Sony IMX686 - 64-MP mode

Low-light shots

In the dark, the new Sony image sensor in the Redmi K30, despite the pixel binning, reaches its limits. 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 taken with 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 identifiable with the IMX686. Without much light, pictures with the native resolution of both Sony camera sensors can hardly be used.

Sony IMX586 - pixel-binning mode
Sony IMX586 - pixel-binning mode
Sony IMX686 - pixel-binning mode
Sony IMX686 - pixel-binning mode
Sony IMX586 - pixel-binning mode
Sony IMX686 - pixel-binning mode
Sony IMX586 - 48-MP mode
Sony IMX586 - 48-MP mode
Sony IMX686 - 64-MP mode
Sony IMX686 - 64-MP mode
Sony IMX586 - 48-MP mode
Sony IMX686 - 64-MP mode

Verdict

Comparison test: Sony IMX686 vs. IMX586. OnePlus 7T Pro & Redmi K30 provided by Trading Shenzhen.
Comparison test: Sony IMX686 vs. IMX586. OnePlus 7T Pro & Redmi K30 provided by Trading Shenzhen.

An appealing photo quality with a smartphone is not only based on technically sophisticated image sensors, but it also depends on other camera components, such as the optics and their arrangement. Nonetheless, 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 has a lot of potential, because Xiaomi couldn't tease out all the photo quality from the sensors even with the predecessor. Chromatic aberrations in the images of the Redmi K30 are more a product of poor quality lenses than a problem of the camera sensor itself.

In low light, the new Sony sensor still has a lot of problems, despite pixel binning. However, since the super pixels of the IMX686 primarily depend on well-functioning algorithms to minimize noise, visible advances in software will certainly be seen in the course of the year.

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> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > Reviews > Comparison test Sony IMX686 vs. IMX586: The big camera revolution comes to nothing
Marcus Herbrich/Christian Hintze, 2020-02-27 (Update: 2020-02-27)
Marcus Herbrich
Editor of the original article: Marcus Herbrich - Editor
My great passion has always been mobile technologies, especially smartphones. As a technology enthusiast, the half-life of my devices is not exactly high and the latest hardware is just good enough - manufacturer or operating system plays a minor role, the main thing is state-of-the-art
Christian Hintze
Translator: Christian Hintze - Editor
Because of my interest in computer games I started studying computer science, became a psychologist, but stayed true to the games and the hardware. For example during my year abroad in London as a games tester at Sega. In my spare time I find a balance between PC games and sports (meanwhile mainly indoor soccer and running after my toddler), playing guitar and building bamboo bikes (well, so far only one under guidance).