According to one of the channel distributors from Sony, Sony is about to release next-generation 20-megapixel progressive scan CMOS image sensor dedicated to security and industrial cameras, the sensor keeps adopting back-illuminated structure with 2.4 µm unit pixel, also supports the PDAF (phase detection autofocus) function used to be exclusively owned by Digital Still Cameras (DSC), PDAF function can significantly improve the focusing speed, is comparable to the laser auto-focus technology.
In addition, the 1/2.3-inch product portfolio will welcome the next generation model - 12-megapixel CMOS image sensor, the new sensor will be sold as the bare die semiconductors, the package type is expected to launch in 2017. The new-generation 12-megapixel CMOS image sensor will add PDAF and WDR function, can add extra values to the sensor, so that offering crystal clear image, meanwhile providing fast focusing speed.
The Wikipedia page explains clearly how phase detection autofocus works, PDAF is not a new function, it's quite old back 15+ years, it has been commonly used in DSLR cameras (e.g. Sony, Nikon, Canon etc), using the phase detection system, the camera lens can know if an object is front focused or back focused. The phase detection system keeps instructing the lens to adjust its focus, until perfect focus is achieved.
Laser auto focus system consists of a laser emitter and a proximity sensor to measure the distance by calculating the time gap between laser spread out and received back, as known as Laser Doppler velocimetry (LDV). Unlike traditional auto focus method (contrast detection) can't rapidly determine the distance of focused object, must do the whole section scanning to find the clearest point, the laser auto focus speed is much faster than conventional auto focus. Especially in low light/illumination environments, laser auto focus performs even better, it provides the twice the speed of conventional auto focus.
Will laser auto focus system harm to human eye? Laser focus system has laser safety standard, will not cause any harm to human eye, basically the laser auto focus system has been used in smartphone HD cameras.
Laser auto focus and phase detection auto-focus each have its own unique hardware and operating principle. In good lighting conditions, both the focus speed may be comparable. But when in low light environment, the laser auto focus will show its advantages, it can still maintain the fast focusing performance.
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