Back down slightly closer to Earth, Fujifilm has also announced the development of a new Super CCD processor. Fuji currently uses two distinct types of Super CCD sensor; the high-sensitivity Super CCD HR type used in the bulk of its consumer compacts, and the wide dynamic range Super CCD SR used in its digital SLR models. The new sensor, to be called the Super CCD EXR, combines the performance of both of these types into one new advanced design. See here for more information on sensors.
The Super CCD EXR uses an unconventional pixel pattern in which the three colours of the conventional Bayer mask are arranged in pairs. This is used to effectively take two identical pictures simultaneously, one at low sensitivity and the other at high sensitivity. These are then combined in the camera’s processor into a single image with up to four times the dynamic range of a conventional sensor but with few associated image noise problems.
The other advantage of the new pixel layout is that adjacent pixels of the same colour can be combined to increase sensitivity. This is a process called “pixel binning”, and it is what happens when you increase the ISO setting on your camera. The new pixel layout reduces the occurrence of false colour artefacts that usually appear in high-ISO shots.
There’s no news yet about when the new sensor will appear in an actual camera, but I wouldn’t expect Fuji to hang around with something that could prove to be a big advantage over its competitors.