Samsung reveals new HDR sensor: Isocell GNK

Samsung has released details of a new smartphone camera sensor, the Samsung Isocell GNK. With the headline “Engineered for dynamic colors,” the new sensor has been built to express high dynamic scenes to the fullest.

Isocell GNK

The Isocell GNK is a 50-megapixel 1/1.3-inch sensor with an effective resolution of 8,160 by 6,144 pixels. It also has an individual pixel size of 1.2 μm. Samsung says that the sensor uses staggered HDR technology in collaboration with three different ISO modes. This enhances the Isocell GNK’s HDR performance by producing images with a dynamic range of up to 102 dB. In addition, the single frame based Smart-ISO Pro also improves dynamic range while minimizing motion artifacts. This creates images with color depth as high as 14-bit.

8K video recording

The Isocell GNK will record 8K video at up to 30 frames per second (fps) with minimal loss in the field of view. It can also shoot at up to 120 fps in 4K. In addition, Samsung says the sensor supports autofocus and HDR video in full HD mode with frame rates as high as 240 fps. Like most sensors, the Isocell GNK has an electronic rolling shutter which may lead to some distortion on fast moving subjects.


Samsung says that the Isocell GNK delivers ultra-fast autofocus with Dual Pixel Pro (PDAF) autofocus technology. This uses two photodiodes per pixel and compares the phase difference in both the top and bottom and left and right directions. As a result, the sensor quickly focuses on objects in motion wherever they are in the frame.

Low-light photography

The Isocell GNK promises great low-light performance, certainly for photography at least. Samsung says that in dim-lit situations, four neighboring pixels are merged into an even bigger 2.4 μm pixel. This delivers higher light sensitivity and less noise in your images. In addition, the Isocell GNK uses on-chip remosaic technology and maximizes the benefit of Tetrapixel in bright lighting conditions. Samsung says that this produces 50 MP images with exceptional quality.

What we think

Samsung continues to produce smartphone camera sensors with impressive specifications. Features such as HDR and 8K recording are exciting to see. The fast Dual Pixel Pro autofocus will also help to ensure that your videos look great. However, a sensor is only part of the equation. It needs to be incorporated into a smartphone with the processing power to cope with the sensor’s output. Hopefully, we will see the Isocell GNK being rolled out in new smartphones soon.


Samsung hasn’t released details yet of which smartphone will use the Isocell GNK. However, the website 9To5Google has claimed that the new sensor has already debuted in the Google Pixel 8.

Featured image courtesy: Samsung

Pete Tomkies
Pete Tomkies
Pete Tomkies is a freelance cinematographer and camera operator from Manchester, UK. He also produces and directs short films as Duck66 Films. Pete's latest short Once Bitten... won 15 awards and was selected for 105 film festivals around the world.

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