Camera maker Fujifilm yesterday announced the launch of two fourth-generation sensors in its SuperCCD (charge-coupled device) cameras. The latest SuperCCD will provide users with better picture quality and Fujifilm plans to pack this feature set into smaller casings.

The first sensor, a 9.4mm model, has an effective resolution of 3.1Mp (megapixels) and picture output quality of 6Mp, while the second boasts a 14.9mm 6Mp sensor producing 12Mp.

Both devices deliver a 50 percent higher effective pixel count than the sensors of the same size found in Fujifilm's current third-generation range. The company doesn't use any software interpolation technology to achieve the results so digital images have a more accurate colour palette.

The more photodiodes and pixels a camera has, the higher the quality of images it produces.

Traditionally, CCDs, the devices which record the light falling on them and capture the image, have been made up of square photodiodes and pixel arrangements, whereas SuperCCDs lay them out in octagonal blocks, making better use of the space available.

This honeycomb pattern improves the signal-to-noise ratio, which leads to a fuller image with more vivid, realistic-looking colours. By using the space between the diodes a SuperCCD with a resolution of 3.1Mp would produce the same picture quality as a camera with a 6Mp resolution.

"The introduction of the third-generation SuperCCD in 2001 set new standards in digital camera technology, allowing users to take extremely high resolution images in a wide range of conditions. With this fourth-generation sensor, photographers will realise that a large camera is no longer necessary for generating high levels of detail," said Adrain Clarke, director of consumer products at Fujifilm.