Digital camera design idea

Discussion in 'Digital Cameras' started by Justin Thyme, Jun 26, 2004.

  1. Justin Thyme

    Justin Thyme Guest

    For a while I've been looking at various DSLRs, and the one thing that bugs
    me is that if I spend ~2k on a camera, and next year there is some advance
    in sensor (eg, lets say they jump to 20MP with super low noise or
    something), I'm still stuck with 2004 technology. One thing that film has
    as an advantage, is that I can control the type of photo by changing my
    film. I can put in a 50ISO fine grain film if I want super enlargement
    capability, or I can put in B&W film, or even IR film for special effects.
    My film SLR is close on 20 years old - in the last 20 years there have been
    advances in film technology and all I've had to do to take advantage of them
    is buy the new roll.
    So it got me thinking - if the DSLR makers settled on a standard (perhaps
    like fourthirds that olympus are doing), but also made a standard of
    interchangeable sensor modules. It would make the camera much more versatile
    and give it a much longer useful life. For example, at the moment the ISO
    sensitivity is a combination of sensor element size, and acceptable noise -
    larger sensor elements result in less noise at high ISO's. So I could see
    times when it would be really handy if I could choose for example to have a
    20MP sensor but at ISO 25, or a 3MP sensor that was still low noise at
    ISO800. Or maybe I could put in an IR sensor, or a true B&W sensor. Or
    within a few years there could be a big advance in sensor technology, and
    having this feature would allow it to be taken advantage of, without having
    to buy a whole new camera. I know creating a camera like this would add
    cost, but I think it would make the camera a much more complete replacement
    for film.
    Does anyone else think such a feature would be useful? or would it just be a
    cost adding feature that would have no advantage to anyone except me?
    Justin Thyme, Jun 26, 2004
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  2. How dumb is this? Let me count the ways...

    If you do the research you should be happy with your purchase for 2-3
    years....and can get by for another as you save up.

    One thing that film has can pick exactly the right film for every shot if you use sheet
    film! And digital will never match large format for quality!

    Standards kill innovation...we are all on the bleeding edge. If standards
    were a good idea then after 50 years why can't I use a nikon lens on a canon

    It would make the camera much more versatile
    Gene Palmiter, Jun 26, 2004
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  3. Justin Thyme

    Mark M Guest

    So it got me thinking - if the DSLR makers settled on a standard (perhaps
    This doesn't work because the other internals of DSLRs are advancing just as
    quickly as the sensors themselves. Take the Canon 1D Mark II, for example.
    This camera can process 8MP images at a rate of 8FPS for 40 frames. The
    computing power to do this is quite substantial, and is a major advance not
    available before. This computing power must be carefully dsigned
    specifically to handle each sensor's output...along with buffering, etc.

    As larger sensors emerge, you would cripple the sensor by the inability of
    the camera's older computer to efficiently handle the data.

    It just doesn't work...or at least...not well.

    It's like sticking a super fast processor in a computer with old, slow

    Bottle-necking would be severe, and cripple effectiveness of the processor.
    Mark M, Jun 26, 2004
  4. I have *no* idea if enough people would be interested to make it worth
    marketing; but I have myself expressed a desire for a dedicated B&W
    sensor (somewhat higher res, and significantly higher sensitivity due
    to lack of the color filters), and an IR sensor (take off one more
    bit, the IR blocking plate).

    The concept of a sensor more highly specialized for high ISO, perhaps
    at lower res (after all, I don't need Kodachrome-level resolution for
    most of my low-light pictures), is also interesting.

    If we step back, and don't build the viewfinder optics for some crop
    factor, but instead insist the user install a screen with the crop
    area marked on it, you could even have a choice between 1.5x crop and
    full frame sensors, potentially.

    Of course, the software in general is so dependent on the sensor that
    I sense problems lurking here. And I rather think there are
    parameters stored in flash ram somewhere specific to the *particular*
    sensor. So it would take a considerable rework of the software
    architecture to handle all this. But that's doable.

    I'm not holding my breath waiting for this, though.
    David Dyer-Bennet, Jun 26, 2004
  5. "> I have *no* idea if enough people would be interested to make it worth

    Several friends got together and put on a show of
    photography....portraiture. I went to see it with a GF and she asked me why
    I wasn't invited to participate. The guy who curated the show looked a bit
    embarrassed at being asked...because I am well known locally as a
    non-commercial portrait photographer....that is ...I do portraits but not
    for a an artistic outlet. The curator said that they didn't
    even think of me because I don't do film or B&W. The idea was that to be
    "art" it had to include those two elements.

    Well...that was a couple of years ago. I doubt that they have changed their
    minds much though they are beginning to play with digital. B&W is used by
    people who develop their own because it can be used. Color is insanely
    difficult and expensive if you strive for the same control and quality. It's
    every thing you have to do for B&W times three! Try dodging and burning
    color if you don't believe me.

    It will take time for attitudes to change....its been only in the last year
    that galleries have stopped asking for slides for evaluation.
    Gene Palmiter, Jun 26, 2004
  6. Justin Thyme

    DJ Guest


    Reminds me .. last week my missus bumped into an old girl friend whose husband
    David is a photographer. She suggested her David (me) get together with her
    David (him) and discuss our common interest, photography. But, "oh no, that is
    quite out of the question, your David (me) does digital doesn't he?. _MY_
    (friend's) David won't consider digital. They'd have no common ground."

    Apparently digital photos only last a couple of years, so digital is beneath
    contempt for a _real_ photographer. Hmmm.. he'd obviously closed off his mind
    before Kodak 100 years papers and Canon and Epson pigment based printers.

    Closed minds! Tiny minds!

    DJ, Jun 26, 2004
  7. Justin Thyme

    Don Stauffer Guest

    Different films (and, for that matter, different developers) do things
    that in the digital world is done with post processing. You can do
    things with your editor, like unsharp mask and edge enhancement, that
    duplicate some of the things different film/develpers do. And, you can
    do it without changing anything before you shoot. So you can take the
    same basic image and process it any of several ways. Want highly
    saturated color? Enhanced edges? Do your filtering on image after you
    download it from camera.

    Of course, you need to start with highest res camera you can afford, and
    shoot/store in non-lossy format, such as TIFF or RAW.
    Don Stauffer, Jun 26, 2004
  8. Justin Thyme

    Justin Thyme Guest

    Yeah I know that sort of thing can be done in post processing stages, but
    the things I am talking about cannot be controlled by any post-processing.
    Eg IR or true B&W require a different sensor to normal colour - converting
    to colour via the Bayer colour filter, then back to B&W doesn't have the
    same level of detail as if the image was recorded in B&W from the get-go.
    Especially if you are using colour filters in - a 6MP colour bayer, with a
    Red filter (irrespective of if that red filter is used when the photo is
    taken or in post processing), converted to B&W really only has about 1.5MP
    of detail - the rest is interpolated. A very high resolution sensor will
    deliver more noise at high iso's, but if used at low ISO's will deliver a
    very high detail image, just like low ISO film does. People don't just use
    Kodachrome 25 for the saturated colours, they also use it for BIG
    enlargements, which would require 20+ MP to emulate. 20+MP on a normal
    sized sensor would be noisy as all hell at normal ISO's, but would be pretty
    good at ISO 25, so would be a good match for film. Likewise, a normal 6MP
    sensor is noisy as all hell at high ISO's, yet if the sensor was the same
    size but with 3M sensors, then it's noise levels would be a bit more
    controlled and would yield good usable pictures. Note that low resolution
    low noise is not the same as downsampling. The current standard 6-10MP
    sensors used by Canon/Nikon/Pentax represent a compromise that covers
    probably 90% of shooting requirements, the other 10% however are totally not
    catered for by digital.
    Justin Thyme, Jun 26, 2004
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