The Megapixel Race

Discussion in 'Digital Cameras' started by SimonLW, Oct 23, 2006.

  1. SimonLW

    SimonLW Guest

    The manufacturers STILL keep pushing the megapixel count higher and higher.
    After reading what I'd consider an unfavorable review of yet another 10mp
    compact camera, I'd say they went beyond the current limits. Perhaps the
    average camera shopping consumer still gets wrapped up in the numbers game,
    but many enthusiasts will be wary of the less then stellar image
    performance.

    I say its time for the sensor manufacturers to research the development of
    larger sensors for compacts. Not necessarily APS size, but 1/2 APS size
    (quarter area), or at least use the 2/3 size again. This may impact the size
    of the super small cameras, but I'd wager that there are many users who want
    a good performing camera who don't want to lug a SLR and a bag of lenses
    around.

    The SLR format is reaching a limitation of a different kind. The APS sensors
    of 10-12 megapixels are capable of resolving nearly 90 lines per mm. This is
    beyond the range of nearly any consumer zoom and even some high end zooms
    and a few primes. I wonder if they will push APS sensors beyond 12mp just to
    play the numbers game or will full frame be the next step.

    The next few years of digital will be interesting!

    -S
     
    SimonLW, Oct 23, 2006
    #1
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  2. SimonLW

    Kinon O'Cann Guest

    Agreed, the latest crop of small digitals are a step down in picture
    quality. Lots more noise, loss of detail, and way too much post processing.
    I was going to get a smaller cam to use as an adjunct to my SLR, but forget
    it, the picture quality just plain sucks. I had hoped that Panasonic would
    step up and improve the picture quality of the LX1, but all they did was
    stuff more pixels into the LX2 and it's OK, but still not good enough. For
    now, I'll just lug the SLR.

    Good comment about the APS sized sensors. I think it's only a matter of time
    before they all realize that larger sensors are a reality, given the
    physical limitations of sensor technology. Nikon, are you listening?
     
    Kinon O'Cann, Oct 23, 2006
    #2
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  3. SimonLW

    rafe b Guest


    I don't think this is a valid analogy. The benefits of
    full-frame sensors are clearly visible. There's nothing
    subtle about it, really.

    It was like that with film -- more film area yields a
    better image, always (all else being equal.) There's
    no reason it should be different with silicon sensors.


    rafe b
    www.terrapinphoto.com
     
    rafe b, Oct 23, 2006
    #3
  4. SimonLW

    Cynicor Guest

    Yes, because you can use the higher-quality recording to send secret
    messages to your dogs.
     
    Cynicor, Oct 23, 2006
    #4
  5. I agree.The megapixel doctrine looks like the GHz race between computer
    processors-or even the GB race in hard disks....
     
    Tzortzakakis Dimitrios, Oct 23, 2006
    #5
  6. SimonLW

    timeOday Guest

    Can they really enlarge the sensor without growing the rest of the
    camera (including expensive, heavy lenses) too? And keep the same range
    of focal lengths?

    I wouldn't be terribly disappointed if compacts held up at 8MP or so,
    just as laser printers stopped at 600 or 1200 dpi. At 8MP you can
    already do a fair bit of cropping and still get good resolution.
     
    timeOday, Oct 23, 2006
    #6
  7. Disk space fair enough, but concentrating on the headline MHz/GHz
    figure to the exclusion of other factors can indeed be misleading.
     
    Richard Kettlewell, Oct 23, 2006
    #7
  8. SimonLW

    rafe b Guest


    2nd and 3rd harmonics of what fundamental?
    Most adult humans still can't hear diddly above 5-10KHz.

    Even so -- bmoag's analogy is still flawed.

    For any given technology, more sensor area is
    always a good thing for image quality.

    It's all about catching light. The more the better.

    And yes of course, big sensor = bigger lens =
    bigger, heavier camera, etc.


    rafe b
    www.terrapinphoto.com
     
    rafe b, Oct 23, 2006
    #8
  9. That reasonning would be valid if sensors were in their infancy. They are
    not. Read noise will improve a bit, yes. Even if the handling of thermal
    noise was optimal, even when the most basic digicam will have perfect
    quantum efficiency, bigger pixels will still have a better s/n ratio.

    Pierre/PhotoRescue
     
    Pierre Vandevennne, Oct 24, 2006
    #9
  10. SimonLW

    JohnR66 Guest

    No. The lens does have to be larger, but on a hypothetical 12x8mm sensor
    (1/4 area APS) it will not have to be large. Zoom 35mm and APS film cameras
    were not necessarily large although the telephoto range on some of the long
    zooms got quite slow. A quarter area APS sensor would give the camera
    designers room to properly utilize the 7-10mp sensors. The big 8 to12x zooms
    would be larger, but these cameras a pretty bulky as it is.
    I agree, maybe even 10mp. They really need to get a good compact camera that
    photo enthusiests would want to use, perhaps, along side their DSLRs. I love
    my DSLR, but just don't/can't take it everywhere. The current 10mp compacts
    are a big load of crap, IMHO.

    John
     
    JohnR66, Oct 24, 2006
    #10
  11. JohnR66 wrote:
    []
    I want a higher quality compact as well! Here's a larger sensor, non-SLR
    camera:

    http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/sonydscr1/

    Is it fundamental that the larger sensor requires such a bulky
    arrangement? And the 4/3 sensor seems lumbered with a large lens mount,
    making miniature, near-SLR quality cameras difficult.....

    David
     
    David J Taylor, Oct 24, 2006
    #11
  12. SimonLW

    Keith Guest

    David J Taylor
    It's not lumbered with a large lens mount - it was designed that way to
    make it easier to design 'telecentric' lenses where the light hits the
    sensor at right angles right up to the corners. This is why lagacy glass
    on 35mm frame sensors deteriorate towards the edges of the frame -
    especially (or mostly) on wide angles. The Oly 7-14mm zoom for example
    gets rave reviews for performance in this area.
     
    Keith, Oct 24, 2006
    #12
  13. OK, I said "seems lumbered" - that's an impression - thanks for pointing
    out that's by design rather than by accident. However, does this prevent
    it from offering as compact a camera and lens as the "half sized" sensor
    might otherwise allow? With a sensor sized half of that of the 35mm
    standard, I had been hoping to see a considerable reduction in size and
    weight of systems (OK, perhaps not to half the size, and one eighth the
    volume and weight!), but it seems that some APS-C DSLRs offer systems
    which are just as compact....

    David
     
    David J Taylor, Oct 24, 2006
    #13
  14. SimonLW

    ASAAR Guest

    They're getting progressively smaller. Here are weights and sizes
    of some of the Canon and Olympus cameras. All weights include
    batteries and dimensions are in mm.

    E-300: 624g 147 x 85 x 64
    350D: 540g 127 x 94 x 64
    E-500: 479g 130 x 95 x 66
    E-400: 420g 130 x 91 x 53
    G7: 380g 106 x 72 x 43

    So you can see that the E-400 (only available in Europe) is
    significantly lighter than Canon's 350D, which is known to be a very
    light DSLR, and only slightly heavier than the Powershot G7. The
    sizes aren't dramatically smaller, but I'm not sure many
    photographers would want a DSLR much smaller than the E-400. By way
    of comparison, my Fuji, which I've described before as a P&S that
    resembles a DSLR in appearance but is far smaller. It easily fits
    in the small pockets of my lightweight jackets and checks in at:

    S5100: 480g 113 x 81 x 79

    This may be a bit misleading, as the Fuji's size includes its
    fixed 10x zoom lens, and the weight would be reduced to close to
    400g if lithium AA batteries were used instead of alkalines. You're
    very right about not expecting 4/3 cameras to be 1/8th the weight,
    since 1/8th the weight of the 350D is only 67 grams, much less than
    the weight of even ultracompact cameras.
     
    ASAAR, Oct 24, 2006
    #14
  15. Thanks for that detailed chart - interesting reading!

    However, I was really meaning the complete system, including the lens,
    rather than the camera body alone. How does the 4/3 system compare to the
    APS-C system with say, a wide-angle (24 - 28mm equivalent) or a 400mm
    equivalent image stabilised lens? [Meaning a 200mm lens on the 4/3 system
    and a ~250mm lens on the APS-C]. Does the 4/3 system show a significant
    size and weight benefit?

    David
     
    David J Taylor, Oct 24, 2006
    #15
  16. Holy Cow! You actually understood the above paragraph (=sentence)??

    *If* I understand it, I disagree: At some point in the future, there
    will be a digital camera (not limited to military) that will out-resolve
    an 8 x10.
     
    John McWilliams, Oct 25, 2006
    #16
  17. Rich wrote:
    []
    In theory, yes. But is that reflected in actual available products?

    (And some might argue that you need a 300mm f/2.4 lens for the same light
    gathering power, but I won't as I allow a smaller sensor to be less
    sensitive....).

    David
     
    David J Taylor, Oct 25, 2006
    #17
  18. SimonLW

    Bill Funk Guest

    Why would LF film be gone, if it weren't being replaced by digital?
    Those who shoot LF are doing it because LF offers what they want. Why
    would it disappear before something came along that offers the same
    thing?
     
    Bill Funk, Oct 25, 2006
    #18
  19. SimonLW

    ASAAR Guest

    If sales of 35mm film continues to plummet, the earnings may drop
    far enough to make the production of not only 35mm film impractical,
    but other film types as well. In a sense, even today LF isn't
    pulling its weight, and the cost of its production is subsidized by
    sales of 35mm film.

    Now that I think of it, the same thing might be what allows the
    better DSLR lenses to sell for only moderately high prices as
    opposed to the stratospherically high prices of Leica lenses. By
    selling a huge number of 350D, 20D, D70 and D50s compared to the pro
    bodies, more of the higher quality lenses will be sold, keeping
    their prices more reasonable than if they were only sold to pros for
    use with their pro body cameras. This could also be another of
    several already stated reasons for Canon wanting to reduce the price
    of the 5D, as 5D owners will probably spend more money for lenses
    than if they get a 350D or 400Xti instead.
     
    ASAAR, Oct 25, 2006
    #19
  20. SimonLW

    Bill Funk Guest

    True enough, I suppose.
    I was thinking that LF shooters will pay the price to get what they
    want.
     
    Bill Funk, Oct 25, 2006
    #20
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