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521 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
The Megapixel war continues. The new Nikon and Pentax DSLRs are now boasting 16 MP sensors - possibly the same sensor.

Meanwhile the newest medium format sensor now has 80 MP and claims 12-stops of dynamic range.

The most recent rumour regarding the upcoming Canon 1Ds IV is that it will have 29 MP. What is more interesting, though, is that some believe that a new 5D Mark III will be released before the 1Ds and will likely contain 28 MP.

If a new 5D appears, it will likely be driven by a new processor, a Digic V. And then if the 1Ds is released later, then it should contain the Digic V as well, meaning that this model will skip the IV processor altogether.

Out of curiousity I looked at the Specifications for the sensor size for the 7D and the 5D II and calculated how many Megapixels the 5D would have if it were packed as densely as is the 7D. And the answer is: over 46 MP.

So a 28 MP 5D III is not unreasonable. Especially given that noise reduction (or the ability to separate noise from signal) seems to gain about 1 to 2 stops each generation. That is, it is not unlikely that such a model would boast 28 MP, but be able to shoot up to ISO 51,200. And if they would put a dual processor into it and have it fire at 5fps, I would be satisfied.

The upcoming 1Ds is still a puzzle. Ditto for Nikon's flagship 24.5 MP model replacement. It seems like the two companies are trying to get the other to release its new model first. Expectations of a breakthrough camera are high. And Sony is pushing both of these companies. Sony does make the 24.5 MP sensor used by Nikon, yet the Nikon takes much better images than does the Alpha 900. So Sony knows that by improving processing of its image data, it can become a viable high-end competitor.

One of the advantages of a large sensor for me lies in cropping. I do some wildlife photography and often the subject is far away, even with a big telephoto lens. So I crop. However, if the subject is soft, then cropping is just revealing flaws in the image. Hence I want to have good, fast focus on a small object in the frame. And sometimes the object is moving rapidly, making focus more difficult. That is the problem I would like addressed by new models: faster, more accurate spot focusing.

Canon recently announced a 35X Superzoom model, the SX30. I have a friend who tried the Olympus 30X Superzoom and he thought its main problem was focusing accurately when zoomed to its maximum. He showed me some photos and it appeared that about 2/3s of them were too soft to be of any use.

My opinion of the status of the major aspects of DSLR photo taking:

Shutter Speed: no issues
ISO: no issues
Noise: mostly under control
Autofocus: continuing difficulties
Focusing Speed: problem in low light, regardless of the ISO capability
Colour Depth: under control
Dynamic Range: continuing problem (I don't like the concept of adding
frames together. Why can't the processor boost the signal in some areas
and lower it in others within a single frame?)

· Registered
521 Posts
Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Interesting Comments

My own biases resulted in me ignoring mirrorless cameras. I have been doing more and more wildlife photography and the major investment (and weight) lies in the lenses used.

Hence whether or not a body has a mirror is largely irrelevant to me. I want fast accurate focusing and strongly prefer looking through a viewfinder, not at an LCD screen. If the camera has an EVF and said viewfinder can handle dark scenes with aplomb I am satisfied. However, if such a camera results in a new type of lens mount, making my lenses non-functional, then I am uninterested in the camera.

Sony seems to be selling their mirrorless cameras by emphasizing their smaller size. Again, if you are carrying a 600mm lens, that size is irrelevant. (Maybe Sony will start selling a fast 600mm lens with the camera built into it. Given the cost of the lens adding a camera to the body will make the lens mount irrelevant. Just make it so that sensors can be replaced as required.)

I too was surprised by the new Foveon model. I thought that they had given up as their resolution was just not good enough. I wonder if because of not employing a filter, more light gets through to the sensor. If so, then if the camera used the same techniques as normal DSLRs, it should be able to function in very low light. One of the technical problems that pushed the manufacturers to CMOS chips was speed. Namely how quickly could a pixel clear the information it had gathered in order to take a new photo. Memory latency it is called in PCs. I wonder about the functional speed of Foveon chips. And is latency a function of light frequency, resulting in different pixels requiring a different period of time to clear the signal? I.e., does a "green" pixel process as quickly as a "red" pixel in a Foveon? And recall that light at dusk and light in shade has radically colour balance than light in normal sunlight. Couldn't a Foveon automatically adjust the gain for the different frequencies to create perfectly balanced photos?

I like the idea of a 12-stop dynamic range, such as boasted about by the new 80 MP Leaf sensor. When I am walking around I have had to adjust my shutter speed from, for example, 1/4000 second to 1/160 second after covering about 20 meters of distance. Such is the impact of moving from a meadow to a covered forest. When such lighting is dappled, then a sensor with a 12-stop range would be useful. Perhaps combining frames to gain dynamic range works for static images, but not with quickly moving subjects. So I prefer HDR to be embedded in the sensor, rather than in the processing of multiple frames.
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