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Old Jun 18, 2009, 10:47 AM   #1
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Default Ultra Zoom Lens vs Sensor Size

How do the 12 mp X24 and X28 ultra zoom cameras incorporate these long lenses into the small cameras? Is the image sensor extremely SMALL? If so, how does that affect the quality of the images? Do the Olympus and Nikon cameras use the same sensor on these new Ultra Zooms?

Most of my photos are printed 8x10, and I require better than just "good" quality. Are there any comparisons available that compare different sensor sizes and quality of the same subject?

I had some long lenes with the old 35mm film cameras, and a 500 mm telephoto was huge and heavy. The sensor size in the Nikon P90 and the Olympus 595 US must be pea-size.
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Old Jun 18, 2009, 11:55 AM   #2
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6.13 x 4.6mm

That's a typical size for most non-dSLR models. As for manufacturer, Sony is the largest supplier of sensors used in non-dSLR camera models (including some of the models from Canon, Pentax, Nikon, Olympus, and others). Panasonic (a.k.a., Matsushita) is another large sensor manufacturer supplying sensors to many of the same camera manufacturers.

So, it's not unusual to see the same sensor used in a variety of different camera brands and models. But, you still have to take each camera on a case by case basis, due to differences in image processing, lenses, features, etc.

The smaller the sensor or film size, the narrower the angle of view for any given focal length lens. Because non-dSLR camera models use very tiny sensors, they can use a much shorter focal length lens for a given angle of view.

As a general rule, camera manufacturers publish the "35mm equivalent" focal length for lenses used on their non-dSLR camera models. But, the actual focal lengths are much shorter. If you look at the front of a lens, you can usually see it's real focal length.

For example, the lens on the Nikon P90 you mentioned has an actual focal range of 4.6-110.4mm. But, because of the very tiny sensor used in non-dSLR camera model like this, you get the same angle of view you'd have using a 26-624mm lens on a 35mm camera.

Note that because you can use a much shorter focal length lens for the same angle of view, depth of field is also impacted. That's one reason it's very difficult to isolate a larger subject from a distracting background using a non-dSLR camera model, even at wide open apertures (too much of the image is still going to be in focus shooting a larger subject to get much background blur).

If you want a larger sensor, you'll want to move up to a dSLR. Most entry level dSLR models use APS-C size sensors that are much larger than the sensors found in non-dSLR cameras (although the sensors in the Olympus 4/3 models are a little smaller). If you want a sensor the same size as 35mm film, you'll need to move up to a higher cost dSLR model (for example: Sony A900, Canon EOS-5D Mark II, Nikon D700, Nikon D3, etc.).
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Old Jun 18, 2009, 9:41 PM   #3
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Just for reference, here is a visual comparison of the various sensor sizes from the P&S up through the dSLR (APS-C / H) to the full frame 35mm up to the medium format. Not to scale, but the sizes are relative to each other.

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