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Old May 29, 2005, 2:12 PM   #1
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Currently, there are two trends observable on the DSLR markets: firstly, the high-end DSLRs tend towards a 35mm format and continuing usage of conventional lenses originally made for normal SLRs.

Secondly, we see a a "prosumer" segment with different sensor sizes, well below the 35mm standard. These sensors come with their own lenses which can't be usedwith bigger sensors or conventional 35mm SLRs.

In the past, there was often a "trickling through" of high end technology to the low end, but will this happen here again?

Relying on the assumption that the industry always seeks the economies of scale's sweet spot there are three probable scenarios:

1) 35mm sensors become standard
Conventional lenses and lenses optimized for 35mm sensors can be used.
Pros: bigger sensors mean a lot of room for more megapixels, faster adopting of digital photography because conventional lenses can be used
Cons: bigger sensors mean much higher costs. The past teaches that semiconductor industry always and ever made it as small as possible.

2) Markets continue to exist in two-ways
35mm for high-end cameras and smaller sensors for prosumer segment
Pros: prosumers really don't need expensive 35mm sensors with headroom for 30+ megapixels
Cons: two different kind of lenses will have to be produced: 35mm lenses and the others. Not an optimal solution for the industry.

3) A new standard will be introduced
Sensors smaller then 35mm format will be introduced. Even for the high end the 35mm sensor market becomes obsolet.
Pros: high resolutions can also be achieved on small sensors. There's hardly a need for big sensors, only the final resolution of the picture is what counts not the size of the sensor. Conventional 35mm lenses are anyway poised to be replaced by lenses optimized for digital sensors (because of sensor's reflectionsandother reason) so why not make the sensorssmalland throw the decades old 35mm standard away?
Cons: will there really be a single digital sensor standard size? Can the industry (say Canon & Nikon)animously agree to such a standard or will each company continue to push their own sensor size?

What do you think? Whatsize of sensors and lenses will the future bring?


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Old May 29, 2005, 3:43 PM   #2
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A fair bit of discussion on this topic over in the Canon forum recently...

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Old May 29, 2005, 9:26 PM   #3
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Sensor size might stabalize in a few years, but are more likely to shrink than do anything else for two reasons:
* Small sensors mean cheaper lenses for the same quality.
* Cheaper things sell better.

Of course there will always be a market for large sensors like an 8x10" chemical negative. But the market won't be large and the camera and lenses will be much more expensive.

Nikon and others have designed their dSLRs to be able to use existing lenses - smart move, otherwise their customers have little reason to stick with them. Lenses with smaller image circles fit the new cameras and are cheaper. If they make cameras with even smaller sensors, they will likely to be able to use the current "digital lenses".

So sensor size doesn't really matter. Final image quality does matter - though how much quality are folks willing to pay for is the real question.

I think it was P.T. Barnum who said, "No one has ever gone broke underestimating the taste of the American people." That says a lot about what trade off of quality and price digicams are headed for.
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Old May 30, 2005, 9:16 AM   #4
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I thought you might enjoy this exchange by Mike Johnson & Michael Reichmann about the topic on the Luminous Landscape site:


When you get to the end of the first article, scroll down a little past the closing notes to get to the rebuttal by Mr. Reichmann, followed by a response by Mr. Johnson, and then a final comment by Mr. Reichmann. They both have some compelling arguments, though I believe that ultimately Mr. Johnson's take on the subject with regards to lenses (also mentioned by Bill in the post above) will be the deciding factor in the end.

I'd like to hear what you guys think.

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Old May 30, 2005, 2:01 PM   #5
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Thanks everyone - very useful links and a pleasure to read.

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Old May 31, 2005, 2:18 AM   #6
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Inrelevant of sensor size, I hope the next gneration of cameras can produce images that have even more clarity of detail and color, faster performance all around, a move towards digitally optimized lenses that are faster than the now standard f/2.8 pro caliber lenses (f/2 perhaps?), and hopefully, bigger and brighter viewfinders (optical please!). Oh my crystal ball just grew foggy and I can't see anymore of the future :lol:
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