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Old Jan 14, 2004, 7:50 PM   #1
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Default "Spend your money on the lens, not the pixels"

Interesting reading about Spirit's digital panoramic camera.

http://www.space.com/businesstechnol...ed_040114.html
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Old Jan 14, 2004, 8:20 PM   #2
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Default Should expand explaination!

Spirit is the NASA Mars rover now taking picturs and unloading from it's landing pad.

The CCD is a full 1 meg (12mm x 12mm), developed in Ontario, Canada! and don't ask..... you can't afford it!!!! Go to the site above for more information.
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Old Jan 14, 2004, 10:36 PM   #3
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Hey, why'd they have to pick on my camera?
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Old Jan 15, 2004, 5:20 AM   #4
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If they'd used a high Mpix camera, they'd have to wait longer to get the pics back over the space link, and how would they tell the difference between a Martian and a JPEG artefact? Guess they must be shooting RAW and bitmaps only (What You See Is What You've Got!) Imagine linking back lots of 5 Mpix uncompressed images and missing shots whilst the camera is emptying it's local storage buffer? I guess HD from Mars might have to wait a while! VOX
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Old Jan 18, 2004, 9:31 PM   #5
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Fascinating article

I wonder how they keep the camera powered at such low temps.
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Old Jan 18, 2004, 11:28 PM   #6
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Since I am no genesis at optics, why aren't more CCDs larger. It seems that they want to but millions of things, that, from the artical, seem to do better if they aren't so small.
So why don't they just spred them out a bit, and make then a bit bigger. Is there any major cost difference, or does something have to be done to the lens to make it look right.

Can somone fill me in?
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Old Jan 19, 2004, 2:33 AM   #7
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Perhaps they've done some market research and found that the largest potential market for digicams is from people wanting to replace their small pocket/handbag sized compact film cams and of course electronics are cheap whereas lenses are less so. Also many who enjoyed carrying around a full slr kit, realise they miss photo opportunities when their gadget bag isn't with them!

Then they realised that they can overwhelm the buyer with all the cheap functionality that software and electronics can offer, whilst moving the buyers perspective towards Mpix as the only comparative benchmark. Throw in a bit of slinky 'fashion accessory' marketing and many buyers won't ask too many questions about lens size and quality or important things like sensitivity, noise, why AF is essential and needs to work perfectly every time and whether the camera built in flash/sensitivity is good enough!

I'm afraid this is the way of most consumer products targetted for a mass market. This is the evolutionary path which gives us more choice feature wise, allows products to be replaced more often, makes more money for manufacturers - but also eventually offers the sort of high end lens/ccd product for the more discerning buyer that you might actually be able to afford one day. VOX
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Old Jan 19, 2004, 2:35 AM   #8
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A small CCD allows a small lens with a short focal length and wide aperture. Since they already used this camera as an example in the article (and since I own one) the Sony F717 has a 9.7-48.5mm lens. On a film camera, this would be extremely wide angle (in fact, I don't know of any lenses shorter than 14mm). But, because the CCD is much smaller than a frame of 35mm film, it only "sees" the image from the center of the lens, and the field of view is equivalent to a 38-190mm lens on a film camera. This lens also has a maximum aperture range of f2.0-2.4. If the CCD was the size of a frame of film, the lens would have to be larger and heavier to have the same zoom range, and much larger to have such wide apertures (because aperture is a fraction of the focal length of the lens). The lens would also be incredibly expensive.

Look at the Canon 1Ds SLR. It uses a sensor the same size as a frame of 35mm film. It's large, heavy, and very expensive, and the lenses that make the most of the camera's capabilities are also very expensive. The quality is awesome, if you have the money, but most of us don't.

The dominant trend in consumer cameras, though, seems to be the opposite. Resolution is getting higher as cameras are getting smaller. That means even more densely-packed image sensors that produce a lot of image noise, behind tiny lenses that can hardly esolve enough detail for the number of pixels in the sensor anyway.

Edit: voxmagna posted while I was typing my reply, and said essentially the same thing in more concise terms.
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