Go Back   Steve's Digicams Forums > Digicam Help > General Discussion

Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Old Jul 21, 2004, 1:06 PM   #1
Administrator
 
Join Date: Jun 2003
Location: Savannah, GA (USA)
Posts: 22,378
Default

Well, here we go again.

Over the past week or so, we've seen announcements from more than one manufacturer using CCD's with even smaller pixel pitches.

Konica-Minolta announced more than one model using what appears to be Panasonic's 5 Megapixel 1/2.5" CCD. Panasonic also announced new models using this tiny Sensor.

Now, we have yet another announcement from Sony, for a product using a new 7.2 Megapixel 1/1.8" CCD.

Heck, the noise characterics of the Sony 5 Megapixel 1/1.8" CCD has been criticized heavily in some models, versus the less dense Sony 4 Megapixel 1/1.8" CCD.

Ditto for some of the smaller 3 and 4 Megapixel sensors (1/2.5", 1/2.7") used in many subcompact and "super zoom" models.

Now, the Megapixel wars are heating up even more with the Sony 1/2.4" 5MP CCD in the T1 and T11; and the other new CCD imagers discussed above.

Are we really making progress? Can they really get an acceptable level of image quality from this new class of CCD's? Have there been technology breakthroughs allowing better signal to noise ratios with such tiny photosites for each pixel?

I don't believe it!

I just don't see how we can go any smaller, and still have an acceptable dynamic range; or acceptable noise levels above the lowest ISO speeds. Sure, you can process the heck out of the images in camera to reduce noise. But, this usually has negative effects on image detail.

IMO, this war is getting pretty nuts. Also, look at how the products are being marketed to consumers. Here is an excerpt from the new Sony P150 press release:

"SAN DIEGO, July 20, 2004 – Sony's new Cyber-shot® DSC-P150 is the world's first compact point-and-shoot digital camera in the marketplace loaded with 7.2 megapixels, putting breathtaking, near-professional-quality photos in your shirt pocket or handbag. It will be available in September for less than $500. "

http://www.steves-digicams.com/pr/so...4_p150_pr.html

Sure, breathtaking all right. I'd probably be gasping (and not from pleasure) at the image quality trying to shoot at ISO 400 from some of these newer sensors.
JimC is offline   Reply With Quote
Sponsored Links
Old Jul 21, 2004, 1:27 PM   #2
Senior Member
 
UrbanPhotos's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2002
Posts: 382
Default

Like with various other consumer products, megapixels are the feature of digital cameras that consumers have been duped into believing is the single most important attribute. Camera makers are now under pressure to release new cameras with higher and higher numbers of pixels in order to sell them.
UrbanPhotos is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Jul 21, 2004, 5:54 PM   #3
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2002
Posts: 5,803
Default

UrbanPhotos... and its so sad. They did it to themselves. They pushed MP early in the life of digital cameras instead of well rounded features.

Of course, the customer does take some blame, because they don't want to think they want to be given the simplest measure of quality and run with it.

Eric
eric s is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Jul 22, 2004, 8:33 AM   #4
Senior Member
 
UrbanPhotos's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2002
Posts: 382
Default

It's just like with computers. Megahertz (now gigahertz) is the equivalent of megapixels. These days, the "slowest" computers being sold still have CPU's with clock speeds of greater than 2 GHz, and yet, the basic models still have only 128 MB of RAM. A CPU of that speed is a tremendous waste with so little physical memory. Windows XP is already using almost that much RAM as soon at it boots up! At the same price, it is preferable to have a slower CPU and more memory (and dedicated video memory, too), but CPU clock speed is seen as the single most important specification of the computer.

In cameras, we'll soon see the day where the lowest-resolution camera available is 5 MP. And it will have a lens barely capable of resolving enough detail for 2 MP.
UrbanPhotos is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Jul 22, 2004, 9:00 AM   #5
Administrator
 
Join Date: Jun 2003
Location: Savannah, GA (USA)
Posts: 22,378
Default

UrbanPhotos wrote:
Quote:
In cameras, we'll soon see the day where the lowest-resolution camera available is 5 MP. And it will have a lens barely capable of resolving enough detail for 2 MP.
Yes, not only are we seeing higher noise levels at a given ISO speed from CCD's with smaller pixel pitches, but we're also "stretching the limits" of existing optics.

Take the new models using the Sony 2/3" 8 Megapixel CCD, with it's 2.7 µm Pixel Pitch. We're seeing a higher level of Purple Fringiing out of most cameras using these new sensors, compared to models using the previous generation of 5 Megapixel 2/3" CCD's.

Sure, if you need the higher resolution for larger prints, then the tradeoff can be worth it. You can also argue that the because of the increased resolution, noise and image problems will not be as noticeable at typical viewing/print sizes.

So, we're "right on the edge" of acceptable quality with the Sony 8MP 2/3" CCD (and some would argue we stepped over that edge).

But, now look.... We're going to even smaller pixel pitches in the lastest sensors. Also, we're going to usethem in pocket cameras -- not larger "prosumer" models, with thehighest quality lenses their respective manufacturers can produce!

Lenses were even redesigned for the newer Sony, Canon and Olympus models using the 8MP 2/3" CCD -- probably just to try and get acceptable quality with the higher resolution sensors.

I can imagine what kind of image problems we're going to see in entry level pocket cameras using sensors with even smaller pixel pitches -- especially considering the optical quality that will be needed.

"breathtaking, near-professional-quality photos" from subcompactcameras using a 7.2MP 1/1.8" CCD???

Well, we'll find out soon enough.

JimC is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Jul 22, 2004, 10:41 AM   #6
NHL
Senior Member
 
NHL's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2002
Location: 39.18776, -77.311353333333
Posts: 11,547
Default

Guys, we're a special breed here...

1. Most consumers wouldn't care less about "ISO"
2. Smaller sensors means more yield from the same wafer -> ie more profit.
3. All my kids are happy with their camera phone and so is my wife!

... any stand alone camera is already and upgrade for them, now throw in a "xX" zoom and everyone is happy... :-):-):-)


"breathtaking" and "professional" just selling points... No one even print 4x6 any more... They just AIM one another!
NHL is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Jul 22, 2004, 10:44 AM   #7
Administrator
 
Join Date: Jun 2003
Location: Savannah, GA (USA)
Posts: 22,378
Default

UrbanPhotos wrote:
Quote:
In cameras, we'll soon see the day where the lowest-resolution camera available is 5 MP. And it will have a lens barely capable of resolving enough detail for 2 MP.
I'll let out a little more steam over this...

Recently,I was participating in a threadfrom someone who decided to buy a new digital camera. She picked one of the newer 4 Megapixel Models using a 1/2.5" CCD.

She was a brand new forum poster, and was trying to figure out why her new camera model wouldn't take good pictures indoors without a flash.

Of course, her old Olympus C-3040z used an extremely bright F/1.8 - F/2.6 lens, with a 3 Megapixel CCD with pretty good noise characteristics. So, she had no problems taking indoor photos without a flash with it.

So, we tried to explain why her old camera was able to take pictures in conditions that her new model would not (CCD characterics, Lens Brightness, etc.) --- explaining the need to shoot at higher ISO speeds, and the availability oftools like Noise Ninja or Neat Image to reduce noise.

Of course, we offered suggestions on much larger cameras that might be able to get photos close to what she was accustomed to (for example, the Sony DSC-F717 with it's bright F/2.0 - F/2.4 lens, and 2/3" 5MP CCD) -- suggesting she avoid models with the 5MP 1/1.8" CCD, etc. For example, look for the Canon G3 instead of the G5, etc.

Then, she wondered why her outdoor photos looked better from her old Olympus, too (since her new camera had more megapixels). LOL

So, then we had to explain that she would not be able to see any improvement in quality with a higher resoluton sensor at the sizes she was using, etc. Of course, we didn't even get into the dynamic range differences.

In the end, she decided that she was going to keep her old camera (which she had promised to a friend), and give her friend the new camera instead.

I can't tell you the number of times I've participated in forum posts lately (on more than one forum), where users want to take existing light photos -- suggesting looking at older model cameras with bright lenses, using CCD Sensors with better noise characteristics than some of the newer models (or pointing them to noise reduction tools, and offering suggestions on how to improve images).

Look at reviews of models like the Canon G3 versus the newer G5; or the Olympus C-5050z, versus the C-4040z; or the newer 8MP models, versus the 5MP models.

Heck, we're going backwards in image quality in some cases (noise, CA, etc.).

IMO, it's going to get even worse with cameras using the latest sensors announced.

Of course, the D70 and EOS-300D come up in these forum threads often, too (you'll need to go with a DSLR to use a camera in the conditions you want to use it in, etc.).

Look at some of the photos on pbase.com from models like the C-3040z. You'll find clean, hand held, indoor photos without flash, using higher ISO speeds. Most of the time, these users didn't know a darn thing about needing to set their cameras to use higher ISO speeds, etc. Instead, these older models typically boosted ISO to 320 or so, and still produced useable images, and you could find a compact model with a bright lens.

Now, most models limit Auto ISO to a much lower number, and even then, you'll have more noise (you see lots of complaints about grain in images). Also, you just can't find a lower resolution model (i.e., 3MP) with a pixel pitch as large as the older models, especially not witha brighter lens (like the F/1.8 - F/2.6 lens in the Oly C-3040z).

So, it's a win-winsituation for the manufacturers. Since any models (except for DSLR's) with low noise characterics have been replaced by newer (supposedly better) models; consumersare being forced to choose between poor low light performance, or a much more expensive DSLR.
JimC is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Jul 22, 2004, 10:48 AM   #8
Administrator
 
Join Date: Jun 2003
Location: Savannah, GA (USA)
Posts: 22,378
Default

NHL wrote:
Quote:
1. Most consumers wouldn't care less about "ISO"
Consumers didn't need to care about ISO as much in the past. Their camera's Auto ISOboosted it tohigher levelsfor them (without "fudging" the true sensitivity I might add), and they didn't need to have a good understanding of how it worked.

Now, they need to understand ISO and Noise Reduction Tools to take pics in the same conditions they were able to use their old cameras in, and still get good results. See my last post in this thread for an example.
JimC is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Jul 22, 2004, 11:10 AM   #9
Senior Member
 
shutterbuggy's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2004
Posts: 188
Default

OMG! Just watched Steve's sample pics of the Olympus 3040z!

Marvelous! Awesome! *mouthisfoaming"

And it had at 3 MP a 1/1.8"-CCD!!!

This definitely shows that DC's evolution turns backwards.

I thought of getting a used 3040z but noticed the cam uses Smart Media Cards!

Can anyone recommend a cam comparable to the 3040z in terms of same CCD size at 3 MP and a lens as first-rate as the one in the 3040z?
Oh, it MUST "eat" either CF or SD cards.

Thanks for helping ...
shutterbuggy is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Jul 22, 2004, 11:24 AM   #10
Administrator
 
Join Date: Jun 2003
Location: Savannah, GA (USA)
Posts: 22,378
Default

shutterbuggy wrote:
Quote:
OMG! Just watched Steve's sample pics of the Olympus 3040z!

Marvelous! Awesome! *mouthisfoaming"

And it had at 3 MP a 1/1.8"-CCD!!!

This definitely shows that DC's evolution turns backwards.

I thought of getting a used 3040z but noticed the cam uses Smart Media Cards!

Can anyone recommend a cam comparable to the 3040z in terms of same CCD size at 3 MP and a lens as first-rate as the one in the 3040z?
Oh, it MUST "eat" either CF or SD cards.

Thanks for helping ...
Sorry, but that's my entire point. Nobody makes a 3MP camera usingthis CCD anymore now. The newer 3MP models are all using smaller 1/2.7" CCD's with a smaller2.7 µm pixel pitch with higher noise levels, and you won't find a new 3MP with a lens as bright as the C-3040z's either.

See in earlier post, where I expressed my opinion as follows:
Quote:
Also, you just can't find a lower resolution model (i.e., 3MP) with a pixel pitch as large as the older models, especially not witha brighter lens (like the F/1.8 - F/2.6 lens in the Oly C-3040z).

So, it's a win-winsituation for the manufacturers. Since any models (except for DSLR's) with low noise characterics have been replaced by newer (supposedly better) models; consumersare being forced to choose between poor low light performance, or a much more expensive DSLR.



JimC is offline   Reply With Quote
 
Reply


Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off



All times are GMT -5. The time now is 10:18 AM.