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Old Feb 1, 2005, 7:37 AM   #11
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I don't think any camera will do if you don't have an eye for a picture. Resolution, lens quality, noise etc etc etc......forget it if you are just learning the rudiments of photography.Concentrate on your picture.....my first camera was a Kodak Box Brownie, my picture size was 3 1/2 x 2 1/2 inches yes and in B/W. All this talk about quality and resolution is OK but it will not help your basic photography. OK it will allow you to take pictures which wouldn't be feasible with my box brownie, but it does not automatically put you in a different league, it is only a tool....and guess what people blame first if anything goes wrong?
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Old Feb 1, 2005, 9:18 AM   #12
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My two cents...I think this is an example of the perceived obsession with megapixels that manufacturers see from consumers, which has resulted in the current "megapixel race." I agree with the postings that say megapixels are far from the most important factor. I would rather have less noise, which is what dSLR's are capable of that prosumers are definitely not.

A 16MP prosumer with a 2/3 (or smaller) sensor is the worst idea I can think of, given the current noise problems. And if they can address the noise problems, why not make a good 6-8MP cam that can go up to ISO 800 with barely a hint of noise instead of keeping the status quo on picture quality and upping the MP's? I'm not sure if you sharpen your pics, but with noise present you have to be careful because you'll sharpen up that noise, too. It's painful to see a deep blue sky speckled with noise.

There are other issues to consider. For example, depth of field on prosumer models is not so great. And who actually prints that many photos in the 16"x20" inch range? The file size would be a tremendous drawback as well. 16MP pics would be 5 Megabytes or more each (as jpeg's--RAW would be massive, and TIFF would be ridiculous), and you would be slowing your camera down, reducing your memory card capacity (in # of pics), and filling hard drives, CD's, and DVD's with files that large for the one in ten thousand that you might deem good enough to enlarge that much.

I like the ability to crop and rotate a bit and still get a good 8x10. I like the 5-8MP range, and I wish future technological efforts would be directed toward reducing noise and increasing picture quality at these resolutions instead of simply racing for the highest possible MP's with "acceptable" image quality. But if consumers are simply MP obesessed, this will never happen.

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Old Feb 1, 2005, 10:51 AM   #13
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Kodak itself has doubts about any huge improvements in bulk silicon technology. And you can't change the law of quantum physics - the smaller the pixels, the smaller the wells, the smaller the photodiodes, the fewer photons reach the photodiodes, and ultimately the lower the signal-to-noise ratio. I don't want more pixels, I'm never going to print wall-sized murals. I want improved dynamic range and lower noise, but the manufacturers have convinced the public that megapixels = image quality, which it does not.


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Old Feb 1, 2005, 2:08 PM   #14
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jkusmier wrote:
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Kodak itself has doubts about any huge improvements in bulk silicon technology. And you can't change the law of quantum physics - the smaller the pixels, the smaller the wells, the smaller the photodiodes, the fewer photons reach the photodiodes, and ultimately the lower the signal-to-noise ratio.
Kodak is struggling in the digital market and might even go bankrupt (although I don't think they will). So they are hardly the leaders in this area... I think what matters is what companies like Samsung, Sony, etc say...

In any case, there is room to INCREASE the sensor size in digicams. Things like batteries and memory cards take up more space so it's not as if size can't be increased. What I anticipate seeing is larger sensors with more pixels.

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I don't want more pixels, I'm never going to print wall-sized murals.
If the price of prints drop, will you still hold that opinion? The way I see things, the cost of printing is going to go down. This will make 4x6 prints seem ancient and everyone will be printing 11x14 or larger.
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Old Feb 1, 2005, 2:21 PM   #15
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Where are you going to put all of these 11 x 14 prints?

Last August Kodak purchased National Semiconductor. A month later they entered into a multi-year agreement w/ IBM to collaborate on next-generation CMOS design and production. Financial difficulties aside (and largely attributable to collapsing film market) Kodak continues to be one of the leaders in image sensor design. Period.
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Old Feb 1, 2005, 3:48 PM   #16
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jkusmier wrote:
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Kodak itself has doubts about any huge improvements in bulk silicon technology. And you can't change the law of quantum physics - the smaller the pixels, the smaller the wells, the smaller the photodiodes, the fewer photons reach the photodiodes, and ultimately the lower the signal-to-noise ratio. I don't want more pixels, I'm never going to print wall-sized murals. I want improved dynamic range and lower noise, but the manufacturers have convinced the public that megapixels = image quality, which it does not.

100% correct and I fully agree with this. 4MP prints on A4 without any problem, so having 6MP DSLR I have enough room for cropping. Printout in size of (say) 2m X 3m sure will show lots of pixelation, but no-one going to look at them from 20 cm distance anyway, so I see little problem here. And for printout (say) 2m X 3m with *FULL* resolution (i.e. without pixelation @ 300 dpi) one required roughly 800 MP camera!!! LOL here :GSo idea to improve such a pix quality by replacing 6MP sensor to 8MP or even 16MP looks ridiculous and wide film should be used for such exercise. I would rather have 16 bit colour resolution with 6MP sensor than 12MP sensor with 8 bit (or 12 in RAW). Thiswould dramatically improve dynamic range and ultimately pix quality. Sadly, but public stupid enough to understand that and happily join manufactures race for megapixels and as result we still far away from 16 bit full-size-sensor affordable DSLR
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Old Feb 2, 2005, 1:06 PM   #17
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jkusmier wrote:
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Where are you going to put all of these 11 x 14 prints?
On my wall... no joke...

Or a photo booklet. Instead of the old-school way of having a photo album with 4x6, now we'll have a big coffee-table-like booklet with 8x10 or 11x14 photos. How many parents would love to have a booklet with 8x10 or 11x14 pics of their kids instead of 4x6? Or how about amateur photographers who like to show their work to friends and visitors?

IF the cost of printing drops exponentially (which I think it will) then I am almost sure that high megapixels will be in big demand.

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Last August Kodak purchased National Semiconductor. A month later they entered into a multi-year agreement w/ IBM to collaborate on next-generation CMOS design and production. Financial difficulties aside (and largely attributable to collapsing film market) Kodak continues to be one of the leaders in image sensor design. Period.
Kodak is making some moves (they also purchased a company a few days ago) but it remains to be seen. The biggest difficulty for Kodak will be the fact that they don't have any pouplar mid-end prosumers. Mobile phones will likely kill off the ultra-compact and low-end general photography market. The only place left is going to be mid-end to high-end consumer/prosumer area. I don't think Kodak can compete with Canon, Nikon, Fuji, and Sony--and maybe not even with the emerging Panasonic (camera) brand too.
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Old Feb 2, 2005, 2:14 PM   #18
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I'm not saying that Kodak is a major player re: camera design and manufacture. I'm saying they are at the leading edge of imaging sensor design and production. Their financial difficulties stem from the huge task of transforming themselves from a film supplier to a digital imaging supplier, and are in no way a reflection of their technical capability re: imaging sensor design.

All I'm saying is that nobody believes that there are going to be any real breakthroughs that will enable the pixel densities you're proposing, because the physical qualities of the bulk silicon are not going to change. I'm sure it's possible for any of the chip manufacturers to produce, e.g., a 2/3 chip w/ 12-16Mp - but the disadvantages inherent in such a chip would greatly outweigh the advantages, e.g. probably couldn't stop down below f4 (because the wells are so small they don't admit enough photons); elevated noise, even at low ISO's; reduced dynamic range, etc. Pros and many enthusiasts don't opt for dSLR's because they're snobs, or simply for the better sequential shooting performance, or b/c they're trying to justify all the money they've shelled out for glass in the past - they know that fewer but larger pixels produce better image quality than more but smaller pixels.

I don't see camera phones usurping entry-level prosumers like the Canon A series. Miniaturization is the mantra everywhere, including cell phone design, hence I don't see zoom lenses making their way into camera phones. Also, have you seen the image quality from camera phones? It's lousy, not even close to comparing to, e.g., a 3Mp Canon A75. And dynamic range and noise levels are terrible, thanks in large part to the tiny imaging sensors. Finally, people who would prefer a camera phone over a dedicated camera probably aren't serious enough about photography to spend time post-processing, so there would have to be a huge improvement in camera phone pic quality before they usurp entry-level prosumers - and I just don't see that improvement possible with the miniaturization mandate driving cell phone design.Maybe this depends onhow one defines entry-level prosumer.


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Old Feb 4, 2005, 12:22 AM   #19
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This is a very interesting discussion and I can't resist adding to it! Here are my comments on what I think is important in making and printing good images.

Limits of Megapixels

In theory more megapixels should be better, but I agree with others that there are many other factors. Good glass and the size of the individual "pixel" or sensor are important I think. That's what is great about the web, you can look at sample photos from many different cameras online.

Post processing

Photoshop is a program that handles images with a great deal of precision. It is possible to prepare an image for printing in Photoshop that is sized and color calibrated for the printer. It is also possible to let the printer software or computer software do the sizing and color management. My experience is that the improvement in print quality by using Photoshop can be enormous. It's something to think about when comparing prints from different cameras.

Ideal Megapixels

I print on my Epson 2200 printer at 1440 dpi, which translates to 360 dpi in dots (pixels) used by digital cameras and by Photoshop. 360 x 360 dots per linear inch gives you .1296 megapixels per square inch. That is what my printer can use. Theoretically an 8 x 10 print would be able to use 10 megapixels of information from an image. So, all other things being equal, which we know they are not, there is room for improvement in the number of megapixels in most of today's cameras.

My experience is with several years of low megapixel cameras and no printer, with the recent purchase of the Epson 2200.

I am pleased and surprised with the images I can print from my 3MP Kyocera SL300R. Yes the sensor is small and yes there is fringing, but using Photoshop the images enlarge quite well. I don't have a lot of experience with other 3MP cameras but I think the Carl Zeiss optics on the Kyocera help.

I know I've wandered a bit from the prosumer vs. dSLR subject matter, but hopefully some of my comments will apply.
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Old Feb 4, 2005, 6:33 PM   #20
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jkusmier wrote:
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I'm not saying that Kodak is a major player re: camera design and manufacture. I'm saying they are at the leading edge of imaging sensor design and production. Their financial difficulties stem from the huge task of transforming themselves from a film supplier to a digital imaging supplier, and are in no way a reflection of their technical capability re: imaging sensor design.
Kodak actually seems to be doing better than I thought... saw a story a few days ago saying that they now have the #1 market share in USA... check out the story...

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All I'm saying is that nobody believes that there are going to be any real breakthroughs that will enable the pixel densities you're proposing, because the physical qualities of the bulk silicon are not going to change. I'm sure it's possible for any of the chip manufacturers to produce, e.g., a 2/3 chip w/ 12-16Mp - but the disadvantages inherent in such a chip would greatly outweigh the advantages, e.g. probably couldn't stop down below f4 (because the wells are so small they don't admit enough photons); elevated noise, even at low ISO's; reduced dynamic range, etc. Pros and many enthusiasts don't opt for dSLR's because they're snobs, or simply for the better sequential shooting performance, or b/c they're trying to justify all the money they've shelled out for glass in the past - they know that fewer but larger pixels produce better image quality than more but smaller pixels.
I'm not disagreeing with your last part... you are saying that there won't be enough technology improvement in sensor design and manufacturing; I think we WILL see some key improvements.

I think print sizes will still be a key driver of consumer and prosumer markets. If printing costs decrease, which I assume they will, then the demand for megapixels will be greater than other things. For example, none of the mainstream consumers really care about dynamic range--not because it is not important but because other factors are more important.

Since I am saying that sensor sizes have to INCREASE while megapixels increase (as opposed to the past where sensor sizes decrease while MP increases), I think what I am proposing will materialize. The key will be the cost (creating larger sensors with acceptable flaws will cost more and that has to be overcome somehow)...

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I don't see camera phones usurping entry-level prosumers like the Canon A series. Miniaturization is the mantra everywhere, including cell phone design, hence I don't see zoom lenses making their way into camera phones.
Canon A series is compact and won't dissapear as quickly but I think the ultra-compacts (eg. Canon SD300, Sony T1, etc) will be under great threat. Even the A series will run into difficulties at some point.

Zoom will be a problem...but keep in mind that the majority of the cameras are still at 3x zoom so zoom isn't driving cameras sales right now.

One thing that is in favour of mobile phones is the fact that they are subsidized by the carriers. You can literally get a "free" phone simply by using the phone. As we move forward, we'll see the camera phones being subsidized and unless the camera manufacturers innovate and introduce something FAR BETTER, people will opt for a "free" low-end camera over a decent low-end/mid-end camera.

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Also, have you seen the image quality from camera phones? It's lousy, not even close to comparing to, e.g., a 3Mp Canon A75. And dynamic range and noise levels are terrible, thanks in large part to the tiny imaging sensors.
Those cameras phones are horrible! BUT they are only 1 megapixel and simply in their first generation--they are babies now Samsung announced a 5 megapixel sensor for mobile phones and qualiyt will be significantly improved with that. There will still be problems with the zoom--or lack of it--but having a cellphone that can take decent 3 megapixel+ pic will wipe out the low-end and ultra-compact market.

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Finally, people who would prefer a camera phone over a dedicated camera probably aren't serious enough about photography to spend time post-processing, so there would have to be a huge improvement in camera phone pic quality before they usurp entry-level prosumers - and I just don't see that improvement possible with the miniaturization mandate driving cell phone design. Maybe this depends on how one defines entry-level prosumer.
I'm looking at entry-level that is a bit higher than you but nevertheless the key point is that the entry-level non-amateur-photographers are the ones purchasing most of the cameras. Canon, Sony, Kodak, et al, make most of their profits from the mainstream consumers and subsidize their R&D from them. If that market evaporates, you'll see less innovation and improvements in cameras.
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