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Graphics Software Hardware

What to Fight Over After Megapixels? 596

NewScientist has a quick look at where the digital image crowd is headed now that the megapixel wars are drawing to a close. Looks like an emphasis on low-light performance and color accuracy in addition to fun software tools are the new hotness. "For years, consumers have been sold digital cameras largely on the basis of one number - the megapixels crammed onto its image sensor. But recently an industry bigwig admitted that squeezing in ever more resolution has become meaningless. Akira Watanabe, head of Olympus' SLR planning department, said that 12 megapixels is plenty for most photography purposes and that his company will henceforth be focusing on improving color accuracy and low-light performance."
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What to Fight Over After Megapixels?

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  • Maybe not. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by fyngyrz ( 762201 ) * on Monday March 16, 2009 @01:14PM (#27212711) Homepage Journal

    The megapixel wars may be drawing to a close, but they sure aren't doing it at 12 mp. Canon's 50D prvides 15mp in an APS-C sensor size, which is pretty tight, but users are achieving excellent results at that density... it just takes decent lenses, of which there are plenty in the Canon line.

    15mp in APS-C format is a square sensel of about 4.6 m.

    Canon's 5DmkII, on the other hand, is a full frame sensor, and it sports a whopping 21 mp... and does so by only going to 6.4 m, so there's quite a bit of room left there.

    The 50D's got some noise issues, but the 5DmkII is a quiet design and they've clearly got some room to go.

    So I think Olympus is actually saying that they can't, or don't want to, compete in the remaining space in the megapixel wars; withdrawal, if you will, rather than an actual end.

    • Re:Maybe not. (Score:4, Informative)

      by fyngyrz ( 762201 ) * on Monday March 16, 2009 @01:16PM (#27212753) Homepage Journal

      BTW, that blank before the 'm' after the sensel size was the special 'u' used for microns; Slashdot's lame filtering cut it out. Sorry.

      • Re:Maybe not. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by gnick ( 1211984 ) on Monday March 16, 2009 @01:26PM (#27212965) Homepage

        the special 'u' used for microns;

        Its name is mu [] (a lower case Greek letter).

        In response to your original post, I think that they're saying that, although the megapixel count is still increasing, it's becoming less important than other aspects of the camera. A 12 megapixel camera with good low-level-light capabilities may be more attractive to a consumer than a 21 megapixel camera with problems in that arena. Still, I don't totally believe that the mass market will stop just buying the camera with the biggest number. It amazes me how many people will drop $1k+ without bothering to do some basic research on what they're buying. Ignorance is bliss I guess - The handful of people I know that have done this are very happy with what they've got despite the fact that they could have possibly done much better if they'd done their homework.

        • Compression (Score:5, Interesting)

          by goombah99 ( 560566 ) on Monday March 16, 2009 @01:52PM (#27213483)

          although the megapixel count is still increasing, it's becoming less important than other aspects of the camera

          For me compression is an issue.

          The statement that 12 mega pixels is enough for general use has an information theoretic interpretation. namely for the standard lens fields of view and typical range of distance to target that there is no added information in having finer resolution. Or at least the amount of information useful to humans is diminshing.

          Assuming this statement is true then it ought to be that the ideal photo compression algorithm produces the same size image file no matter how many pixels went into it. That is to say a lossy compression algorithm would only be discarding detail of no human interest.

          This is not true, the compression does not seem to be getting better. This suggests that the compression algorithms in use are not scaling properly for increased pixels.

          Hence more research is needed to find compression algorithms with this property.

          I dislike high mega pixel cameras because they are increasing in stored picture size faster than my hard drives are keeping up. e.g. when I went from a 4 mega pixel camera to an 8 mega pixel camera my file sizes became 4 times larger. My internal disk drive did not become 4 times larger in that time so I had to start using external storage. It became harder to squeeze these onto ipods.

          But you end up buying these 8 mega pixels ones because even though you might be happy with fewer megapixels, the 8 mega pixel ones take better pictures simply because they have better light sensors, greater sensitivity, anti-shake, and so-forth that the cheap 4 mega pixel cams lack.

          • Re:Compression (Score:5, Insightful)

            by fyngyrz ( 762201 ) * on Monday March 16, 2009 @02:08PM (#27213833) Homepage Journal

            The statement that 12 mega pixels is enough for general use has an information theoretic interpretation. namely for the standard lens fields of view and typical range of distance to target that there is no added information in having finer resolution. Or at least the amount of information useful to humans is diminshing.

            But we're not even close to such a thing. Not by orders of magnitude. Information useful to humans extends down to the limits resolvable by light and beyond into x-rays and so on. Also, as far as "color" goes, into infrared and ultraviolet. That's why whole classes of microscopes and telescopes and long lenses and macro lenses exist; that information is useful and interesting. And there's no reason whatsoever to limit a camera to see what the unaided human eye could see -- that's just silly.

            Look at the macro lens market; a good macro lens and a high resolution camera and you pretty much have a microscope, albeit only a moderate one. Check out this little bugger [] from my salt aquarium, he's only about 50 thousandths of an inch across. The reason we can see him so well is because of the sensor resolution being high and the lens being nothing at all like the "normal" human FOV/resolution.

            • Re:Compression (Score:5, Interesting)

              by goombah99 ( 560566 ) on Monday March 16, 2009 @02:36PM (#27214303)

              You are confusing pixels with magification.

              Sure we want to maginify things to the resolvable limit. But when we capture the image there may be a practical number of pixels at any given magnification beyond which the information is not really increasing.

              for example, when you shoot a photo of you diatom, do you take a photo of the whole ocean with nanometer scale pixel resolution and then blow it up till the diatom is visible. No! you simply maginify till the camera is capturing the volume the diatom is in, then smap the photo using a small number of pixels.

            • Re:Compression (Score:5, Insightful)

              by sam_paris ( 919837 ) on Monday March 16, 2009 @03:43PM (#27215393)
              I think you're miss-understanding the original article.

              The author isn't talking about the 1/1000000 person who's interesting in taking photos of protozoa on the wall of his fish-tank.

              This article is about what is needed for average people taking average photos. Most people (99%+) will never print larger than 20x30 inches and most will never even print that big. Even with a 7MP camera with a decent lens, you can print perfectly fine at that size. I've tried myself and have several great examples.

              Given that 7MP can produce great results at 20x30, why does the average person need 12MP? Especially when most of the cameras they use have tiny sensors. You may not realize this but there is no point in squeezes more pixels onto a small sensor because all it means is grainier photos and reduced low light quality. As each sensor receives fewer photons.

              The only cameras where going > 12MP makes sense are full frame SLR's where there is obviously a good size sensor and lots of light can be let in. These cameras should the be paired with nice big lenses to make the most of the huge sensor.

              TLDR version: Most people are taking vacation snaps and photos of their kids/dog. They don't need anything more than 7MP because they don't actually make any prints big enough to see the additional pixels.
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by AKAImBatman ( 238306 ) *

            e.g. when I went from a 4 mega pixel camera to an 8 mega pixel camera my file sizes became 4 times larger.

            This is normal. When you double the resolution, you double it in 2 dimensions. (Height and Width) This results in a four-fold increase in data size.

            the compression does not seem to be getting better.

            JPEG compression is JPEG compression and RAW data is RAW data. The basis of these formats has not changed in nearly a decade. It's unlikely we're going to be seeing any massive jumps in compression technolog

            • Re:Compression (Score:5, Informative)

              by Flaggday ( 1373017 ) on Monday March 16, 2009 @02:25PM (#27214147)

              e.g. when I went from a 4 mega pixel camera to an 8 mega pixel camera my file sizes became 4 times larger.

              This is normal. When you double the resolution, you double it in 2 dimensions. (Height and Width) This results in a four-fold increase in data size.

              But 4 megapixels to 8 megapixels isn't doubling the image size, it's doubling the number of pixels. So it is reasonable to expect the file size to double, not quadruple.

              • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

                by AKAImBatman ( 238306 ) *

                That's a good point. I wasn't thinking about that. My only comment in that direction would be that perhaps the image quality settings are different and/or you were previously shooting at a lower resolution than your camera was capable of. I haven't seen the option much on the new cameras, but low/medium/high quality options used to be pretty standard as a way to save on space.

            • Re:Compression (Score:4, Informative)

              by Fulcrum of Evil ( 560260 ) on Monday March 16, 2009 @02:32PM (#27214253)

              This is normal. When you double the resolution, you double it in 2 dimensions. (Height and Width) This results in a four-fold increase in data size.

              That would be going from 4mp to 16mp. Going from 4 to 8mp should only double your image size on disk.

            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              e.g. when I went from a 4 mega pixel camera to an 8 mega pixel camera my file sizes became 4 times larger.

              This is normal. When you double the resolution, you double it in 2 dimensions. (Height and Width) This results in a four-fold increase in data size.

              Actually, this is just plain wrong. A camera's megapixel [] rating specifies how many million pixels it stores, and should scale linearly with file size. So, for example, assuming a 3:2 aspect ratio (which I understand is pretty common), a 4 megapixel camera would produce images with a resolution of approximately 2450x1630 (I'm rounding to the nearest 10 pixels), and an 8 megapixel camera would produce images with an approximate resolution of 3460x2310. So both dimensions aren't in fact doubled. (They're mu

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by cskrat ( 921721 )

            The reason a higher pixel count is always going to result in larger compressed image (assuming the same subject, lighting, etc.) even when you're well past the limits of human perception is that there is still noise in the image that must be dealt with. Image compression simply tries to remove redundant information with acceptable losses or compromises. Removing redundant information depends on predictability and detectable patterns. Higher resolution images with more detail or noise become more random from

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by nahdude812 ( 88157 ) *

          People eventually gave up buying computers based on nothing but processor speed.

          As technology advances, certain aspects of it exceed any typical expectations from humans. The most desired feature will also be the most developed and advanced at the fastest rate (if possible) because better sells more for this feature more so than for others.

          So the most desirable features will be the first to cross the diminishing returns threshold in terms of what people want out of it.

          High end digital photographers are a l

    • The problem is that it's mostly pixel peepers that benefit from more mpix. There are people that benefit, it looks like for most people, the benefit is more psychological. And if you're shooting for the web, you're throwing most of the information away. You need to print pretty large or crop pretty aggressively to get a significant benefit from extra pixels.

      Olympus actually has some pretty good optics, though their noise certainly isn't where the 5DII is. Their sensor is pretty small, a 12mpix sensor is

      • Re:Maybe not. (Score:5, Interesting)

        by fyngyrz ( 762201 ) * on Monday March 16, 2009 @01:59PM (#27213649) Homepage Journal

        You need to print pretty large or crop pretty aggressively to get a significant benefit from extra pixels.

        Sometimes, yes, you do. But there's no problem or waste associated with this, and the extra magnification you get with small sensels and good enough glass to resolve to them results in a perfectly usable and quantifiable benefit; resolution. The term "pixel peeper" is a silly one coined by people who can only imagine using the full result of the camera. There's nothing wrong with using the full result, but there's nothing wrong with using a cropped region, either.

        For instance, this image of the Orion nebula [] of mine, taken with a 50D, is a crop that you can't really get much past; I took it at f/2.8 and 200mm, using ISO 6400 and multiple stacked exposures of one second duration. It is only 416 pixels square -- not large at all -- and a lower resolution sensor than the 15mp one in the 50D would have resulted in an even smaller usable crop.

        Getting closer - that is, using a longer lens - is problematic, for several reasons. First, as lenses get longer in the same approximate price range, they get slower, so I'd lose my f/2.8 option pretty quickly, or else end up spending a *lot* more for the lens. Secondly, exposure time is limited, as the stars move, or else again, I end up spending more money on a tracking mount (or time building a barnyard door or other homebrew tracker.)

        As it stands, the 15 mp of the 50D is directly useful to me in that it gets me a more detailed, closer, image than I would get with, for instance, the 40D, which is 10 mp. I like that.

        Basically, any situation where you can't really get any closer to the thing you want to shoot, and you're not filling the frame with the subject, higher resolution sensors help by giving you more detail; you can either use that detail directly, as I do for the nebula shot I linked above, or you can opt to average regions and reduce the noise if the number of pixels really seems to be too many to you, or the noise level seems to demand such treatment.

        As with most photography issues, for every person you can find who uses a camera one way, there's someone else who uses it another. Various kinds of noise, spatial resolution, color depth, speed... these are all trade offs with any given sensor technology, and I honestly think there's plenty of room left for manufacturers to push any one at the expense of the others. Olympus wants to go for low noise, I'm all for it -- there's going to be a lot of people who want that above all - but I'm not giving up my 50D's resolution (or my investment in Canon mount lenses) to get it. Plus, it's always entertaining to see what comes next in any one camera's product line. I don't think Canon, the manufacturer of my camera, is likely to be out of places to go quite yet. I'm hoping for a "60D" model that is still 15mp, but lower noise and/or goes beyond the current pushed ISO 12800 limit. If they pull that off, I'll buy.

        I'm not sure if I'd buy to go past 15 mp... I've got some good lenses, and 15 mp is really quite a challenge to use well. Plus diffraction blurring affects higher density sensors ability to achieve per pixel sharpness; 15 mp already strongly compromises (via diffraction effects) shots taken at f/11, going past 15 mp is just going to make deeper DOF shots less able to take advantage of the higher densities.

    • Re:Maybe not. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by poetmatt ( 793785 ) on Monday March 16, 2009 @01:25PM (#27212913) Journal

      The megapixel market isn't running to a close at all.

      All this means is "we want to extort people more putting the same CCD into a product and adding new features, maybe adding a megapixel here and there"

      Be on the watch for a federal price fixing lawsuit as there are a lot of under the table agreements on price here.

      The real "megapixel war" end is around 22 megapixels after which it currently becomes more expensive exponentially, with current technology. Up until that point, don't believe a word about this stuff. By next year for example, that megapixel threshold will go up a megapixel or two. Not that this means they'll try to extort people any less for the same 9-10MP cameras.

      I do agree better quality CCD's and soforth are far more important than megapixel, but this "slowdown" by makers of cameras is voluntary.

      • Re:Maybe not. (Score:5, Interesting)

        by cabjf ( 710106 ) on Monday March 16, 2009 @01:41PM (#27213261)
        This isn't much different than the Megahertz wars. Chips were getting faster, but at a cost of ignoring just about everything else (plus other bottlenecks prevented the speed from being effective past a point). Now we have plenty of Megapixels (at least enough to be better than consumer grade film was) but the demand has shifted to actually being capable of taking decent pictures.
      • Re:Maybe not. (Score:5, Interesting)

        by ColdWetDog ( 752185 ) * on Monday March 16, 2009 @01:50PM (#27213453) Homepage

        The megapixel market isn't running to a close at all.

        But it is getting asymptotic to a maximum. In the DSLR field you have the 20+ megapixel cameras (Nikon D3x, Sony A900, Canon ID Mark III). These are all high end machines which require excellent optics and, more important, excellent techniques to get the most out of the camera. Yeah, you go on the DP reviews []forums and folks will whine about wanting more (although nobody seems to want to pay more...). But like most high end things, you're out of the sweet spot. You end up paying a lot of money for a limited increase in performance. For some, that will be worth it but for the consumer market, 10-12 megapixels is more than enough.

        Dynamic range (the ability to hold shadows and highlights in a high contrast scene without a lot of fiddling) has lots of room to grow. That seems to be a tough nut to crack, especially in the smaller sensors.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by steelfood ( 895457 )

          Do you seriously go to the DP Review forums? Nobody whines about MP. In fact, most photographres using P&S cameras would like theirs capped at 6MP.

          But that's because they're mostly serious photographers, who are interested in printing their photos, not in storing them on a disk and pixel-peeping occasionally through a monitor. And there is both a physical limit with prints, and a physical limit with sensors. 6MP, most people on those forum seems to agree, is the sweet spot for a small (> 1/1.6") sens

    • Re:Maybe not. (Score:4, Interesting)

      by The Phantom Mensch ( 52436 ) on Monday March 16, 2009 @01:28PM (#27213017)

      I'll agree that the war isn't over yet in the DSLR world, but in the point&shoot world there really is no point in going any higher than they have achieved. If you shove 12 megapixels into a sensor that is 1/4 the surface area of an APS-C sensor you should really couple it with a lens system that is 4 times more precise than the one used on your APS-C camera to get equivalent resolution. But the camera makers aren't doing anything like that. They're putting out junk lenses and big sensors because that's what marketing tells them to do.

    • Re:Maybe not. (Score:5, Interesting)

      by QuasiEvil ( 74356 ) on Monday March 16, 2009 @01:35PM (#27213153)

      You're right, my 50D does have some noise. I thought my 40D would become my backup body, but it hasn't. I still like the image quality coming off the 40 better than the 50.

      I'd say from here, DSLR designers should start working on noise issues. The pixel density of a 15mpxl APS-C sensor is adequate for almost everything I do, and I'd much rather have lower noise. I've been scanning a bit of old Kodachrome over the weekend, and it's remarkable how quiet, smooth, and colorful K25 really was. If the practical increase in resolution can be shown, working on eliminating Bayer-pattern sensors in favor of sensors capable of RGB at every detector site might be another path of progress (such as Foveon's part).

      On the "me specific" feature list, integrated GPS for geocoding would be darn handy, too. Not sure how many photographers would use it, but for those of us who spend a good amount of time out hiking through the mountains with our cameras, it would be easier than juggling a separate GPS and keeping notes (or post-processing everything together).

      • Re:Maybe not. (Score:4, Informative)

        by fyngyrz ( 762201 ) * on Monday March 16, 2009 @02:21PM (#27214077) Homepage Journal

        Just as a tip, I have found that the 50D's noise drops *dramatically* if you expose for +1 Ev (RAW) and then in post, pull back -1 to -1.5 Ev. There are lots more bits of resolution available in the stops as you move to the right (each stop has twice as many levels as the darker one to its left), and this gives the camera a one stop noise advantage over the way Canon hands it to us.

        Canon seems to think we need a full stop of headroom in dynamic range over the brightest spot in the image being taken... that's simply not the case unless you're going to be compositing something brighter into the image. Seriously, try it. That +1 Ev will push noise down to an amazing degree, especially at ISO 3200 and below, where the 50D's banding issues don't rear their ugly little heads.

        Of course, you can do the same with your 40D, and get even better results there, too. :)

        This picture [] was shot at +1 Ev, ISO 100, with the 50D, and then recovered by pulling -1 Ev, effectively using the sensor 1 stop to the right. Check out the original size version ("All Sizes" button over the sample image) and look for noise in the shadows, or the sky (both the 40D and 50D are notorious for noise in blue skies... blue channel in the sensor is a weak link.)

        Just be careful with your metering. If the camera isn't allowed to meter the brightest object in the portion of the scene you want to capture, you're going to clip the highlights and they will be unrecoverable.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Firehed ( 942385 )

          That trick is true for pretty much any body when you're shooting RAW. Noise shows up much more in darker portions of the image since there's less raw material (light) to work with. When you intentionally overexpose the image by a stop, you've got twice as much light coming into the camera, so the sensor and processor have less guesswork to do. And of course since you're shooting RAW (combined with the 12-to-14-bit sensor), it's easy to pull that back into a normal exposure and let the computer effectivel

      • Re:Maybe not. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by vlm ( 69642 ) on Monday March 16, 2009 @02:23PM (#27214103)

        integrated GPS for geocoding would be darn handy

        How about a built in digital compass that records the direction as part or the filename to help panoramic stitching software, or just because it sounds cool?

        How about filenames other than peculiar serial numbers like dsc-12345.jpg? How about an option to use the timestamp as a filename? How about a datestamp and serial number?

        How about a shutter response faster than 500 ms? My dads spotmatic and my old K1000 back in the 80s had a shutter response time somewhere around zero (or at least no longer than typical human or video game player reflexes) but my wife's couple year old nikon takes almost a second to take a picture after the button is pressed, almost useless for action shots.

        How about a camera that stops shutting off constantly every 30 seconds? Some people take pictures of events that last longer than that, so its just wasting batteries turning on and off over and over. At least put in a menu to shut off the "battery saver" (battery waster, more likely)

        How about a tripod mount that isn't made of plastic? Yeah I know the whole cam is plastic, not like the old days, but still, at least some metal threads that won't strip. And make the tripod mount screw deeper than like 3 thread pitch.

        What I don't want is cutesy bloatware software for legacy windows boxes... just gimme a SD or CF that plugs into any desktop or wii or laptop anywhere in the world with no weird software install needed.

        Also I don't want an irreplaceable and/or unremovable and/or rechargeable battery. I can buy AA batteries anywhere in the world and carry a ridiculous number of spares in my backpack. A rechargeable bettery thats usually discharged or runs out at a bad time or can never be replaced or can't be charged in less than 15 minutes is useless for me. And that applies 10x for mp3 players too. Its not like the "expense" of batteries will bankrupt me compared to the staggering expense of good equipment. And make the camera compatible with 1.2 volt rechargeables not just 1.5 volt alkalines.

        I also don't want effort put into stupid sounds that make it sound like an old polaroid when you press the button. I want it silent for wedding/baptism photos or photos of pets/animals/hunting. Or at least a mostly inoffensive beep. Or at worst, an easily found speaker I can tape over. Please god no "ringtones" for the camera shutter sound.

        • Re:Maybe not. (Score:4, Interesting)

          by Lumpy ( 12016 ) on Monday March 16, 2009 @04:48PM (#27216409) Homepage

          How about filenames other than peculiar serial numbers like dsc-12345.jpg? How about an option to use the timestamp as a filename? How about a datestamp and serial number?

          the #1 feature needed in DSLR cameras. LET ME CHOOSE THOSE first 3 LETTERS!!!!

          when I have a shooting team covering an event I would LOVE to have each camera they use set to their initials for the filename. Or set the event ID, etc....

          Honestly the firmware in all cameras, just sucks. they really could add features that pro photographers would kill for and others would find incredibly useful.

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            If you can afford to have a team shooting an event, then you can afford Aperture, Lightroom, or one of several other products that lets you do automated renaming based on, amongst other attributes, Camera Serial Number. As long as your shooters aren't swapping cameras with each other, there you have it.
      • Re:Maybe not. (Score:5, Informative)

        by elrous0 ( 869638 ) * on Monday March 16, 2009 @03:04PM (#27214769)
        Poor light performance has ALWAYS been the biggest problem I've had with digital cameras. What good is a million megapixels when you can't even see your subject without shooting in direct sunlight? Low light performance has always lagged behind on digitals (most of them I've bought over the years have had the light performance of equivalent of about 200 ISO film).
    • Re:Maybe not. (Score:5, Informative)

      by interiot ( 50685 ) on Monday March 16, 2009 @01:35PM (#27213163) Homepage

      What about the Red Epic 617 [] that will deliver 261.4 megapixels at 30fps, that's supposed to be available for $53k next spring?

      I had thought that Japan's 4320p HDTV [] (33 megapixels) cameras were nuts, but Red's sensors are pushing far far past that.

      Cameras and displays are getting to the point that they push more data than any network we've built [] (and so are obviously many orders of magnitude faster than the human optic nerve).

    • Re:Maybe not. (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Alex Zepeda ( 10955 ) on Monday March 16, 2009 @02:04PM (#27213771)
      Of course Olympus is saying they don't want to compete in the megapixel race. They can't. Oly is pushing the 4/3 standard which uses the smallest sensors of any common DSLR system. Nikon and Canon have rather compact full-frame cameras available, and are thus able to hype the super high pixel count sensors. Maybe Olympus can compete in other areas, but Fuji's been hard at work with the low light sensitivity (with their SuperCCD) and Sigma's been working with Foveon on high dynamic range sensors (and already have a 12MP equivalent sensor).

      This strikes me as similar to AMD claiming that clock speed was a bad performance metric back when their stuff was clocked slower and couldn't quite compete with Intel. [] [] []
  • Not surprising (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 16, 2009 @01:16PM (#27212751)

    Akira Watanabe, head of Olympus' SLR planning department, said that 12 megapixels is plenty for most photography purposes and that his company will henceforth be focusing on improving color accuracy and low-light performance."

    That not surprising. Look at the Amazon reviews for any camera with a huge megapixel count, like the Canon G-10 [], and you'll see dozens of people complaining that, yes, the megapixels are nice, but the sensor may be noisy or the colours may be off. Too bad the industry didn't give more attention to accuracy earlier. I'd be happy to have a mere 7 megapixels if noise is seriously minimized.

    • Re:Not surprising (Score:5, Informative)

      by dgatwood ( 11270 ) on Monday March 16, 2009 @02:03PM (#27213729) Homepage Journal

      Colors are always off. No two CCD brands are color calibrated in the same way. If you want accurate color, just shoot in RAW mode, then create or obtain reasonable color profiles for the camera and all your devices, at which point it's a non-issue. If your camera can't shoot in RAW, there's your problem.

      As for low light response, the easiest way to get better low light response is to use bigger optics. The light gathering of optics is directly proportional to the area of the lens (the square of the radius of the lens). The big problem we have is that camera makers are trying to use progressively smaller lenses for easy portability, and that is directly contrary to the goal of improving low light response. They have to make huge strides in response just to break even.

      Until the quest to keep making cameras smaller stops, the low light performance will continue to regress. It's basically unavoidable. At best, you could improve the noise response in low light by using Peltier junctions or something to cool the chip, but there goes your battery life.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by i.r.id10t ( 595143 )

      Not to mention frame rates... be nice to be able to get those big hi-res images at say, 10 frames/sec. Not motion video (that would be nice too) but at least fast enough to have a really nice "sport/action" mode going on...

  • by hansamurai ( 907719 ) <> on Monday March 16, 2009 @01:17PM (#27212767) Homepage Journal

    "12 megapixels should be enough for anybody." - Akira Watanabe

    • by Yvan256 ( 722131 )

      Mod parent up (+funny/+insightful/+informative for future references)

    • by Amouth ( 879122 )

      i don't know why .. but when i read that i read the name as

      Ikea Want'a Be

      and was wondering why anyone would want to be cheap prefab furniture *scraths head*

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by EdZ ( 755139 )
        MY first thought was "TETSUOOOOOO!!", but that may just be movie indoctrination.
    • I'd like to see more dynamic range being captured and also outside visible spectrum. You could do some really cool stuff with being able to merge in stuff from an infrared channel (would be great for smoothing skin tones for example.) Also I'd like to see something akin to Sony's panshot mode, but implemented at a larger resolution (Sony's images top out at 1000 pixels of vertical resolution.)
    • by tepples ( 727027 ) <> on Monday March 16, 2009 @02:06PM (#27213813) Homepage Journal

      "12 megapixels should be enough for anybody." - Akira Watanabe

      For comparison, 1920x1080-pixel HDTV is about 4 Mpx: 2 Mpx for luma and about 2 for chroma. An 8x10 print at 150 lpi has a similar pixel count. True, more Mpx in a consumer product lets you do more digital zoom after the fact, but what else is it good for?

  • I want the following from a digital camera...

    1. Small phyiscal size (I wanna slip it in my pocket).

    2. Good image quality

    3. Good telephoto lens.

    4. ???

    5. Profit (sorry, couldn't resist)

    Currently I use a Canon G9, but I'm sure they can do better!

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by neurovish ( 315867 )

      I want the following from a digital camera...

      1. Small phyiscal size (I wanna slip it in my pocket).

      2. Good image quality

      3. Good telephoto lens.

      4. ???

      5. Profit (sorry, couldn't resist)

      Currently I use a Canon G9, but I'm sure they can do better!

      Pick 2...and small physical size isn't an option yet

      • small physical size isn't an option yet

        Eh? The consumer digital cameras are smaller than I've ever seen before. For example, I just picked up an Olympus FE-20 with 8MP of resolution for my wife. The thing is smaller and lighter than a deck of playing cards! In fact, finding a travel case for it was interesting because all the cases are designed for larger cameras.

        So small physical size is most certainly an option. It just happens to be incompatible with the request for a telephoto lens. (Telephoto lenses ar

    • Re:I want... (Score:4, Informative)

      by Shakrai ( 717556 ) on Monday March 16, 2009 @01:32PM (#27213097) Journal

      1. Small phyiscal size (I wanna slip it in my pocket).

      3. Good telephoto lens.

      I think those two are mutually exclusive.

      • Not completely. You could make the sensor tiny, so that a "long" lens was about 10mm long.

        Small body+big sensor+good telephoto is what is impossible.

    • Your wants are self-contradictory. You can't have both pocket-size and interchangeable lenses, which is what you would need to do good telephoto. (There is currently no such thing as single lens that works well for extreme closeups and telephoto, although I suspect it could be done with active optics.) To get good image quality, you've got to pay around $1000 for a Nikon or Canon body that is threaded for standard lenses (I'd go with the Canon because I've heard the lenses are cheaper.) But yes, I think you
  • To make the cameras of the future, you gotta have three things (any threebrain fans out there?): 1. HDR - floating point color channels to allow the adjustment of exposure in post. 2. Depth channel - either with stereoscopic setup or range finder. Allows depth of field focus in post. 3. Optical SVG - the ultimate! Forget pixels. Have cameras sketch accurate SVGs of a scene with the ability to show or print at any resolution.
    • by morgan_greywolf ( 835522 ) on Monday March 16, 2009 @01:29PM (#27213035) Homepage Journal

      Optical SVG - the ultimate! Forget pixels. Have cameras sketch accurate SVGs of a scene with the ability to show or print at any resolution.

      Good luck with that one. It's a lot harder than it sounds. Try tracing a simple 2-color bitmap in Inkscape sometime and zoom in real close. Now try tracing a full-color, full page photograph in the maximum number of colors possible.

      Oh, BTW, hope you got lots of RAM and time to wait....

    • Agreed (at least, I think I do since I don't know what any of that means), but the camera has to do all of it without the user ever knowing. That will be the camera of the future.
  • by mhn ( 1501223 ) on Monday March 16, 2009 @01:20PM (#27212841)
    I suspect there will be a need for quite some time, for some purposes, to keep increasing the resolution. Usage (at least in some subset of people) will adapt and innovate. After all, if all the digital camera was for was to replace those 4x6 prints you all have in your photo albums, 3 MP would have been the end of it.
    • If you want to print at 300 dpi, which is photo quality and what publishers want, you would need at least 8 MP to do an 8x10" print at 300dpi - minimum for most publications. Now if you want to submit something to a poster company, they want a 20x30" print at 300dpi - which you'd need the $50,000, 50MP Hasselblad H3DII-50 [] which might be enough. You'd probably better off with film (120 at least) at that size and resolution.

      Here's a chart [] to see how many MPs you need for photo quality digital prints.

      Of cours

  • Olympus needs to focus on battery life. With flash on, my Olympus camera gets about three shots per charge on a new battery.

  • - Lower noise figures at various resolutions/speeds.
    - Better performance in low light (i.e. indoors without flash, to avoid that overexposed-lightbulb-head look in so many of my snaps).
    - Longer exposures

  • by Locke2005 ( 849178 ) on Monday March 16, 2009 @01:24PM (#27212893)
    The accuracy of the human eye is such that you can only distinguish ~4000 pixels in a line while still being able to see the whole picture. 4000x4000=16 megapixels for a square image, or 12 megapixels for a 4:3 aspect ratio picture. Having more resolution than that is only useful if you are going to take part of the image and blow it up or otherwise focus on just a part of the image. So yes, once they achieve 12 megapixels CCDs, they should focus on something else, like speed for example. I have several pictures of "the couch where my daughter was a second ago" because my Nikon Coolpix inserts a huge delay between the time I push the button and the time the picture is actually recorded. Color accuracy would be nice too, or perhaps doing something about the graininess the CCDs seem to exhibit in low light conditions.
    • I have cybernetically enhanced eyes you insensitive clod.

    • by ColdWetDog ( 752185 ) * on Monday March 16, 2009 @01:41PM (#27213251) Homepage

      I have several pictures of "the couch where my daughter was a second ago" because my Nikon Coolpix inserts a huge delay between the time I push the button and the time the picture is actually recorded.

      What you want is a cheap DSLR. Even the lower end ones (D-40 / D-90, heck even the ancient D-70) have much more responsive shutters. Digicams are for still lifes. The better DLSR's (like the Nikon D-300) have really stunning low light capability. Of course, it could get better, but compared to film and the older digitals it's truly amazing.

      I'm sure the manufacturers will try to stuff all of these things into the digicams, but if you can spend the money and deal with a slightly larger camera, the future is here.

    • by davidwr ( 791652 ) on Monday March 16, 2009 @02:09PM (#27213851) Homepage Journal

      I can't tell you how many times I've looked at a picture, analog or digital, and wished I could turn a small part into a poster.

      Back in the day, that's what they used large-format film for.

      Imagine if a movie editor could decide, in post-production, to "zoom 10x closer" in on a subject?

      Just because you can't benefit from them when viewing "full frame" doesn't make extra pixels worthless.

      Besides, even if you aren't cropping, to emulate the resolution of 35mm at 100 a typical line-pair-per-mm resolution, you'll nominally need 5000 dots per inch, or 33 megapixels. I'd prefer 4x as many to handle worst-case situations. Now, in practice, how many of our photographs wind up as 2' x 3' posters? Not many. If the biggest you will ever enlarge is 1/3 of that, then your resolution can drop to 1/9th. Depending on how demanding you are, you won't need more than 4-16 megapixels to produce a nice 8"x12" print. Consumer- and pro- 16 megapixel cameras are here today.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by shmlco ( 594907 )

        "Back in the day, that's what they used large-format film for."

        And that's what you can use a 35mm FF digital camera, or even a 6x4.5 MF camera for today. Expecting super resolutions out of consumer point-and-shoots is unrealistic. You might as well expect to print a poster off a Kodak Disc.

        As far as I;m concerned I'd rather have low-light performance good enough to take sharp pictures indoors under average lighting conditions... without using a flash.

    • by 140Mandak262Jamuna ( 970587 ) on Monday March 16, 2009 @02:18PM (#27214021) Journal
      I have used simple Canon A40 to take perfect pictures of dolphins leaping out of water just at the moment they touch the trainer's fingers. I have a shot of my daughter breaking a board in a karate kick just as the board was cracking.

      You need to learn to pre-focus the camera by pressing the shutter half way down and waiting for the right moment before clicking through. Or set the camera to infinite focus by default so that you can grab and shoot at a moments notice.

  • by antifoidulus ( 807088 ) on Monday March 16, 2009 @01:25PM (#27212921) Homepage Journal
    god damnit, I'm tired of having to risk getting arrested just to get a blurry up-skirt shot, I want to be able to have my camera see through anything!
  • This is coming from Olympus so they should sure as hell be focussing on low light performance. Simply because it's the weakness of the smaller 4/3 format they use. I expect that Cannon and Nikkon will have other priorities. However, I agree; at this point more megapixels is meaningless.
  • Low light performance has been a major sticking point for me on lots of digital cameras. My old 3.3 Megapixel Panasonic that wrote to LS-120's has outperformed most of the camera's that have replaced it in nearly every area except for Megapixels.

  • by Dr. Spork ( 142693 ) on Monday March 16, 2009 @01:28PM (#27213011)
    As was the case in the 35mm film days, the cameras that are best are the ones with the good lenses and good auto focus mechanisms. Secondary are good light meters. The pixel density is definitely high enough at 12M. At the start of digital photography, the CCD was definitely the primary bottleneck for picture quality. But those days are definitively over.
  • The single most important part of any camera is the lens. My old Cannon is better with 2.2MP than the modern 'snapshot machines' with up to 16MP. Its got a decent lens, no snapshot thing or phone, for that matter does.

  • I have a Canon Powershot A95. It's getting long in the tooth and is due for replacement whenever I can afford something better*.... over its service life, I've had one GLARING problem with it - with the flash off, under the camera's idea of low-light conditions, I have to take five, ten, two dozen pictures using various auto-mode settings to get something that's even moderately focused. It's fine for broad daylight outdoors, but indoors or starting at dusk outside, it's extremely frustrating to use.

    Half t

  • by jw3 ( 99683 ) on Monday March 16, 2009 @01:34PM (#27213133) Homepage

    "Fighting over megapixels" -- for someone who knows basics of photography, this is like fighting over which laptop comes with more preinstalled software tools, or number of features a text editor has. Like, there is *some* point of the discussion up to a certain level, and not much after that, and definitely nowadays this is not the most important factor for a decision which laptop to buy. The "megapixel wars" have ceased a long, long time ago in most of photography-related forums.

    Except for professionals, 10MP and more is something like audiophily. And definitely an overkill for a pocket camera, where you are much more likely to hit the resolution boundary of the optical system itself (this is why professional cameras tend to be rather large...). Even 3MP (which was standard years ago) is sufficient for many purposes (given a high quality of the lens).

    For photographers, the main fetish was and remains The Lens. A good lens may cost an order of magnitude more than your camera body. In the times of analog film, people often referred to the camera body as "film box", disrespecting its features and extras, compared to the importance of selecting the right lens.

    I think the whole "megapixel war" issue started because photography became very popular with digital cameras, however people were not yet aware of the more important points -- and started to project what they knew about image quality (i.e. resolution) to what cameras they buy.

    Now the knowledge starts to slowly infiltrate the "casual" photographer community. Having a few cameras, they start to notice other things: quality of the lens, haptics (how the camera "feels" in your hands), stabiliser, reaction time (time between pressing the button and the camera making the photo) etc.


    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by johnjaydk ( 584895 )
      For photographers, the main fetish was and remains The Lens. A good lens may cost an order of magnitude more than your camera body. In the times of analog film, people often referred to the camera body as "film box", disrespecting its features and extras, compared to the importance of selecting the right lens.

      Without good (and fast) glass everything else is moth. BUT a D3 still sets You back more than say a 14-24 and a 24-70 combined. Throw in a 70-200 and we're talking more glass than body. All full fr

  • Every digital camera I've ever used has had a 100+ ms delay between pressing the shutter button and the picture actually being taken. This sucks compared to the "instant" response of a circa 1980 SLR (well, actually compared to every film camera ever made).

    I don't need more pixels--give me a camera that's usable.

  • Let's see. 12 megapixels is 4000x3000. Yeah I'd say that's high enough. It's equivalent to what film can do unless you're using a very fine grain.

    Now they just need to bring the price down where I can afford it - a $50 35mm camera is still the cheaper option.

  • Optical zoom (Score:4, Insightful)

    by wjh31 ( 1372867 ) on Monday March 16, 2009 @01:40PM (#27213231) Homepage
    When i last upgraded my camera, the megapixels didnt change much, thats not what i was interested it, but it went from a 3X to a 12X optical zoom, there is alot of stuff out there that is worth taking a picture of, but is too far away to get a decent picture of, obviously if you go much higher you are going to need a tripod, or better image stabalisation, so i wonder how long before people want better zooms for their holiday and wildlife snaps, with better image stabalisation to support it
  • Low Light (Score:5, Interesting)

    by cpuh0g ( 839926 ) on Monday March 16, 2009 @01:42PM (#27213271)
    For me the biggest problem in pt-and-shoots, and in DSLRs to a lesser extent, is not lack of megapixels, but the lack of performance in low-light. The latest D-SLRs from Canon and Nikon, the higher-end ones (not the entry level SLRs) are getting much better, but for the most part, low-light performance of the current CCDs sucks.
    • Re:Low Light (Score:5, Informative)

      by hankwang ( 413283 ) * on Monday March 16, 2009 @02:01PM (#27213697) Homepage
      The performance at low light is ultimately limited by fundamental physics. If you want to take a picture of a scene with brightness L (cd/m2), exposure time t, aperture numebr N, the amount of light reaching the sensor is H = L t /N^2. For example, at 5 cd/m2 (twilight?) and t=0.03 s, N=2.0, we find H = 0.04 lux seconds at the sensor.

      That is about 10^16 photons per square meter. Of you cram 10 MP on a 5x5 mm sensor, that is 3000 photons per pixel. Each pixel has a color filter that on the average transmits 25% of the photons, which means 750 photons per pixel. Simple Poisson statistics means that you get a noise that is 1/sqrt(3000) = 4% for these numbers. That is if the sensor has 100% effectivity and no electronic noise.

  • by david.emery ( 127135 ) on Monday March 16, 2009 @01:43PM (#27213311)

    That's as good as anything to get a 1-data-point comparison on camera sensors. (

    Real -quality- factors, such as low light performance, color accuracy, etc, are a lot harder to quantify.


  • by joeflies ( 529536 ) on Monday March 16, 2009 @01:45PM (#27213343)

    Digital cameras largely carry over the conventions of film, such as ISO film speed. But these notions that higher speed "film" equals noise/grain are going out the window, as newer cameras are able to achiever clean pictures that were impossible to do with film.

    Similar notions go that exposure is rated the same way that film cameras did, such as stops above/below aperature+shutter speed.

    Suppose if Digital cameras were invented without these notions of what film cameras did. Wouldn't there be a better way to measure aperature, shutter speed, exposure, film speed, etc than the conventions that we have now? Couldn't digital cameras redesign the scales so that they aren't measured in fractions of seconds or tenths of a decimal?

  • AI (Score:5, Funny)

    by Quiet_Desperation ( 858215 ) on Monday March 16, 2009 @01:47PM (#27213377)

    The cameras need built in AIs that talk to you.

    "Beep! This image is framed poorly."

    "Beep! The subject requires better lighting."

    "Beep! The subject needs clothes. Seriously. This is not porn material."

    "Beep! The current angle will not sufficiently capture the dark and depressive mood for which you were aiming. I have wirelessly ordered you some Zoloft."

    "Beep! Wow, that's just... really... may I suggest a different hobby?"

    "Beep! This camera will now self destruct to save your family, friends and the world in general from your mind numbingly boring vacation photography. You have 30 seconds to reach minimum safe distance."

  • What else? (Score:5, Funny)

    by Tarlus ( 1000874 ) on Monday March 16, 2009 @01:50PM (#27213465)

    What to Fight Over After Megapixels?

    Simple. Gigapixels.

  • by fermion ( 181285 ) on Monday March 16, 2009 @01:52PM (#27213485) Homepage Journal
    At the risk of being quoted out of context, for the size of CCD that most cameras use and the optics available, 8 megapixel is plenty big. For bigger prints using an SLR camera, 10-15 megapixels is useful. This will give reasonable output up to the point where one might want a medium format camera to do better.

    The megapixel size, like the battery life, the clock speed on a CPU, the amount of memory, etc, is mostly used in ad copy to make people think they are getting a better product. In most cases what has in fact happened is that designers put in a badly integrated laundry list of features so that even though the components sound good, it end up being a cheaply made crap product. We see this, for instance, in computer with fast processors but slow front side buses.

    The point where it is going to make sense to go to a higher megapixel count is when we move to a full size 35X24mm CCD. What is happening right now is that the pixel density is getting so tight, we are not seeing appreciable quality. Additionally, I don't think the current CCDs utilize the full field of the lens. Right now cameras like the D3X is relatively expensive, but as production ramps up we may see cameras that use the full size CCD appear in the 2000 price range. At that point the 25-30 megapixel will actually be useful. The density will drop from 4000 pixels per square mm to 3000 pixels per square mm. I have seen no definitive answer on this, but some have suggested that the CCD goes as high as 4000, the noise can become a big issue.

    Which is just to say, the megapixel war for the past couple years has been a gimmick, and what we might be asking for instead is larger CCD and better optics, even if the number of pixels does not change.

  • by halcyon1234 ( 834388 ) <> on Monday March 16, 2009 @01:57PM (#27213625) Journal
    Low light performance is great, but a battleground will be fought over something they can market:

    Startup time to first shot. Expect to see lots of fudged numbers there, where they'll do start up to LCD screen on, or to first shot in "super crappy mode", or fast first shot, but massive reload times.

    Battery life. It'll be marketed as "Get X thousand shots from a single battery" (in super crappy mode writing to a propritary format on a low-energy drain SD card using nucluar powered batteries that the end user does not have access to)

    UI. Roll out the bells and whistles that let you wipe out Granny's redeye right on the preview screen. Omit the fifteen button presses it takes and the five minutes of camera-cpu processing time. I'm sure the words "warm" and "natural" will be used somewhere.

    Interconnectivity. Snap a shot, have it instantly wifi 2.0'd to you faceblog picturebucket. 3G service fee extra.

    Thinness. Our camera is thinner than our competitor. Oh, snap! (With snap being the sound your camera makes after parts warranty expires)

  • by DrDitto ( 962751 ) on Monday March 16, 2009 @01:58PM (#27213631)
    16*20*300*300 = 28.8 megapixels.

    I agree that 12 megapixels is fine for most people who never make big enlargements (or for those who do, do not care about viewing detail in these prints from a couple feet away).

    Heck, I still shoot 4x5" large format simply because the quality is amazing even in a 8x10 print. They say the eye can only resolve 400dpi or so, but my prints say otherwise. 4x5" sheet film scanned at a modest 2000dpi gives (4*5*2000*2000) 80 megapixels.
  • dynamic range (Score:5, Informative)

    by Speare ( 84249 ) on Monday March 16, 2009 @01:59PM (#27213653) Homepage Journal

    The dynamic range of our linear sensors is the weakest part of the chain. Film sucks compared to modern digital in all ways except their response curve: many films don't capture light levels in a linear way, so they can discriminate details in the clouds in a bright sky even while capturing details in the shadows. Almost all digital sensors are on the order of 9~12 stops of acceptable dynamic range, and they've been there for nearly a decade.

    Cameras tend to expose for the midrange automatically. To avoid blowing the highlights, which is very visible on a screen or printout of our photos, we have to artificially adjust that exposure, called "stopping down," until we capture details in the highlights, at the expense of detail in the shadows.

    There are some combinatorial techniques to achieving high dynamic range; you take multiple exposures and mathematically or artistically mix them to achieve both shadow and highlight details. But this technique is not well suited to movies or still-shots of moving scenes.

    Sensors need to get a LOT better at achieving a dynamic range of 20 stops or more.

  • User Customizability (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Animaether ( 411575 ) on Monday March 16, 2009 @02:14PM (#27213945) Journal

    oh wait, NEVER gonna happen.

    What I mean isn't so much hardware as firmware, by the way... basically you can deconstruct a cameras into 4 pieces..
    1. Lens.
    2. Sensor
    3. Body
    4. PU+Firmware

    dSLRs already have interchangeable lenses.. although you can't put a canon mount one on a nikon mount one, for various reason beyond the "we like them to be exclusive, thus causing lock-in, because nobody is going to switch to Nikon after buying $3,000 in Canon mount lenses" crap...

    The sensor you currently can't easily exchange.. if you tried, most like you'll have destroyed your focus.

    The body is what it is, unless you want to take a hacksaw to it.

    Leaves the firmware. There is so much room for customizability in firmware that I don't even know where to begin with that. I'll just point to DD-WRT and its ilk as great examples of what can be done when a device can be completely customized in terms of internal behavior.
    No longer would I be limited by whatever shutter time presets are in the firmware.. if it offers nothing inbetween 1/750 and 1/1000, I'll just load firmware that gives me 1/800, 1/850, 1/900 and 1/950 as well.
    If the auto exposure mode currently favors closing the aperture over shortening the exposure time, and I want it the other way around, I would no longer be SOL - I'd just load the firmware that gives me that.
    If I want to reprogram the various modes on the dial so that I can quickly switch between 3 common setups I use so that I no longer have to enter manual mode and adjust 3-4 options myself (aperture, shutter time, ISO, white balance), then I -could-.

    But, again, it'd make a whole range of cameras obsolete and makes people less likely to buy a future model if their current model can already do it with a firmware change... so, NEVER gonna happen. Not from the big names anyway.

  • by roc97007 ( 608802 ) on Monday March 16, 2009 @02:31PM (#27214239) Journal

    I mean *really* faster. I recently acquired a professional-grade digital SLR and was astonished to find that the "3d matrix motion sensitive autofocus tracking" or whatever it's called, wouldn't accurately track a dog chasing a ball. The camera would graciously show me the autofocus points of successive frames -- clumps of grass, small pebbles, a trash can, and occasionally the actual subject. It was somewhat surprising to me that, to get accurate focus of moving objects, I could get better results by turning off all the "moving object" settings and rely on my own targeting skills. With all the computer power at our disposal, the durned camera should be able to recognize, not just distance and color and lighting, but the *shape* of the object I first targeted, and then track that object for successive shots as it moves around on the screen.

    I've ranted about this on other subjects, but it's worth a small rant here: stop making memory -- in this case the memory buffer -- a selling point to get you to pay for overpriced pro models. Memory is *cheap*. The first major company that puts a substantial memory buffer in all their models, enabling a significant number of continuous frames before writing to the card -- is going to clean up. I have a friend who not long ago bought a pair (his and hers) of high-end snapshot cameras (you know what I mean -- fixed lens but mechanical zoom and nice glass) only to find (while on vacation) that the write speed was so poor as to make them unusable in the field. I know, you can fix this a little with faster memory cards, but ram will always be orders-of-magnitude faster than mass storage. This is a cheap addition that makes a huge difference in the user experience.

  • by hwyhobo ( 1420503 ) on Monday March 16, 2009 @02:58PM (#27214673)

    Akira Watanabe, head of Olympus' SLR planning department, said that 12 megapixels is plenty for most photography purposes

    Akira Watanabe is playing self-serving marketing games. It is not about any particular number of megapixels, it is about the size of the light well of each pixel, or "pixel density" if you will. That determines the dynamic range and sharpness per pixel. Mr. Watanabe's company has pushed that past their main competitors despite the fact that those competitors have larger number of megapixels in their top cameras. How is it possible? Sensor size. Let's look at some of the offerings today on the market (the smaller the density the better):

    Camera - MP - Sensor Size (mm2) - Pixel Density (MP/cm2)
    Olympus E-620 - 12.1 - 225 - 5.1
    Olympus E-3 - 10.1 - 225 - 4.2
    Canon 50D - 15.1 - 329 - 4.5
    Canon 450D - 12.1 - 329 - 3.7
    Canon 5DMkII - 21.0 - 864 - 2.4
    Nikon D700 - 12.1 - 864 - 1.4

    So yes, Olympus is now hitting 5+ MP/cm2 on their SLRs despite having much lower number of pixels than Canon with their 5DMkII, Sony A900, or Nikon D3X. This is because Olympus boxed themselves into a smaller sensor (4/3). All the posturing about how 12MP is enough is only designed to hide their shortsightedness.

    (BTW, /. seriously needs to allow <pre> tags)

"Experience has proved that some people indeed know everything." -- Russell Baker