Jack over at the astrophotography blog The Landingfield has published a series of photographs showing what a digital camera’s CMOS sensor looks like when viewed through a microscope. The sensor (seen above) was taken from a broken Nikon D2H — a DSLR from back in the early 2000s.
Panasonic is claiming a major breakthrough in the world of camera sensors, saying that it has doubled the color sensitivity with a new technology called ‘Micro Color Splitters.’
Last week, we pointed you to a piece by the New York Times on how Fujifilm is attempting to kill moiré without killing sharpness by designing its sensors in a way that eschews the traditional anti-aliasing filters used in digital cameras. Photographer Martin Doppelbauer disagrees with Fuji’s claims: he has published a piece arguing that, “digital cameras without aliasing filters are cameras with a built-in design flaw“:
To omit an alias filter in front of a digital image sensors is like building a sports car with no brakes. Of course, the car accelerates a little faster due to the lower weight and the cornering ability is also better due to the smaller unsprung weight – but ultimately it lacks an essential functional element.
For analog cameras, an alias filter is not required: Film has no sharply defined limit of resolution. It loses contrast and resolution gradually with increasingly higher frequencies. You could say, the low-pass filter is already incorporated in the film itself.
[...] By omitting the alias filter, the recorded image information [...] does not increase! Even though images of cameras without aliasing filters may appear sharper and crisper: Images of cameras with a proper alias filter can easily be re-sharpened to achieve the same visual impression – without side effects.
So according to Doppelbauer, the recent fascination with removing anti-aliasing filters is more based in marketing rather than science.
Alias-filters: Yes or No? [Martin Doppelbauer]
It may not be the most popular series of compact cameras, but the Ricoh GR Digital line has attracted a sizable cult following of photographers around the world — particularly street shooters. From the time the original GRD was announced at Photokina 2004 until the most recent GRD IV, the cameras have offered smaller 1/1.77-inch CCD sensors. That will soon change: a trusted source tells us that the Ricoh GR Digital V will feature a larger APS-C sensor.
High dynamic range (HDR) mode is becoming a standard feature in newer digital cameras and smartphones. By snapping multiple photographs at different exposure levels, the camera can automatically generate an image that captures a greater range of light and dark areas than a standard photograph. However, the technique does have its weaknesses. Artifacts appear if any changes occur in the scene between the different shots, which limits the scenarios in which the technique can be used.
Apple wants to overcome this issue by implementing an HDR mode that only requires a single exposure. A recently published patent shows that Apple is well on its way to doing so.
Fujifilm made quite a splash in the camera industry when it announced the sleek X100 back in September 2010, but since then the camera’s spotlight has been stolen by newer interchangeable-lens followups, namely the X-Pro1 and the X-E1.
When the X100 was discontinued back in July, many expected to see a followup announced at Photokina in September. It wasn’t. However, it now appears that the camera will be launched in early 2013, equipped with the same X-Trans sensor technology as its interchangeable-lens siblings.
Yesterday we featured a photographer’s DIY teardown of the Nikon D700, offering a peek at the camera’s guts. It was interesting, but a bit outdated since the camera was released back in July 2008. iFixit and Chipworks have just finish their own teardowns of a camera that’s much more recent: the Nikon D600 “entry-level” full-frame DSLR.
In addition to analyzing the use of Sony sensors in Nikon DSLRs, Chipworks has also published an article that explores Canon’s full frame sensors. It’s quite technical, but the main points can be grasped without understanding the terms being thrown around:
On the process side, the 1D X is remarkable in that Canon continues to stay with the 0.5 µm process generation it has used for every APS-C and FF device analyzed. While the use of a mature fab likely gives Canon a competitive edge via lower manufacturing costs, it may also weigh heavily in its product development [...] Given the geometric constraints of 0.5 µm design rules, Canon seems content to hang around the 21 Mp resolution for recent FF sensors through the use of shared pixels [...]
So, back to the rumors of Canon allegedly readying a high resolution competitor to the Nikon D800. Will Canon finally move off that 0.5 µm generation? It is worth noting that September 2012 marked the 10 year anniversary of Canon’s announcement of the world’s first CMOS FF sensor, the EOS 1Ds [...] every Canon FF sensor analyzed since has used the same 0.5 µm design rules. It is a credit to Canon that it has remained competitive by continuing to optimize its pixels fabricated in a relatively mature process.
What they’re saying is: if Canon wants to continue fighting in the megapixel wars with Nikon and Sony, it’s going to need to shake things up a bit in its sensor department.
Canon stays the course [Chipworks via CanonWatch]
P.S. If you’re into comparing the technical aspects of camera sensors, check out Digital Camera Database. It has a sensor comparison tool designed for you.
Forget DIY camera mods for keeping your sensor cool: Nikon has a much fancier solution. A recently published patent by the company (No. 2012-198447) shows a camera attachment that’s specifically designed to prevent sensors from overheating. It attaches to the bottom of the camera and blows cool air into the body through the tripod mount underneath. If computers have dedicated cooling fans, why can’t compact cameras?
With each new generation of popular digital camera lines, consumers generally expect that feature upgrades also be accompanied by improvements to the image sensor. According to camera testing service DxOMark, that’s not the case with Canon’s entry level DSLR lineup.