Last week camera testing service DxOMark announced that the Nikon D800 had earned the highest sensor quality score ever awarded. Roger Cicala of LensRentals wanted to see for himself how much of an advantage the D800′s 36.3MP sensor had over its competition, so he did some sensor resolution tests on the camera, comparing it to the Canon 5D Mark III, 5D Mark II, and Nikon D700. His conclusion?
[...] there’s no question the D800 can actually get those pixels to show up in the final product (assuming your final product is a big print – they’re going to be wasted posting on your Facebook page). But you’d better have some really good glass in front of it. I don’t think the 28-300 superzooms are going to cut it with this camera.
In the real world, highest possible resolution is nice to know about and talk about, but usually not of critical importance compared to other factors. You’ll be able to make superb images with any decent lens for an 8 X 10 or even 11 X 16 print. But if you’re getting the camera because of the resolution, it makes sense to know which lenses will allow all of that resolution to be utilized. Just in case you get that job that needs billboard sized prints.
Samsung may not be the only camera company dabbling with the idea of a digital Hasselblad 500CM-style camera: Sony is reportedly working on a new SLT camera called the “A1S” that features a “full frame” square sensor. sonyalpharumors writes that the prototype camera in development has the following specs: compatibility with existing Alpha and Minolta lenses, a 36x36mm square sensor with 37-megapixel resolution, a large body (larger than the Sony A900), a square electronic viewfinder, and a 3×3-inch display.
Image credit: Hasselblad 500C/M with Planar 1:2,8 80mm by Cheffalo
Turns out the 36.3 megapixel sensor inside the new Nikon D800 isn’t just a megapixel war marketing tactic: the sensor has been given the highest score ever awarded by camera equipment rating service DxOMark. Calling it a “complete success in every sensor-related respect”, the lab states that the D800′s sensor has become the new sensor of reference by which all other camera sensors will be measured. Furthermore, it boasts an “unmatched quality-to-price ratio” by being the cheapest (by far) among the 8 top cameras. The sensor is even comparable in quality to the best medium-format sensors out there, and even outperforms them at higher ISOs. Check out the full review for a more detailed analysis of the sensor and how the D800 stacks up against competition.
Nikon D800: The best sensor analyzed on DxOMark! [DxOMark]
Samsung has developed what the company claims is the world’s first CMOS sensor that can capture both RGB and range images at the same time. Microsoft’s Kinect has received a good deal of attention as of late for its depth-sensing capabilities, but it uses separate sensors for RGB images and range images. Samsung’s new solution combines both functions into a single image sensor by introducing “z-pixels” alongside the standard red, blue, and green pixels. This allows the sensor to capture 480×360 depth images while 1920×720 photos are being exposed. One of the big trends in the next decade may be depth-aware devices, and this new development certainly goes a long way towards making that a reality.
(via Tech-On! via Gizmodo)
Here’s a great diagram by Mobot that shows how the 41-megapixel sensor inside Nokia’s new 808 PureView phone stacks up against other popular sensor sizes. It’s pretty clear that they didn’t just milk a small sensor for more megapixels as a simply marketing ploy, but instead came up with a sensor that’s significantly larger than those found in other smartphones. Engadget also has a photo showing a comparison of sensor sizes, while Digital Trends has published an article on five reasons why the 41-megapixels isn’t a gimmick.
(via Mobot via PhotographyBLOG)
Devin Coldewey of TechCrunch created this helpful diagram showing the relative sizes of various sensors, including the one found inside the Lytro light field camera (a camera that lets you focus after shots are taken). The FCC published photos of the Lytro camera’s guts last week, revealing that the sensor inside is roughly 6.5×4.5mm (smaller than our previous estimate). This means that it’s slightly larger than the iPhone sensor and slightly smaller than the one in most point-and-shoot cameras.
Another interesting finding is that the chip inside supports Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. The company says that they’re working on wireless connectivity, but doesn’t have it enabled in the initial Lytro camera.
Lytro Teardown Shows Potential Wireless Capability, Smallish Sensor [TechCrunch]
Ever wonder why camera manufacturers these days are describing often sensor sizes with fractions instead of millimeters? Roger Cicala of LensRentals explains:
[...] then we get into all of these fractional-inch-type-measurements for the smaller sensors. That measurement system originated in ancient times (the 1950s to 1980s) when vacuum tubes were used instead of CCD or CMOS sensors in video and television cameras. The image sensor was, in those days, referred to in terms of the outside diameter of the vacuum tube that contained it.
Why do manufacturers keep using such an archaic measurement? Because it helps them lie to you, of course. If you do the math 1/2.7 equals 0.37 inches, which equals 9.39 mm. But if you look at the chart above you’ll see that a 1/2.7″ sensor actually has a diagonal of 6.7 mm. Why? Because, of course, a thick glass tube used to surround the sensors. So they calculate the sensor size as if the glass tube was still included. Makes perfect sense to a marketing person who wants to make their sensor seem larger than it is. What sounds better: 1/2.7″ or ‘less than 10% the size of a full frame sensor’?
If you have a few minutes, give his entire post on sensor sizes a read — it’s quite illuminating.
Sensor Size Matters [LensRentals Blog]
Image credits: Photograph by Sphl
This photo published by Chinese site xjrumo may be the first to show the APS-C sensor found in Fujifilm’s upcoming sleek mirrorless camera. The sensor is rumored to be a revolutionary organic sensor that will allow its performance to rival that of larger full frame sensors.
Fuji Sensor APS-C (via Photo Rumors)
If you’re a fan of Fujifilm’s X100 and X10, then you might want to brace yourself: the company’s next camera might be the one mirrorless camera to rule them all. Fujifilm’s upcoming mirrorless camera will likely have the same sleek styling as the X100, but with one colossal difference: a revolutionary new “organic sensor”. Fuji has been developing the technology for years now, and the new camera — supposedly named the Fujifilm LX — is rumored to be the first to pack the sensor.
Here’s a helpful video that attempts to demystify the concept of DSLR sensor sizes. If you’ve never been able to understand how sensor size (and its crop factor) affects resulting photographs, this video will help.