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Author Topic: How much better will digital get?  (Read 39197 times)
Bobtrips
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« Reply #20 on: January 11, 2005, 08:17:34 PM »
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Realistically there can't be $10 worth of material in a lens.  Some glass, some metal.  A bit of paint.  (OK, I don't really don't know about the $10 figure, but it can't be much.)
Yeah, right. And a Pentium CPU has 5 cents worth of silicon (melted sand) in it. What a rip-off...
Gosh, Johnathan.  I do believe that  you are correct.

You're probably not old enough to remember when a refrigerator-sized computer with a grand total of 16k RAM cost ~$28,000 are you.  

Those old PDP-8Es probably only had three cents worth of silicon in them.

It isn't amazing what demand and volume production can accomplish?


(You got a burr in your saddle?)  
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Ben Rubinstein
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« Reply #21 on: January 02, 2005, 10:51:26 AM »
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Stef, there is a limit in how good a camera needs to be.

Even if we get to the point where you can get Large Format quality images from a 1Ds mark X, it would probably be so unecessary that the manufacturers will never bother to make it.

I started with MF Canon and have worked my way up through to a 10D with a detour to Mamiya along the way.

If I honestly look at my 10D now and say, "what does this camera lack for my photography, both for my wedding and landscape work". I won't hold any futuristic bars on my fantasy.

Lets see,

FF, 16-22 megapixels of resolution with incredible noise control, Instant response and write times, Dual card slot for redundancy, DR of B&W film minimum, a LCD which will be bright and clear in the strongest sunshine and is colour and exposure accurate, IS and anti-dust mechanism on the sensor, perfect ETTL flash control, much better ergonomics of the body, ability to focus anywhere in the viewfinder, silent mirror/shutter, AEB over 5 stops, mirror lock up switch and a #### switch to change from One Shot to AI Servo etc

How many years until a body like this becomes standard at an affordable price? Some of those features are already in the 1Ds mark II, what more would I need for convenience when taking photos before it starts getting unecessarily silly?

In the old fashioned 'film' days, top pro bodies were updated only once every 5-10 years or so. the 1N-1V, the F5-F6, and these upgrades were not in any way drastic, slightly better this, added compatability with that....

I have no doubt that within the next 5-10 years the DSLR world will slow down to this pace of upgrades, who wants video or 3D in a pro DSLR anyway?
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BJL
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« Reply #22 on: January 04, 2005, 03:28:06 PM »
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the more pixels you have in the affected area, the more noticeable any artifacts are and the more noticeable degraded resolution is.
I thought that we were discussing equal pixel counts in different formats. If so, increasing the focal length in proportion to the sensor size to get the same FOV means that you get the same degree of enlargement of
- the image size
- each circle of confusion
- each diffraction spot, and
- the photosites.
Thus, once you output the image at the same size, everything we have been talking about is the same: DOF, diffraction, and output pixel density (print or monitor PPI).

You do not have "more pixels in the affected area", since the area containing any given part of the image, or any given circle of confusion or diffraction spot, increases in proportion to sensor area and pixel area, and so contains the same number of pixels.

Reverting to my teleconverter comparison, the TC needed to increase the image size with equal aperture diameter for the larger format, larer pixel sensor simply spreads the light that previously went to one photosite on the smaller sensor over one larger photosite on the larger sensor: it is a "pixel perfect enlargement".

I am not inclined to accept the cop-out of "my understanding vs your understanding"; I am making precise, mathematically verifiable statements of fact that follow from basic optical physics, supported by arguments in various previous posts; you seem to be simply asserting beliefs.


P. S. About my qualifications: I am a professor of applied mathematics, and publish in mathematics and physics journals on topics related to wave propagation, so vaguely related to the topic at hand. The questions  at hand only depend on the lens optics and geometry that I learnt as an undergraduate, not the internal physics of sensors.
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didger
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« Reply #23 on: January 05, 2005, 06:01:30 PM »
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Looking at 100% will of course show up any problems, but then who the heck prints that big?
David Muench, Michael Fatali, and as soon as at all feasible, Didger.  If you want to hang onto your satisfaction with smaller prints and not quite maximum sharpness, by all means try to avoid Muench or Fatali exhibits.  Galen Rowell prints look mighty fine if not in the same room as David Muench prints.  I know which direction I want to go, regardless of cost.
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How about win, win, lose: the larger format gear is still likely to be heavier and more expensive, and with a smaller range of lens choices, less sopisticated automation of focus exposure and such.
I meant for me, not for some average of all photographers.  Medium format is clearly NOT heavier than a 1ds kit.  The Mamiya ZD weighs a bit less than a 1ds body and the lenses I'm interested in weigh no more than what I have now for my 1ds.  I don't care about fewer choices.  For what I want there's clearly better MF lenses than any made for eos.  I hate all automation and don't use any of it even for those lenses I have that allow it.  The only "lose" part of the whole formula is that the money is a big problem.  The camera will almost certainly be available before the money is for me.
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it is not clear to me that the best Canon and Nikon primes cannot benefit from improved sensor resolution.
But that will always remain true to a certain extent, no matter how pixel dense sensors get.  You reach a point of diminishing returns, however.  1ds already shows this and the returns for most lenses have diminished dramatically with 1ds2.  The storage and processing overhead of much larger files remains fully undiminished no matter how diminished the desireable returns get and the upgrade costs also remain full on and undiminished.
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Sfleming
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« Reply #24 on: January 06, 2005, 08:10:13 PM »
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This poor thread.  It's been dragged in so many directions it's now permanently deformed.

Howard,

Fatali was busted for lighting fires around Delicate Arch in Utah to do night photography.  He used  duraflame logs in aluminum foil pans.  The pans burned through and some scaring of the rock occurred.

I think it was a very original and creative idea.  I don't think it makes him a bad person and I'm sure he didn't mean to cause any harm.
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DiaAzul
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« Reply #25 on: January 07, 2005, 01:20:10 PM »
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A question for you people who know about physics and light & so on (I was a history major):

Would it be possible at one shutter-speed/f-stop setting to somehow sample the incoming light twice? Or even to take the shot twice, but so quickly that the photographer wouldn't notice? Say that a compromise setting in a scene with a wide range of light values suggests 1/250 at f8, so the camera shoots one at f8 at 1/500 and one at 1/125, at an interval of 1/1000. So the whole shot takes, say 11/1000 of a second. Would it then be possible to register the two shots to different chips or sequentially to the same chip, with the software then sorting the resulting two shots into one shot with a very long range?

JC
As BJL pointed out some forms of this have been tried.
However, there are severe limitations on how fast data can be read from the Sensor (Canon probably has the fastest read out rate in the 1DII shifting 8Mpixels at up to 8.5fps). Because of the size of the silicon area and the need to limit power consumption the maximum clock speed that the sensor can operate is some 70Mhz (or thereabouts - though I'm not too sure on this figure). To take two pictures 1,000th of a second apart is just not physically possible with current sensor technologies as the data from the first image could not be read from the sensor quick enough.
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David Plummer    http://photo.tanzo.org/
Ray
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« Reply #26 on: January 08, 2005, 07:41:18 AM »
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Let's say the camera takes 3-6 quick exposures to get the 'blend' shots.
Isn't this the problem? No quick exposure can capture detail in the shadows. If you want to blend images, you need one long exposure, one medium exposure and one quick exposure. Total time is one very long exposure.
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BJL
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« Reply #27 on: January 11, 2005, 09:51:54 PM »
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Realistically there can't be $10 worth of material in a lens. Some glass, some metal. A bit of paint. (OK, I don't really don't know about the $10 figure, but it can't be much.)
Actually, I believe that some of the raw materials, such as special low dispersion optical glass, are themselves very expensive, especially for telephoto lenses. There is also such a thing as a maximum potential market for an item like a heavy, wide angle, single focal length lens, which gives a minimum price needed to cover fixed costs like R&D and tooling for production, regardless of how low unit production costs can be driven.

As soon as there is genuine competition (for the lenses or for the optical glass, often bought from outside suppliers), it defies the working of market forces to suggest that any sucessful company could increase profits by substantially decreasing prices. If that were true, one or more competitors would already have done it.
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Graham Welland
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« Reply #28 on: December 31, 2004, 04:26:46 PM »
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You might want to wait for the D2X to hit the streets and see what that holds for you. Having gone through the system change route in the past (Canon to Nikon for the D1 ... ouch), I'd be wary of jumping systems unless you're absolutely certain that you can justify it financially and from a workflow/experience/familiarity perspective.

I'm beginning to think that we're rapidly reaching a point of little incremental improvement with the latest round of top end DSLR's. You're getting great colour, enough resolution for uninterpolated 13x19's, superior dynamic range to any film, clean shadows and incredibly low noise at ever faster ISO's.

What might be more interesting to watch is how lens technology is forced to improve so that everyone is producing glass optimized for digital resolution that puts even the best Zeiss glass to the test. I'd expect there to be a lot more activity in this arena given the 'problems' that are arising with the full frame DSLR's and existing film optimized prime glass.

Or maybe not ....
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Graham
Sfleming
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« Reply #29 on: January 01, 2005, 06:15:02 PM »
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****Have you had a secret sneak preview of ZD, and found it lacking?****

No.  I've seen the 1Ds II and know Mamiya can't match it.  Can't even come close.  I will bet you $100 right now that the general consensus on the ZD camera (not the back) with in 6 months of it's hitting the retail market ... is very ho hum.  Pretty much as  it is for the kodak DSLR.
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Ray
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« Reply #30 on: January 02, 2005, 03:12:03 AM »
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Hhmm! I should use my Fuji GSW690lll with fixed 65mm lens equivalent to 35mm format 28mm. The Fujinon f5.6 lens is very sharp. I should really use this camera more often but the thought of messing around with film, buying it, getting it developed, scanning it etc is simply offputting.

But I'm going to make a real effort next time I go out bush.  Cheesy
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BJL
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« Reply #31 on: January 03, 2005, 05:27:10 PM »
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If the concern about Canon's lack of competition is centered on the belief that Canon's EOS-1D series sensors are so superior to all the competition that there is no effective competition, then I would not worry. Sensor technology is still advancing rapidly, companies like Sony (and probably Kodak) have far greater resources and expertise in sensors as a whole than does Canon, and Sony in particular has grand ambitions to maintain and extend its dominant position in the sensor market (including about half of the DSLR sensor market).

So if the market wants it, I expect that there will sooner or later be competition for Canon's high end DSLR sensors, from vendors like Sony and Kodak who are happy to supply multiple SLR makers. (For all we know, "sooner" could mean the arrival of the D2X.)

Also, do not believe what is sometimes said about Canon having some unique capability to make 24x36mm 35mm sized sensors, or having some unique cost advantage in fabrication despite being a relatively new, small player in the semi-conductor manufacturing business.

The actual fabrication of 24x36mm sensors can be handled by numerous chip makers; for example, the sensors for the Kodak 14/n and SLR/* models have been made by two small sub-contractors that you have probably never heard of, first Tower Semi-conductor in Israel and now a UK company.

The reason why Nikon, Pentax et al do not make 35mm format DSLRs is not an inability to scale up their currently used sensor designs to 35mm format; it is simply a business decision that such cameras would be a too expensive and low volume market sector to pursue, at least for now.

By the way, Nikon has stated production estimates for the D2X that roughly match the total of stated D1 and D1S production (which is still a small number, about 6,000/month). So either Nikon is run by idiots or liars, or the EOS-1 digital models do not utterly and ireversibly dominate the professional DSLR market.
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Sfleming
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« Reply #32 on: January 04, 2005, 12:30:55 PM »
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****The fact is that today's best ultrawide lenses are not as good as those old Zeiss and Leica designs and there is no particular reason (except blind optimism) to think that there's any lens miracles in store any time soon.****

I suspect that the prohibition on certain optical glass elements is the problem.  We now get "environmentally  friendly" lenses that we pay more for that cannont equal the old glass.

Makes me think of the Space Shuttle.  They went to environmentally safe foam and killed a shuttle load of astronauts for it.  I'm sure those twice a year launches that were the ONLY use for that foam were a true danger to the planet.
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Bobtrips
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« Reply #33 on: January 04, 2005, 12:58:26 PM »
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Maybe better better "glass" will not be glass.

I think we're already there to some extent.  A ceramic material has been developed that has more resolving power than glass and has less of a CA problem.  Casio has already produced a compact with a ceramic lens.

If I understand the optics this will lead to smaller, lighter, better performing wide angle lenses.  And it may lead to some truly wide lenses for half-frames and smaller sensor cameras.
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didger
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« Reply #34 on: January 08, 2005, 02:03:47 PM »
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Wouldn't it be fairly simple (conceptually, at least) to create a moveable back for 35mm that would resolve a lot of DOF problems?
Conceptually at least creating a movable back, yes, why not.  If it can be done for LF, there's no conceptual barriers for DSLR's, but the mechanics might get pretty nasty and pretty expensive and make a 1ds still bigger and heavier.  This would NOT resolve a lot of DOF problems in any case, only for things like architectural shots where everything is mostly simple flat surfaces.  I have some TS lenses and for something like the side of a house, or a flat sidewalk, or a relatively straight canyon wall, it's fabulous for increasing apparent DOF.  For a forest where you want near and far trees all in focus it would be completely useless.  You'd get get the bottoms of the nearer trees and the ground near your feet in better focus but nothing else.

All the fascinating and cool sensor ideas will depend on vastly better processing speeds, but that's inevitably coming.  The entire global computer industry is driving that, not just the little camera sector.  

Unfortunately, the various tricks for miniaturizing and speeding up electronic chips don't apply to lens design and manufacturing.  You can print electronic chips almost as easily as postage stamps (OK, a little exaggerated, but you get the idea).  Lenses are immensly complicated in all phases of manufacturing and quality control).
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howard smith
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« Reply #35 on: January 06, 2005, 05:51:56 PM »
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Sfleming, I'm lost.  Help me.  

I met Fatali personally and I think he is a jerk, IMUO.  I doubt he even remembers me.  No big deal though.
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John Camp
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« Reply #36 on: January 07, 2005, 12:10:55 PM »
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A question for you people who know about physics and light & so on (I was a history major):

Would it be possible at one shutter-speed/f-stop setting to somehow sample the incoming light twice? Or even to take the shot twice, but so quickly that the photographer wouldn't notice? Say that a compromise setting in a scene with a wide range of light values suggests 1/250 at f8, so the camera shoots one at f8 at 1/500 and one at 1/125, at an interval of 1/1000. So the whole shot takes, say 11/1000 of a second. Would it then be possible to register the two shots to different chips or sequentially to the same chip, with the software then sorting the resulting two shots into one shot with a very long range?

JC
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howard smith
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« Reply #37 on: January 09, 2005, 01:18:52 AM »
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Maybe I was wrong.  When you buy a 20mm Canon lens, you will very very likey get a 20mm Canon lens.  You get exactly what you paid for.  The lens was offered at a price, and you accept.  No fraud.

But how good is that lens?  Anywhere from very good to not so good.  If it is way better than average (and it might be), you likely won't offer to pay more.  If it is much less than average, and want a new one, Canon will likely give you one.  But I expect it will be just another one - not a super item Canon is saving for you.

Imprecise?  Yes.  But then does Canon say your new 20mm lens will be definably good?  Or just you will be satisfied (however you define that)?  Because I haven't purchased a Conon lens ib over 25 years, I actually don't know what their "satisfaction" guarentee is.

But I suspect you get the idea.  If you want a peach everytime, it will cost you.  Someone must pay for the lemons, and it isn't Canon.
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Bobtrips
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« Reply #38 on: January 09, 2005, 12:23:00 PM »
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Price is determined by other factors than quality.  If I could make a lens as good as a Zeiss, it would likely be too expensive to sell, or I would have to lose money on it.
Well, we know that lenses as good as a Zeiss can be made.  

So given enough market demand one of the manufactures is going to revise their manufacturing process to crank out a flow of them.  

Whether some people like it or not there is likely to be market pressure to cram more than 8 megs on a half-frame, more than 16 on a full-.  That cramming is likely to increase the number of people who demand better glass.

If lenses are computer ground, computer assembled, and computer tested at each step in the process then we don't need to pay for the expensive hand-made lenses of the past.  The volume just has to be high enough to cover R&D/tooling up.  Plus a bit of profit, of course.
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BobMcCarthy
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« Reply #39 on: January 12, 2005, 09:19:10 AM »
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That's true, unless you also decrease costs. I'm often amazed at how inexpensive some of the goods are that are made in mainland China, just as I'm sometimes amazed at the high mark-up on other items.

I don't believe China makes any really high quality camera lenses at present. However, if the general trend in anything to go by, I see no reason why it will not happen.

China has an advantage when the labor content of a product is significant. When the product is manufactured and assembled by machinery they don't compete as well. I doubt there is much labor content (relatively) with the high end of the market lenses. In some cases low cost labor can be substituted for expensive production machinery. Other factors also come into play, delivery times or freight for example. Nevertheless, China, holding wages artificially low, will be troublesome for all of us someday if not corrected by free market forces.
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