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Author Topic: Why the D800 is not at all a Milestone  (Read 16335 times)
Andreas_M
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« on: May 03, 2012, 11:49:30 AM »
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No clue if this is in the right sub - forum?


Hi all,

my name is Andreas and I am very new on this forum, although I am a regular LL vistor since... well, very long.
Before I get into my topic I think you all deserve to understand who am I.
Ok, let's start with what I am NOT. I am not a professional, I would even not quote myself as an Artist. I am just one of those guys who have enjoyed photography since the late 70th (last century, that is).

I am also not a native English speaker and so, at least from a gramatical point of view, there will be errors and sometimes my English wording might lead to missunderstandings.

Ah, yes - I am not a typer, actually my typing is terrible and you will find typos - I still hope the text remains readable.

So with that out of the way, let me start with my topic. Iwas actually  very surprised to see all the hype about Nikons new D800 - I really can not understand it, especially from guys like on this site, who are devoted to Landscape, Fine Art etc.

But don't get me wrong, I am not in particular bashing Nikon here and I think that the D800 is probably the best camera in the - well 35mmm heritage shooting gear market place.

But a milestone?

Hang on - something is wrong here.

Let me try to resume what happened in the digital era and let me simply skip the analog stuff.

Well, we had a Milestone when Nikon introduced the D1. It was the first kind-of-affordable professional digital camera at that time and broke the crazy Kodak domination with pricing far out of reach. Great job Nikon.

The next one was doubtless the D30 from Canon. The first camera with a CMOS sensor - did not everybody tell us that CMOS is too noisy and CCD the only way to got?
Well, Canon proofed them all to be wrong - the CMOS in that Canon's dominated the image quality department actually for a long time - up until the Nikon D300 was introduced.

I don't think that any other camera up until the Nikon D90 and Canon 5D Mk.II were Milestones. All that happened was very predictable, better AF, better finder, more resolution, reduction in shutter lag, extended battery life, water and dust resistant, oh yes - dust removal technology and so on. But milestones?

No, it was actually very comparable to Leica's M series: The concept was there, refinements and better (or at least different) user interfaces, improofed (or again at least different) overall ergonomics - but nothing fundamentally new.

D90 and 5D Mk II brought video to the game and changed the market place for some. In fact, the 5D Mk II opened the door top Holliwood for Canon - well done.
A Milestone for sure.

Olympus and Panasonic introduced micro 4/3 - what a great concept! And opposed to Sony (Samsung...) the lenses match the body and mft brought the promise of a more compact system to the market. Nobody else has done that so far (leaving aside the ill - fated Nikon 1 and the jut too new Fuji system for a moment - the latter might change the game again, for reasons I will mention below).

Kudos to them - a true Milestone.

So here we are, it is 2012, everybody is freaking out about a camera that puts 36 million pixels onto a single chip of (roughly) 35 mm. But - and this is my point - nothing has changed:
- We still have a stupid Bayer filter in front of the sensor
- As advanced as it may be - we still do stupid interpolation to get the full color information
- We still live with strange artefacts - or use an AA filter

In other words: This camera is not so much different from the one that my company introduced back in 1998 (it was an industrial camera - I am not in the photographic industry). At that time we had a 1.3 Megapixel sensor with... well, a Bayer filter array.

Sure - I know, the sensitivity, the speed, the resolution, enough said. This is NO milestone, this is like in the old days of the car industry: Nothing betters cubic capacity - well, apart from more cubic capacity....

So Mr. Nikon, Mr. Canon - are you listening? We (well, at least I) are waiting for the better sensor technology! Given the advances in sensors, I see no reason that we could not have something more advanced than Bayer. Foveron shows that it is possible - even the Fujis XTrans is at least a bit more modern.

I for one am sick of this blowing up a device that is essentially flawed.

And by the way: The Nikon D 800 is built to be a highly transportable camera (opposed to medium format or even bigger) - but having 36 Mpixel this concet just does not work that way - every oh so slight movement will show up in the file. As a result you need a tripod (a good one) and lose out your mobility. Where, the heck, is the sense in that?


Well, again - the D 800 is a great camera - but no milestone, just old, falwed technology taken to the next level.
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JonathanRimmel
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« Reply #1 on: May 03, 2012, 12:09:55 PM »
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I do agree. A large increase in megapixels can hardly be called a milestone. If Nikon or Canon could buy the Foveon sensor technology, imagine the possibilities. Sigma thus far has introduced very subpar cameras with this fine sensor. But if one of the big two got a hold of it...
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Andreas_M
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« Reply #2 on: May 03, 2012, 12:48:30 PM »
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I do agree. A large increase in megapixels can hardly be called a milestone. If Nikon or Canon could buy the Foveon sensor technology, imagine the possibilities. Sigma thus far has introduced very subpar cameras with this fine sensor. But if one of the big two got a hold of it...

That's one thing. However, we know that the Foveron 3-layer technology has it's downsides also (very bad sensitivity in blue, for example) - so why don't they get their act together and just get it re - thought and re - formulated!

I know why - milking the dead cow called Bayer is a guarantee to nake money.
The danker is: They might lose the connection, might become follower instead of innovators (look at Canon in particular - nothing new since the D 30, apart from video)
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Robert55
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« Reply #3 on: May 03, 2012, 12:59:12 PM »
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Saying Bayer is inherently inferior is becoming an old cliche, which is feeding on the belief [it is nothing more than that] that if only Canon, Nikon or Sony would "go Foveon" they would create groundbreaking cameras. Foveon fans of course have to say that, because Sigma has not really been able to show such progress
IMO you are underestimating what has been achieved with Bayer sensors, what is still possible, and the degree to which Foveon is becoming the evolutionary dead-end
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Andreas_M
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« Reply #4 on: May 03, 2012, 01:13:32 PM »
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Thanks for your point of view - appreciated.
But as a matter of fact the Bayer filter, at least as we know it, is in fact not an ideal solution:
It relies on interpolation, which is in other words an educated guess of what the color and luminace of the pixel has to be.

For the most part this is working more or less well.

But the effect is very clear: Bayer does spoil the resolution and the color fidelity. Depending on the de - Bayer filter, you will get more or less half of the nominal resolution - sometimes a bit more.

You do so a the cost of
- processing power: Do get good de - Bayer results you need at least a 7x7 kernel and a Laplace filter - in addition to many other tricks the companies do. This is an incedible processing load.
Ok we have the fast Asic's like Digic, Expeed - whatever they are called. But it remains somewhat questionable if you could not use that power for something else - of have smaller (read less power hungry) Asic's for extended battery life.

- producing artefacts: Not much to say here. Everybody knows about the Moiree problem. Some are affected more, other less

- Waisting sensor reel estate. YES, this is what they do: Insted of having somehow 3 colors in one place, you need 3x3 pixel to have all colors. I call this less than clever...

I am not a Foveron fan, I am NOT saying the big guys shall just buy that stuff and make a great camera - no, I think that there have to be other ways. And I am sure we will see it somewhen in the future - but for now the big guys are just happy with a medicore technology and sites like this (and many others) are supporting this laziness by looking at a camera like the D 800 as if it were the holy grale - it is NOT.

Well, in my mind :-)
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jeremypayne
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« Reply #5 on: May 03, 2012, 01:17:01 PM »
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No clue

Agreed.
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Andreas_M
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« Reply #6 on: May 03, 2012, 01:24:01 PM »
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Agreed.

:-)

Thanks a lot - good to see you're at least reading my nonsense :-)
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TMARK
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« Reply #7 on: May 03, 2012, 01:29:16 PM »
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You mght be right in terms of a spec sheet, but in reality this is to me as revolutionary as the original 1ds.

The promise of the 1ds was that it would replace medium format film for advertising and editorial work.  It did, to a degree, and I mothballed the Mamiya RZ system and shot with two 1ds cameras.  Yeah, the color was odd at times.  Yeah, the buffer was small.  Yeah, the images could look flat without lots of post, but it was digital and full frame.  Worked great for most commercial work.  Then the 1ds2 addressed the original 1ds problems with iso and buffer, but had really odd problems with color, looked flat.  Same for the 5d.  So I bought an MF back, and rented them, for larger jobs that required depth and color, and went back to film for editorial.  The 5d2 and 1ds3 were better in every way, but not enough to stop me from shooting film or MF backs. The D700 didn't have enough pixels.  It just needed 16, to my eyes.

The D800 changed all that.  There are no compromises, for my use anyway.  Color is fantastic, dynamic range is incredible.  Handling is great.  No more film, no more MF.  Did I mention they are cheap as chips?  So from my standpoint they are a milestone, because this is the camera many professionals wanted when the 1ds came out, 10 years ago.  The proof isn't in the spec sheets, its in the images and usability of teh camera.  And the D800 addressed ALL of my concerns.  I even rejoined NPS so I could get one.
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Slobodan Blagojevic
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« Reply #8 on: May 03, 2012, 01:47:47 PM »
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Looks to me that DRReview guys are starting to trickle into LuLa.

Or, in other words, tire kickers are starting to kick in. Wink



EDIT: Correction: DPReview, of course
« Last Edit: May 03, 2012, 04:50:49 PM by Slobodan Blagojevic » Logged

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Andreas_M
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« Reply #9 on: May 03, 2012, 02:29:50 PM »
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Looks to me that DRReview guys are starting to trickle into LuLa.

Or, in other words, tire kickers are starting to kick in. Wink

Wouw - thanks for your warm welcome. You are #2 of the "old users" that made it clear that my thoughts are
a) too stupid to even comment on them
b) new users with somewhat other ideas are not welcome
c) this is a closed shop.

Got the message, don't worry, and resign.

Cheers,

Andreas

PS: No DRReview site on this planet - but I am even no DPReview guy :-)
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Ellis Vener
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« Reply #10 on: May 03, 2012, 03:41:34 PM »
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If one person's snarky comment will make you turn tail and run well you must be afraid your argument is pretty weak.

Is the D800 revolutionary? It depends on what aspect you are considering.
As far as Bayer vs non-Bayer color is concern you are right: no revolution here.

As far as sheer resolution? Well Phase One and Hasselblad both make higher resolution cameras.

And regarding sensitivity range, the D3s, D4, EOS 1X, and 5D mark III all surpass it.

But in terms of being a very high resolution photographic device that is portable, with a very large dynamic range combined with very high practical sensitivity range, very wide range of lens choices at a price that is far short of the shores of insanity, then yes the vast evolutionary step the Nikon D800 and D800e cameras make edge into  revolutionary territory.

There is obviously a lot of marketing hype surrounding the D800 some is direct, some is planted and some folk are volunteering to be unpaid extensions of Nikon's marketing team.

But looking at the facts both on the spec sheets and in the results (I have so far shot a few thousand frames with a D800) it is pretty clear that there is nothing else currently on the market that is like it, so that does make it revolutionary, just as revolutionary as the Nikon D1X, Canon EOS 1Ds Mk I, 1Ds Mark III, and Nikon D3s.
« Last Edit: May 03, 2012, 03:46:26 PM by Ellis Vener » Logged

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ckimmerle
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« Reply #11 on: May 03, 2012, 04:26:59 PM »
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....it is pretty clear that there is nothing else currently on the market that is like it, so that does make it revolutionary, just as revolutionary as the Nikon D1X, Canon EOS 1Ds Mk I, 1Ds Mark III, and Nikon D3s.

I guess it depends on your definition of "revolutionary". In my mind, not a single one of the cameras you listed, including the D800, come even close. Sure, they each had their own individual advances in technology, but that's nothing more than expected progress, not a revolution.

The only true revolutionary digital cameras (not including the invention) would include the Kodak DCS, which was the first professional digital camera boasting 1.3mp, a cabled, shoulder bag, and no preview screen, and the Apple and Kodak digital cameras which were the first consumer digital cameras introduced five years later. All others digital cameras are simply advances, but there is not a one that is "revolutionary"
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« Reply #12 on: May 03, 2012, 04:42:18 PM »
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Welcome indeed, Andreas! How rude of me not to say it earlier.

Well, with that out of the way, lets get back to business. You chose for your first post a rather controversial statement, somewhat even confrontational, so no wonder you encountered a resistance.

You said:

Quote
... I was actually  very surprised to see all the hype about Nikons new D800 - I really can not understand it, especially from guys like on this site... I for one am sick of this blowing up a device...

That does not sound as an especially friendly introduction, does it?

In addition, you chose to introduce yourself with a diatribe on a theme that does not really interest many on this board (definitely not me, although I can be wrong for others, of course). I could not care less if you call it (or not) a milestone, revolutionary, best thing since sliced bread, second coming of Jesus, or whatever else. My interest in photography is not of that nature: labels, subjective rankings, and semantic hairsplitting.

Having said that, I will not engage in any further debate as how to call this camera, but I am still very much interested in its real capabilities and what it can do different and better than the current crop of competitors. And, for the record, I am a Canon guy.

Empty debates on the theme "how many angels can dance on the head of a pin" are of no interest to me. 

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« Reply #13 on: May 03, 2012, 04:55:33 PM »
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I guess it depends on your definition of "revolutionary". In my mind, not a single one of the cameras you listed, including the D800, come even close. Sure, they each had their own individual advances in technology, but that's nothing more than expected progress, not a revolution.

The only true revolutionary digital cameras (not including the invention) would include the Kodak DCS, which was the first professional digital camera boasting 1.3mp, a cabled, shoulder bag, and no preview screen, and the Apple and Kodak digital cameras which were the first consumer digital cameras introduced five years later. All others digital cameras are simply advances, but there is not a one that is "revolutionary"

You wish to define "revolution" in terms of technology. I am defining it terms of actual photographic practice and in terms of working photographers expectations of what a practical camera can do. I agree about that Kodak camera. I used one of the first ones covering the 1992 Republican Party (notice no one ever calls rhem the GOP anymore? But I digress) political convention in the Houston Astrome. Turning a 600mm f/4 into a practical 1800mm f/4 - so that I could see and document First Lady Barbara Bush use body language to tell Vice President Dan Quayle to get lost -that was fun.
« Last Edit: May 03, 2012, 05:30:11 PM by Ellis Vener » Logged

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Andreas_M
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« Reply #14 on: May 03, 2012, 05:13:47 PM »
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Quote
You said:

Quote
... I was actually  very surprised to see all the hype about Nikons new D800 - I really can not understand it, especially from guys like on this site... I for one am sick of this blowing up a device...

That does not sound as an especially friendly introduction, does it?

Ha - that's what I know from many forums: Take a sentece or two, out of context and make your point.
At least - you start to discuss instead of just telling me to better shut up...

I don't see any unfriendliness, to be honest. Quite the opposite - you guys deal with equipment on a rather high level, be it for profession, art of just fun. You guys are indeed different from many (not all) the others that are gear freaks and pixel fanatics and whatever else you call them.

My point was (still is) that I am particulary surprised at the reaction of you guys (at the definition above).

Quote
Having said that, I will not engage in any further debate as how to call this camera, but I am still very much interested in its real capabilities and what it can do different and better than the current crop of competitors. And, for the record, I am a Canon guy.

You see - that is something I fully subscribe to: I understand that this camera is seen as a very capable beast and - as I said in my original post - is probably the best in the somewhat 35 mm market place.

Ok, I understand that you are not interested in this discussion and I fully understand and accept - so I stop here :-)
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Andreas_M
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« Reply #15 on: May 03, 2012, 05:29:20 PM »
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If one person's snarky comment will make you turn tail and run well you must be afraid your argument is pretty weak.

Well - this is not the point here: It were two people (out of 4, I guess) that made it clear that they do not want this kind of discussion.

Quote
Is the D800 revolutionary? It depends on what aspect you are considering.
As far as Bayer vs non-Bayer color is concern you are right: no revolution here.

To get this out of the way: I am not saying that Bayer is bad, old fashioned or whatever in every case. At the end of the day the Fuji YTrans is Bayer - in a different way - and seems to get better results. Kudos!

What bothers me is simply that I do not see any advance at Canon, Nikon, Sony - as far as Sensortechnology is concerned. All they do is blowing up the technology they introduced a decade ago.
One result is very obvious: Canon lost track - or better: By staying on-track too long they lost the leadership...



Quote
But in terms of being a very high resolution photographic device that is portable, with a very large dynamic range combined with very high practical sensitivity range, very wide range of lens choices at a price that is far short of the shores of insanity, then yes the vast evolutionary step the Nikon D800 and D800e cameras make edge into  revolutionary territory.


Well said and it is probably the one thing that is misleading in my post: What is a milestone and what not.
Clearly the D800 is a technical achievment and a GREAT CAMERA. I can see easily that it can be for someones work all they ever asked for. For them, for their business or art (ofr, why not, hobby) this may well mean a revolution.

This is all not what I mean with a milestone. But I thought I explained it enough - I am simply waiting for the XTrans or Foveron or whatever answer from the big guys.

Maybe it is just me - but I can see no reason for pumping up resolutions instead of thinking different. But I can also not see a good reason why we do not have much more fuel cell cars instead of the old oil - based engines. MAybe at the end it is me...


Quote
But looking at the facts both on the spec sheets and in the results (I have so far shot a few thousand frames with a D800) it is pretty clear that there is nothing else currently on the market that is like it, so that does make it revolutionary, just as revolutionary as the Nikon D1X, Canon EOS 1Ds Mk I, 1Ds Mark III, and Nikon D3s.

I agree, there is nothing else on the market right now. My thesis is just: Nikon has failed to depart from the competition. I am pretty sure that we will see Sony's with the same sensor rather sooner than later and a Canin with similar spec maybe later than sooner. And then? Next round? Pump it up again, Sam?

Oh well....
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« Reply #16 on: May 03, 2012, 06:37:04 PM »
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You wish to define "revolution" in terms of technology. I am defining it terms of actual photographic practice and in terms of working photographers expectations of what a practical camera can do.

Exactly. The camera does not exist to be an object of wonder. This camera is quite good for many types of photography. The detail, even in low light/ fast action is very high. That is all.

You could say modern consumer computers are not revolutionary compared to those from the 70s. Its just smaller transistors. Well there is a big difference in the capability at a users fingertips. A $500 computer now has more capability than the supercomputer only available to big research organizations from not that long ago.

If it is not a milestone to you it is an opinion based on how you use it. If you still play solitaire on a 4 core multi-GHz computer instead of the 8MHz PC in the garage that is your choice.
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« Reply #17 on: May 03, 2012, 07:38:00 PM »
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You wish to define "revolution" in terms of technology.

There is simply no way you could have inferred that from my post. It couldn't be further from the truth. I am defining the word as "radically new", or "marked change". A game changer, if you will. That is exactly what the first digital cameras were. They completely changed both the art and science of photography, as well as how photographers work. The D800 is not a game changer, it is not revolutionary. It is simply the next generation of what is becoming a long line of digital cameras.

I am defining it terms of actual photographic practice and in terms of working photographers expectations of what a practical camera can do.

Which has nothing at all to do with the definition of "revolutionary" or "milestone"
« Last Edit: May 03, 2012, 07:43:49 PM by ckimmerle » Logged

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« Reply #18 on: May 03, 2012, 08:08:18 PM »
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Chuck, you are absolutely correct. The D800 is only the latest iteration of the digital game. Sure, everyone is excited about having 36 mp to mess around with, but it's only a matter of time until the bar will be raised yet again, and we will have to put up with all the superlatives ad nauseum, once more. Help me, Rhonda!
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« Reply #19 on: May 03, 2012, 10:27:29 PM »
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To get this out of the way: I am not saying that Bayer is bad, old fashioned or whatever in every case.
I am glad you cleared that up, since a previous post seemed to be a long list of attacks on Bayer CFA sensors heard so often from Foveon X3 enthusiasts.
Quote
What bothers me is simply that I do not see any advance at Canon, Nikon, Sony - as far as Sensor technology is concerned. All they do is blowing up the technology they introduced a decade ago.
It is very hard to say that, about Sony in particular. A decade ago it was still using CCDs, while Canon was using CMOS sensors that transfer an analog signal off the sensor to off-board ADCs; now Sony is using CMOS sensors with a different and apparently better approach of on-chip column parallel ADC, and over the last few years these have improved from 12-bit to 14-bit, and as a result now deliver far greater dynamic range (while also supporting very high frame rates, such as the 12fps, 24MP Sony A77.) Over the same decade, Panasonic has similarly gone from CCDs to the more traditional type of CMOS producing analog output and on again to some CMOS sensors that produce an inherently digital signal on the sensor chip.

Anyway, it simplistic to say that all important progress must be "radical", throwing away old approaches. The more mundane reality is that a lot of great progress is made by substantial yet evolutionary improvement on the existing foundations. The example of Foveon's aproach to X3 sensors is a cautionary tale about putting too much value on radical innovation for its own sake. In many ways, the promise that many of us saw when we first heard of the X3 concept has not been fullfilled due to problems like high noise levels, low sensitivity in blue, and the difficulty extracting three primary color signals from the three raw outputs at each pixel that are in fact mixes of all colors of the visible spectrum.

P. S. your criticism is, sadly, true of the Kodak and Dalsa sensor designs.
« Last Edit: May 03, 2012, 10:31:50 PM by BJL » Logged
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