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03-03-2008, 05:52 PM   #1
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C Class Sensor Limits

Having travelled the *istD and K10D route and now seriously considering the K20D I wonder how far the resolution of a C Class Sensor can be successfully pushed. If for example 14.6M is the sensible limit for a CMOS or CCD sensor of C Class dimensions, where do we go from here. If it is not the limit what is and how far are we away from it? I yearn for the film days when you could by an expensive very capable camera and be rest assured that your investment wouldn't be oblsolete for a good number of years.

Of course all this is related to a fit of BBA for a K20D

Any thoughts

David

03-03-2008, 06:34 PM   #2
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I think the limit...

I think the limit isn't the size of the sensor, the type of the sensor or even the technology in the sensor. I think the secret to higher resolution with the current sensor technologies doesn't lye with new technology or better technology even though that will certainly happen. I think for now since I don't see any new sensor technologies on the horizon will come with cameras that how much more powerful processors and more memory. Then we can look forwards to Neat Image, NoiseNinja type noise reduction. Right now the cameras processors aren't powerful enough and there isn't enough memory for this can of processing. But, the K20D I think shows that that is going to be in the past in the next few years.

Now others may disagree, but Neat Image, Noise Ninja and other such noise reduction programs do a fantastic job. But right now the amount of computing power and memory needed is beyond todays cameras.

With something like Neat Image or Noise Ninja in the camera I think we could double or even possibly triple the resolution on an APS-C sized sensor and still be ok. Something else that will need to happen too and I see this as happening soon is better batteries. Besides running more powerful processors and more memory the camera is going to need to be able to process images in the background while the user is still taking pictures and it may even need to be able to process the images in the que even after the user turns the camera off. This is going to take more power.

BTW I don't see full frame sensors ever being the answer. The reason being is they are too hard to make that aren't heavily flawed and because only 1 in 1000 are of a high enough quality to be used in a full frame camera the cost of these sensors is too high and I don't see that changing before something else happens that would take care of the problems putting more resolution on an APS-C sized sensor.

Time will tell.

Robert
03-04-2008, 03:40 AM   #3
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I used to ask the same question in the 6/8mp era. With 14mp at our hands I believe that's all the resolution I'll ever need. Now I'm hoping they improve dynamic range and noise performance rather than mega pixel count.
03-04-2008, 04:19 AM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by Matjazz Quote
I used to ask the same question in the 6/8mp era. With 14mp at our hands I believe that's all the resolution I'll ever need. Now I'm hoping they improve dynamic range and noise performance rather than mega pixel count.
Ditto on this.

14,6MP gives amazing resolution, quite a bit beyond the detail level I can see on a regular 40x60cm.

I sincerely hope that Samsung/Sony won't engage in MP battle over the next few years and that Penatx will instead build on this sensor by increasing DR and minimizing noise.

03-04-2008, 04:48 AM   #5
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According to PopPhoto tests, K20D is the first camera that can sence 2350 lines with it's sensor (lines per smaller sensor's side as I understand). That's not even impressive, that's fantastic.

Now, let's see what resolution the optical glass can give to us. The best of the best lenses give us same 2350 lines (check MTF charts if you don't believe me, on photozone.de).

That mens, that K20D has enogh resolution for even the best lenses ever made. Further increasing MP count is equal to resizing the picture in photoshop, and will not give ANY increase in picture quality.

On the other hand, K20's sensor utilizes only 40% of light. So increasing the size of individual light sensors, thus increasing the persentage of utilized light will allow to lower the noises, to make even higher sensetivity available, and to increase the sharpness even more. This is what I hope to see in the future, not 28MP pictures, 14Mp is more then enough for almost any use, including large-scale prints.
03-04-2008, 05:50 AM   #6
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I did a calculation a while ago about the sensors.

The K10 has a pixel pitch of about 6 microns, or 10 times the wavelength (average of all colors) of light. The K20 will be about 5 microns. Soon, there will be a practical limit due to having sensors dispersed at very small integral spacings of the wavelength. We will need to deal with difraction and other problems at each sensor as things get smaller.

I suspect, as a result, we are approaching a practical limit, and there is only one way forward from that point, bigger sensors. (beyond full frame. Long Live Medium Format!)

As many have stated the resolution is now reaching the limits of lenses, therefore one of the next improvements will also need to include different lens technology, better materials and processes, etc...

Noise is also a big issue, and considering the capabilities of both current sensors and lenses, I would see improvements in noise, color, image processing speed, wider ISO range and a whole host of other improvements at the current (14MP on ASP-C sensor) resolution as more important than going to the next step in pixel count
03-04-2008, 09:23 AM   #7
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We may well be approaching the limit of the current technology. However, we will not be going consumer priced full frame or larger. This sensors are too hard to make in large qualities. That is why full frame cameras cost so much. They are going to have to come up with a new sensor technology that will allow for the larger sizes, with easier more practical manufacturing and at a much cheaper price.

Unfortunately, I have heard of no such technology. Has anyone? In order for this change to happen before we hit the "practical" limit we would have heard about the technology by now. No I suspect that more and more resolution will be added. We will just be getting more powerful processors and more memory which means better noise reduction. That is the smartest cheapest way to go.

Either that or the camera makers won't give a hoot and the next cameras over the next 5 or 10 years will be total crap image quality wise. That isn't smart business, consumers aren't that stupid. At least I hope they aren't.

Myself I see my need for more resolution ending at 22 to 25MP. At that resolution I would feel confident that my images would be suitable for any use I may want that would occur in my lifetime and probably well beyond.

Robert
03-04-2008, 01:15 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by Lowell Goudge Quote
I did a calculation a while ago about the sensors.

The K10 has a pixel pitch of about 6 microns, or 10 times the wavelength (average of all colors) of light. The K20 will be about 5 microns. Soon, there will be a practical limit due to having sensors dispersed at very small integral spacings of the wavelength. We will need to deal with difraction and other problems at each sensor as things get smaller.

I suspect, as a result, we are approaching a practical limit, and there is only one way forward from that point, bigger sensors. (beyond full frame. Long Live Medium Format!)
Perhaps someone will come up with solution how to make each photo site sensitive to all three colors. That way we get more resolution without decreasing pixel pitch.

03-04-2008, 01:20 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by Robert Barnett Quote
However, we will not be going consumer priced full frame or larger. This sensors are too hard to make in large qualities. That is why full frame cameras cost so much.
now they might cost too much...

how long did it take for DSLRS to get to where they are now?

what? outdated 5D is around 2500 bucks?

the future is not that far away, ye of little faith...
03-04-2008, 01:52 PM   #10
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For an APS-C sensor IIRC the diffusion limit would be around 30mp. (read it a week or so ago, so don't quote me on that) Of course that assumes perfect glass.

For practical purposes the latest gen cameras are pushing the MP limit for current glass anyways on APS-C. PS camera surpassed the limits of their lenes some time ago. (why you need 12mp with a 1.8/1 sensor, I'll never know) FF sensors have room to grow. I wonder how close the 24-25mp FF sensors are getting to the limits of the glass?
03-05-2008, 05:55 PM   #11
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Original Poster
Thanks for replies. The K20D seems to be a plateau camera as far as IQ and sensible image repruction size is concerned and should be the camera to use for some reasonable time. It looks like the K10D will be a very respectable second body with the *istD reserved for playing with infrared.

Take Care

David
03-05-2008, 07:17 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by Matjazz Quote
Perhaps someone will come up with solution how to make each photo site sensitive to all three colors. That way we get more resolution without decreasing pixel pitch.
erm.. like that thing called Foveon?
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