The FZ200's unborn sibling

Started Jul 29, 2012 | Discussions thread
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Ron Tolmie
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The FZ200's unborn sibling
Jul 29, 2012

3mm is the magic dimension!

That is the minimum diameter of the lens diaphragm if you want high resolution images. It doesn't matter if the camera is a tiny digital camera or a huge view camera - the limit is the same, and it is the number that not only defines the resolution but also most of the other optical properties of a camera.

Most small digital cameras operate below that limit, and they pay the penalty in terms of poor resolution in comparison with large cameras. For example, the FZ150 and FZ200 have an aperture diameter of 1.5mm at their wide angle limit, so even if the optics were perfect the potential for producing sharp large prints or for substantial cropping just isn't there.

To design a camera that does meet the 3mm limit the WA focal length for an f/2.8 lens would be 8.4mm. To cover the same image range the sensor dimensions would need to be increased to 9x12mm. Such a sensor would collect 4 times as much light in total so its ISO range would be extended by two stops. A variant of the FZ200 that uses those dimensions would not look much different and it would operate the same as the FZ200 model but it could potentially compete directly with full frame and even medium format cameras in terms of image quality.

Increasing the aperture size does not automatically increase the resolution - the optics have to be improved as well or else they would become the limiting factor. Doubling the optical resolution would be a major challenge that would certainly be reflected in the cost of the camera. We should not expect to see such changes in the 2014 version of the FZ200 but rather in a new model line (if Panasonic choose to build it!).

These numbers tell us what we should be looking for as consumers.
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Ron Tolmie

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