Nice to see DPReview finally coming out of the Dark Ages on this topic! However I have a quibble:
"Where your camera is contributing noise is in the darkest captured tones."
I would say that the camera is contributing noise equally in all parts of the image, not just the darkest parts. However, it is more visible in the darker areas because in terms of signal to noise ratio this is worse in the darker areas, or indeed in any part of a picture with low overall exposure compared to one with greater exposure.
The signal to noise ratio is what matters, and while more noise will make this worse, so will less signal, and less signal is what you have in dark parts of pictures, or in pictures with low exposures which require either high ISO settings (in-camera brightening) or more post capture brightening.
Excellent article - obviously a lot of thought has gone into this. Hopefully it will reduce the amount of misinformed and often over-emotional debate on format differences.
Now you just need to do a similar job on the multiple myths of ISO setting changes being responsible for "increasing sensor sensitivity", "changing exposure" and "creating additional noise" !
OfcrMike: Wow, some of my fellow commenters have some pretty high standards. Blown highlights, blocked shadows, soft edges... indeed. You're probably all amazingly talented photographers whose every exposure is Perfection itself. Like you, it baffles me that your websites are not as successful as DPR. It is a wonder that Sony didn't invite all of you to the hands-on event in Tennessee. Perhaps Nikon will invite you to experiment with the new Df? We can only hope. If not, we mortal photographers will have to make do with DPR & Steve Huff and their realistic, real-world approach to showing us how new cameras might perform in the hands of photographers who are merely well-above-average.
It is not a question of how skilled a photographer the reviewer is compared with the rest of us. If the DPR samples were taken in Auto mode then the photography skills (or lack thereof) of the reviewer are immaterial because they were just not used.
The settings which could have made all the difference to the quality of the samples were not controlled by the photographer, but were a best guess (in most cases pretty poor) by the camera. The operator was apparently simply engaged in pointing and shooting.
Other reviewers on the same Sony event have managed to apply some basic photography skills to this exercise and have produced more useful samples as a result. I'm sorry to harp on about this DPR, but it is just not good enough, and has been an embarrassing weakness in an otherwise professional site for a long time.
Wenetu: Just look at the original jpgs with Exiftool, settings reveals that they used the camera as a point and shot: program auto, AF area and point auto, metering auto,... it's normal you got just point and shot results.
I suspected that was how the cameras had been used, but didn't really want to believe it. I am sure that the reviewers in in a high pressure situation, but would it be so difficult to select Aperture Priority mode and take a little control over the process!
I would go so far as to say that pictures taken in Auto mode should not be put forward as legitimate samples, except possibly to assess the effectiveness of Auto mode, and even then should always be labelled as such.
Unfortunately these seem no better than the A7R samples in terms of applying appropriate settings to different scenes, and I have downloaded them all and looked at them carefully.
As mentioned already, in many cases way too slow shutter speeds have been used, resulting in blur, especially with moving subjects. Also poor choice of aperture for landscape and other scenes where significant depth of field is required, meaning large parts of the images are recorded as a blurry mess.
Someone else said that snapshots and simple everyday shots are the best way to get an idea of what a camera can do. I certainly agree that most of these shots are no better than snapshots, but disagree that they are in any way useful for assessing the camera - at least not if you want to differentiate between what a camera phone and a state of the art FF camera can do.
I am sure the A7 and A7R are very capable when used thoughtfully, but I think DPR are doing Sony no favours with these samples!
As the A7R is being touted as a landscape camera, I'm disappointed in the landscape pictures. Being taken at f/3.5 and f/4, these give no indication of what is achievable with the camera - most of the scene is just mush.
This seems to be a general theme with DPR - inappropriate aperture settings making it impossible to judge camera and lens quality in different photographic situations. As well as landscapes at large apertures we also often get wide open apertures in scenes with lots of depth, meaning that only a small part of the image, generally the centre, is in focus.
This makes it impossible to judge camera/lens resolution, especially at the edge of the frame, due to content at the edges often being at much different distances to the centre and hence way out of the focal plane.
Yes it is nice to see lenses wide open to judge sharpness and bokeh when trying to isolate a subject from background/foreground, but please don't use these settings on every type of scene!
It occurs to me that this filter array would lend itself to a system which did two samples per exposure, with the colour filter displaced by one pixel for the second sample.
This would give you 100% luminance resolution, equivalent to a monochrome sensor, and twice as good colour resolution as currently available for a given array. I suspect the better SNR would more than compensate for the reduced exposure time for each sample.
Just need to find a way to implement the filter switch - either mechanically or electronically!
TV /video systems from way back gave greater signal bandwidth for luminance v chrominance, on the basis that this provided the best match to the human visual system.
Until now Bayer type sensors have been throwing away two thirds of the critical luminance signal. I think this is a very clever system and shows great promise for the future.
I just hope they license this widely to other companies and don't just use it with their own sensors.
Roland Karlsson: Oops - commenting her goes fast. And your question is fast far away from the top. So - I reiterate my question.
Can you get all 40 MP as an output?
That would be fun, both for 3D images and depth detection.
Not sure about Andy's statement regarding it turning into a perfectly normal 20MP Bayer sensor. I think we need to know more about the sensor architecture to judge that. For example are the two charges read separately and then averaged for the readout, with some implications for well size and SNR, or does an electronic switch connect the two wells such that the charge is combined and can be read off as a single reading. it would be good if DPR could find out more on this.
The Cloud aspect of this is just a smokescreen to make it seem like a different product. In reality this is just a move from selling perpetual licenses to paying monthly to use the software. It still gets installed locally on the PC, and you do not need to use the cloud facilities - the software just calls home periodically to check that it is still being paid for.
With the old model you decide when to pay for a new version. If you decide you won't or can't pay for the latest version your software keeps working indefinitely, and you can still edit your files at any time.
In the new Adobe Creative Cloud world you have to commit in advance to paying indefinitely, with no assurance of what the future price will be. Stop paying and the software stops working next time it calls home.
No doubt any file you create with the CC version will not be usable with earlier versions of the software, so you can forget working on any CC created files unless you keep your subscription going.
erikandmarcie: Summary of this article states:
"should give similar noise at ISO 3200 as a conventional Bayer sensor does at ISO 1600"
But actually, that's not true. ISO performance will be the same, all else equal. It's just higher ISO's won't be needed since more light reaches the photo site.
I would interpret this as a camera of this type, if set to the same shutter and aperture as a conventional camera, assuming equal sensor sizes, would have a stop greater exposure at the sensor. In conditions where there is not enough light this will mean less ISO amplification needed to create the correct image brightness. Accordingly a one stop lower ISO setting may be used, and less ISO amplification means a better signal to noise ratio.
In conditions where there is enough light to fully expose the sensor at the minimum acceptable shutter and aperture settings, then this would translate into the ability to use one stop faster shutter speed or one stop smaller aperture for the same exposure (at the sensor).
A sensor with this technology could be smaller than a conventional sensor but still give equal performance, and this may be the primary way the technology is exploited - i.e. current full frame performance at less than full frame size, and so on down the range of sensor sizes.
The enhanced spec of this makes me think the D7000 replacement will also be the D300S replacement, resulting in a simpler lineup of just three DX cameras.
Unlike the previous generation there is now a bit more of a gap between 3000 and 5000 series. This should allow the 7000 series to go up significantly, and possibly encompass the D300 level.
roy5051: That's a bit quick for an update, isn't it? It's only been a few months since iPad3.
I believe the "bit quick for an update" comment refers the refreshed version of the full size iPad which has been announced with 2x faster processor and which may upset purchasers of the previously latest and greatest which had an even shorter than usual tenure (only 7 months). Perhaps it will help Apple users to realise that they can get off the upgrade treadmill and maybe even look at alternatives?
For when I don't want to carry a DSLR my perfect camera would be something like the Sony RX100 but with the EVF from the NEX series.
Fred Briggs: I'm not a pro, but do occasional assignments - the latest shooting my nephew's wedding. From my perspective, and I would think, any pro photog, the primary function of a computing device will be to make immediate backups, while still on site, of all the shots taken.
This means copying all files onto the device and then using the device to make a second copy onto an external hard drive. I had three 16GB cards worth of photos this weekend and a tablet would just not fulfill either of these functions.
The second most important function to me is allowing me to review and possibly edit shots while still on the road, so the ability to open and view RAW files from a camera such as my D800 (45-70MB files) is essential. LightRoom on an Ultrabook style laptop is the minimum requirement as far as I'm concerned, and again a tablet is a non-starter. YMMV
I have read a lot of reviews of the Asus Transformer devices and they look good. However with the form factor and price you are not far from a laptop.
I used to use a Macbook Air 11" running Win 7 which I loved, but I wanted more internal storage as I was having to put everything on external drives. I've now settled on a Samsung 13" Ultrabook which is not much bigger than the Air or Transformer but has 500Gb internal, augmented by 16GB SSD and 6GB RAM, with i5 CPU. This runs LightRoom almost as well as my desktop and meets all my requirements.
RC: @Maloy: A good photographer can use ALL means to produce decent photos, including a tablet or even a smartphone.So how would you define a photographer? Someone using a DSLR? Or a Hasselblad? *LOL*Yes, I have a new iPad and no, I would never take a photo with it, well...sometimes maybe in a plane because the kids look so cute when they watch videos or listen to music. I use however my iPhone very often for taking photographs and some of them are stunning. So stunning, that friends and family sometimes can't even tell they have been shot with a phone. ;-)
I don't disagree with any of that, in that I feel we are all photographers regardless of the gear we use.
However, the article specifically talks about "your next client" which strongly implies that they are talking about use of tablets with respect to professional photography, though you would find it hard to discern that from the content.
This being the case, the article does not address the needs of this segment and is therefore pretty much useless. I don't think it is even very useful for a more general non-pro audience.
From the article:
"When you’re in the field, whether shooting on location or just meeting with your next client, gear that’s powerful and portable is a must. This is where tablets come in to make a photographer’s job easier."
The article completely fails to show how tablets in general, and this oddly restricted selection in particular "make a photographer's job easier".
In my earlier comment I noted how tablets are a non-starter for any serious backup or reviewing/editing tasks.
One area I do find this kind of device useful is for displaying previously edited photos, but almost any modern tablet or smartphone can do this. I use my Samsung Note smartphone and find the 5" AMOLED screen ideal for this.
I just link to my SmugMug galleries and it will download local copies to the phone so that I can view without using a data or Wi-Fi connection.
PS: Please fix the text entry box to stop it scrolling to the top of the post every time a character is typed once the box is full.
I'm not a pro, but do occasional assignments - the latest shooting my nephew's wedding. From my perspective, and I would think, any pro photog, the primary function of a computing device will be to make immediate backups, while still on site, of all the shots taken.
As I suggested in an earlier comment on the Samsung device - based on the combined functionality of a tablet and a camera I would call it TabCam or CamTab.
I think this sort of device is not practical to use as an actual phone handset, but there is no reason why it couldn't provide all the functionality (contacts, etc) and connectivity (3G/4G/Wi-Fi) needed to make calls using a small separate BlueTooth connected handset.
Also nicely avoids holding a powerful radio transmitter next to your head to make calls!
I can't see anyone who uses their smartphone to take pictures, and wants to improve photo quality, buying this just because it has an Android based user interface, especially if it's going to cost the same as a smartphone yet only provide compact camera photo quality. Also, being Android based it will have little appeal to Apple and Windows phone users.
The demand is not for a camera that operates like a smartphone, but for smartphones that take better pictures. I think the Nokia PureView approach is good - just a shame the phone part of the packages are so far lacking in appeal, being based on Symbian. They need to put this into a Windows 8 phone and license it to others to incorporate in Android phones.
Maybe we are heading to a multi-purpose display/computer/camera 3G/4G/WiFi connected type device (CamTab,TabCam?) that does everything except phone calls, and we all revert back to tiny simple phone modules for actually making calls - BlueToothed to the TabCam for contacts, etc.