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1" sensors could save the compact camera says Aptina's Sandor Barna

By Richard Butler on Oct 16, 2012 at 11:00 GMT

Following the announcement of its 1" sensor, we spoke to Aptina's Sandor Barna, who believes these larger sensors could save the compact camera by offering a leap in quality that smartphones can't compete with. Barna, the Vice President and General Manager of Aptina's Consumer Camera Business Unit, told us about the unfilled gap in the market that 1" sensors can address, explained the freedoms that the larger format gives the company's designers, and why this is currently best exemplified by a product it wasn't involved in: The Sony RX100.

'I believe there's an unfilled gap,' he said: ''Up until recently you've had two types of cameras - DSLRs, if you want the best image quality, or compact cameras if you need something smaller but there's nothing in between. And now you've also got smartphones, which have got to the stage where they're pretty decent. They're good enough for your day-to-day snapshots of things you see. They're slow to react and you have no zoom, but having them with you all the time makes up for some of those shortcomings, so those have started to challenge compact cameras.'

Barna is impressed with Sony's RX100 that fits a 1" sensor into a really compact body, while also offering a useful zoom range.

'Mirrorless cameras have come along but I think that gap still isn't filled for a lot of consumers,' Barna continued: 'I think the closest we've yet seen is the Sony RX100. Nikon has done a great job with its 1 Series cameras, but the work Sony has done with its retractable lens really shows the benefits the sensor format can offer.'

'I think a 1" sensor is great for that market: it neatly bridges the gaps between 1/2.3" sensors, with their limited performance in indoor conditions, and the higher performance, but also size and cost that come with APS-C. Maybe 1" is a better trade-off - it allows a smaller lens and the bigger zoom ratios without the package becoming too large,' he said: ' And speed-wise, it allows you to use a smaller lens for the same angle-of-view [compared to APS-C sensors], which means a dramatic increase in the speed you can move the lens for autofocusing.'

The 1" sensor is around four times larger than the 1/2.3" sensors used in most compact cameras and three times larger than the 1/1.7" type used in most high-end enthusiast models. It's around a third of the size of an APS-C sensor, though.

The industry-standard 1/X.X" naming system does not directly relate to the size of the sensor, so we've specified actual dimensions in mm.

 'A 1" sensor, for the same aperture, captures around four times more light than a 1/2.3" sensor can. Of course you can take another step up to APS-C and get another three times as much light, but then everything gets bigger and more expensive again. If you look at the size of a normal lens on a Sony NEX camera, it gets so unwieldy,' he said: 'It's a size/cost trade-off - it's a scale and you pick where you want to be on that scale.'

Response to the RX100 has been incredibly positive, but there has been a lot of consternation about the price. That's not something that Barna expects to change: 'They're not going to be able to get the price down a lot more. A sensor that's four times the size is going to cost at least four times as much to make, and then the cost of the lens and everything else goes up too.'

But Barna thinks the benefits offered will be enough to overcome this: 'If we get to the point that people realize they don't need flash indoors, I think that'll be seen as a real benefit. With 1/2.3" sensors you have to use flash and the results are terrible - they're flat and disappointing.'

The larger scale of the 1" sensor gives Aptina the space to include some interesting technologies. Its 1" AR1011HS sensor includes its DR-Pix technology that uses one signal path within each pixel at low ISO settings (to maximize dynamic range) and a different one (to offer reduced noise) at higher ISO settings.

We weren't fans of the first Nikon 1 series cameras but were impressed by their image quality

Aptina's customer relationships are confidential, so Barna won't discuss whether this DR-Pix technology is used in the Nikon 1 System's sensors (indeed it's only investigation by Chipworks that confirms the company's involvement), but its inclusion would help explain how the Nikon 1 cameras were able to out-perform some larger sensor cameras at high ISO. It would also explain the change in performance above ISO 400 that caused DxOMark to conclude the output is being 'smoothed.'

The DR-Pix technology takes up space, though: 'there's an additional transistor and capacitor in each pixel, so we can't fit DR-Pix into the small pixels used in our 18MP 1/2.3" sensor. We've tried to apply DR-Pix in pixels as small as 2.5 microns, and we might ever get it down to 2.2 microns, but that's almost four times the size of the pixels in our latest 18MP sensor. To use them in a 1/2.3" sensor would take the resolution down to 4MP and that's just not going to fly.'

Sandor Barna is Vice President and General Manager of Aptina's Consumer Camera Business Unit

DR-Pix isn't the only aspect of the AR1011HS's sensor Barna is proud of: 'Our 1" sensor is very fast which, combined with the size of the lens it needs, makes it easier to offer fast autofocus performance. There are limits in terms of megapixels per second that you can read-out but our sensor benefits from massive parallelism - a technology we first demonstrated with a sensor we developed with Japanese broadcaster NHK.'

And the chip is attracting interest, he says: 'We've had lots of interest and we're doing detailed evaluation with several major name brands.'

In addition to stills, the AR1011HS can either capture 4k60 video or combine quartets of pixels so that it offers 1080p60 video but with full color capture for each output pixel - something that has captured attention beyond the stills market: 'The video market is also primed and ready - they are very seriously looking at it, both for shoulder-mounted broadcast cameras and high-quality movie cameras,' says Barna: 'In terms of stills there's been some concern that maybe it's a little behind the curve on resolution and there'll potentially be more interest in future versions.'

And this is promising, he says, as he believes it could offer a sustainable future for the compact cameras. 'You look at the current compact cameras - all these manufacturers are selling compact cameras for under $100 - they're not even designing them. They're coming from ODM (third-party design companies) companies in Taiwan and China. A 1" sensor allows us to give them a better camera. It's a good trade-off - it offers a balance of quality, size and cost that separates it from smartphones in a way that would be very hard to follow, because smartphones are size-constrained. It would be a smaller market, at a higher price, but that would be healthier for everyone and could last for a long time.'

Comments

Total comments: 218
12
Skipper494
By Skipper494 (Oct 16, 2012)

Full frame sensors in compact cameras are long overdue. 1" and m4/3 are band aids. We had 35mm film in little cameras like my Chinon Bon Ami. Miniaturisation is not a problem. Having space for human sized controls is. 1" and m4/3 are just a way for the industry to gradually introduce larger sensors and milk as much money along the way.

8 upvotes
ZAnton
By ZAnton (Oct 16, 2012)

Small 35mm camera means - no OVF + fix lens + small grip +... I bet 99% of the population here (including you) will whine, as they do when somebody makes 98% OVF or EVF.

0 upvotes
WilliamJ
By WilliamJ (Oct 16, 2012)

Skipper494, I don't know if you're right or wrong, but the idea technology could be already avaible for a full size sensor compact cam but not used in order to gradually come to it for milking purpose has to be discussed. For the ones who don't know what this strategy is about, just have some informations about the Sergueï Bubka's way. Anyway, until recently, a lot of people claimed high and loud that even an APS-C sensor was too large for a compact camera... Sony has just proved that this vastly repeated statement was wong by even including a full frame in its RX-1 compact. That said, this Sony camera might be a unique case in the compact world, 1/2.33 sensors are way too small and in 2012/2013, there should be only at least 1/2'' or 2/3'' sensors around!

As for the statement of Zanton ("the population here (including you) will whine, as they do when...") is just an attack without purpose else than being dishonest. Shame on you, your filthy comment doesn't add anything to the topic !

Comment edited 3 times, last edit 9 minutes after posting
2 upvotes
Dennis
By Dennis (Oct 16, 2012)

I don't know about that model, but most of those cameras had lenses with max apertures that hit f/11 or slower at the tele end. My Pentax 928 was one of the better ones with a 28-90/3.5-9. And I'm betting those lenses weren't terribly good, either, but nobody really cared what their 4x6 prints from Gold Max ISO 800 color print film looked like. Of course, you can get faster primes ... but the RX1 is already here.

From the RX1, you could go to a slower 2X or 3X zoom. The size will get bigger, quality a bit lower. Price will still be high, so demand will be tempered. I'm not sure how overdue such cameras really are. If you drop the lens quality, then there's little reason to go with FF over a smaller sensor in the first place.

2 upvotes
le_alain
By le_alain (Oct 16, 2012)

Zanton,
full of 35 mm caamera pocketable camera with OVF,
look at rollei 35, Minox 35, olyumpus Miu2 ...
ok, 35mm film, so a digital camera with same lense and OVF should be even smaller!
and i am ready to buy one of those !!
but not an RX100 or a J/V-1

FF but no OVF on RX1, so can't buy it, and bigger than these old fantastics cameras

and i don't need a 3" LCD rear back if OVF, just the same as the first ixus is enough

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 6 minutes after posting
1 upvote
jonikon
By jonikon (Oct 16, 2012)

It's already here. It's called the Sony RX1. Not very pocket-able though.

1 upvote
Richard Butler
By Richard Butler (Oct 16, 2012)

Nor is it very flexible (a fixed lens would not offer the mass-market such a clear advantage over existing cellphones), nor terribly affordable.

Essentially a 1"-based RX1 could be considerably smaller.

1 upvote
Mark Wolg
By Mark Wolg (Oct 16, 2012)

Mmmmm... A Ricoh GRD with a 1 in sensor and no AA filter... mmmm.

0 upvotes
migus
By migus (Oct 16, 2012)

Of the 5 sensor sizes above, in a few years we'll be left w/ 3:
* 1/2.3" 10-18Mp, for basic P&S, superzooms, photo appliances etc. $50-400;
* 1" 10-24Mp, for premium & enthusiast P&S, $250-500;
* APS 16-36Mp CSC/ILCs, $400-1K+.
(+ the FF dSLR / CSC / P&S, $800-5K+).

Particularly contentious are 2 segments: The u4/3 with its momentum and large glass gamut, but hardly much better than the 1" or much smaller than the NEX. And the APS dSLR. Both have a weak 2nd derivative, hence little acceleration.

0 upvotes
onlooker
By onlooker (Oct 16, 2012)

"The u4/3 with its momentum and large glass gamut, but hardly much better than the 1" or much smaller than the NEX."

I take it you haven't seen reviews of O-MD E-M5 or heard of other upcoming Olympus cameras with the new Sony 16 MP MFT sensor? They beat the snout out of the 1" sensor. Like it or not, it's physics. MFT sensor is more than double in area of the 1" sensor.

As far as Sony is concerned, NEX-6 is interesting on paper, but Sony does not seem to be overly interested in lenses, just making new bodies (and needlessly handicapping them for marketing reasons).

4 upvotes
wetsleet
By wetsleet (Oct 16, 2012)

24Mp on 1", 36Mp on APS-C etc - what on earth is the point? Diffraction willl ensure that you simply can not resolve that pixel density, it will just be a waste of pixels. Already 36Mp on full frame is borderline, with diffraction becoming the limiting factor at about f8.

2 upvotes
D200_4me
By D200_4me (Oct 16, 2012)

I like the 1" sensor idea, but I guess he's never heard of m4/3? ''Up until recently you've had two types of cameras - DSLRs, if you want the best image quality, or compact cameras if you need something smaller but there's nothing in between."

3 upvotes
New Daddy
By New Daddy (Oct 16, 2012)

Well, I'm a m4/3 user myself, but I think you can roughly put m4/3 in the same category as DSLR as far as the sensor size is concerned. I think m4/3 (other mirrorless as well for that matter) created a new segment by getting rid of the mirror. Its reduced sensor size helped to downsize the form factor too, but the exclusion of the mirror was the big deal, I think.

I tend to agree with the writer that 1" has indeed created the middle ground between smartphones/P&S on the one side and DSLRs/non-pocketable mirrorless cameras on the other, by taking the best of both worlds - pocketability of the former and decent IQ from the latter.

2 upvotes
migus
By migus (Oct 16, 2012)

"I like the 1" sensor idea, but I guess he's never heard of m4/3?"

Often an interview is more notable by what is not mentioned. Analysts (politics, economy, stocks) have developed an art of reading the omissions. Perhaps the m4/3 dots are vanishing from the 10-yr. roadmap projections, for multiple reasons, incl. Sony/Oly. Currently still a brisk business, though.

0 upvotes
Frenske
By Frenske (Oct 16, 2012)

Which m4/3 can you actually put in a pocket? A mirror-less cameras cannot really be classified as compact cameras. I guess Mr Barna is grouping these cameras under SLRs category.
I waiting for a RX101 which has a 24-105mm lens which does not slow down quickly in aperture.

0 upvotes
D200_4me
By D200_4me (Oct 16, 2012)

My point is, the Nikon V1 body is the same size as the Olympus E-M5. No, the E-M5 is not a pocket friendly camera, but maybe some day they could fit the 4/3 sensor in a small pocket camera. They did just stick a full frame sensor int he RX1. It's not a true pocket camera but it's small. Anyway, all these choices are good for competition/customers.

0 upvotes
imbimmer
By imbimmer (Oct 16, 2012)

The Olympus PM2 measures 110x64x34 and the RX100 has a dimension of 102x59x36. In the meantime, the Nikon J1 measures 106x61x30.

So size wise, they are very close.

4 upvotes
zkz5
By zkz5 (Oct 16, 2012)

"Which m4/3 can you actually put in a pocket?"

Maybe about half of them. I carry a GF1 every day.

1 upvote
Richard Butler
By Richard Butler (Oct 16, 2012)

He did make reference to Four Thirds sensors, but it was a bit of an aside. Generally he seemed to be categorising them with APS-C (ie - better performance but larger and more expensive). He's suggesting 1" might be a better 'sweet spot,' for relatively mass-market compacts (There is no Goldilocks size - different people want different size/IQ/price balances).

In principle, if you can make the E-PM2 as small as it is, you can make an 1" version smaller. The Nikon J1 and 2 are surprisingly large, given their sensor size, in my opinion. Using a fixed lens would help them get even smaller.

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 57 seconds after posting
0 upvotes
New Daddy
By New Daddy (Oct 16, 2012)

@ zkz5, the pocketability of m4/3 has been discussed ad infinitum, so I don't want to start another thread of debate. Having said that, GF1 even with a pancake lens, is not truly pocketable. It may fit into your pocket, but it wouldn't fit in the pocket of the average recreational photographer. You have to judge "pocketability" based on people's conventional thinking and custom.

0 upvotes
New Daddy
By New Daddy (Oct 16, 2012)

@ imbimmer, the depth of PM2 at 34 is measured WITHOUT a lens. Even with a pancake lens attached, it will be significantly more bulky. (Panny 20mm/1.7 for example is 25mm thick.) The slimmest zoom (Panny G 14-42) comes in at 27mm.

0 upvotes
imbimmer
By imbimmer (Oct 16, 2012)

The latest round of 1/1.7" and 2/3" digicams such as the X10, P7700, G15, etc all have way much better IQ than the Nikon 1 series, how does he explain that?

2 upvotes
vshin
By vshin (Oct 16, 2012)

What are you smoking?

10 upvotes
imbimmer
By imbimmer (Oct 16, 2012)

Dude, I have tried all these cameras and many respectable source have published test numbers.

I won't even mention about other brands, but as Color Foto of Germany published in their database, the ISO resolution of J1 is only 1210 line pairs per picture height, while the P7700 can do 1613 line pairs ... that's a whopping 33% more with a much smaller sensor. :-)

2 upvotes
stoic little
By stoic little (Oct 16, 2012)

@imbimmer: you forget that the smaller sensors still has to be magnified 4x compared to the 1" sensor when viewing (or printed) at the same size.

0 upvotes
Richard Butler
By Richard Butler (Oct 16, 2012)

Two points:

1) You cannot measure image quality by resolution alone. Of course a 12MP sensor can out-resolve a 10MP one (I'm not familiar with Color Foto's testing conditions, so I don't want to speculate why the P7700 is measured at a higher proportion of its potential maximum)

2) You also have to consider the lens - putting a bright lens in front of a small sensor increases its light-capturing potential and putting a slow one in front of a larger sensor starts to rob it of its theoretical advantage, so make sure you've factored that in before jumping to conclusions about which sensor is better than which.

2 upvotes
Joe Ogiba
By Joe Ogiba (Oct 16, 2012)

I think a 1" open end wrench is all you need to be a great mechanic .

4 upvotes
leohuf
By leohuf (Oct 16, 2012)

I couldn't agree more with Sandor's opinion, and I'm actually one of the customers he was aiming at. I just bought a RX100 to replace my aging Canon SD850IS and, may I say, what a world of difference!

Today I saw a beautiful morning sun with a rainbow, and I could not even touch my smartphone to take a pic, since I knew the resulting image quality was just going to make me sad. It seems I will start carrying my RX100 around more and more...

3 upvotes
WilliamJ
By WilliamJ (Oct 16, 2012)

Like you, I can't imagine myself shooting anything with a phone - even if it's possible in certain circumstances - and I'm dying to own a compact camera that integrates one of these 1''.

Alas, as we have seen with the OLED technology - a Kodak one - that has been widely ignored by the japanese electronic industry, american sensors could as well be ignored by the same companies... that won't be the first ones to make the same mistake of judgment, all over again.

Note: japanese companies, that said, are now crying out all their body tear drops, as korean companies are presently well advanced on the OLED technology while almost no japanese company is able to even produce a 50'' OLED TV set for this Christmas. One has to pay for his mistakes.

1 upvote
dougster1979
By dougster1979 (Oct 16, 2012)

Any reason you can`t stick a 1" sensor in a phone.

0 upvotes
ET2
By ET2 (Oct 16, 2012)

"Any reason you can`t stick a 1" sensor in a phone."

It will increase the cost of the phone, for one. Plus size/thickness could be an issue too. Phones need to be thin/light/ and slick.

0 upvotes
yslee1
By yslee1 (Oct 16, 2012)

The Nokia 808 Pureview is very close to 1"

0 upvotes
WT21
By WT21 (Oct 16, 2012)

Great article

0 upvotes
GeorgeZ
By GeorgeZ (Oct 16, 2012)

Very promising indeed.
Yet I cannot believe that prices can't be lowered- you can get a J1 or an etry level DSLR both with lens for roughly 2/3 of the RX100 price.
Unless the RX100 lens is so damn expensive I cannot see how it cannot be sold for 400$.
Of course Sony has every right to take nice profits for their pioneering feat, but sooner or later prices will go down IMHO.

3 upvotes
WilliamJ
By WilliamJ (Oct 16, 2012)

"Yet I cannot believe that prices can't be lowered..."

You are totally right ! It could "easily" be achieved if every camera makers decided to reject any sensor which size would be inferior to 1/2'' or 2/3'' ! As everybody would have to include bigger sensors in their cameras, the cost of production would be drastically reduced: it's a simple law of industry called the "economies of scale".

But is it the benefit of these companies to sell good enough products that could endanger their middle range cameras ? Better for the consumer is not the same than better for the seller as the point for the latter one is to sell as little/at low cost made as expensive as possible. And in some case, as fragile as possible too in order to make us buy again as soon as possible.

Trade is definitely not philanthropy.

Comment edited 2 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
OneGuy
By OneGuy (Oct 16, 2012)

Oh, nice interview if you read between the lines. Mr. Barna did not mention m4/3 even once. His 1" sensor advantage enumerations compare the 1" to the smaller 1.7" sensors. m4/3 is then class above his own 1" -- as far as bigger-is-better logic goes.

8 upvotes
ET2
By ET2 (Oct 16, 2012)

RX100 is a proof that can you make compact pocketable fixed lens camera with 1 inch sensor. Since there is no such camera with 4/3 size sensor, why would Barna mention 4/3 sensor?

Make a compact RX100 size camera using 4/3 sensor then come back.

5 upvotes
Higuel
By Higuel (Oct 16, 2012)

Very good point OneGuy!!!
It would be very bad for his company and THIS ARTICLE if anyone would point that the already selling for many years "18-35mm" 35mm equivalent of m4/3 is just a small as a 50mm f1.8(or 30mm f1.8 in APS!), that would be a REAL killer to this all interview!!!

It+s a pity the infos here are getting less assertive and unbiased then in the past!

0 upvotes
Photomonkey
By Photomonkey (Oct 16, 2012)

He did say that mirrorless does not satisfy many customers.An indirect reference to what many see as cameras more complex than what many feel comfortable with.

0 upvotes
OneGuy
By OneGuy (Oct 17, 2012)

Denying reality ET2? m4/3 got noticed exactly because of their compact size. Reading Amazon user reviews makes a real case far above Sony or Nikon in the wannabe 1" territory.

Oh, ET1 was captured and is being interrogated at S4 in area 51.

0 upvotes
gl2k
By gl2k (Oct 16, 2012)

Most customers who buy P&S or "pocketable" cams have no clue about technology and don't care about image quality.

They simply buy what the shop clerk recommends.

12 upvotes
Peter G
By Peter G (Oct 16, 2012)

Yes that is why the Sony RX100 is such a failure.

Oh Wait....

6 upvotes
audiobomber
By audiobomber (Oct 16, 2012)

I am very disappointed that the interviewer didn't ask for Aptina's take on the pixel wars.

PS If I had to use a mobile phone instead of a camera, I would give up photography.

0 upvotes
Shutterbug108
By Shutterbug108 (Oct 16, 2012)

I am looking forward to manufacturers putting 1-inch sensors into zoom bridge cameras. A 15x zoom will suffice.

6 upvotes
ShatteredSky
By ShatteredSky (Oct 16, 2012)

Yes, make it a 24-360 (and reasonably fast) please. I do not mind if it is a little larger. And seal it ...

1 upvote
ajejebrazo1
By ajejebrazo1 (Oct 16, 2012)

Yeessss! Or 28-336 (not less) f2.8-4.9, circa weight and size of Panny FZ200. I think it could be possible...(don't mind my wife screaming, I bought a RX100 just last week :-)))) )

1 upvote
mosswings
By mosswings (Oct 16, 2012)

i do agree that Sony embarrassed Nikon in the quality compact market with the RX100. I've always felt that what this segment needs is not interchangeable lenses but consistently fast retractable lenses to maintain some semblance of pocketability (not true pocketability, but a non-bulky form factor). This is where my XZ-1 gets it right: its lens. This gives it a 1.5 stop advantage over the rx100 at max zoom, eating into some of the rx100's sensor plusses. The one Other thing that the Nikon Series 1 brings to the table is AF speed, but some form of hybrid AF system will be in almost every competing device in this class by next year.
Nikon needs to buck up and admit that it needs a retract-lens series 1.

Comment edited 44 seconds after posting
9 upvotes
Dianoda
By Dianoda (Oct 16, 2012)

The addition of hybrid phase-detect AF to the prosumer compact class would be most welcome indeed. We'll be thoroughly spoiled at that point.

My wish list for the RX100 successor would be on-sensor phase-detect, a wider lens (24-70mm or 24-80mm eq), faster on the telephoto end (FYI, the RX100 lens actually stops down at telephoto - if it didn't do that, it would probably be about 1/2 to 2/3rds a stop faster @ 100mm), and a slight drop in MP count to lessen the demand on the glass and provide better DR/High ISO. Slightly faster performance would nice, too - the RX100 is generally very responsive and shames the compact class in most aspects, but it isn't as instantaneously fast as my 7D (speed to full zoom chimping on the RX100 being the most noticeable difference).

But there really isn't much wrong with the RX100 as is, I'm very happy with it so far. Even with contrast-detect AF only, it's extremely fast to focus - CaNikon should take notes: this is how I want my compact to perform.

2 upvotes
gsum
By gsum (Oct 16, 2012)

DPReview: Please refer to sensor size by X/Y dimensions.

1", 1/1.7 and particularly APS/C (which covers several sensor sizes) are extremely confusing. It wouldn't then be necessary to include the sensor size diagram.

6 upvotes
neo_nights
By neo_nights (Oct 16, 2012)

But everyone else, specially the market itself, use these terms.

Comment edited 11 seconds after posting
3 upvotes
WilliamJ
By WilliamJ (Oct 16, 2012)

Agree with gsum. Sometimes, things have to be improved, including the way we call things themselves. We don't really have to keep what is obviously obsolete because it's a sort of tradition that, besides, provides nothing good.

1 upvote
Richard Butler
By Richard Butler (Oct 16, 2012)

Although I agree with the aim, this wouldn't be the right place to do it:

The problem is that there isn't a sensible alternative name for the sensor sizes, and they need names, not a list of dimensions.

And, since he said '1"' and '1/2.3"', I'd have had to correct his quotes to say 'with [8.8 x 6.6mm] sensors' - which would be impossible to read.

But yes, there needs to be a better naming system.

0 upvotes
neo_nights
By neo_nights (Oct 16, 2012)

Today I'm a lot more inclined to think that (most) smartphone users won't trade their 'good enough' smartphones for a second camera.
First of all, they're satisfied with their image quality. Because most of those users are/were the same who used those bad smal-sensored-pixel-packed-P&S.
Second, and really important, they're able to share their pictures instantly.
(and we DO know that many people love sharing their pictures)
And third, you wouldn't need to carry a second camera.

Thus, IMHO, those 1" sensor cameras would appeal to more high end users. And if those cameras don't get much cheaper, I think advanced users will tend to buy an ILC ou dSLR.

But only time will tell. At any rate, it's REALLY reassuring that companies are starting to make 'big' sensors again for their (advanced) P&S.

6 upvotes
Denis of Whidbey Island
By Denis of Whidbey Island (Oct 16, 2012)

I just ordered an RX100 for when I don't carry my D800, and I think I represent a large chunk of the 1" market. I suspect that the other chunk is users who don't mind spending the price of a 1" camera, but resist NEX and 4/3 cameras because of their size. The RX100 creates a sweet spot that was not an option before.

Comment edited 49 seconds after posting
4 upvotes
KingDon
By KingDon (Oct 16, 2012)

RX100 was a game changer. No one is even interested now in the new 1/1.7" cameras like EX2, LX7, S110. RX100 is is responsible for that shift in expectation.

It will be late 2013 or early 2014 before other camera makers have a response to RX100.

16 upvotes
neo_nights
By neo_nights (Oct 16, 2012)

"Shift in expectation"? You've spelled "disruption" wrong :=)

8 upvotes
Greynerd
By Greynerd (Oct 16, 2012)

Obviously Sony were a bit daft in just releasing a 1/1.7" sensor for a format that has zero interest. Presumably you are anticipating zero sales for these cameras as that is what no one means. I have a feeling that people are buying these cameras and the predictions that the RX100 replaced every other camera in existence were a bit exaggerated, though still being promulgated. Heaven help anyone who dares suggest another camera may be better than the RX100 in their own brand x forum, they will instantly be called an x brand fanboy.

Comment edited 2 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
Richard Butler
By Richard Butler (Oct 16, 2012)

'Zero interest' except for all the cameras it almost certainly features in?

If Sony's latest 1/1.7" is (and you can be fairly confident) the one being used in the latest Olympus, Nikon and Samsung enthusiast compacts, then that sounds like plenty of interest. Between those three cameras (and possibly others), I'm sure Sony will sell plenty.

Neither I nor, I think, Barna are suggesting the RX100 itself will replace everything else - just that it points towards a type of camera that could. Larger sensor but still compact body, $500-$600 list price.

1 upvote
Paralaxe
By Paralaxe (Oct 16, 2012)

I beleive this article expresses a very lucid view about the future of compact cameras.
In fact, although some circles do not admit it promptly, actual 14, 16, and 18 (I'd say even 12) mpx 1/2.3 sensors give you terrible pixel level image quality. It's actually worse than 6 mpx sensors of the same size that existed 4 years ago, even if we downsize the image.
The thing is, in my opinion, with the technology we actualy have, it's not possible to cram more than 5 mpx into a 1/2.3 sensor and get a good result.
Now, as Sandor says, nowdays selling a 4 mpx compact camera (although most people dont ever will need more resulution than that) is not going to fly.People wont buy it.
I sincerely hope manufacturers start making compact cameras with larger sensors like this, thus selling slighty larger products, but with good(at least in my standards) image quality, wich means good pixel level definition.

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 5 minutes after posting
2 upvotes
TrojMacReady
By TrojMacReady (Oct 16, 2012)

You're blaming sensors, but reality is that most jpeg engines are to blame for the mush we see from high MP 1/2.3"sensors. Why? Because too many consumers expect low noise when staring at pixels instead of images at a given output size, regardless of pixel density. So the amount of NR is going up, when in reality, it shouldn't have to. Because in RAW, current Panasonic sensors of this size easily show less noise per spatial area than their counterparts many years ago.

And as for your last point, my 8MP (more than the suggested 5) FZ18 with 1/2.5" sensor can get very good results, close to my 12MP DSLR, given enough light. And the efficiency per area is actually pretty similar to that DSLR, despite having pixels about 10 times as small. It obviously loses in the end because the sensor is almost 15 times smaller...

Comment edited 3 minutes after posting
7 upvotes
Camediadude
By Camediadude (Oct 16, 2012)

My dream is to see a new generation of prosumers (with Sony sending the first shot over the bow, I sure do admit to being impressed by their new RX series camera as it does indeed look like a fantastic beginning to this era I dream of) ... I yearn to see a new generation of friendly competition amongst the cameramakers, in the spirit of their legendary digicams of the last decade, like the Canon Pro1, Sony F828, Olympus C-8080, Nikon 8700, Minolta A2 and others, but now using this latest advance in sensor tech. Can you imagine one of those old beasts, but now modernized with the latest IS, glass, and sensors? (and dare I say, weather-proofing :P hey, I can dream, right!). Such cameras would stir up a lot of excitment, I feel ...

7 upvotes
EXX
By EXX (Oct 16, 2012)

Hear, hear!

I sometimes wonder what how good old Minolta A2 would become if it would just be equiped with a state-of-the-art 2/3" sensor and image processor. A little improvement on the back LCD and for the rest, the camera is still up to date.

2 upvotes
Photomonkey
By Photomonkey (Oct 16, 2012)

While by all accounts the RX-100 is a great camera I wonder why digicam designers have yet to surprise everyone by including an optical VF and a shutter button that fires the shutter in less than a quarter of a second of pressing it. One can praise the performance all day long but trying to compose an image from the back of an LCD from any camera in broad daylight(THE most common situation) and waiting for it to fire, is an exercise in frustration.

Comment edited 56 seconds after posting
2 upvotes
Dan Vincent
By Dan Vincent (Oct 16, 2012)

It sounds like you haven't actually used an RX100, because the actual rate-of-fire and shutter lag on it are class leading. The Sunny LCD setting is also quite remarkable; I've used it on many sunny days on vacation and while it does chew the battery it does work as advertised.

The optical viewfinders in those cameras are also mostly useless. You'd want an EVF, but then it'd make the camera bigger, defeating the point.

1 upvote
Camediadude
By Camediadude (Oct 16, 2012)

Dan, I hear your points and I respect them, however, I do think that we are discussing two slightly different things ... anyhow, enjoy your RX100!

1 upvote
Robert P Miller
By Robert P Miller (Oct 16, 2012)

I do believe some smartphone users would not mind better quality in low light to help with blurs and noise, but otherwise most are not candidates for a second body camera. They will simply accept the better quality sensors when they arrive in the smart phone world.

1 upvote
Andreas Stuebs
By Andreas Stuebs (Oct 16, 2012)

I believe you are missing the point. I, for example own an Android based smart phone, and I find myself not taking my small "take-anywhwhere-anytime" camera with me, because the smartphone covers that. But a compact camera, which offers substantially better performance and is small enough to carry in my pocket and has decent controls may tempt me. Something like the LX7 with an 1" sensor may fit the bill. I agree with the article that top of my priorities is decent low light performance and good white balance control.

4 upvotes
jheeren
By jheeren (Oct 16, 2012)

Maybe what we really need is a camera with a 1" sensor that can also accept apps, Android or otherwise, for enhanced functionality (and continuing revenue for the manufacturer).

0 upvotes
Photomonkey
By Photomonkey (Oct 16, 2012)

The real advantage is that it accepts phone calls whereas cameras do not.

0 upvotes
Low Budget Dave
By Low Budget Dave (Oct 16, 2012)

All things considered, I would rather have an NEX that makes (mediocre) phone calls than a phone that takes mediocre pictures.

0 upvotes
Orin B.
By Orin B. (Oct 16, 2012)

I like how the portrait of Sandor Barna was taken with a Canon 5D. Why not one of their sensors?

0 upvotes
WilliamJ
By WilliamJ (Oct 16, 2012)

Low Budget Dave : 100% agreed.

Orin B. : we think the same way.

0 upvotes
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