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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
Neodp
By Neodp (Jan 7, 2013)

Given that higher ISO, per size, is improving; but small sensors are more cost-effective, and allow a wide to telephoto in a relatively light package, then it is the Ultra-zoom, bridge-cam market, that should run, and not pass go, to 4/3rds sized sensors, even as they improve.

However, given that bazillion X-factor zoom has been the stupid measure of some cameras; without regard to low light (and shadows) overall IQ, we need to drop back to something like "10X" for better ultra zooms. This makes an unbelievably, well rounded camera, and cost very effectively. Yet, only if they could combine, the other basic qualities, such as starting with a good lens.

1 upvote
iPhone Photography
By iPhone Photography (Nov 21, 2012)

I'm not sure if the compact camera can be saved. With the advancement of cameras on mobile phones such as the iPhone, you can take just as good of pictures and use filters. Some photography experts are even using lenses for iPhone cameras and having amazing results. The one I see being used the most is the iPro Lens. You can find it here http://lensesforiphone.com

0 upvotes
Robert Rafai
By Robert Rafai (Oct 27, 2012)

my last compact camera was Canon S45, 4 mpix camera which made perfect quality images for compact camera. After that I bought some 10mpix camera I dont remember model which I sold same day because that cama doesn't make any better pictures then my phone and cost close to same. That was a moment when I decide not to buy anything till something new and decent come out. I dont want to pay 400$ for pocket camera because I have Nikon D3 for everything serius I need but also I dont want to pay 200$ for something which I have in phone already. Industry will need to rethink even about low cost pocket cameras, not only middle class price camers. Who 1st made that step he will win the prize!

0 upvotes
latensified
By latensified (Oct 23, 2012)

Sensor size is not going to save the compact camera. But connectivity might. That and a unified OS. When camera manufacturers each stop making their own operating systems and when people can take pictures and instantly upload them to Instagram or Facebook or otherwise share them, then the compact camera might have a fighting chance. People have been trading quality for convenience for years. There's no reason to think that they will stop doing so now.

Comment edited 46 seconds after posting
2 upvotes
Mahmoud Mousef
By Mahmoud Mousef (Mar 27, 2013)

Facebook and Instagram included in cameras is the day I never let go of my uninfested, unconnected and unspied machines.

1 upvote
Kevin Purcell
By Kevin Purcell (Oct 22, 2012)

Regarding the "vidicon inch notation" confusing people you can fix this by always using "type" before the size and spell out "inch".

Call it a "type 1 inch" sensor or "type 1/1.7 inch" sensor or whatever.

Always include the type: that's what the manufacturer datasheets do.

0 upvotes
Kevin Purcell
By Kevin Purcell (Oct 22, 2012)

Nice to see my comments on Nikon 1 not cooking it's raws (but having the Apitina sensor do a low ISO/high ISO mode switch) have now finally made it up to general notice.

http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/post/42540824

I did say that 1 month ago.

Never got a bite from DxOmark, Sensorgen or even dpreview. :-)

Sensorgen ifyou are reading this ... rerun your numbers with two seperate fits. This sensor has two "read noise" values.

0 upvotes
Francis Carver
By Francis Carver (Oct 18, 2012)

"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."

Wow, maybe we should have been talking with the folks who had developed the Sony 1-inch CMOS instead, huh?

Anyhow, a 1-inch sensor is larger than some other sensors and smaller than some other sensors. No rocket science here really. What's the big news here?

1 upvote
xMichaelx
By xMichaelx (Oct 18, 2012)

I went to buy a compact the other day. There were about 2 dozen models in the store, and NONE had a viewfinder. Not even a crappy tunnel to guess-timate what you're shooting at. A few had crappy add-on EVFs -- ugly, pricey, and easily lost.

I shoot outside. No viewfinder, no sale.

3 upvotes
Deleted pending purge
By Deleted pending purge (Oct 18, 2012)

Mirrors use up space and don't show what the sensor sees. Besides, there are modes where you can see more in the monitor than by camera TTL system (such as Sony's "Night Framing" or "Night Shot").
This makes internal monitors more useful. Even monitor resolution isn't so much of an issue, since these are used for framing and data readout anyway. Thus, in downsizing, a hefty part of the volume can be re-used for lens movement.
My guess is that mirrorless cameras with interchangeable lenses and both internal and external monitors may be the future, but DLR's will sell even then, at least because of "tradition".
(Btw, DLR should suffice, since there are no Digital Twin Lens Cameras...)

0 upvotes
dct_dct
By dct_dct (Oct 19, 2012)

Well, reduce it to DR, because there are no "Digital no-Lens Reflex" cameras... ;)

0 upvotes
Panasonicus
By Panasonicus (Oct 18, 2012)

The market is saying "downsize." I went from a Canon 40d to a 450d and now to a Micro 2/3rds Panny G3. However, I am still wanting to go smaller with one do it all lens but not so small quality is lost when showing pictures on a high end Plasma TV. That leaves the RX100. But the deal breaker is no 24mm and I shoot a lot of WA ( I am now weaned off having to have an OVF). The G1x Canon is as large as my Panny G3 and it starts at 28mm. The Nikon system forces you into multiple lenses. But that all said--I agree the market makers are going to have to give consumers a lot more than tiny sensors or going to large miscro 2/3rds. A RX100 with 24-90mm please--surely Canon, Nikon and Panny can do it?

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 2 minutes after posting
1 upvote
yvess
By yvess (Oct 18, 2012)

I have the RX100. You can shot in panorama mode vertically. The in-camera stitching is quite good. Not usable for all footage (fast moving stuff, etc.). But I use it a lot when I need WA, and the subjects allows it.

0 upvotes
australopithecus
By australopithecus (Oct 18, 2012)

Panasonicus, Agreed. 24mm is a must.

0 upvotes
facedodge
By facedodge (Oct 17, 2012)

how much bigger can the sensor get in one of these compact camera? Is it possible to get APS-C or full frame in a compact with retractable lens?

Is this something that can be done in a few years?

0 upvotes
peevee1
By peevee1 (Oct 17, 2012)

"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.'"

That is BS, because Olympus E-PL1 with sensor twice the size of RX100 goes for $140, and lens for it is another $200. Sony just enjoys the status of the best compact camera by far, and the only one matching consumer DSLMs and DSLRs with kit lenses, and so rightfully charges the premium price. Being so far ahead has its benefits. When competition catches up, then margins (and prices) will start falling.

3 upvotes
Richard Butler
By Richard Butler (Oct 17, 2012)

The original list price of the E-PL1 was $599 with lens. It's now two years-and-a-half years and three generations old.

I'm not sure you can glean much meaningful information about how much it cost to develop and make from the price they try to get rid of the obsolete stock at.

4 upvotes
Paul Farace
By Paul Farace (Oct 17, 2012)

Why do we call this tiny sensor a 1-inch sensor when it's not! One inch is 24.7 (something) millimeters... this is much smaller... call it APS-T (tiny)...
I really don't like the effects of the tiny sensors and I welcome the further development of a class of 4/3 sensors and APS-C sensor-based compacts with good zooms 24-28 to 90-100 with 2.8 apertures or better... or interchangeable lenses and OPTICAL VIEWFINDERS, even if its just a slide-on accessory like the ones I use on my 35mm rangefinders! We're getting closer and closer, but still too many turns onto dead end streets IMHO.

0 upvotes
Fraxinus excelsior
By Fraxinus excelsior (Oct 17, 2012)

1" is exactly 25,4mm. And why it is so can be read here:

http://www.dpreview.com/news/2002/10/7/sensorsizes

Kind regards D

Comment edited 16 seconds after posting
0 upvotes
Braxton7
By Braxton7 (Oct 17, 2012)

Bah Even the APS-C guys rag on the 4/3 because it is too small . It seems that size is not as much a problem as the technology judging by the EM-5 . I hope to see further improvements.

0 upvotes
PicOne
By PicOne (Oct 17, 2012)

I wonder if there's anyone working on development of a curved (parabolic?) sensor; isn't the fact that sensors are flat, and can't take lens light from oblique angles, the cause behind why larger sensor compacts can't be made? Ie.. compare to the old Olympus Stylus Epic ("fullframe").
http://www.d2gallery.com/cameras/olympusstylusepic.html

0 upvotes
Joseph S Wisniewski
By Joseph S Wisniewski (Oct 17, 2012)

Nope, not the cause, at all. A curved sensor has limitations with short lenses or fast lenses, and it can only match the exit pupil of a single fixed lens: it's essentially useless on interchangeable lens cameras or zooms.

Plus, optical projection is inherently planar, and lens design for curved sensors is insanely difficult.

But thank you for not mentioning the eye. Usually, when someone asks about curved sensors, they bring up the eye being curved...

6 upvotes
PicOne
By PicOne (Oct 17, 2012)

Interesting, thanks. I was presupposing a curved sensor specifically for fixed FL lens (Maybe for the Ricoh GXR system)..

So, if a manufacturer did want to reproduce the Oly Epic (fixed lens 35/2.8) at the same size but for digital, is it completely impossible? Compare to the (albeit f/2) Sony RX1 whose lens is fairly monstrous.

0 upvotes
pwilly
By pwilly (Oct 17, 2012)

Offset microlenses fix most of that. Also, none of the existing lenses would work because they are designed to focus on a flat field.
Sorry Joe I did not see your post.

Comment edited 1 minute after posting
1 upvote
facedodge
By facedodge (Oct 17, 2012)

You know the eye has a curved sensor... Can't remember where I read that.

0 upvotes
Joseph S Wisniewski
By Joseph S Wisniewski (Oct 18, 2012)

You can't remember where you read it, because it's wrong, which means that you didn't read what you think you read.

The central part of the retina is flat. The outer part just is basically used for motion sensing, so it doesn't matter that curvature of field makes it soft. Being spherical is a major optical problem for the eye. It's a side effect of the eye being able to swivel in its socket. It's all about motion and tracking, not "image quality", LOL...

Comment edited 2 minutes after posting
7 upvotes
Francis Carver
By Francis Carver (Oct 18, 2012)

"Optical projection is inherently planar, and lens design for curved sensors is insanely difficult."

Never heard about the first statement being true. But in projection, as in cinemas and screening rooms, this is done insanely easily. After all, we've been having dramatically curved PJ screens in theaters since the early 1950s.

0 upvotes
Joseph S Wisniewski
By Joseph S Wisniewski (Oct 19, 2012)

It's in any optical engineering text. I'd recommend Warran J. Smith.

Now, the conversion of an inherently planar projection lens to a curved projection by adding a cylindrical anamorphic lens that's larger and heavier than the original projection lens might fit within your definition of "insanely easy", but I'm tempted to drop both the "ly" and the "easy".

So, what inherent defect of sensor designs is going to be addressed by such a Rube Goldberg contraption?

0 upvotes
cheetah43
By cheetah43 (Oct 17, 2012)

RX1 with a full-frame sensor! What is the camera's size?
RX100 with so-called 1" sensor! What is the camera's size?
C'mon Sony! Or Panasonic for that matter! A compact with APS-C and a VF binning the silly flash altogether. You can do it.

0 upvotes
simon62
By simon62 (Oct 17, 2012)

I believe that now,with all theese sensor sizes around, it is clear that the best combination between portability and quality is 4/3 format! It seems that Olympus-Panasonic had given it a lot of thought before they decide. Even the aspect ratio of 4 by 3 is wisely chosen;smaler lenses for larger sensor area.

4 upvotes
forpetessake
By forpetessake (Oct 17, 2012)

In many posts people have difficulty understanding how crop factor works, somebody suggested that small sensors have inherent advantage when it comes to system size. That's a false belief. Here is an example, take a small FF lens, e.g. 35-70 F/3.5: http://www.camera2hand.net/images/topic_images/pd123774_2.JPG
use 6x digital zoom on the long end to get an equivalent reach of superzoom on 6x crop P&S (e.g. Canon S5) of 35-420mm. Provided you have a sensor manufactured at the same technology node, you get the same image quality at the long end as the P&S camera but many times better quality on the short end. The FF camera system can be the same size as P&S.

2 upvotes
OneGuy
By OneGuy (Oct 17, 2012)

Doesn't the digital zooming screw up just about every analysis, forpetessake?

0 upvotes
Esa Tuunanen
By Esa Tuunanen (Oct 17, 2012)

There is no such thing as "digital" zoom, only BS zoom of cropping!
Whole point of optically zooming in (increasing focal length) is getting smaller details and that's something cropping won't ever do.

And there's no such thing as full frame format, only 35mm or 135... Which was the smallest reasonably performing format with analog film tech.
For cropping from larger format image to give similar image details to ultrazoom compact its sensor would have to have pixel size similar to that compact. Making them equally insensitive/noisy and crappy in dynamic range.

1 upvote
peevee1
By peevee1 (Oct 17, 2012)

To implement 6x digital zoom, you would need to crop to 1/36 of the sensor. To maintain the sensor resolution of modern compact sensors, you will need to increase the pixel count of the total sensor. For example, for 16 mpix (pretty average today) at 6x zoom, you will need 576 mpix sensor. There is nothing wrong with it, except processing, power and bandwidth requirements of such sensor are insanely high and not practical in a portable camera yet.

0 upvotes
gasdive
By gasdive (Oct 17, 2012)

What I'd like to see is a 4"x5" sensor with about 50 MP. With a folding bellows lens it wouldn't be much bigger than a thick paperback book. The IQ would put DSLRs back in the toy camera corner they came from. With a good screen such as you get on a small tablet the focus would be easy to set manually. Much better than autofocus.

1 upvote
Esa Tuunanen
By Esa Tuunanen (Oct 17, 2012)

You sure don't have the slightest idea how much that size sensor would cost...

Manufacturing of single silicon wafer can easily cost up to thousands and there's problem of manufacturing being imperfect so unless you had perfectly working manufacturing process it might need quite a few wafers to get a single sensor without too many and big flaws.

And most kind lenses would be simply huge for that size image circle and required focal lengths.
Also while your single track brain doesn't understand it bigger format's shallower DOF and consequent need to stop it down negates light gathering advantage.

3 upvotes
Torkn Photo
By Torkn Photo (Oct 17, 2012)

In what universe is a 1" sensor even remotely close to 1 inch?

In my day, 1" was 25.4mm, and the so called 1" sensor is only around half that size. Even the diagonal is much smaller than 1".

1 upvote
Fixx
By Fixx (Oct 17, 2012)

I guess the size is meant to be diagonal (like in TVs & monitors), but you're still right..

0 upvotes
zdechlypes
By zdechlypes (Oct 17, 2012)

Very good point :)

0 upvotes
Eleson
By Eleson (Oct 17, 2012)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image_sensor_format

2 upvotes
robjons
By robjons (Oct 17, 2012)

After reading the above wiki article:
What a stupid, misleading naming convention. They should be forced to simply use the actual diagonal dimension.

2 upvotes
Joseph S Wisniewski
By Joseph S Wisniewski (Oct 17, 2012)

In your universe, LOL.

The universe where, for a century or more, it's normal to talk about the width of the film, like 35mm, despite the cameras not taking an image that's 35mm diagonal, 35mm wide, or 35mm tall. 35mm covers 24mm tall formats in widths ranging from 18mm (Oly, Yashika, and other half frame) on up to 24x65 (Fuji XT/Xpan). It also includes 28x40 on cameras that used unperforated 35mm film, like Kodak 828, 20.955x15.24 academy motion pictures, and 24.89x18.65 "super 35".

So, video folks did the same thing, and talked about the width of the tube, something you can just whip out a ruler and check. Early digital cameras borrowed video sensors and the video terminology that came with them.

@robjons, forced? Really? I had no idea you were so formidable. I'll be watching eagerly to see how you manage this.

8 upvotes
Eleson
By Eleson (Oct 17, 2012)

After that we can proceed with focal lenghts on all of these sensor sizes :)

0 upvotes
Martin_PTA
By Martin_PTA (Oct 17, 2012)

I don't see the lens and sensor size being the main issue in trying to get the cost down. The Sony RX100 sells for $180 more than the Canon Rebel T3 with an 18-55mm kit lens! The IQ-gap may be filled by a 1" sensor, but the price "consternation" still remains! I think the biggest challenge lies rather in optimizing the overall design to a more competitive price. I would typically want my DSLR to last 6 years, but I'd be happy if I can get 3 out of a P&S.

0 upvotes
peevee1
By peevee1 (Oct 17, 2012)

RX100 is brand new and pocketable, T3 is ancient. Compare to T4i with its 18-55/3.5-5.6 kit, and RX100 comes cheaper, lighter, has wider range and shoots faster.

0 upvotes
Dan
By Dan (Oct 17, 2012)

I didn't know there was a problem in the first place! I'm enjoying my Sony HX30V just fine thank you. Like it's been said below, increase the sensor size and the lens becomes too big. I'm not giving up my 20x zoom. If I want to use a camera with a large sensor, I'd use my D600!

The reason I don't carry my compact around as often is because I don't need it like I need my cell phone. There's no way to "save" compact cameras unless you put a cell phone inside of them.

Comment edited 44 seconds after posting
0 upvotes
peevee1
By peevee1 (Oct 17, 2012)

Try your HX30V in relatively low light (not even night). Like indoors shooting kids playing and running around.

0 upvotes
Cyril Catt
By Cyril Catt (Oct 17, 2012)

Most small cameras still use the format conceived for cassette-based 35 mm film cameras in the 1930s, with the lens axis at right angles to the film track. To fit longer lenses needed for larger sensors, they may have to adopt a 'pistol' format, such as the five-year-old Canon TX1, where the body is aligned to the lens axis. That would restrict the size along the other two axes, allowing a more compact form.

1 upvote
JohnFredC
By JohnFredC (Oct 16, 2012)

The problem with larger sensors is the size of the lenses. As long as manufacturers persist with camera form factors where the lens protrudes from the front of the camera, the sensor size will determine pocketability. This continuing reliance on historical camera design impedes progress in the areas debated so enthusiastically in this thread.

The first mfg who combines a larger sensor (1" would be swell) with a folded optics design (similar to the Sony T-series, for instance) and a decent zoom range (6x-10x), smart camera interface via large touch screen, and SLR-style mechanical controls ergonomically placed, will change the camera paradigm forever, and get my money almost immediately.

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 4 minutes after posting
3 upvotes
robmanueb
By robmanueb (Oct 16, 2012)

Indeed. Do compact cameras need saving? I think the only thing compact cameras need to survive is greater telecommunication abilities. That will come along with wifi etc at no loss to image quality. The phone and compact camera market are not mutually exclusive. The one inch chip is a great development and will help speed development of the high quality "swiss army knife" type cameras.

2 upvotes
forpetessake
By forpetessake (Oct 16, 2012)

>The problem with larger sensors is the size of the lenses.

That's a common misconception. In order to get the same amount of light (and the same image characteristics) for two different sensor sizes built on the same technology, the effective aperture of the lens must be the same. The lens can be shorter for smaller sensor, but it doesn't mean it will be overall smaller and lighter. If some manufacturer designs compact 50mm FF lens with F/5.6, it will likely be close in size and weight to an equivalent 33mm/F3.7 APS-C lens or 25mm/F2.8 micro 4/3 lens. The major reason why FF lenses are so much bigger is because they are so much brighter.

5 upvotes
Dan
By Dan (Oct 17, 2012)

If that's true, how come every camera with a "big" sensor comes with such a small, useless zoom range? Look at how huge a 3x DSLR zoom is.

I'll believe what you're saying when I see a compact using a 1" sensor with a 20x zoom. The zoom range is the ONLY thing keeping me from being interested in the Sony RX100.

Smaller sensors require smaller focal lengths. THAT is why cameras with smaller sensors have smaller lenses. Look at the zoom on the Canon S5is. It's a 12X zoom that is large aperture! F2.7-3.5! The actual focal length range of the lens is 6-72mm but the equivalent range is 36-432mm! Imagine how big it would be if it had a lens with a 36-432mm focal length range!

0 upvotes
Fixx
By Fixx (Oct 17, 2012)

I would buy camera like that with even less zoom range. Even bifocal 35/70mm (35mm equivalent) "variable prime" lens would be enough, if f would be around 2.8.

0 upvotes
Esa Tuunanen
By Esa Tuunanen (Oct 17, 2012)

Problem of folded optics design is that it severely limits the size of optics. Even with small sensors you don't see much of zoom range and good f-ratios in folded optics compacts.

And further bigger sensor needs bigger optics.
First because of longer focal lengths and hence aperture size. (or there's no light gathering advantage)
Secondly most lens aberrations start increasing about exponentially when distance to image circle's center grows, which leads to optical design with more/bigger lens elements to keep them under control.

2 upvotes
MichaelJC
By MichaelJC (Oct 18, 2012)

Are you talking about a lens like this? http://www.dpreview.com/previews/panasonic_x_14-42_3p5-5p6/

0 upvotes
ybizzle
By ybizzle (Oct 16, 2012)

It's funny..Sigma put an APS-C sized sensor in the DP1 compact 4 years ago and no one cared...Now Sony puts a 1" sensor in a compact and everyone is jumping up for joy... ;)

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

We gave the DP1 a lot of coverage precisely because it was innovative and interesting (though, so far as I can tell, Sigma didn't call its 1.7x crop sensors APS-C - though that may be a retrospective correction, now its Merrill sensors are 'standard' APS-C).

The point is that the Sony also has a flexible, zoom lens and costs a fraction of the price of the DP1 - both of which help broaden its appeal.

10 upvotes
ET2
By ET2 (Oct 17, 2012)

Sony did it before Sigma in R1. RX100 however is truly compact camera despite decent zoom.

1 upvote
ybizzle
By ybizzle (Oct 17, 2012)

Well see that's my point. The coverage was there but the sales were not. The so called enthusiasts didn't embrace the DP1 like they are embracing the RX100. Granted the DP1 did not have the bells and whistles the RX does, it still brought DSLR image quality to the table in a pocketable form factor. Sure the price was high, but it wasn't out of reach for most people like say the RX1 is today.

Comment edited 5 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
Franka T.L.
By Franka T.L. (Oct 17, 2012)

Humbly I disagree, FOA, the DP-1 is not exactly APS-C sized, the DP-1/2M are though. The real deal is not the sensor, alone; the deal is about the total package. The Foveon X3F do return some very fine capture provided one stay within its limitation but that limitation is what made that a dedicated enthusiast machine vs a more widely usable hobbyist and casual user friendly platform. Then there's the pocketability part and the zoom vs fix focals. Though I would prefer a nice decent fast fix focal over any zoom anytime, there is no denying that its not the best of choice for a pocketable compact that allow wide range of coverage and shooting need. The RX-100 excel at being a balance and work well on almost all aspect of the need. The Dp series is more a dedicated enthusiast platform and its a compact, but not pocktable for real.

2 upvotes
Michael_13
By Michael_13 (Oct 18, 2012)

ybizzle:
A DPx is useless for me. I need wide angle and portrait in one lens.
I guess many buyers think this way.

0 upvotes
Mescalamba
By Mescalamba (Oct 16, 2012)

Yea and portrait shot with Canon 5D and 70-200mm lens. :D

It sorta reminds me official D3 pics shot with Phase Ones..

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

Almost as if you choose the best tool for the job?

At the moment, most of Aptina's camera sensors are for compacts and here Barna is talking about compact cameras - there's no contradiction in saying '1" could help compacts improve' and then being shot with a DSLR (at some unspecified point in the past). If he'd said '1" sensors will render full frame DSLRs obsolete,' you might be onto something.

6 upvotes
ppastoris
By ppastoris (Oct 18, 2012)

that all is obvious, but still is funny :).

1 upvote
Combatmedic870
By Combatmedic870 (Oct 16, 2012)

The first company to release a 12-16mp 1" sensor "compact", with a sharp 24-120 F2-2.8(or 2.8 constant) lens with hybrid AF(meaning FAST), plus a good EVF, for $800 = Take my money please.

Yes...it is going to have a lens cap....Oh no!! LOL

If Fuji's X10 had 24mm instead of 28mm....i would already have it...But i'd still prefer something with hybrid AF.

Until then...i'll be shooting with my XZ-1

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

I don't think it'd be very small, with that lens range/speed, but I think you've spoiled it by not demanding it costs $100.

11 upvotes
Combatmedic870
By Combatmedic870 (Oct 17, 2012)

It doesnt have to be that small. Plus it doesnt need to have a tilt screen! :)

If fuji where to make that camera with the 2/3" sensor id be happy as well.

0 upvotes
bluevaping
By bluevaping (Oct 17, 2012)

Its a sounds like a sound idea mostly. I would even say a make the lens for the Nikon 1 system. Perhaps the V2 would have 12-16mp and fix current short comings of the first generation. Sigma has already stated the have an interest in making Nikon 1 system lens.

http://www.techradar.com/us/news/photography-video-capture/cameras/sigma-wed-like-to-make-nikon-1-lenses-1069706

0 upvotes
taktak91
By taktak91 (Oct 18, 2012)

Manufacturer answers to all your technical needs, and all they get out of you is $800...

0 upvotes
John Miles
By John Miles (Oct 16, 2012)

All Mr SB's comments here are old news. The 1" is just a sensor on the way down to the 2/3" and a new generation of 1/1.7" after that. To talk of nothing between 1/2.33" and APS-C was just self serving. In 2005 the FZ50 had a 1/1.8" sensor with a Leica lens on the front that wasn't bettered by smaller sensor cameras until the LX5 and FZ150 (and then only just). So just a tiny hike in sensor size delivers realistic advantage.

Fuji are venturing into the 2/3" sensor category, and with enthusiast grade cameras. Temporary issues of image processing aside, this places Fuji far and away ahead on the sensor development curve than any other manufacturer.

Anything above 2/3" is a temporary solution. 15 years from now the whole lens change market will have reduced to professional and enthusiasts only. Domestic photography will comprise almost entirely of fixed lens cameras, where their only advantage over phone cameras will be their capacity to zoom and offer external dedicated controls.

Comment edited 4 minutes after posting
2 upvotes
Tape5
By Tape5 (Oct 16, 2012)

I think a lot of people underestimate Sony's achievement in creating a ''total engineering feat'' that RX100 is. I don't want to overstate the point but it is a bit unfair to call RX100 a product that is a small size crystalisation of a 1" sensor technology or execution. A simple inevitability. Sony deserves more credit.

Firstly it is the sensor (gold medal right there!), number 2 is the processor, number 3 is the lens, number 4 is the firmware, number 5 is the form factor, Number 6 is how juicy and how metallic it feels inside your hand (not hands), number 7 is its size.

10 upvotes
Franka T.L.
By Franka T.L. (Oct 16, 2012)

Indeed, very well put, and consider this, I think what Sony did put forth with the RX-100 is that the Mfr had demonstrate how well a balance can be made out of a package. It's not having the widest or fastest zoom of its gene. Its also not the smallest or lightest, its not ... well add your own ... BUT it excel at each and every feature / performance being asked for in a pocketable compacts and with Image quality thrown in for good.

Its already a given fact that for many a snapping casual shoots, the better smartphones already did it good enough for many. For compact camera to survive , it must ascend to a level that distinguish itself, and the RX-100 pretty much are the making of such. And the 1" sensor is one of the key factor I say

4 upvotes
Cy Cheze
By Cy Cheze (Oct 16, 2012)

The RX100 won only a "silver."

Flimsy battery cover. Control ring too smooshy. Aperture narrows dramatically with any zoom at all. $650 price a little steep for the sake of incremental IQ that only a pixel peeper would notice, and not the advantage of a red dot that the masses surely would notice. Due to small size and limitations of on-board mics, the video / audio performance will feature the same shake and marginal audio that constrains less expensive or "advanced" cameras.

5 upvotes
TrojMacReady
By TrojMacReady (Oct 16, 2012)

Cy Cheze wrote:
"incremental IQ that only a pixel peeper would notice"

It's effectively on par with many APS-C cameras plus their respective kitlenses in most areas. In terms of resolution, noise for a given exposure and DOF, DOF control, dynamic range and shot to shot times. Even faster than some when shooting RAW (also thanks to fast buffer clearing). And that at a size that fits in a jeans pocket.

Apparently, the "masses" have already taken notice of the above.

Comment edited 12 minutes after posting
6 upvotes
notime
By notime (Oct 16, 2012)

I would think a typical user is not comparing ISO100 in great lighting results but ISO3200 and ISO6400, as the typical user realizes limitations in low light for cameras.

2 upvotes
Dan
By Dan (Oct 17, 2012)

The ONLY thing keeping me from being interested in the RX100 is its useless zoom range. Give me a 20x lens, and I'll be much more likely to buy it.

0 upvotes
forpetessake
By forpetessake (Oct 16, 2012)

The megapixel race is over, the sensor size race begins. Not surprising at all. As the sensor performance is getting closer to the physical limits, the only game left is increasing the sensor area. That means smart phones will increasingly use 1" sensors, P&S will use APS-C size, m4/3 format will likely die, and advanced consumer cameras will use FF sensors. Where the professional equipment will migrate is a mystery, because the glass keeps it at FF size.

8 upvotes
Humboldt Jim
By Humboldt Jim (Oct 16, 2012)

Can we assume that a 1" sensor system can be stopped down to ƒ16, or even 22 without diffraction problems?

0 upvotes
wetsleet
By wetsleet (Oct 16, 2012)

it depends only on the pixel density, not the form factor.

0 upvotes
Henrik Herranen
By Henrik Herranen (Oct 16, 2012)

Why should we be able to assume such a thing? Even with Full Frame sensors f/16 is in the diffraction limited area, and their area is almost 10 times as large as with the 1" sensor.

2 upvotes
wetsleet
By wetsleet (Oct 16, 2012)

"Even with Full Frame sensors f/16 is in the diffraction limited area"

Again, it depends on the pixel density - the form factor is irrelevant. An optical system is diffraction limited when diffraction is the 'bottleneck' in the system.

Diffraction is ever present, the question is whether diffraction or pixel density is the more limiting factor.

If the circle of confusoin due to diffraction is smaller than the pixel pitch (approx) then diffraction is not the limiting factor, pixel pitch is. Reducing diffraction will not improve the image, the pixel density is already fully served and is not able to see anything better.

However, if the CoC due to diffraction exceeds the pixel pitch, then diffraction is limiting the picture resolution. Iincreasing pixel density will not improve the image, the image projected on the sensor is already fully resolved by the pixel density.

But in all cases the surface area of the sesnor is not the issue - all that matters is the pixel density.

0 upvotes
Dan
By Dan (Oct 17, 2012)

If that's true, cameras with more megapixels would be diffraction limited at larger apertures. Is this true in real life? Is the Nikon D3200 more diffraction limited than the D50?

0 upvotes
Humboldt Jim
By Humboldt Jim (Oct 17, 2012)

Ye gads! what did I start? Let me re-phrase and re-state. The smallest absolute aperture for ƒ8 and a 1/2.3 sensor is the smallest possible size for preventing significant diffraction effects AT THE APERTURE. What would be the corresponding value be with the same size aperture and a 1" sensor?

0 upvotes
Esa Tuunanen
By Esa Tuunanen (Oct 17, 2012)

Humboldt, with their current excessive MarketingPee numbers compacts are basically always limited by diffraction.

Here's calculator for Airy disk size at different f-ratios and pixel sizes for some cameras.
http://www.cambridgeincolour.com/tutorials/diffraction-photography.htm

1 upvote
wetsleet
By wetsleet (Oct 17, 2012)

@Dan
Yes, the camera with the higer pixel density will be limited by diffraction sooner (i.e. from a wider aperture). So if both cameras have the same sized sensor, this means the higher megapixel camera is diffraction limited from wider apertures than the lower resolution camera.

So the D3200 will notice the effects of diffraction sooner than the D50.

BUT - this does not mean that the D3200 takes a worse picture than the D50 at small apertures. As you progressively close the aperture the D3200 will be still recording the better picture even as its IQ becomes progressively more attenuated by diffraction , until you reach the aperture at which the D50 also notices the effects of diffraction, at which point both cameras IQ will be about equal (considering IQ as image acuity only).

"Diffraction limited" means that diffraction, not sensor resolution, has become the limit on image acuity - but that limit may yet be higher (better) than the native acuity of a lower res sensor.

0 upvotes
Mike Davis
By Mike Davis (Nov 3, 2012)

The f-Number at which diffraction will begin to inhibit a desired print resolution (expressed in line pairs per millimeter for a viewing distance of 10 inches), at an anticipated enlargement factor can be calculated as follows:

f-Number = 1 / desired print resolution / anticipated enlargement factor / 0.00135383

A 1-inch sensor would have dimensions 13.2 x 8.8mm.

The possible f-Numbers at which diffraction would inhibit a desired print resolution at an anticipated viewing distance are endless, but here is an example combination:

Continued below...

0 upvotes
Mike Davis
By Mike Davis (Nov 3, 2012)

A desired resolution of 5 lp/mm (which is equivalent to 360dpi, taking into account the 30% loss of resolution imposed by a typical CMOS sensor's Bayer algorithm and AA filter), to support viewing distances as close as 10-inches (25cm), for a 23x enlargement factor (which is required to make an 8x12-inch print from a 1-inch sensor's uncropped capture - an enlargement factor that would require, at 360 dpi, an image resolution of 2880x4320 pixels, or 12.44 MP:

f-Number = 1/ 5 / 23 / 0.00135383 = 6.42

Thus, a one-inch, 12.44 MP sensor cannot deliver more than 5 lp/mm (360dpi) of resolution after enlargement to an 8x12-inch print when using f-Numbers larger than f/6.42.

A one inch sensor is still quite small, compared to a full frame or MF sensor.

Continued below...

0 upvotes
Mike Davis
By Mike Davis (Nov 3, 2012)

Using the example I've given above, if you're willing to assume that no one will view your prints at distances less than 20 inches (instead of 10 inches), you can double the calculated f-Number, stopping down to f/12.84 - delivering an effective 2.5 lp/mm at 20 inches that will appear every bit as detailed as a 5 lp/mm print at 10 inches.

Please note that there are only two variables in the formula for calculating the f-Number at which diffraction will begin to inhibit a desired print resolution (expressed in lp/mm for a 10-inch viewing distance): Enlargement factor and desired print resolution at a given viewing distance.

Somehow, discussions of resolution (or "sharpness") almost always neglect these critical variables.

Have a look at the equation for calculating the maximum acceptable diameter for a circle of confusion. It includes Enlargement factor and desired print resolution at a given viewing distance.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Circle_of_confusion

0 upvotes
Alvar
By Alvar (Oct 16, 2012)

Yeah, I never understood why did they lock compacts with 1/2.3" and 1/1.7" sensors. They are simply unacceptable upwards 400 ISO. If they want to keep the size they should at least give a good 1600 ISO and fast lenses. Compacts are mostly good in the day and in the night only with flash wich is a pain.

0 upvotes
robmanueb
By robmanueb (Oct 16, 2012)

I can't understand why compacts have more than 6MP. I have an old Canon powershot 6MP and the subsequent generations 7,8,9 up to 10MP all seem to have exactly the same low light ability. I kept looking at swapping my powershot for a later generation model until I realised I was wasting my time and saw that I needed to skip more than five generations to see any improvements in picture quality. Technology vs marketing.

3 upvotes
Esa Tuunanen
By Esa Tuunanen (Oct 17, 2012)

Precisely.
Diffraction and lens aberrations along with strong noise removing has blurred pixels of compacts so badly there hasn't been real improvement in image details in many years.
You could easily decrease amount of pixels in small sensors by at least 1/3 without any decrease in real information of image... More likely amount of real information in images would just increase because of better dynamic range and less excessive NR.

0 upvotes
AbrasiveReducer
By AbrasiveReducer (Oct 16, 2012)

I agree that the difference between small sensor cameras and phones isn't enough. The problem is, these cameras and phones are good enough for most people and not everyone who wants a big jump in quality will be willing to pay for it.

The Sony has been successful because of the ultra-rave reviews from "mainstream" people like David Pogue and because nobody else is making anything similar. Now, the other companies have to decide if they are going to make relatively expensive cutting edge cameras to compete for this pocket enthusiast market (whatever Sony & Fuji leave on the table) or stick with mediocrity and sell tons of adequate but not great small cameras.

Comment edited 32 seconds after posting
2 upvotes
D1N0
By D1N0 (Oct 16, 2012)

1" would be a huge improvement over the 1/2.3" sensors of most compacts. But it is much cheaper to produce for small sensors, because smaller is cheaper in the chip world and because you can make optics much cheaper. Also you can't make a 24-800mm equivalent powerszoom for 1". (you actually can, but it would be huge heavy and very expensive).

its easier to sell zoomranges than sensor sizes to the general public. If it weren't everybody would want a full frame.

Comment edited 29 seconds after posting
1 upvote
forpetessake
By forpetessake (Oct 16, 2012)

>Also you can't make a 24-800mm equivalent powerszoom for 1". (you actually can, but it would be huge heavy and very expensive).

Not true. You just crop the image from 1" sensor to the same size and you'll get the same zoom and more importantly *the same quality* on the same process. The 1" sensor doesn't take anything away from a smaller sensor, it adds to it. The cost is also a relative factor, as somebody said "eventually every chip costs $1".

4 upvotes
Cy Cheze
By Cy Cheze (Oct 16, 2012)

Most common buyer questions:
* How many pixels?
* How much zoom?
* HD video?
* Wifi / Facebook?
* Geotagging, GPS?
* Color?
To suggest that "sensor size" mean anything other than "number of pixels" will be treated with eye rolls.

2 upvotes
robmanueb
By robmanueb (Oct 16, 2012)

and
* Can I make phone calls with it?

1 upvote
Dan
By Dan (Oct 17, 2012)

What do you mean not true? If your sensor is bigger, the lens has to get bigger. You're talking about cropping the image? No way! That's a reduction in IQ!

0 upvotes
Dr_Jon
By Dr_Jon (Oct 17, 2012)

The Nokia 808 Pureview sensor has 41MP, but the pixels are the same size as the pixels in my 8MP iPhone 4S (it's a big sensor). This means if you zoom by cropping down to the centre 8MP you have a camera the same as my iPhone. (The 808 has a good lens and only using the centre will get you the best bit of it.)

However the same isn't (usefully) true of my RX100, you can zoom by cropping but 20MP disappears quickly as it's a square effect. Hence a 2x zoom by crop gets you to 5MP. To get a useful "zoom by crop" you need a lot of pixels, hence expensive electronics to push them around and process them plus really really good lenses (the Sony lens is certainly good, but look at the camera price). Also you will get nuked by diffraction unless it's a big/expensive sensor...
(There is a comment size limit, so to be continued.)

Comment edited 8 minutes after posting
1 upvote
Dr_Jon
By Dr_Jon (Oct 17, 2012)

Diffraction effects start at:
Pixel size 2.5um -> f4 (e.g. 1/1.7" 12MP such as Canon G9)
Pixel size 4.3um -> f6.8
Pixel size 5.2um -> f8.3
Pixel size 6.4um -> f10.2 (e.g. full-frame 21MP sensor)
Pixel size 7.2um -> f11.5
Sensor size only affects how many pixel you get at a size. A number of compact cameras are diffraction limited with the lens wide-open. Note most compacts with 1/2.3" sensors and lots of pixels are hitting diffraction way below f4.

2 upvotes
intensity studios
By intensity studios (Oct 16, 2012)

The first company to make an interchangeable lens, small camera that can make phone calls and have wireless internet will be the company that gets my money.

1 upvote
forpetessake
By forpetessake (Oct 16, 2012)

Most people use phones to make phone calls. The last thing they need is a lens sticking out their pockets.

5 upvotes
Helm156
By Helm156 (Oct 16, 2012)

Sorry to disagree but if you're under 40 close to the last thing you use your smart phone for is phone calls. Txt, www, audio, camera, facebook, txt, audio - repeat ... receive call from Mom

3 upvotes
ed kelly
By ed kelly (Oct 16, 2012)

It's funny the Sony RX100 camera pictured at the top of the article has the aftermarket grip on it. Bravo.

2 upvotes
tkbslc
By tkbslc (Oct 16, 2012)

I think Mr. Barna has a good point, but I fear his company might become irrelevant now that we've seen the kind of 1" sensor that Sony can produce.

4 upvotes
Michael Ma
By Michael Ma (Oct 16, 2012)

If they can make a $300 X-Pro 1, I would consider spending cash for a small camera to carry. But the question is, why would they? And even if it was $300, I'd still be on the fence. I already got my SLR for photography, and my smartphone for every day, on the fly pic taking.

0 upvotes
rfsIII
By rfsIII (Oct 16, 2012)

It's not the sensor size that matters to me. It's how fast can I get the image onto my social media platforms. Life is too short and the speed of business is too fast for me to go home, fire up my computer, launch Lightroom, edit the RAW files, export them for posting, and then....finally.... post.

What the world really needs is an iPhone that will fully autofocus and power the image stabilization of Nikkor or Canon lenses. Ability to control speedlights would be nice too.

Comment edited 3 minutes after posting
2 upvotes
Richard Butler
By Richard Butler (Oct 16, 2012)

In which case, a good smartphone will be perfect.

Saying you're not interested in sensor size is essentially the same as saying you're not interested in image quality, since one dictates the other (to a very high degree).

Not that I'm criticising that balance of IQ and convenience but this article is about providing an option for people wanting a different balance, with more emphasis on image quality.

11 upvotes
rfsIII
By rfsIII (Oct 16, 2012)

I used to think that sensor size was important too, but I've seen too many wonderous, life-changing, beautiful images coming out of crummy, antiquated digital cameras.
Part of it is that with every generation Photoshop and Lightroom are able to pull more out of the files. The other part is that digital cameras started out so good that aside from noise at higher ISOs, the improvements have been subtle.
Image quality has been on a downhill slide since we stopped shooting on 20x24 glass plate negatives. A 1" sensor or even a 36.7 x 49.1 sensor is going to have a hard time getting us back to where we were at the turn of the last century.

0 upvotes
Dan
By Dan (Oct 17, 2012)

And who shot 20x24 glass plate negatives? =)

Back to digital...I don't know what these people are doing with these images of "increased IQ" but I am amazed at what I see on Instagram and other similar sites. Creativity is far more valuable and cell phone cameras are good enough for most people. Very few people will care about compacts with increased IQ because I know I don't (unless they can come out with a camera similar to the HX30V with a large sensor but not make it huge). When I want IQ, I grab my DSLR.

0 upvotes
rfsIII
By rfsIII (Oct 17, 2012)

Carleton E. Watkins (1829-1916) was the most famous of the photographers who used huge glass plates. He shot all over the west including Yosemite and the Columbia Gorge. He is said to have required up to a dozen mules to haul all his gear to Yosemite. And I was wrong, his glass plates were only 18x22 inches.

0 upvotes
JEROME NOLAS
By JEROME NOLAS (Oct 16, 2012)

The inch is fine, anything smaller than 1 inch should be used in phones or Nikon compacts....

0 upvotes
mosc
By mosc (Oct 16, 2012)

I agree with Mr. Barna. The sensor size on compact cameras compared to phones just doesn't justify their continued existence. Larger sensors in compacts is going to be the best way forward. The RX100 isn't just a 1" sensor though, it's a far brighter lens than anything attached to Mr. Barna's sensor. You want people to shoot without a flash on a 1" sensor they're going to need f2.8 or better indoors. Even the RX100 struggles indoors at portrait lengths.

I'd also wonder about how small a u4/3 fixed lens camera could get down to. A GF5 with that power zoom lens of theirs isn't that large. Integrating it might compete directly with the RX100 with a good bit bigger sensor.

I don't honestly care if my sensor size is 2/3", 1", or 4/3", they're not that different. The glass you can attach cost effectively to each and the volume of the camera is what's important. If you can make a 2/3" camera with f1.4-f2.8 25-100, I'd take it over the RX100.

1 upvote
Jakubo
By Jakubo (Oct 16, 2012)

ditch the inch! we want full frame! RX1 for everybody!

9 upvotes
viking79
By viking79 (Oct 16, 2012)

We would need a lot of government handouts to support that! ;)

4 upvotes
mosc
By mosc (Oct 16, 2012)

You put a fixed lens in my wife's hand she's not going to know what to do with it. Nor is she going to put an RX1 in her purse. The RX100 however fits in pretty well.

2 upvotes
subzerohf
By subzerohf (Oct 16, 2012)

I carry an iPhone 4S everywhere I go. The camera on it is as good as most (if not all) compact cameras. In my opinion, the 1" sensor is truely another marketing scheme to prolong the death of compact cameras. But hey, who am I to stop the mighty marketing machine? People will love it and be happy to pay up. Besides, "one-inch" sensor sounds pretty awesome to the ears of the untrained. People like round numbers.

I am not saying larger sensors are not superior. I'm just saying it is the skill of the shooter that matters more than the sensor size. Check this out:
http://connect.dpreview.com/post/2863436371/leaving-my-dslr-at-home-iphone-experiment

1 upvote
WilliamJ
By WilliamJ (Oct 16, 2012)

I took a photo of a kingfisher with my Fujifilm F600EXR yesterday, it was maybe at 100 meters away from me under a foliage. I strongly doubt your iPhone could have caught such a picture: beware of hubris !

Comment edited 39 seconds after posting
5 upvotes
kongqueror
By kongqueror (Oct 16, 2012)

You have an iPhone for chrissakes and then you talk about 1" sensors being a marketing gimmick and those who fall for it are "untrained"? Seriously!

The iPhone 5 (uses a Sony sensor) and the Nokia 808 have possibly the best sensors for phone cams right now, but they will not compete with an RX100 or the Nikon 1s just yet. The sensors on these will seperate themselves from the phone cams more obviously when it comes to low-light situations. In broad daylight under the sun, sure - phone cams can compete with the 1" sensor but to dismiss some real advantages of going to a larger sensor is just silly.

7 upvotes
MikeNYC
By MikeNYC (Oct 16, 2012)

It all depends on what you want to do with your camera. I am not really a big zoom guy, so iphone works out great for me. I actually bought sony hx7v and returned it. The quality of pictures wasn't that much better then my iphone and it was actually surprising slow in operation. So I am sticking with my iphone and D90 until full frame cameras become common again. All I need is a "cheap" full frame rangefinder and fast 50 (and maybe 24mm).
By the way, shame on Nikon for using 1 inch sensor in their mirror-less system.

0 upvotes
lecoupdejarnac
By lecoupdejarnac (Oct 16, 2012)

@kongqueror please don't insult my Nokia 808 by holding it in the same class as the iphone :p

As for the 808 versus the Nikon 1, my wife has a J1 and my 808 definitely can capture more detail in daylight conditions (DR isn't quite as good, though). Hell, the sensor is almost as big as 1" sensors, and in 38MP mode the detail is phenomenal. The downsampled 8MP and 5MP modes are comparable at higher ISO to the Nikon 1 in low light too.

This is definitely where the future of cameraphones is headed; there will be more phones with larger sensors.

2 upvotes
kongqueror
By kongqueror (Oct 16, 2012)

@lecoupdejarnac aplogies to your Nokia 808... these darn phones are just so hitech now and I believe as much as you do that they will replace the cheap point & shoots eventually. I see myself with a DSLR + cameraphone combo for all my digital photography/videography needs very soon - just need to decide on which DSLR to get and upgrade from my Samsung Galaxy S1.

Comment edited 1 minute after posting
0 upvotes
jonikon
By jonikon (Oct 16, 2012)

I own a Nikon D7000 and love the image quality from the 16MP APS-C Sony sensor. However, the size of the D7000 and lenses is often bothersome and attracts too much attention so when Adorama started selling the Nikon V1 with 10-30mm lens for $399 I jumped on it. So what do I think of the 1" sensor's IQ? I found it is surprisingly good, with high ISO image quality better than my previous DSLR (Sony a700), and a huge step up from a small sensor pocket camera. I don't agree at all with the disparaging remarks about the image quality from some posters on the forums regarding the 1" sensor. The IQ of the Nikon System 1 cameras is very good indeed, and more than adequate for most camera buyers in the price range of the J1/J2.
Now that Sony is on board with the great marketing success of the Sony RX100, I now believe the 1" sensor will displace the current tiny sensor used in current pocket cameras, and may even displace the m4/3 format at some point.

Best regards,
Jon

1 upvote
yslee1
By yslee1 (Oct 16, 2012)

Too many people look at tech specs and not at image samples.

2 upvotes
Dan
By Dan (Oct 17, 2012)

The problem is that the zoom range is worthless to me. I want a 20x zoom in a compact.

0 upvotes
kff
By kff (Oct 16, 2012)

And Why not tablet with 1'' senzor ? It is about modules etc.

Compact camera is into pocket.

Tablet has bigger display (so good for my eyes and for retouching) and there is possible to make camera modules such as Asus Padfone 2 loaded a smartphone ...
Camera module like ILCs etc.

Who wil be a first ??? :)

And when will add camera module for similar tablet anyone like Lytro ???

Comment edited 4 times, last edit 3 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
shaocaholica
By shaocaholica (Oct 16, 2012)

Funny how the RX100 would have blown peoples minds just 4 years ago. All I remember hearing was arguing how you can't make a camera that small with a sensor that large. The market leaders at the time were as small as it could ever be.

5 upvotes
Andy Crowe
By Andy Crowe (Oct 16, 2012)

Not really, the Sigma DP1 was released 4 years ago with an APS sized sensor. The RX100 would certainly have been impressive, but with a 1" sensor I think the general consensus would have been that it was a sensible step up from compact camera sensors rather than anything mindblowing (like say an APS sized sensor with a similarly small and fast lens).

If anything the RX100 is long overdue.

3 upvotes
WilliamJ
By WilliamJ (Oct 16, 2012)

We could read such a statement until recently, indeed. It's to say that one should be prudent about what is and what is not, what is feasable and what is impossible. So many things have ever been thought to be impossible, just to be prooved feasable and even healthy !

But few were the ones who learnt the lesson and immediatly after, flourish one and two and bags of unfounded statements again and again... That's one of the springs of obscurantism that plague the human race.

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

It's worth considering the cost and AF speed implications of a larger sensor - larger sensors tend to mean larger (heavier, slower to focus) lenses and greater cost.

3 upvotes
WilliamJ
By WilliamJ (Oct 16, 2012)

That's very true, and that's why we are talking here of a totally new market share that would provide high end compact cameras that would cost three or four times the price of a nowadays standard compact camera.

In order to achieve a serious result - bigger sensor, fast AF etc. - camera makers have to use new materials (nano-anything), new generation micro-engines and so on. For my part, I would be willing to buy such a very good compact camera if the zoom range is not bad (say 24-300mm).

0 upvotes
deniz erdem
By deniz erdem (Oct 16, 2012)

i dont thing average consumer is really fixated on sensor size. its a matter of convenience. smartphone camera is just there and its good enough for facebook photos.

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

That's why he's saying the market would be smaller - he's suggesting a breed of small(ish) cameras with significantly better image quality.

3 upvotes
WilliamJ
By WilliamJ (Oct 16, 2012)

And I agree with that idea. Small cameras used to be considered as "toys" or at least "cameras for not so-serious photographers". But there are a lot of reasons why a serious photographer'd want to own a compact camera, a very good one if possible: this market niche has now to be satisfied like the "small-but-top-class-car" niche has been satisfied for some years.

0 upvotes
deniz erdem
By deniz erdem (Oct 16, 2012)

how does a niche save the compact camera?

2 upvotes
WilliamJ
By WilliamJ (Oct 17, 2012)

The same way high-end watches have saved analog watches from the death. Remember 30 years ago, when digital watches began to spread, no one wanted to have this "old analog things" anymore as it was so trendy, so cool, so advanced to have a watch to the wrist that was able to count, to ring songs and so on. Finaly that's the expensive watches that keep living the market and the technics of analog watches and when it appeared it was in the end smarter, cooler, more ecological to have an analog watch, nothing was lost.

By the way, I must point out the fact that Swiss watches are about 5% of all the watches sold around the world, but those little 5% represents 80% of the total value in money. That lead us to as what is better, to sell bags of 0-value compact cameras or to sell a shrunk market niche that makes big money ?

0 upvotes
deniz erdem
By deniz erdem (Oct 17, 2012)

do people still use watches? its mostly a fashion accessory now. smartphones killed that too :)

0 upvotes
WilliamJ
By WilliamJ (Oct 18, 2012)

Yes, people still do use - and buy - hundred of millions of watches each year and most interesting thing is that luxury watches are sold easier than before to higher prices. There are much more brands than before, much more models than before, in another words, that's not bad for a so-called living-dead market... By the way, remember that bridge cameras were told to be over some years ago, yet with superzooms this niche is back again... and again.

0 upvotes
Nishi Drew
By Nishi Drew (Oct 16, 2012)

Problem isn't so much the sensor but the glass, all that AF and stabilization mechanism and extra glass elements that make the lenses too big, the Rollei 35's lens is tiny AND can be pushed right into the body. The tech is there for the sensor and insides, but people want pocketable flexibility, a fixed lens works for snaps but generally anyone going for an actual camera wants that lens to zoom. Funny when I hand over my SLR with a fixed 50 to most people who tell me they'll go ahead and get a good shot and they're so confused, "huh? Something's wrong it doesn't zoom??" And they decide it's a silly idea that SLRs are still around...

As for the 1inch sensor, should be good until more phones/connected cameras decide to up the anti and do that same.

1 upvote
iAPX
By iAPX (Oct 16, 2012)

I use a compact camera, each and every day I have one with me, a pocketable camera. Pocketable means that the camera fit in my pocket, with a rugged body, not that I have to carry a bag wherever I go.

Sorry, but at this point, I don't see the interest of the 1" not-so-compact cameras, compared to APS-C not-so-compact cameras.

I see the point to have pocketable camera, I see the point to have not-so-compact cameras with fast lenses and great sensors, not the point for non-pocketable cameras that have little sensors!

1 upvote
Dennis
By Dennis (Oct 16, 2012)

So how much smaller is your camera than the RX100 ?

7 upvotes
Jono2012
By Jono2012 (Oct 16, 2012)

Like most of us I am looking forward to the day when you can buy a pocketable, reasonably priced, high quality compact, the 1" sensor should fit this criteria.
Although before the 1" sensor I think there a large market ready for a full size sensor (35mm eq.) on a DSLR about 12 million pixels for less than £1k, lets see one of the manufacturers fill that gap first!.

0 upvotes
imbimmer
By imbimmer (Oct 16, 2012)

I actually think 1" sensor is a great idea but I simply doubt Aptina's ability based on what I see from the crappy output of the Nikon 1 series.

They have NOTHING to do with the RX100. Why do they keeping talking about other people's work AS IF they could also ahieve the same? :-)

Comment edited 2 minutes after posting
3 upvotes
Simon97
By Simon97 (Oct 16, 2012)

Come again? Check the Nikon 1 review RAW samples and look at the shadow areas. It is far cleaner than the 4/3rds camera they compared it to.

6 upvotes
imbimmer
By imbimmer (Oct 16, 2012)

Are you saying that 1" sensor in Nikon 1 is demonstrating better noise characteristics than a M4/3 sensor? ROFL

Thanks for bringing that up anyways. DPreview is never short of sample comparisons for that matter.

Comment edited 4 minutes after posting
4 upvotes
Simon97
By Simon97 (Oct 16, 2012)

Okay then, go see for yourself. Here is the link to the RAW samples...
http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/nikonv1j1/18
Select any 4/3rds camera and set ISO to 1600 and look at the dark areas such as the black box with the thread spools. The Nikon is much cleaner than the 12mp sensor and about a stop cleaner than the 16mp. I'd say the 16mp 4/3rds sensor has the advantage given the high res, but in a straight comparison the Aptina clearly has less noise.

1 upvote
imbimmer
By imbimmer (Oct 16, 2012)

Simon,

Dpreview has already pointed out that's because Aptina has adopted the DR-Pix technology on their chip. DXOmarks says its results above ISO400 are being smoothed.

You can follow the link below and check the ISO performance test result yourself. Clearly the V1 is doing much worse than both the GX1 and E-M5.

http://www.dxomark.com/index.php/Cameras/Compare-Camera-Sensors/Compare-cameras-side-by-side/%28appareil1%29/793|0/%28brand%29/Olympus/%28appareil2%29/754|0/%28brand2%29/Panasonic/%28appareil3%29/745|0/%28brand3%29/Nikon

4 upvotes
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