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Sensor size is what matters and the trend is for larger, says Aptina

By Richard Butler on Aug 2, 2013 at 00:00 GMT

Consumers need to think about sensor size rather than pixel count, says Aptina's Sandor Barna, because larger image sensors are likely to appear in all types of devices. Barna, the Vice President and General Manager of sensor maker Aptina's Consumer Camera Business Unit, spoke to us about the challenges facing compact cameras, the niche that will continue to exist for them, and hints that more large sensor compacts are on their way.

Understanding the effect of sensor size is important for customers, he explains: 'The analogy between film and optical format is pretty striking. In the film days, everyone was focused on the size of the film (35mm, 120, etc.) - grain vs. sensitivity (film speed) was a tradeoff decision you made each time you bought some film. In digital, optical format [sensor size] is analogous to film size - pixel count is like the minimum grain size, with a similar sensitivity trade-off. If we applied the old film logic to digital cameras, the optical format would be on the side of the box, not the number of megapixels.'

The image quality benefits brought by larger sensor sizes can help ensure there continues to be a market for compact cameras, he says (though he acknowledges the industry needs a better way of describing sensor size than the current obscure 'inch-type' naming system.)

Aptina's Sandor Barna: 'I believe there's a market for a compact with noticeably better image quality.'

Challenges for compacts

'Smartphones are getting better and your snapshot ability now matches your camera's,' he says. 'Then you think about the constant availability of smartphones and their ability to simply upload to Facebook and you see why compact cameras are declining.' And, he suggests, even the slight sensor size advantage that compacts currently have could soon disappear: 'Some of the less established smartphone makers will try to make a camera with a larger optical format [sensor size]. Mainstream [compact] cameras are susceptible to that because they offer no real advantage.'

But there's still a market for a dedicated camera device, he believes - even for people who don't consider themselves 'photographers.' 'Last time I went on vacation, I wasn't comfortable shooting with my phone, but a current compact wouldn't give me the results I wanted, either - I think there's still a market for people wanting to record planned events - weddings, vacations. I believe there's a market for a compact with noticeably better IQ and features like zoom that smartphones struggle to offer.'

'The places camera makers can differentiate are the areas that you can't introduce those compromises in a phone. Zoom is one of them - smartphone makers don't like the idea of adding this large, moveable, breakable part and their customers won't accept the thicker form factor,' he says: 'there are also system processing constraints in smartphones - the number of processor cycles that can be dedicated to the camera is restricted.'

'So you have to go into spaces that the smartphone can't go,' he says: 'and the main one is optical format [sensor size]'

'But,' he says, 'you have to keep the ease-of-use comparable to that of a smartphone camera - and that's a big challenge. DSLRs aren't for everybody and they're not always convenient. People want a smaller device with that automatic mode they can leave it in. And camera makers need to eliminate the painful process of uploading to a computer, then posting to your favorite website.'

Some smartphone makers are already experimenting with larger sensors (the sensor in Nokia's Lumia 1020 is around 3.5x larger than the ones used in most smartphones)

Go big, or go home

This pressure to offer higher image quality doesn't just affect compacts, he says: 'I think the trend is towards larger format - we've seen an increasing push towards full-frame in the DSLR market and I see everything pushing towards larger formats.' But that still leaves room for something between a smartphone and a DSLR, he says: 'As I said before - I think a 1" sensor represents such a big gap that I don't see that smartphones can go there.'

'For Aptina this trend represents an opportunity to expand - not just with 1" sensors but right up to APS-C,' he explains: 'We've had a lot of interest. In terms of 1", we've been working closely with our current customer base and have been having interest beyond the customer currently using them - we expect to see cameras announced at the beginning of next year.'

'Video is another market opportunity - look at the success GoPro has had,' he says: 'even if you're not using it for action, being able to take a 30 second video clip of your children is very powerful.' However, despite this enthusiasm for video, Barna is not convinced that higher-resolution video is what's going to push the market in the short-term: 'I don't think it'll be 4K yet because I don't think 4K is ready yet - until the point at which people have 4K televisions it'll be a special application. It's really useful for cropping at the moment. Once the monitors are common, you'll start to see it. Home distribution of 4K video will be the breakthrough though - Hollywood is already shooting in 4 - but for user-generated content, 1080 is probably all anyone needs in their pocketable device.'


Aptina designs and produces sensors for a range of products, from smartphones (for which it's just introduced the Clarity+ technology), to consumer cameras such as the Nikon 1 and action cameras, such as the GoPro.

Comments

Total comments: 289
12
falconeyes
By falconeyes (8 months ago)

The article would have been of value if it contained a hint about the cost to OEM of sensors of varying sizes (smart phone to FF). In its current form, the article contains zero bits of information.

After all, a driving force for "larger" would be the falling cost of large sensors.

Comment edited 2 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
falconeyes
By falconeyes (8 months ago)

> though he acknowledges the industry needs a better way of describing sensor size than the current obscure 'inch-type' naming system.

There ALREADY is a better way! Industry simply has to stop the nonsense of mixing equivalent (normalized) focal length with unnormalized aperture and iso ratings. The latter have no meaning whatsoever without taking the sensor size into account. The normalized, equivalent ratings however shine with increasing sensor sizes and bring their benefit to the customers awareness without even talking about the sensor size which, in itself is an impementation detail. It's not meaning anything without taking the aperture into acoount etc.

E.g., describe the Sony RX100II as 28-100mm F/4.9-13.4 ISO1200+
and everbody will understand immediately what camera it is. No need to mention a cryptic 1" size ...

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 12 minutes after posting
3 upvotes
Houseqatz
By Houseqatz (8 months ago)

it's an old video standard

"This goes back to the way image sizes of video cameras used until the late 1980s were expressed, referring to the outside diameter of the glass envelope of the video camera tube."

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

1 upvote
Kevin Purcell
By Kevin Purcell (8 months ago)

Apertures don't scale with image sensor size. DOF does but aperture doesn't.

The Sony RX100II doesn't have an F/4.9-13.4 zoom lens.

1 upvote
stevez
By stevez (8 months ago)

I think the last line in the article sums it up - 1080P is all anyone needs in a phone. Going this route would allow the pixels to be larger thus giving better performance in low light which from what I've seen and heard is the major complaint of camera phones.

0 upvotes
Ulric
By Ulric (8 months ago)

Look at the protruding black part on that Nokia. Make that part a lens mount and make a body cap lens that fits it. Now we have a smart phone that doubles as an interchangeable lens body with a 1" sensor. I would want one.

1 upvote
fastlass
By fastlass (8 months ago)

is this article from 2008?

6 upvotes
Digital Keen
By Digital Keen (8 months ago)

I must say that I find this article to be refreshing after yesterday's article about how DSLRs are becoming obsolete.

Sensor size, for now, matters. End of story. I have paying clients. I AM a pixel peeper and I AM also a talented photographer. Both can exist. My clients deserve the wow factor and I deliever. One, because I have the talent and two, because I have the pro equipment.

2 upvotes
CyberAngel
By CyberAngel (8 months ago)

Nikon D800 you have, young Jedi?

1 upvote
Rbrt
By Rbrt (8 months ago)

Seems to me both sensor size and pixel count are important. What kind of image are you going to get with a big sensor that has only 10 pixels? On the other hand, how many pixels can you squeeze onto a sensor that is only 1 mm square?

To me, sensor size simply determines how many pixels you're going to have. The larger the sensor, the more pixels you can squeeze onto it.

3 upvotes
Franka T.L.
By Franka T.L. (8 months ago)

Right now its not the sensor industry that's limiting the advance. Its the Camera Mfrs. And their lack of vision to go forth and branch out from established norm and their ( perceived ) comfort zone.

3 upvotes
AmateurSnaps
By AmateurSnaps (8 months ago)

We already know larger sensors are a benefit to image quality/high ISO etc. Guess its a slow news day for photography.

4 upvotes
zodiacfml
By zodiacfml (8 months ago)

Hey Oly and Panny, why not a MFT sensor on a fixed lens compact? Remove the AA filter while you're at it.

3 upvotes
Franka T.L.
By Franka T.L. (8 months ago)

I've been saying that for a long time too, but obviously Pany and Oly think otherwise. Any sane person would see that by adopting the same sensor format they can integrate their fixed lens compact line better with their M4/3 line and benefit for both.

0 upvotes
marike6
By marike6 (8 months ago)

Because Olympus and Panasonic are running a business, and if they produced a fixed lens m43 camera it would cannibalize their own system cameras and reduce sales on lenses, the items with the highest profit margins.

So while a fixed lens m43 camera might sound good for the end user, it's not a particularly smart idea from a business perspective.

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 2 minutes after posting
4 upvotes
zodiacfml
By zodiacfml (8 months ago)

I agree with that since there never has been a fixed lens MFT despite it is technically possible.

What I really meant was, I think it's time to come out with that high quality,fixed lens cam now that many people/reviewers are arguing that MFT has little success in the future due to compact APSC & FF formats with just the right size and IQ. e.g. Ricoh GR and RX1.
Ricoh GR/Coolpix A/X100/RX100 is a nice market to get a piece of.....with a MFT LX OR XZ.

0 upvotes
SulfurousBeast
By SulfurousBeast (8 months ago)

Agree and guess Panny and Oly would soon come up with one. But with a body like the GX1, GX7 or even GF6 and a 14 or 20 mm Pancake you have one closer to what would be a fixed lens compact with u3 sensor....? just don't change lenses that all !!

0 upvotes
zodiacfml
By zodiacfml (8 months ago)

Remove the Fuji x100 due to the lens and VF making it large....but there's value in a collapsing lens camera. If it can be done on APSC, much more on MFT. I would prefer a very fast, prime lens though, over a moderate aperture 3x zoom.

0 upvotes
white shadow
By white shadow (8 months ago)

It should be technically possible for them to make a fixed lens large sensor compact camera. The Ricoh GR and the Nikon A are good examples. If they were to use a micro 4/3 sensor, the cameras should even be smaller or with a brighter lens like f1.8 or f/2.0.

In the film days not long ago, all compact cameras were 35mm full frame and the size were quite small. The Olympus Mju II 35mm f/2.8 and the Ricoh GR1V are good examples.

If they could make them for film, they should be able to do it for digital. Anybody knows why they are not making them? Perhaps, Sandor Barna may have some industry information.

The current Sony RX1 is good attempt but it is just too expensive and the size is still not pocketable.

If they could make a digital Olympus Mju II, I would buy one immediately.

1 upvote
tjbates
By tjbates (8 months ago)

I've already got a fixed lens m4/3 camera. I never take my 20mm f1.7 off my GH2 because it's that good!

0 upvotes
mikiev
By mikiev (8 months ago)

"In the film days not long ago, all compact cameras were 35mm full frame and the size were quite small. The Olympus Mju II 35mm f/2.8 and the Ricoh GR1V are good examples.

If they could make them for film, they should be able to do it for digital. "

But - in the film days - they didn't have to include a sensor, electronics, or screen/EVF.

And a FF sensor is the most expensive to make, because all semiconductor manufacturing of the last decade - at least - has been about reducing the size of the chip = the photolithography equipment needed to produce die of the size needed for FF sensors are going to be a low-volume, high-priced pieces of machinery.

0 upvotes
Kodachrome200
By Kodachrome200 (8 months ago)

dxomark says the rx100 has 6 real megapixels from a 21 megapuxel sensor. the ricoh GR has 13 from a 16.

seems to make the point clear

1 upvote
zodiacfml
By zodiacfml (8 months ago)

...there are MFT and APSC cameras with zoom lenses with the same or near 6 MP score. huge exception to the Sigma 18-35mm zoom though.
anyway, the RX100 MP count only hurts if shot in RAW due to larger file sizes.

0 upvotes
AbrasiveReducer
By AbrasiveReducer (8 months ago)

I can't imagine DxO making anything "clear".

0 upvotes
jimread
By jimread (8 months ago)

What a complete idiot.

I use a Panasonic G2 my FF DSLR's in the the loft. From the G2 I get 16" x 20" prints just as good as the DSLR and it's lighter, smaller and much much easier to use.

Jim

3 upvotes
zodiacfml
By zodiacfml (8 months ago)

whatever....he's just trying to say how camera makers can survive in the future.
'So you have to go into spaces that the smartphone can't go,' he says:

6 upvotes
marike6
By marike6 (8 months ago)

The G2 is a large sensor camera relative to most of the market.

And what he's saying actually is right on target, and we are already seeing companies like Sony put larger sensors in smaller form factor cameras.

Not every statement about sensor size is a slight against m43 so whether you agree or not, I'm quite sure he's not an idiot.

2 upvotes
jjl
By jjl (8 months ago)

Apparently you didn't read the article? He's mostly talking about camera/phones vs. stand-alone compacts, and how there is a market for "good" stand-alone compacts, if they're done right.

0 upvotes
D1N0
By D1N0 (8 months ago)

Big sensors indeed. The only camera's for which you can defend the tiny 1/2.3" sensors are the superzooms. Until people find out how limited the use is of 1200mm equivalent zoom range.

4 upvotes
Marla2008
By Marla2008 (8 months ago)

Absolutely, sensor size does matter, a lot ! I do think there is a need for compact, but ONLY equipped with an APS-C chip. Anything below that don't cut it, at least for what I want. For you guys never heard of Aptina, have you lived under a rock, lol ?

3 upvotes
tjbates
By tjbates (8 months ago)

I think most would agree. We just don't need DPR to allow Aptina to tell us like we didn't know already.
Now Sandor Barna needs to go away and develop something that is significantly better than what we already have and then convince us that "more than good enough" (which we have already) is not good enough. Good luck!

Comment edited 6 minutes after posting
1 upvote
SulfurousBeast
By SulfurousBeast (8 months ago)

Yes, but not exactly when it comes to keeping the overall size smaller. APS-C would never develop lenses that are any smaller than what is currently available. It is just the function of Sensor size and the image dia and hence the lens size required to cover it. That's where u3 and 1" sensors hit the Sweet spot. If now Aptina can focus on improving the performance of these to what current Full Frame and APS-C can do that would be great. BTW I don't think any of the readers here needed to be told that Sensor size is important....like stating the obvious....

2 upvotes
tjbates
By tjbates (8 months ago)

Totally agree. FF sensors are great but shoe-horning a FF sensor into a smaller body doesn't necessarily make for a small lightweight kit because the limitations of physics determine that fast zooms especially with IS are heavy and very large.

0 upvotes
tjbates
By tjbates (8 months ago)

A free advertisement for Aptina?

5 upvotes
monkeybrain
By monkeybrain (8 months ago)

Yes, I will immediately go and purchase a new Aptina sensor for my old camera.

14 upvotes
Kodachrome200
By Kodachrome200 (8 months ago)

aptina sells to corporate purchasers this isnt that big a deal to them

2 upvotes
jjl
By jjl (8 months ago)

Right... we should never read articles about the thoughts/opinions of people who run companies that make camera/imaging hardware.

Just turn-on your BS filter, and there's plenty of valuable information left-over in articles like these.

1 upvote
yonsarh
By yonsarh (8 months ago)

sensor size dont matter.In the future, image sensor price will be so cheap
which will cost less than a dollar and will be used on everywhere. mdigitial photographyis all about the sensor. Due to advance of technology, sensor price will be worhtless, unless theres new type of photography technology announces.

0 upvotes
Tape5
By Tape5 (8 months ago)

Photography used to be a domain of genuine enthusiasts and artists in the bad old days.

Now it is whatever handed down to the consumers after the engineering nerds have fulfilled their designs under the command of the ad boys and men in suits to maximise profit.

Someone has to harvest the trillion shutter movements a day of the global hunger to take photos.

2 upvotes
Anastigmat
By Anastigmat (8 months ago)

Enthusiasts and artists who used 110 and disk format cameras. LOL

1 upvote
lightleak
By lightleak (8 months ago)

That was disappointing, when I read „large sensor“ I was preparing for 6x7 digital :)

10 upvotes
jaygeephoto
By jaygeephoto (8 months ago)

I guess the word "large" is highly relative and subjective term when it comes to sensors. But yes, a 6X7cm 200 megapixel would surely reign as the camera from hell. That would roughly translate into a 170 MB RAW file of 12,500 X10,000 pixels. Bring it!

2 upvotes
yabokkie
By yabokkie (8 months ago)

because larger the sensor better the profit for Aptina?

0 upvotes
realq86
By realq86 (8 months ago)

"Optical format" is gonna affect the size of the oval all package of the camera. A FF lens is gonna be that size, says laws of physics. Not everyone wants to carry around a FF lens even if the FF body is the size of a credit card.

1 upvote
nimrod1212
By nimrod1212 (8 months ago)

I think even snapshot photographers now realize that pixel count isn't the Holy Grail - at least in the milieu where I run. This is a non-news item.

0 upvotes
dark goob
By dark goob (8 months ago)

Of course he says that, it's what Aptina makes.

How much did they pay you DPReview?

Go back to the gear shop. DPReview SOLD OUT

1 upvote
Richard Butler
By Richard Butler (8 months ago)

Actually, Aptina has not paid us a penny - I interviewed one of their execs because chip makers have a different perspective from camera makers - one I thought our readers would find interesting.

My understanding is that most of the company's products are relatively small sensors, so he's not just pushing his product. But yes, oddly, an executive from a company thinks his company has something to offer.

29 upvotes
Guy Swarbrick
By Guy Swarbrick (8 months ago)

And, of course, it's self-evidently true.

1 upvote
Camediadude
By Camediadude (8 months ago)

Larger sensors = Larger profit margins for Aptina

3 upvotes
HowaboutRAW
By HowaboutRAW (8 months ago)

That's odd how would Aptina profit from larger sensors? Aptina makes moderately sized, so called 1 inch, sensors--about half the acreage of an APSC sensor. Sony and Renesas make full frame sensors and that's about the size limit for CMOS sensors right now.

Kind of simplistic thinking that misses the entire point: There are real reasons to use a physically bigger sensor. And most cell phone cameras only use tiny sensors. No these reasons are not going to radically change in the next ten years (unless there's a radical new understanding of the science of optics which has been around for at least 300 years).

Comment edited 33 seconds after posting
0 upvotes
Zamac
By Zamac (8 months ago)

When considering the future of fixed-lens cameras outside the enthusiast market one needs to take the prestige factor into account. Nobody NEEDS a Ferrari or a Gucci bag, but the companies making such articles generally remain profitable in spite of increased competition. This applies to cameras as well, especially for important occasions such as weddings, travel, new babies etc. So the compact market will remain, smaller but with higher margins with cameras that LOOK professional and expensive (and I am not referring to certain astronomically named, and priced, bling cameras).

1 upvote
HowaboutRAW
By HowaboutRAW (8 months ago)

What does this have to do with fixed lens cameras?

The Nikon 1 system is not a fixed lens camera, nor is it tiny and compact (though smaller than a DSLR). The Sony RX100 is the only thing close to a compact camera with a sensor about this size. (Bet it uses a Sony sensor, Sony went for too many pixels, unlike Aptina/Nikon.)

Also Ferrari engineers/designs/makes its cars+engines+I believe transmissions, not at all clear that there's a Gucci factory making bags, there are instead highend leather workshops making Gucci designs--which Gucci approves then resells. Now do you understand how it's easy to find a good fake Gucci but not a fake Ferrari?

With the ready availability of extraordinary optics (at a high price) and shooting at ISO 800 and below, the Leica M9 is far from a "bling" camera. The Sony RX1 aint bad either.

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 2 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
km25
By km25 (8 months ago)

When it comes to sensor size, want is full frame. The 35mm format was created by Leica in the late nineteen twenties. At that time they were using motion picture film. The IQ was light travel or spy camera stuff. The only reason we all wanted FF five to ten years ago was: 1. We all had a lot of lens we did not want to give up. 2. All the camera companies did not want to make new lens. 3. No one liked the crop factor, wide angle side was lacking.
Size of the sessor in 135 land were FF the biggest, is not that much larger. Canon for a long time made a camera with an APS-H, factor 1.3. Leica made the M8 factor, 1.3 or 1.2??. The point is lens are now being made for the APS sensor. The difference in size is not that great. So the bottom line is, bettter low light with larger sensor, but the med format sensor are not made/good in low light. With technology the way it is today. A APS can go toe to toe with a FF, wich is no longer the great factor it once was.

1 upvote
Shamael
By Shamael (8 months ago)

you are right, but an APS can only go toe to toe with FF if the price of FF is not made, like it is actullay the case, in a way that only a few can afford it. That a FF body costs a 15 to 20% more is ok, even if we can discuss this. It is not more technology and work, even only just a little bitty more material, in a FF body as there is in an APSC. If we want to be able to chose between APS and FF, the way to go is chosing APS for wider DOF and cheaper glass, and FF for owing good old lenses and shallower DOF. As it is at the moment, FF is a 1% er format in some way. If you select the cheapest gear, like Nikon D600, you have FF with a minimum of comfort, if you go higher, it becomes too expensive. We are here in the same nasty game as we are with Pro material, cameras with solid bodies and twice more weight, 4 to 5 times the price, and that can 3 times less as the consumer model. The market is open for mirrorless FF and we wait for it, but again, not at fancy prices only some can pay

0 upvotes
HowaboutRAW
By HowaboutRAW (8 months ago)

km25:

The Leica 35mm film camera started out as a light meter for 35mm movie film. Shoot individual tests, develop test stills, set movie camera speed and aperture.

There are huge reasons to use bigger CMOS sensors, right now FF is the biggest CMOS sensor: Lower noise, better dynamic range, better shallow depth of field.

Right Fuji+Samsung have excellent lenses for those APSC sensored mirrorless cameras. And Olympus has very good m4/3rds and extraordinary 4/3rds lenses. Nikon and Canon have not been shipping excellent lenses for APSC sensored cameras.

0 upvotes
Zamac
By Zamac (8 months ago)

With the high (c.90%) quantum efficiency of modern sensors at most wavelengths, there is little room for mobile phones to improve low light performance. Some improvement from software processing, but basically for better low light there must be a bigger lens aperture and that means a bigger overall lens. Mobile phones need to be comfortably portable, a large lens makes that impossible, and I don't see many people carrying a big clip-on lens for their phone!

2 upvotes
PC Wheeler
By PC Wheeler (8 months ago)

Umm .. he's selling product, so what he has is best (of course).

3 upvotes
locke_fc
By locke_fc (8 months ago)

Which is why mFT is doomed...

1 upvote
photo nuts
By photo nuts (8 months ago)

Huh? But m43 sensor is larger than 1"! ;)

0 upvotes
Beat Traveller
By Beat Traveller (8 months ago)

Yeah no. It offers a sweet spot between IQ and lens/body size. Sensor tech is still constrained by optics, which is itself currently constrained by physics.

4 upvotes
Chekr
By Chekr (8 months ago)

What matters is image quality. Not the size of the sensor, not the number of pixels.

IQ is about the sensor, the lens, the software and the ability of the photographer to use these together to create an image.

I understand why he says sensor size is the bees knees though, when all you have is a hammer, everything is a nail

2 upvotes
CosmoZooo
By CosmoZooo (8 months ago)

Until post processing catches up to fake a shallow DOF perfectly a larger sensor matters very much. Even if a smaller sensor could produce as good an image as an APS-C one - the image itself would always be flatter or in case of 1/2.3 just freaking flat which is fine for landscapes and other purposes but not as good for nice people photography.

Not only that but if a small sensor could achieve the quality of today's APS-C or m43, then same technology would be applied to once again bigger sensors maintaining the gap.

I agree with Aptina 100% - larger sensors in compact and super zooms is what camera manufacturers need to stay alive. I am tired of 1/2.3 or 1/1.7 - those formats have nothing to offer. Each generation of those brings a little better low light, a little better DR way more zoom then most need but no real improvemens that can match even the 1" sensor from Sony. All those cameras have to come up to 1" or they will die - maybe the super zooms will survive but I want them with 1".

But megapixels matter too - just think of the latest Nokia phone. Stick 41mpx and then downsample for better quality. That approach is not to be discarded by the compact camera makers. If I had to buy a super zoom today I would go Sony because 20mpx on a 1/2.3 at least gives me some room to scale down to hide imperfections.

3 upvotes
Digitall
By Digitall (8 months ago)

"Go big, or go home" already summarized and sentenced.

So the future of M43 is a slow death? Well, I think that APS-C and FF is the sensor where people must bet in terms of future, depends on the camera. I say this for years, I'm not Nostradamus, but, things are going in this direction.
It is clear that other systems are to propose some very interesting things, especially M43 regarding the functionality, but that's not all. Already said here, the M43 to survive has to play with quality, price and portability. The size of M43 cameras are not much smaller than it is now in the APS-C, so, here M43 are losing points. Lens price? some yes they win, some not at all.IQ quality? yes m43 are growing well, but always limited by the mathematics of sensors. Pixels vs size. The build quality is already very good in top models.
Not being thinking about the medium format itself, the FF is the Top dreamed by common mortal. So, Go big, or go home. ;)

4 upvotes
Digitall
By Digitall (8 months ago)

And seeing by this point, Sony will already be in the future, small bodies and larger sensors. RX100 I/II, RX1/R and maybe the recent arrival of NEX FF. With prices undoubtedly exaggerated, but, why do not other companies are reacting ... Sony has studied the market very well and guess well the trends.

Comment edited 5 minutes after posting
9 upvotes
Oleg Vinokurov
By Oleg Vinokurov (8 months ago)

There is a limit on how big sensor you can make and still expect compact size, size of body alone is not really useful. m43 has quite nice balance for now, if nex can manage somehow to build lenses with better IQ and make them smaller, m43 will have big problems, until then m43 should be safe and doing well.

3 upvotes
bcalkins
By bcalkins (8 months ago)

You have it backwards. Why would APS-C live? Quality is similar to MFT, but bigger in size. Lens selection is poorer (unless you count those heavy full frame things)... MFT is a big improvement over a cell phone. What does an average non-enthusiast gain with APS-C over MFT? MFT is big compared to the sensors he is talking about here, isn't it?

11 upvotes
thx1138
By thx1138 (8 months ago)

FF mirrorless makes little sense other than for a fixed lens, which is very limiting. FF mirrorless lenses will be little smaller than their IL counterparts, so while the camera may be a little smaller, the whole package won't be. so mirrorless IL cameras makes more sense in the m4/3 to APS-C range, and even then we see the APS-C mirrorless lenses are hardly small.

Sony is not the only maker with large sensors and in fact they did not set the trend, and were guilty of using tiny sensors in so many of their advanced compacts. Real credit should go to Oly and Panasonic for kicking off the m4/3 which then stimulated others to follow.

To me m4/3 is the best all-round compromise of size and IQ and they make some stunning lenses that a tiny compared even to the APS-C counterparts. IQ is getting so good, even if APS-C always has the edge it won't really matter except to pixel peepers. I expect m4/3 to survive a long time.

9 upvotes
Zdman
By Zdman (8 months ago)

To me m43 biggest problem is its 4:3 ratio. All the other sensors are 3:2. If m43 was m32 I would have bought in long ago. The reason for the 4:3 ratio is so they could fit more sensors on a wafer (which are circles) and manufacture them cheaper. So by buying it we're telling them we accept the compromise so that they can make more money off each device.

Comment edited 47 seconds after posting
2 upvotes
Wally626
By Wally626 (8 months ago)

The 4/3 in micro four thirds is the sensor size not the height to width ratio. It turns out they did use a 4:3 ratio image to maximize the number of pixels from the relatively small sensor. Also 4:3 is closer to the normal 5 x 7, 8 x 10 photo formats than 3:2

4:3 1.333
3:2 1.5
7 x 5 1.4 (delta 0.0667 from 4:3, 0.1 form 3:2)
10 x 8 1.25 (delta 0.083 from 4:3, 0.25 from 3:2)

As far as sensor size diagonals go M4/3 is 1.35X a 1-inch sensor. A APS-C (Nikon, Sony) is 1.31X a M4/3 sensor and a FF sensor is 1.5X a APS-C sensor and the MF (HD5-60) sensor is 1.5X FF

Each step is about the same jump in relative size.

When I was first investigating buying a digital camera a few years back the M4/3 price was too high for the quality, this has since improved, lower prices and higher quality, NEX had too few lenses, this has now improved, Fuji interchangeable did not exist, FF was too expensive, so I ended up at the APS-C level and a DSLR.

1 upvote
davidonformosa
By davidonformosa (8 months ago)

A simple way to designate sensor size would be in percentage terms with 100% being a "full frame" sensor. A diagram with comparison to a full frame sensor would be another way of achieving a similar result.

0 upvotes
0MitchAG
By 0MitchAG (8 months ago)

Micro Four Thirds - Compact DSLR image quality at only 28.1% of the Sensor Area of a Full Frame camera! They would sell like hot cakes then!

3 upvotes
King Penguin
By King Penguin (8 months ago)

I agree, I don't think most people realise just how small M43 & APSC sensors are compared to a FF sensor.

I now own a FF sensor, having owned M43 and APSC cameras I know from experience the difference in sensor size they make..........

1 upvote
King Penguin
By King Penguin (8 months ago)

I agree, I don't think most people realise just how small M43 & APSC sensors are compared to a FF sensor.

I now own a FF sensor, having owned M43 and APSC cameras I know from experience the difference in sensor size they make..........

0 upvotes
King Penguin
By King Penguin (8 months ago)

I agree, I don't think most people realise just how small M43 & APSC sensors are compared to a FF sensor.

I now own a FF sensor, having owned M43 and APSC cameras I know from experience the difference in sensor size they make..........

0 upvotes
Tower
By Tower (8 months ago)

For 50 years H, who could make a reasonable price MANUAL back will be winner

1 upvote
MarshallG
By MarshallG (8 months ago)

He's being misunderstood, because we're all "big sensor" photographers. And he's correct that DSLR is gradually moving from APS-C to full-frame.

The market he's talking about is the compact camera market, which has had over 50% sales drop this year, mostly because of cell phones. He's telling camera makers: "Market sensor size, not pixel count, because a cell phone can't compete with you on sensor size."

Bigger sensor = bigger lens. Smartphones can't compete on that.

30 upvotes
Zdman
By Zdman (8 months ago)

Yep you got it. Everyone seems to be taking it as some sort of personal attack on their camera choice when he's not saying that at all.

2 upvotes
Jamon47
By Jamon47 (8 months ago)

As long as there will be demand for long reach (10x to 50x) optical zoom in a smallish compact camera size... 1/2.3” sensor based cameras will sell.

As long as there will be demand for fast lenses with medium reach (5x to 10x) optical zoom in a smallish compact camera size... 1/1.7” and 1/2.3” sensor based cameras will sell... but will be seriously challenged by upcoming smartphones with 5x optical zoom.

Comment edited 1 minute after posting
1 upvote
MaxTux
By MaxTux (8 months ago)

> And camera makers need to eliminate the painful process of uploading to a computer, then posting to your favorite website...

This is nonsense. If the purpose of taking a photograph is to post it on some "favourite website", surely the quality delivered by some mobile phone "camera" will suffice. Why would one need a real camera with a larger sensor - which he seems to be pushing for - if the end product is a snapshot on FB or somesuch?

7 upvotes
vFunct
By vFunct (8 months ago)

Because the quality of mobile phones is bad enough that they even look bad online.

2 upvotes
misolo
By misolo (8 months ago)

Because a lot of what people want to share online is in low light (parties, etc.) where the results from phone cameras are a disaster even at small sizes.

3 upvotes
CyberAngel
By CyberAngel (8 months ago)

maybe the LOWER limit is the Lumia 1020
with it's 2/3" sensor (half the diagonal of 4/3")
Moving down from 1/1.2" of Nokia 808 is needed for OIS,
but I hope that next year Nokia will go up again
Using super pixels and pixel pinning is OK with 38Mpx->5Mpx
thus getting a better image, but for social network?
Me thinks 2.1Mpx e.g. 1080p is the largest needed
1" would be ideal - no matter the hump!

1 upvote
Mescalamba
By Mescalamba (8 months ago)

1"? :D

Um.. one 4x5" for me please?

Thats what I call big.

In more reasonable sizes, I would like to see 36x36 multi-aspect (in similar way that GH2 worked). And 6x8 (as back for lets say Fuji GX680 III). That would be nice.

Couldnt care less for 1".. Thats not sensor size, thats good for post stamps.

3 upvotes
CameraLabTester
By CameraLabTester (8 months ago)

Of course Aptina will blurt out whatever spin will give it advantage.

Sales wise, Ad wise, Awarness wise.

Before these "Aptina articles" on DPR, did you know they ever existed?

Hmmm...?

*wink*

.

8 upvotes
HowaboutRAW
By HowaboutRAW (8 months ago)

Name the sensor maker for the Nikon D4? (I'll assume you've heard of the camera body. And no, it's not Sony, nor Aptina.)

Um you do realize that the Nikon 1 system uses Aptina sensors, though I'll admit that I probably learnt that at this website?

5 upvotes
MarkInSF
By MarkInSF (8 months ago)

Well, yes, I did. They make the very interesting, advanced sensors for the Nikon 1 cameras. Aptina included so much processing right on the sensor that Nikon was able to build an electronically simpler camera around it. If they can improve the dynamic range a bit and get the pdaf working in lower light than currently, this will be a lovely sensor. Supposedly next generation Aptina sensors have 4k video and other goodies.

Comment edited 41 seconds after posting
2 upvotes
marike6
By marike6 (8 months ago)

Of course I knew they existed because DPR is not my only source of camera info and I use the Nikon 1 system all of which use Aptina sensors. They are doing some incredible things with high data rates, the reason my V1 can shoot 60 fps. Camera fans would probably have to be living under a rock not to read something about their advances which incidentally have gotten Sony's attention. Sony and Aptina have just recently signed a patent cross-licence agreement.

Also checkout any of the "Rumors" websites, and you will have read something about Aptina.

*wink*

Comment edited 1 minute after posting
2 upvotes
zevobh
By zevobh (8 months ago)

"Meanwhile, Aptina has also developed its Clarity+ technology, designed to improve the performance of small sensors (though applicable to all sizes, it says)."

what the hell is this, an ad for aptina? sheesh.

1 upvote
HowaboutRAW
By HowaboutRAW (8 months ago)

It's a summary of some of Aptina's ideas for other sensor tech. DPReview has also noted announcements from Fuji and Panasonic.

3 upvotes
Mikhail Tal
By Mikhail Tal (8 months ago)

Lens size is what matters and the trend is smaller, say companies much more relevant than Aptina.

15 upvotes
BJL
By BJL (8 months ago)

Agreed: most of the advantages attributed to larger sensors are only realized when larger lenses are also used (same f-stop but longer focal length so larger aperture diameter, and more, heavier glass needed). If keeping the camera compact enough means that the big sensor is used with a slow f/5.6 or f/6.3 lens, you might be netter of with a smaller sensor and shorter, brighter lens that gives equally good low light performance.

But Aptina makes 1" sensors (for Nikon, etc.); hence the spin here.

3 upvotes
rhlpetrus
By rhlpetrus (8 months ago)

What? Larger sensors have IQ characteristics that are unrelated to which lens is used. I don't think I need to waste space listing them

5 upvotes
Anastigmat
By Anastigmat (8 months ago)

There are two trends:

1. smaller cameras but sensor size remains the same (APS-C, 4/3 or full frame 35mm)

2. a move towards larger sensors.

2 upvotes
BJL
By BJL (8 months ago)

Rhlpetrus, the "large sensor advantage" that is claimed most is better high ISO/low light performance, and that is actually an advantage of lenses with larger aperture diameters gathering light faster from the subject. As in the forever debated "equivalence". The IQ goals of the vast majority of compact camera users are not much about improving dynamic range at base ISO speed or huge pixel counts for those internet uploads. Big zoom range is probably a more common desire, and that is easier with a smaller sensor if the camera is to stay compact.

1 upvote
Mikhail Tal
By Mikhail Tal (8 months ago)

rhlpetrus surely you're aware that lens size for any given focal length and maximum aperture directly correlates to the size of the image circle it must cover, no?

4 upvotes
Zdman
By Zdman (8 months ago)

@Mikhail
Actually a 50mm F4 full frame and 50m F2 for m43 will have the same size. The full frame will still be able to take a 4 times longer shot at ISO 100 before reaching full well capacity (the m43 would overexpose) which will give a shot with a quarter of the noise. This would be an advantage in good light and for Landscapes. If Rambus gets its binary pixel out there this advantage could dissapear.

1 upvote
Mikhail Tal
By Mikhail Tal (8 months ago)

LOL at your hilarious attempt to spin an 50mm f/4 lens as being somehow better than an 50mm f/2 lens. What about the 99.9% of the time that you aren't trying to take the absolute longest exposure possible at maximum aperture? I seriously can't believe you just posted this.

1 upvote
Zdman
By Zdman (8 months ago)

Um no, they're exactly the same. The iso would need to be higher on full frame but the overall picture noise would be the same. However they can make a 50 1.4 for FF pretty cheap and a 50/2 even cheaper so they use those instead. How cheap are those 50/0.75 for m43?

0 upvotes
TN Args
By TN Args (8 months ago)

Interesting comment on the compact sensor market. Not sure it applies to the DSLR market though. Many DSLR buyers, even experienced buyers, are buying on spec-sheet greed-need, rather than meeting their true practical needs. There could be some bounce-back to the good 22-30mm sensor cameras as mirror-less systems mature and a price gap opens between them and DSLR. At some point keen amateurs will ask "why exactly is my camera at home today / my shoulder aching / my standard zoom weighs 800+g and 90mm diameter / I'm hiding receipts from my loved ones / I'm guarding a large bag / everybody looking at me all the time? Where has the fun gone and what am I REALLY getting in return when I look at my final images at normal size, in the format I display them? Maybe I have fallen into an ego-driven techie trap when my real dream is to create beauty and art, and I can better do that when less burdened, in a better state of mind, and freely able to be IN the world, not just watching."

12 upvotes
tripodfan
By tripodfan (8 months ago)

taken with a pinch of salt; he's obviously playing the devil's advocate.

0 upvotes
Maverick_
By Maverick_ (8 months ago)

What the Aptina exec is failing to notice is that, today, in 2013, the new Nokia 1020 already ushered in the new age of quality smartphone camera with zoom. Just think what is possible in 3 years from now in smartphones and then in 5 years.

The future will only be smartphones and FF DSLRs. In 3 to 5 years time, just a tiny group of enthusiasts might take a 1" compact with them, for the rest their smartphone will produce amazing image quality and will be more than sufficient, specially since they can so easily load to FB or Instagram or whatever other future SM platforms.

Granted, there is always a market for niche products. But there is no real future in niche cameras, where they would directly compete with the amazing cellphones of the future.

Your best camera is the one you have with you at all times. And cellphone got that covered. And they are just getting started in taking photography seriously.

7 upvotes
HowaboutRAW
By HowaboutRAW (8 months ago)

The 808 wasn't particularly impressive (except in really bright daylight) and didn't record raw data. So the 1010 is not exactly a "new era", unless it is radically better than the Nokia 808--say the difference between an APSC sensored DSLR from 2003 and one from 2013 better.

3 upvotes
Maverick_
By Maverick_ (8 months ago)

Oh, not talking perfect cellphone cameras yet, just mentioned that the new Nokia 1020 has brought us a real solution, with optical zoom, actual glass element and physical stabilization and this is obviously just the beginning. Too bad it's on a Windows Mobile platform. Who cares about that. But if Samsung works out something similar in a thinner package on the future Galaxy phones would be very cool.

3 upvotes
D1N0
By D1N0 (8 months ago)

Oh just stop the cell phone mantra. Cellphones have very compromised camera's Big sensors are better for low light, DOF control and sharpness. Photography is a serious business and something else than picture taking.

2 upvotes
Astrotripper
By Astrotripper (8 months ago)

"The future will only be smartphones and FF DSLRs."

Now that is a silly idea. The difference in size, weight and handling between the two is HUGE. What about people that would like to shoot good quality photos, but can't be bothered to walk around with few kilos of gear?

I was preparing to buy a DSLR. But after having a chance to play with mFT camera for some time, I completely changed my mind. I realized I don't want (or need) such a big piece of weight. Now I bring my PEN everywhere I go. I would not do that with a DSLR.

I would guess that compact cameras will be mostly replaced by either smartphones or small mirrorless cameras. There will probably be a place for advanced compact cameras with large sensors, but the traditional compacts as we knew them will disappear.

And APS-C might get replaced by Full Frame on DSLR, or APS-C bodies will shrink in size (Canon already started that with EOS 100D).

1 upvote
HowaboutRAW
By HowaboutRAW (8 months ago)

Mavrick_:

Um, the Nokia 1020 does NOT have optical zoom. The bigger sensor means there’s a lot of cropping allowed for. I think there’s a TV ad running in the US that makes it look like it has optical zoom. If you want a smartphone with optical zoom, Samsung just announced one.

Also I’m pretty sure that the Carl Zeiss lens in the Nokia 1020 is entirely plastic.

Here’s the Amazon/ATT link, which says nothing about a glass lens nor about optical zooming, though uses plenty of other terms of digital zooming:

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00DVRJBE0/ref=amb_link_380391402_3?pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_s=auto-sparkle&pf_rd_r=913991660C134FCF97BB&pf_rd_t=301&pf_rd_p=1588832502&pf_rd_i=nokia%201020

And the Nokia.com link which also says nothing about optical zoom and a glass lens:

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00DVRJBE0/ref=amb_link_380391402_3?pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_s=auto-sparkle&pf_rd_r=913991660C134FCF97BB&pf_rd_t=301&pf_rd_p=1588832502&pf_rd_i=nokia%201020

2 upvotes
Olymore
By Olymore (8 months ago)

I'd be careful about judging the market by the people on this forum. The other day I was talking to someone who had never owned a mobile phone (any type) and he was still below retirement age.
I'm well below it and have never owned a smart phone or would want to carry one around with me.
And I've no intention of ever using a FF DSLR unless they make the camera and lenses as small as the film SLR systems like the Olympus OM or Pentax MX

0 upvotes
Maverick_
By Maverick_ (8 months ago)

@howaboutraw:
please see this link for the "glass element" confirmation.
http://www.engadget.com/2013/07/11/visualized-nokia-lumia-1020-camera-module/
"The elements are actually a combination of five plastic lenses plus one glass lens"

And it seems I was wrong on the optical zoom comment. It allows post image zoom, due to massive MP.

2 upvotes
HowaboutRAW
By HowaboutRAW (8 months ago)

Maverick_:

To be clear that link about the glass lens is not confirmation, mostly an asserted attribute. Someone posted a photo of the lens from the Nokia 1020 sliced in half with what sure looked like a band saw. (I guess there may be a bandsaw that could do that cut but that's not generally the tool for glass. No I don't remember the website where I saw this photo. It could have been DPReview or Imaging-Resource, or maybe PhotographyBlog.) Anyhow the lens in the 808 was plastic.

So somehow I'm betting the glass is cover for protection. One that would have been removed for cutting with the bandsaw.

Yes I know how digital zooming works.

0 upvotes
CyberAngel
By CyberAngel (8 months ago)

Actually there are 5 plastic Zeis lenses + 1 glass lens
AND a Gorilla glass protection

1 upvote
John Miles
By John Miles (8 months ago)

Wrong Wrong Wrong Wrong Wrong Wrong Wrong Wrong Wrong.

Are sales going up or down?

Well then you're wrong.

Sensor size is growing in short focal length cameras, but needs to be shrinking in long focal length cameras. Also supply all sensor sizes with a 28-400 equivalent lens option. Remove video from some dedicated enthusiast small sensor cameras (or make a deep menu hidaway) and concentrate on providing stills optimal designs with manual zoom.

This continual never ending bash on about video is simply disproportionately represented in the camera market. This is rendering too many cameras motor zoomed, and biasing camera selection away from the small sensor, long focal length, stills photographer. Study Fuji's X-100 and X-S1. And their X20 and HS50. Then provide competition.

1 upvote
IchiroCameraGuy
By IchiroCameraGuy (8 months ago)

None of those cameras are in the top of sales numbers - that is what the companies care about, not thumbs up or high fives from photo/gear enthusiasts.

Most people don't want 28-400 because it is usually bad or huge.

Average consumer (highest profit area) takes as many videos as photos and do so with $100-200 cameras. Video cameras have taken a much bigger hit in the past few years than stills/video cameras. Over $300 is enthusiast realm until lines blend more and more.

5 upvotes
John Miles
By John Miles (8 months ago)

The camera market is playing out bang on targets recognised 5 years ago and discussed on the forums countless times. The manufacturers are off the curve so sales are slumping. It's not me saying this. It's the forums. The information is there. Make sensor size inversely proportional to focal length to control bulk, and thereafter do as much as possible with a single lens. Take that one sentence and apply it to any camera. If it fits it's selling.

The average consumer takes very few videos indeed. Most enthusiasts don't need any effort diverted to video if it will compromise stills performance.

0 upvotes
beavertown
By beavertown (8 months ago)

Canon and Nikon should start professional grade mirrorless/mirrorless size cameras and lenses or they will die in 10 years' time.

2 upvotes
zevobh
By zevobh (8 months ago)

…why? they will sell what people want, if that is professional grade mirror less cameras, I guarantee they will make 'em.

4 upvotes
Sony A580
By Sony A580 (8 months ago)

Can you adjust the EVF or rear screen for eyeglass wearers like you can an OVF? I tried mirrorless and hated it for that reason.

1 upvote
justinwonnacott
By justinwonnacott (8 months ago)

Will there be any professionals left to use them? Professional photographers use the equipment that will give them the best quality/result possible - their clients expect and pay for superior results. This usually means full frame or better, in the film era photographers would work with the biggest negative possible depending on the parameters of the assignment and the end use.

7 upvotes
MarkInSF
By MarkInSF (8 months ago)

Well designed mirrorless systems do, poorly designed ones don't. The issues are very much the same. I have a Nikon V1, very thoughtfully designed for a glasses wearer as the eyepoint lets me see the whole screen and it has a diopter adjustment of sufficient range. Many EVF designs are bad for glasses (Sony NEX among the worst). Some Fujis stupidly omitted the diopter adjustment. This is still a relatively new market. They're making mistakes that were made (and solved) in the slr world years ago. In this case they should have done better since the problem is no different.

1 upvote
YetiYeti
By YetiYeti (8 months ago)

So many people commenting what professionals use... I disagree that they use best possible equipment. If that would be true, they would all use medium format cams. And they obviously don`t.

What they use is best price / performance equipment for work they do.

And of course - they are highly skilled in what they do...

0 upvotes
Total comments: 289
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