1" sensors could save the compact camera says Aptina's Sandor Barna
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.'
'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.'
Oct 1, 2015
Sep 16, 2015
Oct 7, 2015
Jul 9, 2015
|The Engineer by EXX|
from Steam Trains
|Madrid subway by MAGMATCICO62|
from Your City - Public Transport
|Incandescent Bulb by Kukla|
from Illuminate- Macro only
|Curiousity by PERCY2|
from Macro - Your Best Macro Ever
|Hoar Frosted Trees by sabishiT3T|
We're counting down our top 10 most popular sample galleries of 2017. At #2 we have another staff favorite – the Sony Alpha a9.
Rotolight has released the Anova Pro 2 circular LED for stills and video, boasting a 70% increase in brightness and what the company describes as "unrivaled battery performance."
Designer Vinicius Araújo has imagined what he believes the perfect Adobe software keyboard might look like. From customizable touch pads, to a scroll wheel, to a little display that shows the tool in use, his design is pretty compelling.
Peak Design has teamed up with Leica to release a limited-edition backpack made special for fans of the Red Dot.
A portrait of an android woman has beaten over 5,700 pictures of humans to take third place in this year’s prestigious Taylor Wessing Portrait Prize. The judges were not told the subject was an 'android' until after the winning images were chosen.
Hauling around C-Stands just got a whole lot less annoying thanks to these new Matthews shoulder and roller bags, which can hold two or three C-stand (respectively) plus accessories.
Neal Preston has shot timeless photos of everyone from Led Zeppelin, to Whitney Houston, to Michael Jackson. In this interview, he offers insights into his craft to up-and-comer Elijah Dominique.
Future prosumer Canon DSLRs might feature light-up buttons, if this newly published patent is any indication of the camera company's plans.
Sony's a7R Mark III shoots 42.4MP files at 10fps and incorporates a robust video feature set, large battery, refined ergonomics and more. It certainly looks impressive, but what is it like to use, and how does it stack up against the rest of the market? Find out in our full review.
We're counting down our top 10 most popular sample galleries of 2017 – the Fujifilm X100F takes the bronze and the #3 spot.
There's never been a better time to shop for a new camera, but the number of options available can be overwhelming. In this series of buying guides we've provided customized recommendations for several use cases, from shooting landscapes to buying a first camera for a student photographer.
Shopping for a camera with a set budget? No problem! We've rounded up our favorite cameras, broken them into price brackets and picked the best of the bunch.
Looking for a lightweight compact camera that's easy to bring with you anywhere? Or maybe you're smartphone-shopping and want the one that takes the best picture. And what if you want to shoot from above? In these buyers guides we have recommendations for the best compact cameras, smartphones and drones.
Despite reports to the contrary, analysis of DPReview images by our friend Jim Kasson confirms a disappointing fact: Sony a7R III is still a Star Eater. But there may be some improvements.
As the saying goes: A photo is worth a thousand words. And if you're sending that photo through Facebook Messenger, your thousand words now look twice as nice after today's update to 4K resolution.
Get to know the new Leica CL in short order by giving our 90 second 'First look' video a watch.
Leica has just released the CL, the forth in its series of APS-C L-mount cameras. Despite sharing a name with a camera released in the mid-70s, the new CL is a thoroughly modern ILC, with a 24MP sensor and built-in electronic viewfinder.
The Leica CL is a 24MP rangefinder-style mirrorless camera, which sits alongside the TL2 in the company's APS-C lineup. We've been using one for a few days – check out our gallery of images.
While it shares a name with one of Leica's most popular and affordable cameras of the 1970s, the new CL is separated from its namesake by more than just years. We've been using one for a few days - click through for a detailed first-impressions report.
We're counting down our top 10 most popular sample galleries of 2017, and the #4 ranking goes to the Leica M10.
Sigma is discounting 13 different high-performance 'Art' series lenses from today until November 30th. The company is calling it an 'unprecedented' sale.
See DJI's 'AeroScope' drone-tracking technology in action. This is the system that DJI says can help law enforcement and airport (among others) track and identify rogue drones.
iPhone X owners can already accessorize their new phone with high-quality smartphone photography lenses courtesy of Moment's new lineup.
Considering buying Sigma's exciting new 16mm F1.4 DC DN Contemporary lens for crop-sensor E-Mount and M43? Check out these official full-res samples first!
Vimeo has just added support for 8K HDR 10-bit content, making it possible to show up to 75% of the colors the human eye can perceive vs the usual 35%. Take THAT YouTube.
The holidays are coming, but your gear isn't cutting it? It's time to treat yourself!
We're counting down our top 10 most popular sample galleries of 2017, and sitting pretty at #5 is the Fujifilm X-T20.
See some of the most iconic black-and-white photographs throughout history brought to life by a community of colorization enthusiasts and professional retouchers in the new book Retrographic.
Shopping for a photographer? Whether you are one yourself or not, chances are you could use some ideas. From stocking stuffers on up, we've got some photography gift suggestions for every budget.
We're counting down our top 10 most popular sample galleries of 2017. Drum roll please... the #6 spot belongs to none other than the Sigma 85mm F1.4 DH HSM Art.