How does the D3 achieve such high ISO?

Started Feb 17, 2008 | Discussions thread
ejmartin Veteran Member • Posts: 6,274
Who doesn't get it

Tannin wrote:
SDRebel wrote (about 17 times so far in this thread):

How did Nikon do it, whether or not it works to
everyone's satisfaction? And, can Canon provide us 1Ds3 owners with
higher ISO via a firmware upgrade?

(1) Nikon used bigger pixels.
(2) No.

Everything else is minor, small-change stuff. Bigger pixels = lower
noise. Period. End of story. Nothing more to discuss. Do you get it
yet?

You want lower noise, get a camera with bigger pixels. (Like a D3.)
You want higher resolution, get a camera with smaller pixels, and
accept that you will get more noise. Laws of physics.

Well, here you would be wrong. The 1Ds2 has smaller pixels than the 5D, but collects more photons per unit area than the 5D. The 40D has smaller pixels than the 1Ds3, whose pixels are smaller than the 1D3, yet they all collect the same amount of light per unit area of sensor. And photon noise is related to the number of photons collected. Read noise per unit area is similar.

So if one is not fixated on the pixel (which corresponds to a different spatial scale depending on the pixel size) but rather looks at a fixed scale, pixel size is essentially irrelevant within a wide range, its major effect is on resolution, not noise. Unless of course you print images based on pixel size and so different sizes for different cameras, rather than some standard size where smaller pixels are a smaller percentage of the image.

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