Is FF sensors going to slowly phase out?

Started Apr 11, 2013 | Discussions
EinsteinsGhost
EinsteinsGhost Forum Pro • Posts: 11,977
Re: Is FF sensors going to slowly phase out?

Erik Magnuson wrote:

EinsteinsGhost wrote:

You can stop it down to f/32.

If you do, you block the effect of the apodizing element and it becomes a normal 135mm lens.

That is irrelevant because you're effectively striving to maximize DoF. Apodizing element is primarily to help towards a gaussian rendering of OOF areas, when they are to show up.

These larger apertures are for speed, rather than DoF.

It's used for both because you cannot have one w/o the other.

Shallow DoF is a consequence. Getting a 500mm f/4 has more to do with maximizing speed than to create a shallow DoF.

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Erik Magnuson Forum Pro • Posts: 12,247
Re: Is FF sensors going to slowly phase out?
1

EinsteinsGhost wrote:

If you do, you block the effect of the apodizing element and it becomes a normal 135mm lens.

That is irrelevant because you're effectively striving to maximize DoF. Apodizing element is primarily to help towards a gaussian rendering of OOF areas, when they are to show up.

So are we agreeing that when stopped down, the 135mm STF is just a normal 135mm lens?  Pretty much all lenses can be stopped down about 8 stops from maximum so "ability to stop down" means nothing.

Shallow DoF is a consequence. Getting a 500mm f/4 has more to do with maximizing speed than to create a shallow DoF.

Here is a way to view arbitrary images from a set of ~65k photos using the Canon 500mm f/4 lens. http://www.pbase.com/cameras/canon/ef_500_4is.  How many appear to use a blurred background as part of the composition?

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Erik

Erik Magnuson Forum Pro • Posts: 12,247
Re: Is FF sensors going to slowly phase out?
1

Bart Hickman wrote:

Car size is not analogous to camera size since there's a tangible benefit of large size on a car (more cargo room).

There are a tangible benefits to larger camera sensor size: 1+  stops better noise performance and better OVF.

For a camera (and lens), size is always something you want to minimize.

Actually no - some people like larger cameras.  By your definition, the ideal current ILC is the Pentax Q.

| When 8" drives were the established technology and 5.25" drives began competing, 8" drives were superior in capacity, speed, and latency.

8" drive platters were in washing machine or refrigerator sized cabinets - not the same market at all (poor analogy).

It's an perfect analogy with exactly the same type of tradeoff.  The point is people who wanted more performance put up with the larger machines.

Sigh.  The cost/performance ratio of 8" drives was coming down slowly. The cost/performance of 5.25" drives was coming down quickly.  Any idiot looking at the trend data could easily predict when 5.25" drives would be better.  You have no data to support this for sensors: the rate of change for cost/performance for sensors is relatively constant.

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Erik

EinsteinsGhost
EinsteinsGhost Forum Pro • Posts: 11,977
Re: Is FF sensors going to slowly phase out?

Erik Magnuson wrote:

EinsteinsGhost wrote:

If you do, you block the effect of the apodizing element and it becomes a normal 135mm lens.

That is irrelevant because you're effectively striving to maximize DoF. Apodizing element is primarily to help towards a gaussian rendering of OOF areas, when they are to show up.

So are we agreeing that when stopped down, the 135mm STF is just a normal 135mm lens?  Pretty much all lenses can be stopped down about 8 stops from maximum so "ability to stop down" means nothing.

Yep. When your desire is to eliminate OOF areas, there is no need to smoothen out OOF areas. Would I use 135mm STF at f/32? I don't use ANY lens at that aperture. If I had to, I will pick up my macro lens (the 135STF also serves as a fine close up lens).

Shallow DoF is a consequence. Getting a 500mm f/4 has more to do with maximizing speed than to create a shallow DoF.

Here is a way to view arbitrary images from a set of ~65k photos using the Canon 500mm f/4 lens. http://www.pbase.com/cameras/canon/ef_500_4is.  How many appear to use a blurred background as part of the composition?

Shallow DoF can often be an issue with longer FL. In fact, even with just 200mm f/2.8 that I use on my APS-C cameras, I have to stop down to f/4-f/5.6 (sometimes f/8) to get a reasonable DOF.

Even sitting several rows back at an NBA game, may be about 60-70 ft from the nearest basket, with my NEX-3 and 200mm f/2.8, I'm looking at a DOF that is barely 4 ft. Substitute with 300mm f/2.8 and the DoF shrinks to barely more than the size of the basketball (about 1.5 ft).

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EinsteinsGhost
EinsteinsGhost Forum Pro • Posts: 11,977
Re: Is FF sensors going to slowly phase out?

Erik Magnuson wrote:

Bart Hickman wrote:

I believe consumer demand for performance is increasing more slowly than camera capability.

You could say the same thing about automobiles.  People do not typically buy the least, smallest they will typically use - instead they buy for what they want to be doing.

Actually, no. A lot of people buy based on their wants rather than their needs. When Honda launched CR-V in 1997 or so, it was mocked for being too small and a failure by folks driving SUVs and the term "cross over" was supposed to be something bad.

A decade later, CR-V was a best seller, outselling those SUVs, and in fact, "cross over" is now the preferred label.

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Erik Magnuson Forum Pro • Posts: 12,247
Re: Is FF sensors going to slowly phase out?
1

EinsteinsGhost wrote:

Yep. When your desire is to eliminate OOF areas, there is no need to smoothen out OOF areas.

Those who argue "the STF is purely for bokeh" would say otherwise.  You can rarely completely eliminate OOF areas for most 3D scenes and DOF depends on enlargement.   As the lens markings suggest, the special STF capability is only supported for widest apertures.

Shallow DoF can often be an issue with longer FL. In fact, even with just 200mm f/2.8 that I use on my APS-C cameras, I have to stop down to f/4-f/5.6 (sometimes f/8) to get a reasonable DOF.

Bird photography is quite popular in this area. I know several people who shoot the 500mm f/4. If I ask them why the 500mm f/4, they say "all the above" (lower light, higher shutter speeds, and DOF control.)

Even sitting several rows back at an NBA game, may be about 60-70 ft from the nearest basket, with my NEX-3 and 200mm f/2.8, I'm looking at a DOF that is barely 4 ft. Substitute with 300mm f/2.8 and the DoF shrinks to barely more than the size of the basketball (about 1.5 ft).

Ever shoot with a SI photographer at a football game? I've assisted at a few.  Why do they use the 300mm or 400mm f/2.8 even for daylight games?  Simple: DOF control.  Shooting from the sidelines means the stands (or opposite sideline) are in the background.  Yeah, getting the focus spot-on with shallow DOF is tough, but that's why they get the big bucks.

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Erik

Erik Magnuson Forum Pro • Posts: 12,247
Re: Is FF sensors going to slowly phase out?
1

EinsteinsGhost wrote:

Erik Magnuson wrote:

Bart Hickman wrote:

I believe consumer demand for performance is increasing more slowly than camera capability.

You could say the same thing about automobiles.  People do not typically buy the least, smallest they will typically use - instead they buy for what they want to be doing.

Actually, no. A lot of people buy based on their wants rather than their needs.

Isn't that what I said?  (i.e. "actually, no" should be "I agree" or in reply to Bart instead of me.)

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Erik

EinsteinsGhost
EinsteinsGhost Forum Pro • Posts: 11,977
Re: Is FF sensors going to slowly phase out?

Erik Magnuson wrote:

EinsteinsGhost wrote:

Yep. When your desire is to eliminate OOF areas, there is no need to smoothen out OOF areas.

Those who argue "the STF is purely for bokeh" would say otherwise.  You can rarely completely eliminate OOF areas for most 3D scenes and DOF depends on enlargement.   As the lens markings suggest, the special STF capability is only supported for widest apertures.

STF advantage is in bokeh. But that doesn't mean the lens isn't designed to be used at anything but wide open aperture.

Shallow DoF can often be an issue with longer FL. In fact, even with just 200mm f/2.8 that I use on my APS-C cameras, I have to stop down to f/4-f/5.6 (sometimes f/8) to get a reasonable DOF.

Bird photography is quite popular in this area. I know several people who shoot the 500mm f/4. If I ask them why the 500mm f/4, they say "all the above" (lower light, higher shutter speeds, and DOF control.)

I'm sure they would also want it to be lighter, smaller and deliver high IQ. When you see f/4 or f/2.8 on such long FL lenses, don't assume the thought process begins with "we want the shallowest possible DoF". It has to do with speed (which helps in lower light, for higher shutter speed). And that also extends to use of teleconverters.

Let me give you an example. At 100 ft, 500mm f/4 on FF will have a DOF of about 2.8 ft. Now, attach a 1.7X TC to that lens. With 850mm f/6.8, now you have a shallower DOF (about 1.6 ft). What do you think is more important for most photographers at this point? Getting a shallower DOF, or getting concerned about loss of AF speed (most DSLRs will lose peripheral PDAF points at this aperture) and loss of shutter speed (only to be made up by increasing ISO)?

The ability to control DOF doesn't imply always minimizing DOF. In fact, when using the STF, I strive to create a balance between shallow DoF and maximizing focus on my subject, to create isolation. Even this may or may not be always desirable (for example, if you want to blend-in the subject with the foreground and/or background with very little in focus.

Even sitting several rows back at an NBA game, may be about 60-70 ft from the nearest basket, with my NEX-3 and 200mm f/2.8, I'm looking at a DOF that is barely 4 ft. Substitute with 300mm f/2.8 and the DoF shrinks to barely more than the size of the basketball (about 1.5 ft).

Ever shoot with a SI photographer at a football game? I've assisted at a few.  Why do they use the 300mm or 400mm f/2.8 even for daylight games?  Simple: DOF control.  Shooting from the sidelines means the stands (or opposite sideline) are in the background.  Yeah, getting the focus spot-on with shallow DOF is tough, but that's why they get the big bucks.

They use 300mm f/2.8 for the same reason I would use 200mm f/2.8 on my APS-C. In fact, there is often a need for even greater need, hence even longer FL. The last thing one needs to worry about at these FL on pretty much any sensor is lack of DOF. The priority is reach, and speed. Not DOF control (which isn't a tall order at telephoto focal lengths).

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Erik Magnuson Forum Pro • Posts: 12,247
Re: Is FF sensors going to slowly phase out?
1

EinsteinsGhost wrote:

STF advantage is in bokeh [at wide apertures] But that doesn't mean the lens isn't designed to be used at anything but wide open aperture.

[Text in brackets] is mine. Isn't this true of almost all lenses?   The reason I grouped the STM with the other specialty focus lenses was that the STFness only applies to wide apertures.

The last thing one needs to worry about at these FL on pretty much any sensor is lack of DOF. The priority is reach, and speed. Not DOF control (which isn't a tall order at telephoto focal lengths).

Just ask them  (hint: I have).  Even back before AF,  blurring the background was very important to football shooters.

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Erik

EinsteinsGhost
EinsteinsGhost Forum Pro • Posts: 11,977
Re: Is FF sensors going to slowly phase out?

Erik Magnuson wrote:

EinsteinsGhost wrote:

STF advantage is in bokeh [at wide apertures] But that doesn't mean the lens isn't designed to be used at anything but wide open aperture.

[Text in brackets] is mine. Isn't this true of almost all lenses?   The reason I grouped the STM with the other specialty focus lenses was that the STFness only applies to wide apertures.

It doesn't matter because the lens is different from other lenses for OOF rendering only. That doesn't mean that the lens needs to be limited to that duty. It is why the lens has f/32 when clearly, the idea isn't to minimize DOF.

The last thing one needs to worry about at these FL on pretty much any sensor is lack of DOF. The priority is reach, and speed. Not DOF control (which isn't a tall order at telephoto focal lengths).

Just ask them  (hint: I have).  Even back before AF,  blurring the background was very important to football shooters.

As I said, at these focal lengths (more so if you're shooting from the sidelines), the ability to blur the background should be least of the concerns. Primary is lighting and higher shutter speed. And if teleconverters are used. In fact, take a look at this:

Nikon D4/D800 AF Modes Disabled

Besides the issue with AF capabilities (as I mentioned earlier, a 1.7x TC on 500/f4 will get you more reach and create a more shallow DOF, but that is usually NOT the priority... speed is).

But more importantly, take note of that beautiful photograph on top of the page. Why do you think the photographer used f/8? Was "shallow DOF" trivial at this point?

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Erik Magnuson Forum Pro • Posts: 12,247
Don't take my word for it.
1

Erik Magnuson wrote:

Just ask them  (hint: I have).  Even back before AF,  blurring the background was very important to football shooters.

Don't want to take my word for it? Try looking at the photographer's descriptions of the images here:

http://www.learn.usa.canon.com/galleries/galleries/sample_images/ef400mm_28lis_600mm_4lis_ii_miller_gallery.shtml

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EinsteinsGhost
EinsteinsGhost Forum Pro • Posts: 11,977
Re: Don't take my word for it.

Erik Magnuson wrote:

Erik Magnuson wrote:

Just ask them  (hint: I have).  Even back before AF,  blurring the background was very important to football shooters.

Don't want to take my word for it? Try looking at the photographer's descriptions of the images here:

http://www.learn.usa.canon.com/galleries/galleries/sample_images/ef400mm_28lis_600mm_4lis_ii_miller_gallery.shtml

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Erik

It doesn't matter. His primary priority is getting shutter speed right and reach. Due to longer focal lengths, he will get a shallower DOF anyway for all but situations when subject is way out there (a polo field, for example).

Now go back and look at the link I presented in my previous post. It captures two Kingfishers, taken with 500mm f/4 lens. Then tell me, why do you think f/8 worked in that case? Why not f/4? After all, if you want as shallow DoF as possible, wouldn't you prioritize it and f/4 will do that more effectively?

Now, what if the subject happened to be larger? Would you still want a tiny DOF? There is such thing as too shallow DoF.

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forpetessake
forpetessake Veteran Member • Posts: 4,892
FF is the future
2

Robgo2 wrote:

With their RX1 camera, Sony has achieved what many thought impossible--miniaturization of the FF format.

I don't know how the myths about FF manufacturing difficulties, size, and weight, etc. got propagated, probably because people have short memory.

film and digital

There were plenty of tiny 35mm cameras in the film days, there is nothing that prevents manufacturing of tiny digital cameras with FF sensor other than cost. Their weight doesn't have to be bigger than their small sensor counterparts. It's the speed of the lens that makes it big, not the fact that it's FF, or APS-C, or m4/3. Just think about this. Which one is bigger (and more expensive): a Panasonic 12-35/2.8 for m4/3 or an equivalent FF lens 24-70/5.6?

Regarding manufacturing costs, as the old saying goes, every chip eventually costs $1. At this time FF sensor can't be cheaper than $100 due to wafer costs, but with falling silicon prices and manufacturing costs (taking into account inflation) one day FF sensor will be cheaper than other camera components and we'll see under $1G FF cameras smaller and with better image quality than the best APS-C today.

EinsteinsGhost
EinsteinsGhost Forum Pro • Posts: 11,977
Re: FF is the future

forpetessake wrote:

Robgo2 wrote:

With their RX1 camera, Sony has achieved what many thought impossible--miniaturization of the FF format.

I don't know how the myths about FF manufacturing difficulties, size, and weight, etc. got propagated, probably because people have short memory.

film and digital

There were plenty of tiny 35mm cameras in the film days, there is nothing that prevents manufacturing of tiny digital cameras with FF sensor other than cost. Their weight doesn't have to be bigger than their small sensor counterparts. It's the speed of the lens that makes it big, not the fact that it's FF, or APS-C, or m4/3. Just think about this. Which one is bigger (and more expensive): a Panasonic 12-35/2.8 for m4/3 or an equivalent FF lens 24-70/5.6?

Consider mount, AF system, electronics, feature set, EVF/OVF, LCD, support for accessories and lenses themselves. If it were that simple, RX1 would be breaking newer grounds.

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nuke12
nuke12 Senior Member • Posts: 2,837
Re: Is FF sensors going to slowly phase out?
3

I probably should not jump in here but..... I’m a Nikon FF user and the format is not going anywhere soon. Heck, people still use MF and even LF. Why do they do that? Because they like the results.

I use FF because I like, what I see as the results. Is it the best? I don’t know and I really don’t care. I pick up the camera and I like the size. It fits my hand well. I don’t have to add a battery grip to make it feel right. Yes, I would like it to be lighter but the size is right. I also like the size because there is enough room for the buttons and controls and I don’t have to usually fiddle and fool around in menus, to do the things, I use most.

I don’t think any of the different formats are going anywhere soon. So long as a format fits individuals needs and people are willing to buy that format, it will be around.

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Josh152 Senior Member • Posts: 2,018
Re: Is FF sensors going to slowly phase out?

Robgo2 wrote:

With their RX1 camera, Sony has achieved what many thought impossible--miniaturization of the FF format.  Although the RX1 has its limitations, the potential for surmounting them is now very real, and there can be little doubt that a FF MILC is on the horizon.  Of course, it will be expensive initially, but is that not always the case with groundbreaking technology?  And anyone who has seen the IQ from the RX1 would not make silly statements about how smaller formats are just as good.  Not everyone requires ultimate IQ all the time, but when it is required, a larger sensor will always be the way to get it.  Also, as a recent RX1 owner, I can report that the IQ is highly addictive.  I find myself wanting it all the time. 

Rob

FF MILCs already exists.  Leica makes them. Their new M even has AF from what I understand.  I could easily see manufactures like Fuji, Sony,or Olympus making a FF MILC that is around the same size as the Leica M but using modern mass production to keep the price more reasonable.  Say around $2000-$3000.

tomtom50 Veteran Member • Posts: 3,244
Re: FF is the future

forpetessake wrote:

Robgo2 wrote:

With their RX1 camera, Sony has achieved what many thought impossible--miniaturization of the FF format.

I don't know how the myths about FF manufacturing difficulties, size, and weight, etc. got propagated, probably because people have short memory.

film and digital

There were plenty of tiny 35mm cameras in the film days, there is nothing that prevents manufacturing of tiny digital cameras with FF sensor other than cost. Their weight doesn't have to be bigger than their small sensor counterparts. It's the speed of the lens that makes it big, not the fact that it's FF, or APS-C, or m4/3. Just think about this. Which one is bigger (and more expensive): a Panasonic 12-35/2.8 for m4/3 or an equivalent FF lens 24-70/5.6?

Regarding manufacturing costs, as the old saying goes, every chip eventually costs $1. At this time FF sensor can't be cheaper than $100 due to wafer costs, but with falling silicon prices and manufacturing costs (taking into account inflation) one day FF sensor will be cheaper than other camera components and we'll see under $1G FF cameras smaller and with better image quality than the best APS-C today.

Yes. From P&S to FF the electronics are the same size. The LCD is the same size. The EVF (if present) is the same size. Gazillions of FF cameras had small sharp prime lenses. The only reason a FF camera needs to be bigger than older film compacts is the LCD and Sensor are thicker than the old pressure plate and back, but that is a matter of 3/8" (10mm) or so.

The question is whether FF sensors will significantly drop in fabrication cost as quantity rises with the new $2000 Canikon entries.

All that said it is unclear to me that a pocketable FF compact is a significantly better package than something like the Coolpix A, and any FF zoom will be much larger than the amazing RX100.

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Erik Magnuson Forum Pro • Posts: 12,247
Re: Don't take my word for it.
1

EinsteinsGhost wrote:

It doesn't matter. His primary priority is getting shutter speed right and reach.

So when he he says things like ...

"The shallow depth of field allows me to work with the light and not worry about the background as the 400mm f2.8 Series II renders it completely out of focus and draws the viewer's eye directly to the player flying through the air."

... and

"It's fast maximum aperture of f/4 gives me not only a high shutter speed to freeze the action, but shallow depth of field to separate the players and horses from the background.  "

... he has no interest in the shallow DOF capability of the lenses?  Wow, two things are obvious:

  1. You've never shot from the sidelines in a stadium
  2. Somehow it's important for you to believe that  blurring the background is not an important goal of such shooting.

So I take it back -- do not ask a sports pro about why they use these lenses -- it will just waste both parties time.

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Erik

Erik Magnuson Forum Pro • Posts: 12,247
Those are APS compacts with slow lenses

forpetessake wrote:

I don't know how the myths about FF manufacturing difficulties, size, and weight, etc. got propagated, probably because people have short memory.

film and digital

There were plenty of tiny 35mm cameras in the film days,

Those are all APS cameras.

there is nothing that prevents manufacturing of tiny digital cameras with FF sensor other than cost.

Actually, it's lens design.  Film doesn't have microlenses or care about the angle of light hitting the image plane.  Digital sensors do -- simply look at a cutaway of the RX1. See that huge lens element right in the back near the sensor plane?

Regarding manufacturing costs, as the old saying goes, every chip eventually costs $1.

Only because you can "shrink" the chip size to make it smaller or more dense.  But shrinking sensor chips doesn't quite do what you want.   Silicon costs per unit area and simple geometry of number of sensors that fit on a 8" round wafer vs. how many you lose if there are 2 random defects per wafer show that costs go up geometrically with area.   This is chip economics 101 stuff, just google it.

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TrojMacReady
TrojMacReady Veteran Member • Posts: 8,729
Re: FF is the future

tomtom50 wrote:

forpetessake wrote:

Robgo2 wrote:

With their RX1 camera, Sony has achieved what many thought impossible--miniaturization of the FF format.

I don't know how the myths about FF manufacturing difficulties, size, and weight, etc. got propagated, probably because people have short memory.

film and digital

There were plenty of tiny 35mm cameras in the film days, there is nothing that prevents manufacturing of tiny digital cameras with FF sensor other than cost. Their weight doesn't have to be bigger than their small sensor counterparts. It's the speed of the lens that makes it big, not the fact that it's FF, or APS-C, or m4/3. Just think about this. Which one is bigger (and more expensive): a Panasonic 12-35/2.8 for m4/3 or an equivalent FF lens 24-70/5.6?

Regarding manufacturing costs, as the old saying goes, every chip eventually costs $1. At this time FF sensor can't be cheaper than $100 due to wafer costs, but with falling silicon prices and manufacturing costs (taking into account inflation) one day FF sensor will be cheaper than other camera components and we'll see under $1G FF cameras smaller and with better image quality than the best APS-C today.

Yes. From P&S to FF the electronics are the same size. The LCD is the same size. The EVF (if present) is the same size. Gazillions of FF cameras had small sharp prime lenses. The only reason a FF camera needs to be bigger than older film compacts is the LCD and Sensor are thicker than the old pressure plate and back, but that is a matter of 3/8" (10mm) or so.

That's a bit too simplistic. I had some of the sharpest FF compacts out there (Yashica's with Zeiss etc.) and yes they were sharp for what they were and relative to it's era, but they wouldn't be sharp compared to today's standards where we have 24 million pixels to stare at enlarged on our monitors. Not to mention they suffered a lot more from vignetting, corner softness, distortion and such at apertures such as f/2.8, nothing that would be called  challenging apertures today. In other words, it's not just lens speed when just looking at the lenses.

And electronics and electronics related parts do have to be larger for a FF digital camera, for starters because heat becomes more of a problem with larger sensors, especially when LV and video come in to play. And in theory a larger sensor consumes more battery juice as well, all being equal, in which you'd have to compensate for it with a larger capacity batter at some point.

The question is whether FF sensors will significantly drop in fabrication cost as quantity rises with the new $2000 Canikon entries.

All that said it is unclear to me that a pocketable FF compact is a significantly better package than something like the Coolpix A, and any FF zoom will be much larger than the amazing RX100.

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