Sony's come a long way

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ERN812 Contributing Member • Posts: 588
Sony's come a long way

Was going through some old photos and stumbled across this, from the first digital camera I owned.  A 1.2 MP Sony cybershot.  It took the old Sony-branded memorystick, and was about the size of a tall-boy beer can.  My aunt gave it to me as a graduation present from high school before I left for college.  Kind of crazy that, when you look at these images 1:1 on a UHD monitor, you barely zoom in at all.

The photo is of a B-17 owned by the Collings Foundation that my dad got me a ride in for my birthday.  Really cool experience for anyone who's into aviation and aviation history.  Unfortunately, this plane crashed a few weeks (months?) ago.

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Corelli Veteran Member • Posts: 3,847
Re: Sony's come a long way

My dad who flew in B-17s during WWII also flew on this plane on his 85th birthday. He would have been very sad to hear it crashed.

And yes, It is indeed amazing. I've been into digital since the first Kyocera in the 90s, then the Minolta 1500EX with a detachable tethered lens. Progress was fast and furious in those days.

Cheers

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hjs_koeln Regular Member • Posts: 135
Re: Sony's come a long way

Corelli wrote:

My dad who flew in B-17s during WWII also flew on this plane on his 85th birthday. He would have been very sad to hear it crashed.

And yes, It is indeed amazing. I've been into digital since the first Kyocera in the 90s, then the Minolta 1500EX with a detachable tethered lens. Progress was fast and furious in those days.

Cheers

Here´s something I´ve been wondering about: In 95% of cases, whenever I see pictures taken with film cameras (whether it be mine or from other people), image quality is poor. Mostly, the images appear soft, according to nowadays standards.

Looking at this image from a very early digital camera, I can´t help but thinking that this is what many images from your run-of-the-mill film camera look like, once scanned in (well, maybe somewhat better...).

In comparison, my old and trusted RX100 (1st gen) generates tack sharp images.

Granted, I was using cheap equipment back then. I´d have never dreamed about spending 500€ on the body and 500€ on a lens. I was more in the range of 300€ on camera and lens combined.....

Nowadays, 1000€ for body and lens will get you into mid-range APS-C territory, and not further.

It seems the only way to get better image quality and resolution with film is by using large format cameras, with prohibitively high costs for development and scanning per shot. But what causes this drop in image quality with film? Were the lenses not as good? The manufacturing process not as precise? Does development and scanning take away that much?

In digital, there is an absolute limit to optical information. That limit is defined by the resolution of the sensor. Within that limit though, digital cameras appear to pack a hell of a lot more image information in than film does.

SQLGuy Veteran Member • Posts: 8,124
Re: Sony's come a long way

"Old" RX-100 while talking about film cameras. That's hilarious.

Here are some shots from around 1940, on Kodachrome. https://www.wwiidogtags.com/wwii-photos/wwii-kodachrome-photos/

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Corelli Veteran Member • Posts: 3,847
Re: Sony's come a long way

I'm sure Jim Kasson would know more about this, but I believe that the latest generation of digital cameras have more dynamic range and resolution than 35mm film. Not sure about medium format.

And yes, lenses, in particular zoom lenses, have improved dramatically over what was available 20 years ago. Of course there are many photographers that use older vintage lenses for a certain "look".

And I am/was in same boat concerning what I was willing to pay for a camera and lenses. My last film camera was the Canon/Colani designed T-90 which I LOVED.

Today it's a Sony A7rii which far exceeds my own photographic skills. I would never have dreamt of spending 2 grand on a camera and another 10 on lenses! But I have to say I really do enjoy them all and my wife loves my photos which is all the confirmation I need

Cheers

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SQLGuy Veteran Member • Posts: 8,124
Re: Sony's come a long way

Corelli wrote:

I'm sure Jim Kasson would know more about this, but I believe that the latest generation of digital cameras have more dynamic range and resolution than 35mm film. Not sure about medium format.

And yes, lenses, in particular zoom lenses, have improved dramatically over what was available 20 years ago. Of course there are many photographers that use older vintage lenses for a certain "look".

And I am/was in same boat concerning what I was willing to pay for a camera and lenses. My last film camera was the Canon/Colani designed T-90 which I LOVED.

Today it's a Sony A7rii which far exceeds my own photographic skills. I would never have dreamt of spending 2 grand on a camera and another 10 on lenses! But I have to say I really do enjoy them all and my wife loves my photos which is all the confirmation I need

Cheers

There have been a couple of good studies of this. And yes, in recent years I think it's safe to say that digital sensors have surpassed film of the same size in every way. An average 35mm negative can resolve about 6MP of information. Even if you consider that Foveon-like, it's about 18 to 24 MP from a Bayer sensor. And the latest sensors do have more DR as well. Some of the best films might do better (Ektar 100, for example), and black and white is a different situation, too.

Your point about lenses is also valid. The average lens of today is quite a bit better than the average lens of 40 years ago. But, as those 1940s Kodachromes show, good equipment 70 - 80 years ago, in the right hands, was very capable indeed, even by modern standards. Photography is mainly a lot easier now, and cheaper to get into and learn.

One other thing to consider, though, is that film scanner technology has lagged camera technology quite a bit, and there are a lot of mediocre scanners and scans out there, so a lot of the film scans that you see are not really showing what the film itself is capable of.

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hjs_koeln Regular Member • Posts: 135
Re: Sony's come a long way

SQLGuy wrote:

"Old" RX-100 while talking about film cameras. That's hilarious.

Here are some shots from around 1940, on Kodachrome. https://www.wwiidogtags.com/wwii-photos/wwii-kodachrome-photos/

Point taken. I got it in 2012, which seems an eternity in digital media....

SQLGuy Veteran Member • Posts: 8,124
Re: Sony's come a long way

Here's a thread where I posted (pretty much) the same shot taken with the same lens, on an A900, A7R2, and on Ektar 100 in a Minolta Maxxum 7 (about the sixth post down).

https://www.dpreview.com/forums/thread/4354133?page=2

Same lens, same subject, shot at the same time, on the same size format, makes it a bit easier to narrow factors. But the negative scanner is still big difference, and probably not on par with the capabilities of the sensors in either digital camera.

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PWPhotography Veteran Member • Posts: 9,179
Re: Sony's come a long way

Yeah Sony Cybershot (2.0mp model?) was my very first digital camera by then.  My next digital camera was Nikon D50, very first DSLR and used about 1.5 years before switching to Canon EOS 5D (bypass Canon APS-C) in Dec 2007. I have many photos taken by that Sony Cybershot, good colors.

I captured B-17 (not sure if it's the same one) in one or two airshow events before. Sadly that B-17 crashed about one month ago in my home state.

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SQLGuy Veteran Member • Posts: 8,124
Re: Sony's come a long way

The digital still camera division has definitely come a long way. It's interesting that they were manufacturing DSLR sensors quite a while before they got into making their own large-sensor cameras.

The 2002 Nikon D100 had a Sony APS-C 6.1MP CCD (I think that's pretty much the same sensor that's in my 2004 Konica Minolta 7D), but, AFAIK, it wasn't until 2005 when Sony first released an APS-C camera of their own (the R1).

Of course, things picked up quickly after they acquired the camera business of Konica Minolta.

My first digital was a 3.3MP Sony DSC-S70 with a 1/1.8" sensor. I bought it new in 1999 or so for about $700. Looks like I could get a used one now for about a penny on the dollar. I remember being overwhelmed by the ridiculously huge size of those 3.3MP images.

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Corelli Veteran Member • Posts: 3,847
Re: Sony's come a long way

Gotta love Kodachrome. That's pretty much all I shot. Loved those reds.

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SQLGuy Veteran Member • Posts: 8,124
Re: Sony's come a long way

Corelli wrote:

Gotta love Kodachrome. That's pretty much all I shot. Loved those reds.

I've been slowly going through and scanning a bunch of my parents' slides from the 1960s and 70s. What impresses me about Kodachrome is how well it lasts. The slides are moderately mixed up, but I can always tell a Kodachrome one immediately when I pick it up. There's no fading of colors in these. All the other stuff, Agfachrome, Ektachrome, whatever, has lost much of its color. I can recover some of it with a lot of added saturation and boosting some channels, but with Kodachrome I don't really have to do anything but scan it.

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