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ernesto
03-06-2008, 14:26
Lots of words have been written regarding the reasons for the not 35mm compatible sensors.
From the camera makers side: Technical and Economical reasons.
"The technology is not ready" "It would be too expensive"
Some users say they are Commercial reasons.
"Camera makers want to sell cameras, and changing the format, is forcing people to buy new equipment"

Which is your point of view?

Ernesto

Leighgion
03-06-2008, 14:49
I have read that the economics of chip fabrication is that the cost of fabrication hasn't fallen, but that each generation of electronics gets cheaper because of shrinking microchips able to do the same job (or better) as the previous generation enable higher yields per wafer.

Digital sensors don't benefit from this because, as we all know, we'd like them to be bigger, not smaller. We can get smaller and smaller sensors, but they aren't delivering the same quality, they're delivering less because in their case size does matter.

Until I see an ordered and logical rebuttal of this, I tend to believe it. I'm hard-pressed to think of any other application that, like digital imaging sensors, demands greater size to increase performance.

keithwms
03-06-2008, 14:57
The cost of larger-area sensors is the dominant issue. This is for technical reasons so I am not sure that options (1) and (2) are really separate.

The "commercial strategy" argument doesn't hold, in my opinion. A lot of people happily use full-frame lenses on reduced frame sensors. Look around and you will find some test shots I recently did on a 500 mm 645 lens using an APS-frame Nikon d40x, and believe it or not, the results weren't half bad! The smaller sensor samples the highest MTF portion of the image circle.

In the early days there was a lot of talk about APS and smaller 2x crop factor sensors making lighter lenses possible- this hasn't proven true,, generally. The most reputable and valuable lenses are still the full frame ones. With *possible* exception of some certain new Zuikos.

P.S. Let me suggest rephrasing your question; it is a bit confusing, as I read it. I would say, "reduced frame sensors" or "cropped sensors" or similar.

Sam N
03-06-2008, 16:08
Technical reasons lead to economic reasons. It's a lot harder to make, therefore it costs more.

bmattock
03-06-2008, 16:38
We are not the market. We're a very small subsidiary of it. They make cameras (and thus sensors) for the masses. The masses do not care about image quality past a very basic point. The masses don't know DoF from Dunkin' Donuts.

It is generally cheaper per unit to make 10,000,000 of a thing than 10,000.

peterm1
03-06-2008, 16:53
Stop for a moment and think about the progression of computing chips and how as they have gotten more powerful their price has fallen. Here is a quote from Wikipedia to remind you:

"Moore's Law describes an important trend in the history of computer hardware: that the number of transistors that can be inexpensively placed on an integrated circuit is increasing exponentially, doubling approximately every two years. The observation was first made by Intel co-founder Gordon E. Moore in a 1965 paper. The trend has continued for more than half a century and is not expected to stop for another decade at least and perhaps much longer."

Further down in the article it says:

" Pixels per dollar. Similarly, Barry Hendy of Kodak Australia has plotted the "pixels per dollar" as a basic measure of value for a digital camera, demonstrating the historical linearity (on a log scale) of this market and the opportunity to predict the future trend of digital camera price and resolution."

here is the full article if you are interested.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moore's_law

Well while camera sensors are not computer CPUs and its not about fitting transistors on a piece of silicon it seems that the cost and power of camera sensors works in a similar way, as there seems to be a similar principle involved. Engineers and scientists find ways of building more powerful and bigger sensors and manufacture them with greater reliability. But it takes time to (a) develop the technology and (b) build the necessary production facilities.

If you want to know where its heading, Google Hasselblads digital cameras. They are now making 20 and 30 megapixel (plus) sensors (in fact the biggest is 39 megapixels) for their cameras. I do not know how physically large the sensors are, but the retail price for the biggest one is around $40,000 US.

My feeling is that the market will logically head in the direction of 35mm format sensors as once the pro market goes here the semi pro market will follow. Whether that means the market for P&S cameras will go down this road is a good question.

But the cost of making big sensors will almost certainly fall over time. In any mass manufacturing process, a high proportion of costs are more or less fixed (e.g. research and development, cost of setting up big expensive plants and production lines.) The cost of the actual production of each additional item is not all that much. So over time the price of expensive medium / large format or 35mm format sensors will fall on the market as manufacturers first satsify the market for early adopters who are willing to pay more and then need to look for markets which will only buy the sensors if the price is lower. If they do not do that they need to shut the production lines down and thats in no ones interest. (The economists explanation is that the price will fall to approach the marginal cost of production, if you are interested.)

So I am saying............give it time!

bmattock
03-06-2008, 18:36
My feeling is that the market will logically head in the direction of 35mm format sensors as once the pro market goes here the semi pro market will follow. Whether that means the market for P&S cameras will go down this road is a good question.

I think that statement might have been true six months ago, but now it is in jeopardy. This is due to the fact that the only real advantage the large sensors had over smaller ones (to average consumers) was higher quality images at high ISO. None of them care about DoF tricks, etc, that only a larger sensor can bring.

Now Kodak has announced a 10,000 ISO chip that is much smaller than even the standard digicam - good for 5 mp on a cell phone camera, and without the standard Bayer filter. If true - and first reports indicate it is a winner - then the mass of consumers have no more need of a big sensor at all - ever. It gives them nothing of value.

Larger sensors will continue to be made, yes. In fact, Kodak makes the giant sensors for Hassy that you spoke of. But I don't think they will reach the kind of economies of scale that will enable lower retail prices. Instead, the downmarket needs will be served by last year's technology larger chips in a less-expensive model. So in five years, perhaps you'll see a $5,000 31mp sensor that is typically used in Hassy's best of breed today - since the costs will have amortized and they'll be running end-of-life manufacturing push-out anyway. It won't be demand coupled with higher sales that will push prices down, in other words. The pros who need 31 mp today are comfortable paying the exhorbitant prices those cameras command.

I suspect we WILL finally see some more full 35mm sensor size cameras, now that Sony is set to enter the market with several next year and Pentax is retooling what would have been their 645 to fit that chip in a 35mm sized dSLR (oops, did I say too much)? Yes, Samsung has a full-size CMOS image sensor, and Pentax is getting more in the cross-pollination with Samsung that would have been initially expected.

keithwms
03-06-2008, 20:25
Well, new technology is going to continue to raise the bar of expectation, even among "the mass of consumers." People will see that their showoff neighbour has better pics off his camera, or simply a cooler looking unit, and will want one just like it... And twenty years from now, people will still be wanking on the 'net about their superior specs.

bmattock
03-06-2008, 20:35
Well, new technology is going to continue to raise the bar of expectation, even among "the mass of consumers." People will see that their showoff neighbour has better pics off his camera, or simply a cooler looking unit, and will want one just like it... And twenty years from now, people will still be wanking on the 'net about their superior specs.

Nope. Your average everybody gather around the Christmas tree and say "cheese" family went from cheap 120/620 cameras to 127 cameras to 126 cameras to 35mm cameras to cheap 110 cameras to cheap disc cameras - consumer market, each one worse in terms of quality that the one before it (except for the 126 to 35mm thing, ok). They only came back to 35mm when disc and then 110 slowly became less popular and harder to find. Now they post their incredibly crappy cell phone photos in Facebook or Myspace and are quite thrilled with it all. They don't care jack squat about image quality, and really haven't since the days of neighborhood slide shows and Paul Simon singing about Nikon cameras and Kodachrome.

Only the enthusiasts wank on the net about anything. People like us. And we are not the game. The people on Facebook are the game. They are the market, and that's where the camera companies are aiming the majority of their R&D and marketing dollars.

Enthusiasts always think other people share their values - they don't. They not only don't, but if you try to tell them about it, it annoys them. They don't only not know, they don't want to know.

Stanton
03-06-2008, 21:29
bmattock is correct from what I can see. As a retired guy doing a lot of travelling, what I see is the desire for smaller and lighter cameras in the hands of tourists. Frankly, their 4 x 6 photos are not too bad. Dave

pvdhaar
03-06-2008, 22:43
I have read that the economics of chip fabrication is that the cost of fabrication hasn't fallen, but that each generation of electronics gets cheaper because of shrinking microchips able to do the same job (or better) as the previous generation enable higher yields per wafer.

That semiconductor features get smaller is indeed true, but this doesn't mean the chips get smaller! The functionality that gets crammed into them increases even faster than feature sizes shrink. The bonding pads along the edge of the chip that connect it to the outside world aren't really much smaller today than 20 years ago, and their numbers have increased by a factor ca. 4x over this time. When I was a boy my age, we thought 100.000 logical functions on a die was pretty hot. Now we're just shrugging our shoulders when we stash away a 1.000.000 function module in a corner for some flexibility.

The main reason that cost is reduced in electronic products is that functions that were previously divided over several chips are integrated into one-chip solutions..


Digital sensors don't benefit from this because, as we all know, we'd like them to be bigger, not smaller. We can get smaller and smaller sensors, but they aren't delivering the same quality, they're delivering less because in their case size does matter.

Digital sensors are not getting smaller either. The amount of megapixels crammed into them rises. Their size remains the same. There are three factors that make them cheaper:

1. Wafer size increases. 200mm (8") diameter wafers are somewhat long in the tooth, 300mm (12") is mainstream, and 450mm is the next step. 2 x larger wafers means 4x more chips.
2. Once a fab is up and running, the process parameters are constantly tuned to achieve maximum yield (i.e. less drop out due to defects). So over time, the amount of working chips on a given wafer size increases.
3. Once a fab is up and running, the investment is earned back, and the cost of operation decreases. This can be reflected in the price per product.


Until I see an ordered and logical rebuttal of this, I tend to believe it. I'm hard-pressed to think of any other application that, like digital imaging sensors, demands greater size to increase performance.
Your logic isn't completely valid. You can increase sensor performance without increasing their size by taking advantage of the possibilities to integrate more electronic functions alongside the photo-sensitive areas.

And yes, you can also increase sensor performance by making larger sensors, but it's no different from increasing computing power by scaling up from a (physically) tiny 8051 to a big Pentium..

Now, how's that for ordered and logical? :D

RML
03-08-2008, 05:54
My views aren't any of these. My view is: I use whatever is at hand. I don't care if there's a full frame, half frame, APC sized frame, or whatever in the camera I'm carrying. The only thing that matters is that I'm actually carrying a camera and using it.

keithwms
03-08-2008, 06:24
Nope. Your average everybody gather around the Christmas tree and say "cheese" family went from cheap 120/620 cameras to 127 cameras to 126 cameras to 35mm cameras to cheap 110 cameras to cheap disc cameras - consumer market, each one worse in terms of quality that the one before it (except for the 126 to 35mm thing, ok).

That's not what I'm getting at. And frankly I think it's a bit too cynical an assessment! People simply want good photos for less money. Is it so wrong? They want to have their cake and eat it too.

10 years go, dSLRs were far out of reach of most casual consumers, they were shooting with coolpixes and such. Now the cost of a "low-end" dSLR is actually lower that the "high end" p&s cameras, so of course people are looking more seriously at the former. A new consumer class is born: the "prosumer" or whatever you want to call it.

OF COURSE less expensive products will always sell in larger numbers, that is basic economics. But that effect is keeping companies alive and fueling new research. With a little bit of perspective, one clearly sees that the price of technology behind more expensive cameras is indeed coming down... slowly. When it reaches the ~$500, that is the the threshold of impulse buying in the U.S.! And people want more camera for their buck, so...

Sure people are using p&s cams in large numbers but... hey, those cameras are in some ways delivering better performance that the first dSLRs did, at the sensor end. It's just that the CoC is too small for good spatial rendering. Most consumers don't know what a CoC is, but guess what, I know a lot of people who don't know a CoC from a CoCK but ask me what do I need to buy to get the blurry backgrounds?!

As for the "low end" dSLRS... well I think some people need to just shut up and take photos. I have a d40x, it was way less expensive than several p&s cameras, and it's a great piece. I personally know of a good half dozen people who sought my advice on whether to buy it after seeing that I was pleased (or dare I say, astonished?) with it. It is selling like hotcakes. Would this have happened if it had been introduced 5 years ago at a $1000 price point? Of course not.

I leave you with one final observation from the lab where I make my living dreaming up new solid state devices. The current sensor and LCD technology on the shelf is totally rudimentary: there will be many more revolutions in digital imaging before we're done. And each revolution will be eye candy to the consumer and make them want to ditch their older camera. What won't change much is the glass, but the sensors and LCDs will go through many more revolutions and the technology will inevitably filter dwn to "the masses."

bmattock
03-08-2008, 07:00
That's not what I'm getting at. And frankly I think it's a bit too cynical an assessment! People simply want good photos for less money. Is it so wrong? They want to have their cake and eat it too.

Well, cynical or not, it's the truth. People do NOT want good photos. People want photos. They will settle for TERRIBLE photos and love them. I am shown and emailed photos my friends and relations have taken with cell phones - hideous! They love them. Call me cynical, that's fine. But people like crap. Pure crap. They have ZERO interest in 'good photos'. They just want photos.


10 years go, dSLRs were far out of reach of most casual consumers, they were shooting with coolpixes and such. Now the cost of a "low-end" dSLR is actually lower that the "high end" p&s cameras, so of course people are looking more seriously at the former. A new consumer class is born: the "prosumer" or whatever you want to call it.

This happened before. From the mid 1950's to the late 1960's, the middle and upper middle classes discovered slide projectors and SLRs (and also cassette recordings and Super 8 movies) and they went nuts. This was the age of Kodachrome and Nikons. Look at the camera magazines from that era; they didn't cater as much to the clued-in 'enthusiast', they catered to the newbie.

So we see some of the more well-heeled buyers getting into dSLR territory again. But that's still not your average consumer, any more than it was in the Kodachrome years. Most people back then had a Keystone 126 cartridge camera and were happy with it - and most people today are thrilled with their cell phone camera or happy snap low-end Canon digicam.


OF COURSE less expensive products will always sell in larger numbers, that is basic economics. But that effect is keeping companies alive and fueling new research. With a little bit of perspective, one clearly sees that the price of technology behind more expensive cameras is indeed coming down... slowly. When it reaches the ~$500, that is the the threshold of impulse buying in the U.S.! And people want more camera for their buck, so...


No, again - people (and by this I mean Joe Sixpack) do not want more bang for their buck. They want a photo. They want it cheap. AND they want it small. Put it in a pocket or purse, or better yet, make it part of the cell phone they carry around everywhere anyway. Lower-priced digital SLRs are attracting more people into trying them that are disposed to learning more about photography anyway, and that's a good thing, but they hold no interest to the average Joe.


Sure people are using p&s cams in large numbers but... hey, those cameras are in some ways delivering better performance that the first dSLRs did, at the sensor end. It's just that the CoC is too small for good spatial rendering. Most consumers don't know what a CoC is, but guess what, I know a lot of people who don't know a CoC from a CoCK but ask me what do I need to buy to get the blurry backgrounds?!

No, only the people who have more than a vague interest in photography ask things like that. Most don't even notice the blurry backgrounds or the deep DoF that most digicams render.

Your friends may well ask you such things, but Joe Sixpack burps in your general direction and heads for the fridge to get another beer.


As for the "low end" dSLRS... well I think some people need to just shut up and take photos. I have a d40x, it was way less expensive than several p&s cameras, and it's a great piece. I personally know of a good half dozen people who sought my advice on whether to buy it after seeing that I was pleased (or dare I say, astonished?) with it. It is selling like hotcakes. Would this have happened if it had been introduced 5 years ago at a $1000 price point? Of course not.

My parents would not have bought it. They loved their Kodak Disc camera. They thought my photos looked great, but they had no interest in things like focusing, setting exposure, deciding what f-stop to use, etc. They just wanted to take a picture. And that is what 99.99% of all people want. A) to take a picture and B) to be able to keep the camera in their pocket.


I leave you with one final observation from the lab where I make my living dreaming up new solid state devices. The current sensor and LCD technology on the shelf is totally rudimentary: there will be many more revolutions in digital imaging before we're done. And each revolution will be eye candy to the consumer and make them want to ditch their older camera. What won't change much is the glass, but the sensors and LCDs will go through many more revolutions and the technology will inevitably filter dwn to "the masses."

You may know tech, but you don't know people. People are not interested in learning technology - they just want to use it - and only when it fits their lifestyle, which is increasingly dumbed-down for them. They want big TV sets, they don't want big cameras. For years, people stopped taking photos altogether, compared to the days of Kodachrome. That's because 110 was on the wane, APS was dying, and 35mm cameras, even PnS single-use cameras, were more than they wanted to carry around. Now they are taking photos again, and with new websites like Facebook and Flickr and MySpace, everybody suddenly wants photos of the places they do and the people and things they see. That's cool. But if it does not fit in pocket, it isn't going with them. These people are not going to be seduced by dSLR cameras at incredibly low prices - THEY ARE TOO BIG.

You and I are enthusiasts. Our friends tend to be technology buffs and intelligent enough to grasp the benefits of a big sensor and a dSLR. We get it. We're not the market. The market is a big gigantic idiot with barely enough sense to pour piss out of a boot with the instructions on the bottom. Manufacturers serve the market - they have to. That's not cynical - that's being realistic.

keithwms
03-08-2008, 07:16
I just won't waste my time.

I teach device physics, and I teach traditional b&w photography... at the university level... in the same semester. I am not a walmart clerk, and neither am I some white-coated wonk who never gets out of the lab.

Look at the OP's question, comment on it, and let others comment on it without getting all lathered up. Share your perspective but respect others'.

<end of silly thread for me>

bmattock
03-08-2008, 07:43
I just won't waste my time.

You wasted it telling me you're not going to waste it? No, you want to say that you have no argument anymore, and it makes you mad.


I teach device physics, and I teach traditional b&w photography... at the university level... in the same semester. I am not a walmart clerk, and neither am I some white-coated wonk who never gets out of the lab.

If you teach device physics, then you're a brainiac, and hence, not in touch with people who watch "American Idol," which is most of the booger-eatin' morons out there. You have no idea what they want.


Look at the OP's question, comment on it, and let others comment on it without getting all lathered up. Share your perspective but respect others'.


I did. I also responded to YOUR comments to ME. I respect your perspective to the extent that I responded to it and addressed your individual statements with counter-arguments of my own. What you're actually saying is "agree with me, or I'll take my toys and go home. And note that I am actually a rocket scientist, please." Yes, yes, I respect your intelligence. I disagree with your conclusions. I take it you're not all that used to having your logic shredded in front of your eyes. Sorry.


<end of silly thread for me>

Don't go away mad...

antiquark
03-08-2008, 16:48
From the camera makers side: Technical and Economical reasons.
"The technology is not ready" "It would be too expensive"


In silicon chip manufacturing, larger chips are far more expensive than smaller chips. Specifically, if you double the chip area, the cost in increases by a factor of about 16! (I.e., cost is proportional to the fourth power of area.)

Here's an online app that shows how many chips can be produced from a silicon wafer:
http://tams-www.informatik.uni-hamburg.de/applets/yield/index.html

If you increase the chip size, you'll see that the yield drops dramatically. Also, here are some lecture notes explaining chip yield vs size vs cost:

http://bnrg.eecs.berkeley.edu/~randy/Courses/CS252.S96/Lecture05.pdf

NickTrop
03-08-2008, 17:51
Regardless of sensor size, FWIW, one must not overlook the oft overlooked warning sticker on the bottom of most digitals, which reads:

"Do not smash camera on the person next to you's head. You will damage the camera and void the warranty".

Be mindful of this if your camera is still under warranty, I can tell your from experience. If the warranty of your camera has expired the sticker is "moot" and you may bash away.

bmattock
03-08-2008, 20:09
Regardless of sensor size, FWIW, one must not overlook the oft overlooked warning sticker on the bottom of most digitals, which reads:

"Do not smash camera on the person next to you's head. You will damage the camera and void the warranty".

Be mindful of this if your camera is still under warranty, I can tell your from experience. If the warranty of your camera has expired the sticker is "moot" and you may bash away.

It was funny the first time you posted it. Kind of. Now it's not.

bmattock
03-08-2008, 20:26
The interesting thing about polemic is that it gives life to generalization. Joe Sixpack? - I like the characterization. But it's one end of a spectrum. Hideous photos? Perhaps. Depends on the yardstick. It's not that most people 'don't want good image quality' it's that they are interested in content -- traditional measurements of IQ simply don't matter once things are above a threshold. You will find as many thresholds as users. I don't do facebook. I'm a long-time usenet-er. I shoot almost entirely digital but have a IIIc with a 50/3.5. My wife does Facebook, shoots with a Leica (M3, and R4), and a little $100 Canon P&S. Guess what's most often in the purse? And why?

You're using anecdotal evidence. I use trends that are clearly provable. What sells? Camera phones and cheap digicams. What have camera execs been fretting about and film lovers using as yet another reason to hate digital? Not many people print their photos. What are the most popular shows on television? Brain-dead 'reality' shows like "Dancing with the Stars" and "American Icon" and, God help me, "Desperate Housewives." You know smart people. So do I. But the majority of people are booger-eatin' morons of a rather low order. The proof is in the Leica-versus-cheap Digicam sales figures.


Alex Majoli shoots with anything but, lately with point and shoots. Technique makes the difference.


You miss my point, I think. Perhaps I didn't explain it well. When I say the poopy-drawer snap-shot artists make 'terrible' photos, I was not referring to photographic talent. I was referring to the technical quality of the image itself, whether it is of odd twins in some suburban backyard holding hands, or the burial at sea of the latest goldfish victim of young Bobby over here. The image quality of a cell phone camera is rather suckish - regardless of the abilities of the photographer or the compelling drama of the subject, it makes a Holga look like an M7.

I'm not saying most droop-drawers suck as photographers (although I have no doubt they do), I am saying their tool of choice is terrible in terms of quality, and they don't care at all.


With reference to the raging, you're both right. And wrong. The world is a huge greyscale of abilities and levels of awareness. For a dopple-metaphor, just look at the fw corrections for fall-off in the M8. The same thing applies to the piss-boot operators. Give Joe Sixpack an M8 or a MF machine all tethered with a 40 MP sensor and he will still produce dreck. Maybe. It's a sense of design and the ability to bring technique to bear that differentiates Leonardo Da Vinci from that idiot down the street building a fire pit out of essentially the same stone. But it's still just stone. Image quality is nothing without content. One the other hand, I wonder why disk film and most of the other ultra-small film formats perished?.... Hmmm.

You make a good point with your query as to why the smaller film formats vanished, but I would tend (without proof, I admit) to believe that this was simply due to the inability to achieve market penetration to the extent that they were ubiquitous. As each began to flag in sales, instead of propping them up with marketing, the camera manufacturers and Kodak went to the next format and more-or-less abandoned the old.

I also accept that everything is on a nice bell-shaped curve, including the imbecility of most human beings. But the majority are within a few brain cells of each other, and slightly above the average housecat.


To the original post:

There is no one small-set of reasons. It's a large set. The market is part of it. But also is the quirkyness of the human need to explore options - from the techlab to the street. The threshold is being crossed rapidly, again and again. Part of the problem is that we are thinking of digicam sensors applied to a 35mm film model. One of the things that differentiated Leica from other 35mm offerings (apart from Leitz optics), is the slightly different geometery in the camera and lens working distances. The whole 35mm geometery changes DoF issues. Use the tool that is appropriate for your needs. Nobody serious about landscape photography uses 35mm formats......except those who are applying a sense of design to the short comings of any particular piece of technology. And that happens in any format, in any technology, in any endeavor.


All true, and all important - to us. Not to Joe Sixpack. I must insist; he neither knows nor cares about such things. The proof is all around us. We who are intelligent and who are involved in photography tend to make assumptions that others feel as we do, that they understand our issues, and that we represent the market that the major camera makers are trying to connect to. We're not.


I think that we will see all kinds of interesting things in the near future. Perhaps non-planar sensors that compensate with focal lengths to achieve better edge performance in very small form factors. I'll pick it up, try it, and if I can get something out of it, I'll consider it a candidate for my tool kit.


I agree. I am looking forward to innovations too. My point, contrary to the O/P, was that large-format sensors are not going to become the default standard for digital cameras, nor do 'people' want the advantages that a larger sensor can bring. They might have - if a larger sensor had remained the sole method of obtaining higher ISO / lower noise; but Kodak shot that in the head with their newer, and even smaller, sensors announced recently. Now there won't be a good reason not to keep making sensors EVEN SMALLER for the masses. So those sensors will drop in price - not the ones we want, other than through the usual efficiencies achieved in manufacturing that tends to drive tech prices down.


Who knows? Who cares?

Go out and take some pictures. It's more fun to rage about content!!!


Everyone thinks I am mad when I post. I'm not 'raging' about anything. I speak emphatically.

And I shot a few hundred images today. I do that nearly every weekend. For all my blah-blah-blah, I am constantly practicing the art of photography in an attempt to improve my abilities and to enjoy my hobby.

NickTrop
03-08-2008, 20:27
It was funny the first time you posted it. Kind of. Now it's not.

Hey, the Three Stooges made a career out of recycling "kinda funny" bits - for decades. Think of it as a "catch phrase" like Dyn-o-mite! Or "Oh no, Mr. Bill!!!" or "Doh"! Or "Aaaaay!" (Fonz/Happy Days), or "Ooooo Scarry"(SCTV, Count Floyd)...

bmattock
03-08-2008, 20:43
Hey, the Three Stooges made a career out of recycling "kinda funny" bits - for decades. Think of it as a "catch phrase" like Dyn-o-mite! Or "Oh no, Mr. Bill!!!" or "Doh"! Or "Aaaaay!" (Fonz/Happy Days), or "Ooooo Scarry"(SCTV, Count Floyd)...

But those were all said by funny people. Kind of.

keithwms
03-09-2008, 06:15
I have regained my aplomb.

Let me suggest stepping back from the keyboard and monitor for a day before dissecting another member's contribution line by line, it gives perspective.

Now, I will speak for myself only:

I have nothing but contempt for the idea that there are smart people using real gear and then there are the writhing masses using low-end p&s cameras, killing "real" photography with each mindless click. That kind of elitism just flies in the face of everything that I know and love about photography.

I could, and occasionally do, take the view that because of my experience, I have a bit broader perspective than some on the 'net. I have worked with students who've never touched anything but a digital p&s, and I have worked aorund people off in ULF land. To me, they are exactly the same photographer. The gear is just a thing.

My experience is that any gear can turn a person to serious photography. Any gear. For me, it was a trip up through Norway, the first time by myself, just a teen with a rail-pass, a bag of throwaway cameras, and no clear photographic intention whatsoever. I came back from that trip understanding, at least in my own thinking, what photography is all about. When you have that kind of experience - and I'm sure many here have - it becomes crystal clear who gets it and who doesn't.

Now how might the elitist regard that teen adventure? Silly fool, went off to Norway with sh*t cameras, couldn't possibly have gotten anything worth keeping... should have had an M7.

Needless to say, that kind of elitism is just totally contrary to my own thinking. For me, photography is all about discovering the scene, and gradually finding better ways to connect to it. Just like Henri, we all start by exploring new possibilities, we are all beginners.

There, now I have said my piece in a calm and clear way, I have the right to leave the thread.

bmattock
03-09-2008, 07:05
I have regained my aplomb.

I'm not a fan of plombs. I like bananas. However, I'm glad you found yours.


Let me suggest stepping back from the keyboard and monitor for a day before dissecting another member's contribution line by line, it gives perspective.


Thus spaketh the perfesser.


Now, I will speak for myself only:


So, no voices in the head?


I have nothing but contempt for the idea that there are smart people using real gear and then there are the writhing masses using low-end p&s cameras, killing "real" photography with each mindless click. That kind of elitism just flies in the face of everything that I know and love about photography.


You put words in my mouth. I did not say anything about the "writhing masses" doing anything naughty to "'real' photography."

It is not elitism to recognize that the majority of people on this planet who use cameras prefer them small and simple. Furthermore, simple sales trends seem to confirm that when presented a choice between image quality and size/price, they go with the latter nearly every time.

They are, however, not 'killing photography'. They're simply not practicing the form of it that you and I might prefer. They are taking snapshots of the kids around the tree at Christmas, school plays, Halloween costumes, and the occasional wife-in-the-bikini shot on holiday.

This is not wrong, and I don't condemn them for it. I point out that they want what they want, and 'good photogrpahy' isn't it.

Getting more to the O/P's point, I said that in my opinion, large sensors will not become more prevalent (and cheaper due to that) because of the advantages that larger sensors present, none are attractive to the hoi polloi. It might have been the case when a larger sensor was the only way to obtain low noise at higher ISO's, but this appears to be either defeated or well on its way to being defeated by Kodak's latest cell phone camera sensor.


I could, and occasionally do, take the view that because of my experience, I have a bit broader perspective than some on the 'net. I have worked with students who've never touched anything but a digital p&s, and I have worked aorund people off in ULF land. To me, they are exactly the same photographer. The gear is just a thing.

You work, sir, with students in an academic environment. That is no 'broad experience'. I have worked all around the world, in the real world, with people of every economic strata, and I have experienced a number of them myself. From my time in the military to my time in law enforcement, not to mention my time as a consultant in the IT industry. I have worked with the rich, and I have worked with the poor. Educated and non-educated. In addition, all my relations on my side of my family are largely rednecks and proud of it. All my relations on my wife's side are school teachers and religious leaders. I've got a photograph of myself with Ed Koch in tuxedos, and I've had dinner in a house in the Philippines made of cardboard c-ration cartons. Perhaps you can tell me more of this extensive broad perspective you seem to have obtained while ensconced in the halls of academia.

I have met 'the people'. And they are mostly in need of soap.


My experience is that any gear can turn a person to serious photography. Any gear. For me, it was a trip up through Norway, the first time by myself, just a teen with a rail-pass, a bag of throwaway cameras, and no clear photographic intention whatsoever. I came back from that trip understanding, at least in my own thinking, what photography is all about. When you have that kind of experience - and I'm sure many here have - it becomes crystal clear who gets it and who doesn't.


I don't dispute that. My first camera was a Diana, given me by my father - he had a darkroom and helped me develop the negs and print them.

However, I still say that 99.99% of the camera-using world doesn't 'get it' when it comes to photography. To them, a 'picture' is just that - a memory of an event that means something to them. It does not have to be great art, it does not have to be high-quality, and it does not even have to be in focus. You can chop off heads, have trees growing out of your subject's shoulders, be grouped uncomfortably around the Christmas tree in your pyjamas and everybody has red eye, but the important thing to the people who take those photos is that they know who these people are and it means something to them. A bigger sensor - less DoF - sharper focus - these are meaningless concepts to them.


Now how might the elitist regard that teen adventure? Silly fool, went off to Norway with sh*t cameras, couldn't possibly have gotten anything worth keeping... should have had an M7.

Not I - I haven't a Leica anything. Oh wait, I have a Hektor 135 in LTM, but I don't really use it.


Needless to say, that kind of elitism is just totally contrary to my own thinking. For me, photography is all about discovering the scene, and gradually finding better ways to connect to it. Just like Henri, we all start by exploring new possibilities, we are all beginners.


Again, I find it hard to disagree. My only counterpoint would be that your 'we' is a very small subset of the number of people who use cameras.


There, now I have said my piece in a calm and clear way, I have the right to leave the thread.

You always did. I just mocked you for fun because I enjoyed your puffery. We can also talk like adults, your choice.

keithwms
03-09-2008, 07:50
Perhaps you can tell me more of this extensive broad perspective you seem to have obtained while ensconced in the halls of academia.

I have met 'the people'. And they are mostly in need of soap.

As you wish.

I am 36 and spent the first half of my life in Africa, where my parents worked helping people with literacy classes and medicine. My father gave up journalism to go on this mission, and though he had a yashica tlr on "the field", we couldn't afford film for it in Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) during the war and there was no processing except in Johannesburg, which was a long trek away that could be reached only by military convoy across the Limpopo. Everything was rationed in Rhodesia, even toilet paper. And so as a kid, I merely played with the tlr and my first 'real' camera was a throwaway many years later, as I mentioned.

Not that I regard it as a credential, but I got my books in the mail and taught myself well enough to have a reasonable shot at academia in the U.S. Where I am, as you put it, "ensconced."

Now, some photographers I know were born with a gold-plated camera in their hands. That doesn't mean they cannot become wonderful photographers. Likewise an African kid with polaroids and throwaways can too. The fact is that it is equally task for both of them to find real vision.

Your turn, dissect away. Tell me again how limited my view is.

bmattock
03-09-2008, 08:24
Now, some photographers I know were born with a gold-plated camera in their hands. That doesn't mean they cannot become wonderful photographers. Likewise an African kid with polaroids and throwaways can too. The fact is that it is equally task for both of them to find real vision.

Your turn, dissect away. Tell me again how limited my view is.

I find nothing wrong with that view. I agree with it. HCB was from a wealthy family. I recently read about a photographer from Africa who shot in the 1950's and 1960's as a village environmental portrait photographer on 5x7, buried his negatives in a tin in his backyard when photographer became anti-government, and in the last years of his life, was 'discovered' and became the toast of NYC - I am sorry to say I have forgotten his name at the moment.

You continue to take issue with things I have not said.

I don't think you are hearing what I am saying - or you don't want to. I do not denigrate anyone's innate ability to learn photography if they wish to. I'm an autodidact too, I used to buy out-of-date high school text books at nickel sales and bring them home in my red wagon - that was my idea of fun growing up.

What I have said about your limited view is that you simply do not seem to grasp the concept that most people DO NOT WANT to learn photography, to explore it as an art, craft, or hobby, nor are they particularly interested in any of the benefits that larger sensors bring. They don't care.

I'm not saying THEY CANNOT. I am saying THEY DO NOT WANT TO. This concept seems simple to me - and very clear and easy to understand by looking around you. If you can't or won't see that, I can only presume you are either incredibly isolated from the world, or you just don't want to see it.

And I do not criticize them for not caring - they want what they want, that's mostly Bud Light, the ball game on the big screen, and an SUV in the driveway. That's life, that's how it goes.

But marketers sell things to people based on what they seem to want - and manufacturers make things to cater to those needs. Cheap digicams outsell high-end manual-control capable cameras by hundreds or thousands to one for a very good reason - most people don't want the latter.

antiquark
03-09-2008, 14:05
What is the argument here anyway? That most people don't care about quality photography, therefore, quality cameras will vanish? Sounds like a specious argument to me.

bmattock
03-09-2008, 14:23
What is the argument here anyway? That most people don't care about quality photography, therefore, quality cameras will vanish? Sounds like a specious argument to me.

It would be, if that were the argument.

The argument has been that people desire higher-quality photos than they currently get, therefore things that permit those 'out-of-focus background' such as larger sensors will become more popular and subsequently drop in price.

I argue the opposite - that most people do not care about quality cameras or quality photographs. This will not cause quality cameras to vanish - but neither will they become commodity items. People won't be rushing to buy the newer and cheaper dSLR cameras because they do not want them. They want cheap, they want simple, and they want small. Cell phone cameras are small, simple, and cheap. dSLRs, no matter how small they get, won't compete with that.

EDIT: And as an aside, sonofdanang, I agree with your entire statement above.

keithwms
03-09-2008, 14:53
Cell phone cameras are small, simple, and cheap. dSLRs, no matter how small they get, won't compete with that.

Finally something we agree on.

But note, this thread was not specifically about dSLRs, nor does it need to be. It's a much broader issue of sensor size and what has kept larger sensors from coming to the shelf sooner.

N.b. please also refer to my recent thread about RFs being the future, in which I speculated about a necessary disappearance of reflex mirrors and, as I recall, you agreed with my basic points.

One more point on that somewhat OT area... look, the research I do and that is done at most camera companies is indirectly funded by revenue generated from purchases made by your average Joe Consumer. It's not like a bunch of sensor wonks congregate in a lab and decide they're going to build a bigger a six-million-dollar-sensor just because they have the technology. Defect tolerance and basic physics are the issues here, and negotiating that tortuous r&d path costs a lot of money.

Case in point: Fuji is still generating enormous revenue from the sale of film-loaded throwaways... still. Do you think they could have pressed ahead with their S/R and other programmes if they didn't have that revenue base? That is how they remained profitable for the last 5 years and were able to generate enough revenue to embark on new research. I think it can be argued that Fuji's film sector is being kept alive by that low-end market, and their digital sector probably is too. There are all kinds of technology spinoffs of their film sector, e.g. the new privacy screen technology found in laptops. R&D costs money, the money comes from revenue... even the Federal R&D money derives ultimately from consumer spending.

bmattock
03-09-2008, 15:52
Finally something we agree on.

But note, this thread was not specifically about dSLRs, nor does it need to be. It's a much broader issue of sensor size and what has kept larger sensors from coming to the shelf sooner.

N.b. please also refer to my recent thread about RFs being the future, in which I speculated about a necessary disappearance of reflex mirrors and, as I recall, you agreed with my basic points.

One more point on that somewhat OT area... look, the research I do and that is done at most camera companies is indirectly funded by revenue generated from purchases made by your average Joe Consumer. It's not like a bunch of sensor wonks congregate in a lab and decide they're going to build a bigger a six-million-dollar-sensor just because they have the technology. Defect tolerance and basic physics are the issues here, and negotiating that tortuous r&d path costs a lot of money.

Case in point: Fuji is still generating enormous revenue from the sale of film-loaded throwaways... still. Do you think they could have pressed ahead with their S/R and other programmes if they didn't have that revenue base? That is how they remained profitable for the last 5 years and were able to generate enough revenue to embark on new research. I think it can be argued that Fuji's film sector is being kept alive by that low-end market, and their digital sector probably is too. There are all kinds of technology spinoffs of their film sector, e.g. the new privacy screen technology found in laptops. R&D costs money, the money comes from revenue... even the Federal R&D money derives ultimately from consumer spending.

Still very little for me to disagree with here. We still disagree, it seems, on large format sensors coming to a cheap digicam near you soon, and the reasons why.

As to the funding, design, and what the future has to offer - not only do I believe you have a better handle on that than I, due to your work in the industry, but I agree that low-end sales pay for high-end R&D - the benefits of which supposedly trickle down to the masses in their cheap-n-cheerful digicams.

We only disagree, it seems, on the coming ubiquity of large sensors in small digicams. Technical difficulties aside, I don't think Joe Sixpack wants one, it gives him no benefit from his (limited) point of view.

keithwms
03-09-2008, 16:21
We only disagree, it seems, on the coming ubiquity of large sensors in small digicams. Technical difficulties aside, I don't think Joe Sixpack wants one, it gives him no benefit from his (limited) point of view.

Okay, fair enough. Then my final point will be that it doesn't really matter if Joe Sixpack thinks he needs/wants to buy larger sensors: he will eventually buy them regardless. Joe Sixpack has bought HDTV, GPS, cell phones, ipods, PDAs, laptops, and a whole lot of other unnecessary but cute technology that's out there.

[One of my biggest concerns about the direction of new technology is just how fundamentally unnecessary it is for survival... which, I worry, moves our whole consumer economy further away from sound fundamentals. Agriculture is vital for our survival; ipods - not so much. Are we going to be buying corn from China in the future? But I digress.]

Listen, I think the segway is a dumb implement, but Joe Sixpack will be running us over with them before long, just you wait!

A slightly different spin on the situation: it is our role as brilliant and skilled photographers <ahem> to show the consumer what we can do. We don't like to think of ourselves as a cog in a big mass-marketing machine, but... if we like our medium, whether digital or film, we have to fight to keep companies and their r&d afloat. It's not enough any more to be aloof and say, gee, I have a good camera; it's all I need; I am happy. Joe Sixpack and his consumer dollars are going on a wild ride, we're just holding on.

bmattock
03-09-2008, 17:04
Okay, fair enough. Then my final point will be that it doesn't really matter if Joe Sixpack thinks he needs/wants to buy larger sensors: he will eventually buy them regardless. Joe Sixpack has bought HDTV, GPS, cell phones, ipods, PDAs, laptops, and a whole lot of other unnecessary but cute technology that's out there.

I don't believe Joe will be offered digital cameras with larger sensors. As you've noted, he buys iPods. He is told what makes a TV good, and he buys that. He doesn't understand it, really, nor does he want to. In digital cameras, he is told by the marketing wonks that megapixels are good. More of them are better. So what do we see? The megapixel war continues. Oh, the pundits have announced it is over, but the truth is, we've just reached max density for a short amount of time. New tech breakthroughs will put more and more pixels onto the same tiny sensor, and it will sell because now that the 'more is better' meme has been implanted, Joe wants that.

Meanwhile, the marketing wonks have been hard at work trying to get Joe interested in some other aspects of digital cameras to make him want this year's model and discard last year's as trash. Face-recognition technology, oh boy. High zoom. Image stabilization - note that some are true optical or sensor shift technologies, and others just up the ISO to avoid hand-shake-induced fuzzy pics. And as always - proprietary batteries get redesigned every year, so last year's model soon won't have batteries available for it, and when it won't take a charge, you HAVE to buy the model. But I digress.

Nowhere in all this is the need for a large sensor, nor is it being pitched by the marketing types. You have to paw through the tech specs to even find the sensor size. As I've said - it MIGHT have been destined for the consumer market anyway a few months ago - because large sensors provide a number of benefits, and one of the side-bennies is low noise at higher ISO. This could have played well in a consumer digicam, but now Kodak has an even smaller sensor that has low noise, so oh well for that.

Look at the market reaction to cameras like the GR digital. I heard people complaining that it had no zoom. They didn't grok why you would not want a camera with zoom. The DP-1 has no zoom. It will likewise fail to be a big runaway hit with the stocking-stuffer crowd at Christmas time.

We get it - we understand the purpose of specialized cameras like the GR digital and the DP-1 (even if we don't agree with or want one, at least we know what market they're trying to serve).

I submit that if the DP-1 was sold for $150 and placed on Wal-Mart shelves, it would still fail to be a big seller. No zoom, no sexy TV ad campaign, no zoom, no anti-shake technology, no zoom, and a body as ugly as homemade soap. Oh, and no zoom. They don't want it. The sensor size never enters into it.


[One of my biggest concerns about the direction of new technology is just how fundamentally unnecessary it is for survival... which, I worry, moves our whole consumer economy further away from sound fundamentals. Agriculture is vital for our survival; ipods - not so much. Are we going to be buying corn from China in the future? But I digress.]

You and I might be able to share a beer or two over that one. I tried to reason with the numbskulls who thought fuel from corn was a good idea when corn is a zero sum game, but they didn't listen, and now food prices are going up due to corn shortages...duh. I think lack of genetic diversity in our food chain (GMO's) are terribly stupid and short-sighted, as we'll find out when one new mutant bacteria or virus wipes all our corn (or wheat, or soy, etc) crop in one fell swoop, because they're all genetically the same. We won't put up with irradiated food that would cut our food poisoning problems by 90%, but we've already had GMO escapes into the wild, and we just shrug - oh well, it's probably safe. God, we're a pack of morons.


Listen, I think the segway is a dumb implement, but Joe Sixpack will be running us over with them before long, just you wait!


Now you sound like me. But I don't think it will be Segways. I think it will be those little golf-cart devices at Wal-Mart put there for the use of the people who are so incredibly obese that they cannot walk anymore. Note how many of them there are on your next trip, if you can bring yourself to go to one.


A slightly different spin on the situation: it is our role as brilliant and skilled photographers <ahem> to show the consumer what we can do. We don't like to think of ourselves as a cog in a big mass-marketing machine, but... if we like our medium, whether digital or film, we have to fight to keep companies and their r&d afloat. It's not enough any more to be aloof and say, gee, I have a good camera; it's all I need; I am happy. Joe Sixpack and his consumer dollars are going on a wild ride, we're just holding on.

Looks like we've reached a state of agreement at last. Yes, some will rise out of the primordial ooze of "Married with Children" or whatever the hit du jour is on TV these days, and see a well-executed photograph and wonder if they could do something like that.

I am fully aware that if I had stayed where I was raised, among my friends and relations, I'd be running a Ditch Witch for a living and thinking that having an extra fridge on the back porch for my Pabst Blue Ribbon was pretty much living high too. I just got lucky.

kuzano
03-26-2008, 17:41
Look folks, I do not intend from now on to malign the M8 in any way. It's just another consumer choice in a specialized market.

However, the copy I intend to post here is a fairly straight forward explanation of why Leica made the sensor size choice that they did and why the rangefinder manufacturers will quite likely rely more on crop sensor and small sensor development, rather than spin their wheels on a full frame rangefinder camera.

This report was the Dpreview.com full review of the M8. Whether you like the report or refuse to read it, there is one clear passage on why Leica did not, (and may never) pursue a full frame sensor. Here is the passage:

"Because a rangefinder camera doesn't have a mirror box doesn't need to use retrofocus lenses, meaning they sit much closer to the film (or in this case the sensor). The problem with this comes with wide angle lenses (which are pretty much the main staple of the rangefinder camera). Towards the corner of the frame the angle of incidence of light coming from the rear of the lens is so severely off-perpendicular that they would not pass equally through the microlenses above the sensor leading to fairly strong vignetting. Even a modest wide angle lens at this kind of distance could produce a difference of a stop or two between the center of the frame and the edges using a standard CCD sensor.
Leica, obviously keen to solve this problem, took a three pronged approach with the M8:

Don't use a full frame sensor - at this time it would be cost prohibitive and too complex to produce a sensor which can cover the entire 36x24 mm frame and still work with rangefinder lenses. For this reason the M8's sensor measures 27x18 mm (or 1.33x crop).
Use offset microlenses - instead of placing all microlenses directly over the photodiode they are gradually offset as you get closer to the edge of the frame (see below).
Know which lens is being used and apply some software correction - all new M series lenses now carry a six-bit code (http://www.dpreview.com/news/0606/06061001leicamdlenses.asp) which allows the M8 to identify which lens is used and (optionally) apply a 'final stage' software based vignetting correction (for RAW images the lens used is simply recorded, no change is made). Below is a diagram provided by Leica which does some way to explaining how microlenses at the edge of the frame are offset from the photodiode below them, compared to a normal microlens / photodiode combination in the center of the frame."

I think this speaks to the need to continue to develop the smaller sensors and relegate the full frame sensors to very sizable cameras, wherein these lens shortcomings do not dictate small sensors.

The link to the whole review is here:


http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/leicam8/

This review has been online at Dpreview for almost a year.