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Sunday, 19 August 2007


Thanks for the scoop Mike and Mark - good thing I decided to sit on the sidelines and wait on the 30D - network transmissions are here! I am a little surprised that the cost is where it is as the 30D released for that price only 2 years ago. Glad to see they use the same accessories (batteries, etc.) :)

poor nikon!

Looks like Amazon killed the page. This link is dead...

Well, at least I can take a break from the online photoforums, which I am sure will be discussing these very sad news to death for the next few days... Why on earth would Canon need a 20+ MP camera when they can't even make a decent wide angle lens...?

It looks as though Amazon has pulled the linked pages. Canon may think they jumped the gun a bit.

Looks like somebody at Canon got wind and slapped Amazon's hand - the page has been pulled!

Not all pictures need a wide-angle lens, but it looks like they're also going to introduce a 14/2.8 MkII as well:


"but for the uses that a MF back typically gets, such as studio and landscape, it will probably be great, at one-third the price."

Mamiya's 22mp ZD back is $7k - $10k if you include a 645 afd body - but at twice the sensor size (36mmx48mm vs. 36mmx24mm). So the MF back manufacturers are definitely starting to close the gap.

Alas, as I don't have $7k to toss around, I can't speak directly to the quality of the zd back.

While all of the other specs are worth thinking about, the piece of information most interesting to me from the Amazon screenshots is the digic-3/14-bit processing. More than a few bloggers have raved about the color from the 14-bit 1d3; if the 40d has similar results, it may well be worth it for that upgrade alone.

The "sRAW" mode interests me. I was just thinking about this possibility yesterday: If you have a large sensor, why not give the camera the ability to grab a 1/4th resolution image in black and white, where each pixel would have the brightness data from a red, a blue, and two green filtered sensor site? Yesterday it was just wish-booking...today it seems a bit closer to reality.

Specs are still up at the attached link. As someone who's used a d60 for the past 5 yrs and has been looking around at options for a new camera I'm pleased with the feature set of the new 40d and I'll likely be putting down my deposit on Monday to reserve one of the first. As mentioned by daniel, the 14 bit dynamic range is a biggie for me too, and looking around, I was coming to the conclusion that at it's new lower price point, the 30d compares favourably to most of the other cameras out there. Big pluses are much lower high-ISO noise, fast throughput (for shooting raw) and general ease of use. Although I must admit I was tempted by the D80.

This is probably a naive question, but would it make sense for the digital MF manufacturers to introduce so-called full-frame cameras? What with MF being larger than that, you'd think that they'd have at least some of the engineering problems solved.

I'm thinking purely in terms of market space (pretty rare for an engineer). Canon seems to have the so-called full-frame market to itself, so you'd think somebody would want to compete with them.

In any event, I'm not upgrading until I break my 30D.

The 14 bit raw is the big attraction for me. There are other rumors floating around that:
1) Canon will have updated the entire line of DSLRs to DIGIC III and 14 bits by next March. Breaking their 18 month cycle.

2) Canon plans to do another update cycle in 2009 to all 16 bit processors.

3) Nikon has two new models in the waiting room.

It also shows Live View going completely mainstream from Canon; both of these cameras have it. Those who derided it when Olympus introduced it (dpreview, among others) will probably be singing a different tune very soon! While not yet that useful in many applications, it's great for macros, among other things. True all-purpose use waits for a good solution for autofocus, though (putting the mirror down, auto focusing, and putting the mirror back up isn't really very versatile).

I think this is the point where features sit on one side of the see-saw and price sits on the other and reason flies out the window.

The price of that 14mm f2.8 must have Pentax DSLR owners smiling.

"but would it make sense for the digital MF manufacturers to introduce so-called full-frame cameras? What with MF being larger than that, you'd think that they'd have at least some of the engineering problems solved."

No, it wouldn't make sense. In engineering, it's the miniaturization that's a problem. And they would need to scale their sensors down. They would need to make the cameras faster, too.

Besides, what would be the point? It's not like they would try to squeeze into the entry level market where the volume and consequently profits are much higher. What're the overall sales of Canon 1Ds Mark II and 5D? Thousands? Tens of thousands? (Compare that to millions for entry- and mid-level cameras.) In other words, too much hassle for little return.

Intererstingly (1Ds listing is up again):

"Sensor type: Full-frame CMOS sensor, with primary R-G-B filtration (28 x 18.7 millimeters)
Pixel size: 6.4 microns square"

Somebody made a blunder... There's no way they can have 6.4 microns on that size. OTOH, that would be about right if they are talking about 35mm sensor, since Canon EOS-1Ds Mark II had 7.2 microns at 16.7 MP, so they probably miswrote the sensor size.

Regarding the featured comment: "Twenty-two megapixels on the new 1DsMk3 really makes me wonder if there is any future in the MF camera back business."

What about depth of field, viewfinder brightness and size, interchangeable viewfinder types, 39+ megapixels, ability to use on view-cameras with tilt/shift, etc.

MF companies have dabbled in full frame cameras, Contax and Kodak being the notable failures.

Axel said -

"What about depth of field, viewfinder brightness and size, interchangeable viewfinder types, 39+ megapixels, ability to use on view-cameras with tilt/shift, etc."

These are very good points - the problem is who buys MF/LF cameras and for what reason? I suspect resolution is the main reason in many cases, so I have no doubt the new Canon will steal some of the MF sales. Reduced unit sales = higher prices until you eventually get to the point where it will become uneconomic to produce them at all.

another product release from canon that doesn't feature anything like a digital rangefinder. will keep my fingers crossed for next time ;-)...

Can't help but smile that no one has yet commented on the fact that there is another new Canon. A G series. So what's the big deal? RAW. Yes, this one now has Raw. Just when I thought that big wigs at Canon have no time to listen to Joe Blow Consumer. Very tempting gentlemen, very tempting.

"The price of that 14mm f2.8 must have Pentax DSLR owners smiling."

I am a Pentax owner, and I continue to smile--but that new 14mm f/2.8L Mark II is a full-frame design. There are no rectilinear lenses that wide for Pentax (9.5mm would be required)--just the 10-17 fisheye. That being said, Pentax still offers decent (and much more affordable) ultra-wide glass for their APS-C sensored D-SLRs.

It looks like the 40D took a nice evolutionary step though the Auto-ISO implementation still looks pretty strange to me.

Much more interresting, I think, is the announcement of the Canon G9. Could this be the P&S so many of us have been waiting for?


I think what's most intriguing is the inclusion of wireless transmitting capabilities in the 40D. This feature set was previously only available to professional grade cameras with a price point of $4000 or higher. With the price point now down to about $2K ($1k for the body, and $1k for the wireless kit), more people will be able to upload high res content to the web. My guess the world is about to get just a little bit smaller (again).

Perhaps I'm a bit naive, but isn't there a resolution limit for most small format lenses? Am I mistaken to believe that medium format lenses have higher resolving power than 35mm lenses? I thought that was the whole point of MF, to be able to show more detail of a given scene through the use of a larger sensor, and better (read: bigger) lens design...

Mmmn, 14 bit, and I bet the high ISO - really high ISO - is great. Yeah, but all the money I have invested in Nikon... aw, there's bound to be a review in a few weeks time that proves that the Nikon D200 is just as good... Mmmmn, I don't want another heavy camera. Yes but you've been ogling a 5D for months and this might be the way. Mmmn, $1,300....

I don't think the G9 will cut it as a near-DMD. Incredibly, it has no wide-angle capability, unless you could the Rube Goldberg adapter lenses that I've never seen ANYONE use. Even more importantly (to me), it doesn't have the A95/620/640/650's marvelous swiveling LCD, one of the few digicam features that has actually improved my photography.

We are doomed to wait forever.

"The Canon G9 will be available in October for $499.99. The Canon G9 will be available in the UK from September 2007 priced £429 / €629 inc. VAT."

Oh, that is wrong. Almost twice the price in Eu/UK! The pound is now twice the dollar, but you'd never know it looking at prices.

While I will probably will eventually update my 1Ds II to the 1Ds III the G9 announcement was the big news for me! I really did not expect it. The G7 has been a wonderful little camera for me since last fall, arguably comparable in usefulness to my M8. I've really fallen in love with this little camera. (The current banner image on my photo gallery is a recent G7 image: http://www.pbase.com/tanakak ). You'll also find a small gallery of G7 samples from last fall.) The G9's raw image facility will make the G the perfect carry-anywhere p&s camera.

I've already ordered a G9 and can't wait until October to get it!

>> Perhaps I'm a bit naive, but isn't there a resolution limit for most small format lenses? Am I mistaken to believe that medium format lenses have higher resolving power than 35mm lenses?

Actually they have about the same resolution. For high end glass, normally it is ground 'as good as it gets' for a particular price/performance design. So a MF lens is as good as, or often less good than an equivalent 35mm lens. It is harder to make and grind larger glass, so performance can suffer. That is why most MF lenses are pretty bad wide open, and resolution is pretty much the same as with 35mm.

>> What about depth of field, viewfinder brightness and size, interchangeable viewfinder types, 39+ megapixels, ability to use on view-cameras with tilt/shift, etc.

The last sentence of my comment was not included in the response. I said that except for specialty work, MF may be a dying breed. I consider all of the items listed 'specialty work'. 39+ MP is certainly a special need when high resolution is needed, but going back to the film era, for that kind of resolution your would not be using MF anyway, you would be using 5x7 film. And how many people use tilt/shift on MF that is not part of the lens itself... few people have a tilt/shift MF capable body, so that is not a really arguable point.

The market for 22+MP cameras is pretty limited. I have over $25,000 of excellent Canon glass sitting in my office. The availability of a body that can use all that glass at 22MP really makes me reconsider any inclination to buy a 'realistically priced' MF back that I will only need (or be able to use) occasionally. Of course, If I can afford $30,000 for a basic 39MP setup, and it will pay back, sure... but that market is pretty limited.

Personally I think that the market for 22MP MF just suffered a cardiac arrest and died outright. The Mamiya ZD mentioned above just hit a big wall.

Come on Paul... now that I was just about ready to order the G9 :) Oh well, guess I'll have to lug around that Sony F717 for a while longer.

Dear Kainnon,

Medium format lenses aren't sharper than small format lenses; on average they're less sharp. The reason medium format photos are sharper is simply that you don't have to enlarge them as much for the same final print size.

A similar situation exists in digital cameras. A 22 Mpixel 645 sensor (assuming full frame) would have pixels about 10 microns across. A 35mm sensor of the same resolution has pixels only 6/3 that size. So, the 35mm lens has to deliver about 50% more resolution in real-life photographing situations to get the same sharpness as the medium format lens. It's simply a lot easier for the medium format camera to deliver the goods.

There are also some resolution differences between 35mm and medium format sensors (which I don't understand the source of) that favor medium format. Your typical small format camera yields a real full-color resolution that's about 40% of the raw single-color pixel count. In other words a 10 MP camera will typically produce about 2000 lines of resolution, horizontal and vertical. Some do better, some do worse, but they all fall between 30% and 50%. But, the Kodak 22 MP medium-format back generates resolutions about 65% of its raw pixel count. I have no idea how they pulled that off. If you're comparing, say, the Kodak medium format back to a good 10 Mp smaller format camera, the Kodak back doesn't deliver just twice the amount of detail, it manages to deliver three times as much.

pax / Ctein

-- Ctein's Online Gallery http://www.ctein.com
-- Digital Restorations http://photo-repair.com

Thank you, Unbound and Ctein, for your explainations, I greatly appreciate it.

So it would appear that MF still has an upper hand in resolution by first, having larger pixels, and a larger pixel array, offsetting any shortcomings of the lens used, and secondly a raw pixel to resolution factor.

What my question originally was, but I did not ask, is weither or not 35mm format had an upper limit on megapixels, where any extra would be for naught, as it would resolve nothing more than blur. Much like how we are bombarded with pocket digital point and shoots which have more megapixels than are actually useful (Sony is about to release a pocket PnS with a dozen megapixels!?), is there a similiar limit for 35mm?

Whether or not it would that limit be solved by MF, it appears that you've addressed it, Ctein. How they've come up with those numbers though, I'll leave to the engineers to argue with the marketers. Perhaps it's a different layout, or algorithim used, or maybe just a different way to measure resolution.


My understanding is that the bayer sensors in both medium format and 35mm digital cameras have already hit the wall where they are essentially limited by what their respective lenses can resolve. The 39mp backs from Phase One have pixels that measure a mere 6.8 microns, which is asking a lot, even from high quality prime lenses. The newly announced EOS 1Ds mark III has pixels that weigh in at a slightly smaller 6.4 microns (down from 7.2 microns on the previous generation 1Ds).

It seems to me that the real opportunity for improving a camera's resolving power is in ditching the bayer design in favor of full color sensors like those coming from Foveon.


I wonder if the better resolution numbers coming off of Kodak's medium format chips have to do with their decision not to use an anti-aliasing filter.

We have spent quite a few paragraphs discussing the merits of higher pixel counts, but that may be a false path to follow when discussing ultimate image quality. When all is boiled down, the sole function of higher pixel counts is to allow for larger final prints (or more substantial crops) based on the number of available pixels.
But that has little to do with image quality in today's digital photographic environment. Sensors are all good, very good, and probably won't get much better from a physics standpoint.
Lenses are a huge determining factor in the quality issue, and it stands to assume that if you are using a $30,000 back, you probably will not be putting a mediocre lens in front of it; while if you are using a Canon 20D, you are quite likely to see it with a not-so-good kit lens attached to it. We are likely to see better images coming from a MF back because the overall package is likely to be better.
So are the things that are incorporated in the camera that affect the photo directly. You can have a high MP sensor, but if the things around it don't work well, then it really doesn't matter. Things like autofocus... does it actually focus properly, or does it front focus or backfocus? Thermal noise. Does the sensor get too warm and start generating excessive noise at higher ISO's? Mirror vibration. Shutter lag. Exposure accuracy (how good is auto, how good is manual and the photographer)?
Rarely discussed also is the 'developing' and printing ability as an enormous factor in the final image quality.
IMHO digital processing is not much different from film processing when it comes to final output quality. It is still a deeply necessary skill in order to be able to produce good images. You can be an excellent photographer but if you do not have digital darkroom skills, you will not be able to create good final images. We all know of great photographers that did none of their own printing in the film era, relying instead on someone that was not a great photographer but was a great darkroom worker to create their final images. And all those Hollywood star images that we so admire from the 40's and 50's were heavily retouched by professional retouchers that spent days working on a 5x7 negative, with a pencil, a blade, and a vibrating table. That skill is still necessary although in a different form.
Why do I mention this? Because someone using a $30,000 back most likely will have sufficient skill to do their own post-processing, or will have the support team to do it for them.
So let's not get carried away by MP count when it is only one piece in of the whole photography pie.

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