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Friday, 19 September 2014


I know many of us spend a good deal of time,(I know I do), comparing the next great thing to the last one and being somewhat disappointed that function A or B has been left off camera X or Y, but I have to say that, when viewed entirely on it's own merits, that Nikon D750 looks like one hell of a good camera for the money.

It is interesting that Panasonic is the outfit doing this, as they also had a large share of the digicam market. They also have introduced two new carry around cameras that immediately caught my eye. The GM7 may prove irresistible, to me, a converted Micro 4/3 user. They seem to be hitting the sweet spots in what market remains outside of DSLRs.

I think cameras are following a similar route as portable music players.

When the MP3 format came out, it wasn't as good as CD quality sound, but it was "good enough" for most listeners, and the fact that you could cram hundreds of these "good enough" sounding songs on a tiny portable device is what set the stage for the demise of the CD.

Now we're entering the era where the images from a smaller sensor camera may not match the image quality of a DSLR, but it is "good enough" for most people, and like MP3s, you can now cram hundreds of these "good enough" images on a tiny portable device.

Ok. I want it. But your comments about enthusiasts and DSLRs bring a sort jumble of thoughts to mind. I work at a large high-tech company with a lot of camera enthusiasts. Yesterday I had a polite email exchange on one of our photography mailing lists over the issue of whether a Sony RX100iii would be sufficient for a food blogger to use to take web-sized food images, and also be sufficient for use in travel. The answer was obvious to both of us - just different answers. And that point of view seems typical.

What I'm seeing elsewhere is that pros who actually need images for some purpose other than pixel-peeping are adopting various mirrorless systems in increasing numbers, mostly with sensors smaller than "full frame."

There is something psychologically seductive about the term "full-frame." Once you've heard it, anything smaller is "less than full," or somehow substandard. Of course, full-frame enthusiasts never seem to take the next logical step and move up to medium format - that would be fuller than full, and there's no need to be extra full.

I wonder whether the obsession with sensor size has anything to do with the idea that sensor properties can be measured, whereas the things that make a photograph meaningful can't.

To digress, I'm enough of a nerd that I took a look at relative sensor sizes. If you can believe the Wikipedia article at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image_sensor_format, none of the numerically named sensors have sizes that correspond to the stated numbers. That is, there's nothing about a one-inch sensor that actually measures one inch, nor about a 1/1.7 inch sensor ditto. Why is that? Perhaps someone could contribute an article on how these things are named and what, if any, logic is behind it.

As it has always been, the camera you choose will depend on how you plan to use the picture. As mirrorless is getting better, DSLRs are too. As monitors get bigger and better and printing gets better and cheaper, photographers will want better cameras.

For me, my phone is always with me. My mirrorless is with me when pictures are important and size (of the camera) is a factor. Serious pictures bring out the DSLR.

In many ways, phone cameras today are where pocket cameras were one or two decades ago. Phones have killed low end pocket cams but they have a way to go to do the same to DSLRs.

I'm kind of taken by the Panasonic LX100 - a compact fixed lens camera with m4/3 sensor (although it doesn't use all of it, but different bits depending on aspect ratio).
It can shoot 4k video, and comes with software that allows you to extract any frame from video to save as an 8 megapixel still.
A recent issue of Amateur Photographer magazine showed how well that works on the GH4, and it'll probably work as well on the LX100.
So much for the 'decisive moment'.

It's got an EVF, obviously. and it pretty much trumps all other small-sensor compacts.

Anybody who thinks that 4/3 is too small should also think that Canon's 1.6 crop is too small as the difference between them is minimal. They should get full frame. The difference between 4/3 and even 1.5 is much less than between 1.5 crop and full frame. No, it is not the size of the sensor, it is who does it. Canon and Nikon are camera companies, they do everything right, even when they are wrong. What does Olympus and Panasonic understand? It is the same with mobile phones. When Samsung and ten others were making phones with 4.5 and 4.7 inch screens they were too big, the phones were too clumsy, Apple would never make so unwieldy products. Now that Apple does, it is the best thing ever.

Seems the evolution of the "smartphone" will lead it in a circle- pictures equal to- guess what- P&S cameras they are replacing. High end smartphones will have the 1" sensors (and cost nearly the same as those cameras do now).
There will always be high end, perhaps niche cameras for the pros and those who wannabe pros. Look at the ultra high end stereo business. There will always be someone to buy the outrageously priced gear and mfg's to provide it.
The Nikon's and Canon's will always be around.

The iPhone 6 absolutely has NOT the same sensor as the 4S. I don't have a 6, but I have a 5s and I had a 4S, and the 5s' camera blows the 4S out of the water in almost any measurement. For some aspects, that's likely through better processing, for others, the better lens, but the sensor is also much improved when it comes to low-light capture and speed (which in turn enables stuff like actually usable, non-jarring "HDR" mode and full-res 10 fps capture).

Saying those are the same sensors is like saying the sensor in a modern DSLR is the same as the one in the Canon D30 just because they're the same size.

Dear Bill,

The bizarro sensor size names come from the video industry, which labeled the size of the sensing area in vidicon tubes in terms of the physical dimensions of the tube.

Film photography had its own version of this-- 120, 220, 110, 126, etc.etc. And, for that matter, "35mm" didn't correspond to the dimensions of the image area, either.

But, yeah, it's annoying.

pax / Ctein

It wouldn't matter if smart phones had a 35mm full frame sensor and f1.2 lens, people would take the same crappy snapshots they do now. Most people using a DSLR still do no better than they would with a present level phone camera. People who want to create nice images will always need something more than just a big sensor.

This just might be the phone that finally ends my need to always carry a good compact camera in my pocket. To date, I've refused to compromise enough to rely on my cellphone camera over the quality offered by a pocketable compact; however - particularly if it can shoot RAW - this phone might actually be able to shoot better images than my Canon S110. And the hardware specs aren't a compromise either - with a Snapdragon 801 SOC and a 1080p IPS screen, this phone is a match, at least on paper, for the the latest Android flagships (barring Samsung's latest Notes).

Is anybody else interested in this device sans the phone? A 28mm fixed lens camera w/ 1" sensor, extremely pocketable. What would the price point be without the phone?

@Bill Tyler, as regards the sensor size naming, this is in reference to how video sensors were sized in the tube capture days (I believe they were called vidicon?). Essentially, the size relates to the physical size of the tube containing the sensor electronics. Here is a relevant wikipedia article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Video_camera_tube#Size and relevant text: "The size of video camera tubes is simply the overall outside diameter of the glass envelope. This differs from the size of the sensitive area of the target which is typically two thirds of the size of the overall diameter. Tube sizes are always expressed in inches for historical reasons. A one inch camera tube has a sensitive area of approximately two thirds of an inch on the diagonal or about 16 mm." As the article points out, the tube tech is archaic, but the naming method remains.


The market will truly plateau when we reach a combination of sensor and camera size that is on par with what we had with film. That means a full (35mm) frame camera the size of a Contax T3 and medium format sensors that are actually medium format, not a crop.

Until then manufacturers will always have another hill to climb. This is not about logic or image quality, just the great human desire or "a little more".

I still maintain that the camera is secondary to the impact the image has on the viewer.


I've made the move from micro 4/3rds to a 1" sensor and I'm very happy with the 1". That I went to a slightly smaller sensor matters to me not at all - what really counts is that the 1" sensor has the aspect ratio I prefer - 3:2 -and grew up with. Cropping in the camera and composing in that rectangle is a deeply ingrained habit. I never quite got comfortable with 4:3.

Others mileage may vary, of course. My experience iof the 1" sensor is no doubt colored by the fact that mine is paired with the fine Zeiss lens of my Sony RX10. The Sony is actually a bit larger than I'd prefer, but I'm happy to make that compromise to get that lens/sensor combination.

And to those who would say that Real Photographers use cameras with interchangeable lenses, I say phooey. With the Sony in hand and a polarizing filter in my pocket, I'm ready for almost any photo opportunity. And the camera is dust and moisture resistant. Plus the leaf shutter makes it very quiet.

Bill Tyler asks: "Perhaps someone could contribute an article on how these things are named and what, if any, logic is behind it."

The naming scheme originated with vidicon tubes. The size is the diameter of the vidicon mount not the photosensetive area of the tube. The diameter of the photosensetive area is about 2/3 the mount diameter.


When solid state detectors (like CCDs) were introduced it made sense (to the engineers) to use the same "size" numbers as vidicons they were already used to. Eventually vidicons disappeared away and we're left with an odd scheme to specify the type of sensor.

Engineers today will prefix the size with type to make clear that it's not really a size e.g. "type 1-inch" is specified in datasheets. Marketers, of course, are not so careful when marketing and tend to drop the "type".

The type size is 1.5x the diagonal of the image sensor.

"Full frame" is a silly internet affectation that may go a similar way when we get 645D (about 133% bigger than the size of a 36x24mm sensor) and larger sensors. After all 6x6, 6x7, 6x9, 5x7, 8x10 film sizes are all "fuller" than "full frame".

Perhaps we'll then start calling the 36x24mm sensors "type 2.5- inch"?

Kudos and thanks to Patrick Perez for that very clear explanation on sensor size naming which few people seem to know and/or understand; (the exact proportion of sensitive area is 0,6375 — not quite the approximation of 2/3).

Isn't the CM1 the photographic equivalent of a Hotrod? Another Android phone, but with beefed-up hardware?

I'm not of the smartphone inclination, but if I were to buy such a device, I'd want one where the vendor keeps software up-to-date for, say, four years, at least. Camera companies and software? Nope, can't do. Camera companies and private data and wireless services? Yikes, scary (Google for Samsung NX300 hacks). There's a reason people buy Apple products.

I dó like it that Panasonic innovates, and understand that it tries to reach new markets. If it wasn't for Panasonic and Leica (purist M-A all-manual, revamped Summarit-M series), Photokina 2014 would have been very staid for me.

I, for one, would eschew any new phone camera for a new Leica M Edition 60. It's the best of both worlds*... except for the depressingly ridiculous price.

*world one - my youth; world two - my old age.

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