Thursday, December 08, 2005

SONY has the first large sensor fully digital camera

I wouldn't buy SONY's R1. It's a lot of money for a very innovative camera that will probably have some bugs ... and I haven't had much faith in SONY for a while -- even before they started installing rootkits and spyware on people's computers. I give them credit, though, for a major innovation (NYT) - a large sensor digital camera that doesn't inherit the noisy, clunky SLR technology of 1950.

Add the ability to switch lenses (presumably with an internal "shutter" to protect the sensor) and either jpeg 2000 or DNG in situ image encoding and it would be about perfect.

I enjoyed Pogue's NYT article because it's the first I've read that explains why relative light sensitivity requires large sensors, and why large sensors until now have require a shutter and a prism (primarily due to heat and power consumption when active). I recently bought my Digital Rebel XT to get that light sensitivity and large sensor quality, but in many respects it's a step back from my old 4 megapixel Canon G2. A future version of the SONY R1 is where we all want to go.

Update 12/17: I recently had some informative correspondence with a photographer. Image processing in today's cameras demands quite a bit of CPU work, and hence produces heat, slows processing, and drains the battery. The problem is worse with large sensors. This may explain why no manufacturer has yet offered JPEG 2000 processing; in comparison I expect JPEG processing is less CPU intensive and better optimized (actually, I recently read of a very clever research technique that allows JPEG compression with < 5% of today's energy drain. I'd guess DNG would work though, and I've read that the new Leica outputs DNG. That's a terrific precedent.

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