The megapixels war is over, sensor size war is just starting up

The Verge published a nice video recap from Photokina: the megapixels war is over, sensor size war is just starting up. Some of the new cameras announced at Photokina 2012, like the Nikon D600, Canon 6D, Leica M-E, Sony RX1 show a new trend: many manufacturers are producing smaller and "more affordable" full frame cameras. Several companies like Pentax, Sony, Panasonic and even Fuji hinted that they are also considering/investigating full frame cameras.

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  • How about “making the perfect camera” war?


    The war after the Megapixel one was and still the ISO war, but it’s true that the sensor size war is on in addition to the camera size one.

  • I dont get video posting. It is about drums for iPhone!

    • Marvin8

      Yeah, should be interesting to see if photorumors ever figures out they’ve got the wrong video up. 😀

      • Red Fez

        Looks like they corrected the video.

      • Yes, I did

        • I did post the correct link – I guess they changed it. It’s all good now.

  • ckmaui

    Leica makes FF lens options that are not HUGE and HEAVY

    once all companies can do this and make them affordable then I will think its great !

    but M4/3 options such as the new OMD with the new Panasonic lens options make a nice small light package that still gives great quality ! while the DOF might not be as shallow not every one needs razor thin DOF all the time !

    I think saying everyone needs FF is like saying everyone needs a full size SUV ! this is not always the case

    my perfect kit is FF option with fast lens and also a M4/3 like the OMD and or the new Fuji X series seems nice option in-between these two ends of the spectrum

    • FF a sometimes food

      I agree totally. Especially for mirrorless you don’t always need razor thin DOF. Especially when using zone focusing.

      Personally I’ll be getting a Fuji x-pro1 as a daily shooting package to go with my more serious d800/e setup.

      Different cams for different needs.

      • Nick

        Yes – but there is more to FF than just DoF. Did people buy a ‘blad for the benefit in DoF that 6×6 gave?

        Simple fact is that if you make a chip that is 1×1 it will, all else aside, capture less information than a chip of the same design at 2×2.

  • Banksie

    Consumers will be chasing after the Holy Grail for years to come as imaging technology is progressing rapidly and moving in various directions. Probably smart to stick with what you have now if you’re happy with the IQ and form factor, etc.. It will all get to a point where the tech specs will out perform any human eye and brain comprehension. In other words there’s an eventual limit to IQ in respect to the human senses. Viewing, enjoying, and consuming images isn’t at the level of pixel peeping.

    Just concentrate on the work you’re producing and let these industry wars go on around you. Once the various battlegrounds quiet down then you can pick your poison. Otherwise you’ll be ‘upgrading’ every month…..

  • Stew

    I have two Nikon DX slrs. I
    a. cannot afford a D600 however “affordable” and “for the masses” it may be,
    b. cannot afford the vast majority of fx lenses, and
    c. do not want to carry something that weighs at least a kilo with a lens on.

    My other camera is an X100. Personally I think the big trend is to back to most folks having compacts and slrs being limited to special uses, like uwa, sports, wildlife, etc. The popularity with slrs in the last fifteen years or so was driven by the limitations of existing compacts (slow startup, shutter lag, poor iq, etc), not an inherent desire for folks to have a big and heavy camera.

    As for sensor size, let’s see what Nokia’s Pure View can do. Fuji’s X-Trans with full RAW support may also beat a larger sensor under certain circumstances. Some of the main fuss about the D800 was it beating MF digital cameras with larger sensors for iq.

    • Banksie

      Don’t forget that most of the big size and weight of a FF DSLR has to do with the mirror box and pentaprism. Having a 100% WYSIWYG fully optical viewfinder can be important to many users, esp with studio and macro work, etc.. Using live view can be slow and cumbersome, while a 100% optical viewfinder is accurate and fast.

      Sure the smaller cameras also have live view, but again it’s not the same as looking through an optical viewfinder. And EVFs have their own issues. Until the small footprint packages can offer the same 100% fast optical viewfinders, then FF DSLRs are the only answer. But I don’t see that happening with these small cameras in the future (no room for optical finders and they’re expensive to build.) The trend is now towards EVILs. We’ll be stuck with LCD screens and battery sucking and slow EVFs and less than accurate auxiliary peepholes on all small cameras .

      • KitHB

        Don’t forget that FF is about the same size as 35mm film. Check out the original Olympus OM1/OM2 series, the Pentax MX/ME and several others from the mid 1970’s.

        They were compact and light FF, had mirrors, pentaprisms, 100% viewfinders that worked better than almost anything this side of a D4 or a Leica S and were full SLRs.

        The bigness of DSLRs is a design choice and/or driven by battery size (bigger lasts longer) and autofocus motors making the lenses clunky.

        It will come down to a choice between the bulk of a bigger battery to drive the electronic viewfinder or a pentaprism and mirror setup.

        • Banksie

          Sorry, but none of those cameras you listed has a 100% viewfinder. They are all cropped finders. Even the Pentax LX which was trying to compete with the Nikon F had a cropped viewfinder. It was smaller than the F but the F had a 100% non-cropped finder.

          You also only needed a narrow film plane and pressure plate in SLRs, no 36×24 sensor mounted like in today’s FF DSLRs.

          Add a motor drive (the old workhorse Nikon F3HP with 100% high eyepoint viewfinder and a motor drive is bigger and heavier than the current D4s), and add a battery pack and you’re inevitably going to be large and heavy. But with usable advantages…..

  • timon

    Can it be a 1.2x APS-H sensor to also go into competition lineup?

    I knew that DSLR camera with a 1.2x APS-H sensor to be better. (non a 1.3x APS).

    In a 35mm format Digital SLR camera, most of the lenses still get the corner area with a worse imaging quality, but a 1.2x APS-H format fit to get a lesser size in the corner area.

  • Robert

    I have loads of full-frame lenses and numerous FF bodies (film), mostly Nikon. As far as I’m concerned, every FF DSLR on the market is too big physically and too expensive. Until there’s a “digital Nikon FE” body that sells for under $1,000 I’m not satisfied.

    But I’m glad to see movement in the FF direction, as it’ll eventually produce something close to what I want.

    • Pablo Ricasso

      Sure as shooting.

  • I’ve said it for years: Camera companies will eventually trend towards making affordable full-frame consumer cameras for the masses. It just makes sense. The flexibility and seemingly rapid improvements in technology are only going to continue. Don’t be surprised that in two years, Nikon, Canon, Sony and the like will be offering “entry level/consumer grade” full frame cameras that will be under $1,000 dollars. DX will live in the really inexpensive point and shoots…for a while.

    Keep this in mind…

    Just over 10 years ago…the DSLR revolution started with (I’m not talking full-frame) were the 2.7 megapixel Nikon D1- (2001/$6000), Kodak DCS 560 (2000/6 megapixels/$35,000!), and eventually the first semi full frame camera, the Canon 5D in 2005 ($3200).

    D600/Canon 6D- just over $2000 at launch.

    Times are a changing.

    • +1

      I never understood why all these Camera ‘gurus’ around the web always talked about the complex fabrication of FF and it will NEVER be affordable. Don’t these gurus take into account the rapid advancement of technology?

      I agree, 2-3 years we will see FF for about $1000-$1300

      • In few years, the p&s cameras will be FF… Oh wait, they already are: Sony RX1.

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