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8 MegaPixel Digital Sensor Unveiled 279

hdtv writes "Micron has unveiled an 8-megapixel digital sensor, that 'enables pocket-sized cameras and cell phones to capture bursts of 10 high-quality photos in a single second or even high-definition video.'" From the article: "'We're saying it can go in a point-and-shoot camera selling in the $200 to $300 range,' said Suresh Venkatrama, Micron's director of the digital camera segment. 'It brings high-quality digital video and photography down to the consumer space.' The new sensor is a type of chip known as a 'complementary metal-oxide semiconductor,' or CMOS. Analysts say the technology, which is also used in memory chips and microprocessors, will challenge the dominance of traditional light-sensing charge-coupled devices, or CCDs."
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8 MegaPixel Digital Sensor Unveiled

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 18, 2006 @03:09PM (#15359843)
    Now instead of having people post unscaled 2592 x 1944 digital pictures on the web for no reason, we can worry about NASA-sized pictures of cats!
    • Re:Just wonderful (Score:2, Informative)

      by linzeal ( 197905 )
      This is too true, in the last year since my sister got her 5 megapixel camera my Gmail has gone from 3% full to 40%, by this time next year it 3 gigs of club photos and business parties.
      • Resolution of the photographs has nothing to do with this my friend. My cousin used to completely choke my mailbox with e-mails containing a couple of multi-megabyte pictures. So, I showed her how to use the gimp to reduce the resolution, and even wrote a image magick script for her to downsize an entire folder worth of pictures to manageable sizes. My mistake. Now she chokes my mailbox with e-mails containing 50+ low resolution pictures... The point of the story, is that it won't increase the problem
    • After a certain pixel count, there's not much point in going much further in consumer devices. You're just adding data, but not improving the viewable image. Why have an image that is higher res than a monitor or your eyeball's ability to process data? Where is that cut-off?

      A bit like sound... once you get to CD quality, there's not much point in going any further because the speakers, amplifiers etc cause the most distortion and any improvement at theCD end will not make it to your ears.

      • A picture at monitor res is useless for printing, in the same way as a 128kbps MP3 isn't much use in a live performance.

      • You're just adding data, but not improving the viewable image. Why have an image that is higher res than a monitor or your eyeball's ability to process data?

        While there is indeed a limit to how good the original image may be, I believe the major benefit of higher and higher res is the ability to blow up smaller and smaller portions of the original image, while still retaining something viewable.

        Of course, once you exceed a certain threshold, the accuracy of your camera lens starts playing a major role in yo
      • by dextromulous ( 627459 ) on Thursday May 18, 2006 @03:29PM (#15360045) Homepage
        A high pixel count has many benefits. Your effective "zoom" is increased. Low light pictures may be enhanced using DSP. Other grainy photos can be enhanced. Photo editing looks better when done on hi-res images. Also, we are not limited by our monitors with digital photos, it just means we can print better (or larger) pictures.
        • by Dg93 ( 10261 ) on Thursday May 18, 2006 @03:33PM (#15360072) Homepage
          A high pixel count also means smaller physical sizes for each pixel on the sensor which means an increase in noise.

          I'll take a 3 megapixel APS-C sized sensor over an 8 megapixel sub-fingernail sized sensor any day of the week and twice on sundays.
          • "I'll take a 3 megapixel APS-C sized sensor over an 8 megapixel sub-fingernail sized sensor any day of the week and twice on sundays."

            If you were trying to install a camera on your fingernail, you might think differently.

          • "A high pixel count also means smaller physical sizes for each pixel on the sensor which means an increase in noise." Hunh? Externally generated noise hits a large pixel and changes it 25% or hits a small pixel and changes it all the way from black to white. Net result in image quality - looks the same because the three other small pixels around it didn't change. You can make the same arguments for internal random shot noise. The amount of noise hitting the camera doesn't change, so its net effect on t
        • by plumby ( 179557 ) on Thursday May 18, 2006 @04:33PM (#15360587)
          In theory, that's true. However, I've got a Sony 3mega-pixel camera a later model Sony 7 mega-pixel one. I've taken identical photos on both of them on max detail and resulution. The picture quality is almost exactly the same (although the file sizes aren't!) - I've tried zooming in and that makes no difference. However, I've also got an 8 mega pixel Canon digital SLR, and the picture quality is vastly superior - I can zoom in far further at an acceptable quality than with the 7 MP Sony.
          • by swillden ( 191260 ) * <> on Friday May 19, 2006 @02:34AM (#15363668) Homepage Journal

            However, I've also got an 8 mega pixel Canon digital SLR, and the picture quality is vastly superior

            What lens do you have on that? I just bought a Rebel XT and although I was really impressed with the quality of the images, it was pointed out to me that the 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 lens it came with really isn't a very good lens. It's not very sharp, especially in the corners, it's a slow lens, doesn't have very good depth of field, etc. At a friend's suggestion, I bought an inexpensive 50mm f/1.8 prime (non-zoom) lens, and I have been amazed by how much better the image quality is. I've shot the same scene with both lenses and the difference isn't subtle at all. Not only is the 50mm much sharper, but when you look at the pictures side by side, it's obvious that the 18-55mm gathers light unevenly. The picture is darker in all of the corners and in the right and left edges. Pictures with high contrast edges show pretty obvious color distortion with the 18-55 as well.

            Oh, and if you're taking pictures indoors, that f/5.6 is just way too slow. You need a lot of light with that lens.

            Note that I'm not actually knocking the 18-55; compared to my old camera (which wasn't junk, either) it takes *fantastic* pictures. But experimenting with the 50/1.8 has made me realize that the optics matter -- a lot. That seems like kind of a stupid thing to say, in retrospect, since it should be utterly obvious that optics are important to a camera, but I kind of assumed that the differences between lenses, other than zoom power, were subtle and maybe even subjective. They're not. Which makes it obvious that the tiny lenses that can be crammed into a compact camera are always going to be limited. No matter how many megapixels the sensor can capture, if the glass can't focus the light onto it properly, the pictures aren't going to be very good.

      • by powerlord ( 28156 ) on Thursday May 18, 2006 @03:35PM (#15360086) Journal
        Where is that cut-off?

        FTFA "... A 2-megapixel digital picture file can be printed in the normal 4-inch-by-6-inch format without noticeable graininess while an 8-megapixel picture can be printed in the larger 8x10 format without a loss of quality. ..."

        In other words, if all you're going to print is 4x6" pictures, 2Mp is "enough".

        If you're trying for 8x10" pictures, 8Mp is "enough".

        If you're trying for "Poster Size" or "Billboard Size"? In this case "enough" is defined by what you plan on doing with it.

        My wife and I have a 4 year old 4Mp camera. The picture quality is fine, however the recycle time and shutter delay are what finally made us upgrade more than anything else. In the case of the new sensor, the Mpixels might be nice, but the "must have" features are:

        "Micron's new sensor includes a faster processor that eliminates usual point-and-shoot delays between taking pictures. That means users can shoot up to 10 images per second at 8-megapixel resolution or 30 frames per second at a resolution of 2-megapixels."


        "The sensor's rapid capture rate and high resolution also allows smaller cameras to incorporate features such as image stabilization, faster auto-focus, higher quality digital zoom and recording HD video, said Micron, which also is the largest U.S. manufacturer of computer memory chips."

        This means that "pure" digital video cameras are gonna drop in price, of course, the Mega-Pixels might need to increase a bit before they're good for shooting anything more than a 4x6 picture.
        • look at highger end cameras, the problem there lies not with the CCD sensors in getting several photos a seconds, its the memory. CCDs are not the problem here, its the rest of the hardware. I own a nikon D70, a low end Digital-SLR and that can take around 4 photos a second continuously for a good 10 seconds before the buffer gets full and thats with and 80x Compact Flash card. Consumer cameras arent designed for that, even the higher end ones have buffers which hold at most 3 photos at top quality and reso
        • by DrDitto ( 962751 ) on Thursday May 18, 2006 @06:17PM (#15361444)
          300dpi is considered a high-quality print.

          Which means for an 8x10, you need an image that is 2400x3000 (or 7.2 megapixels).

          Many claim that the human eye can indeed resolve the differences between 300dpi and 400dpi. At 400dpi, an 8-megapixel sensor falls well short of an 8x10 print.

          Personally I shoot with a large-format 4x5" camera. This gives me 20" inches of film area, and when scanned at a modest 2400dpi, this gives me 115 megapixels. And my equipment (besides the scanner and film) is 30+ years old.

        • "If you're trying for 8x10" pictures, 8Mp is "enough"."

          Don't know what camera you're using, but with a Nikon D70 6 MP camera I can blow up pictures a good deal larger than 8x10 and still have it look just fine. I'm not saying you could create a poster out of it but you can definately do larger than 8x10 with no significant loss of picture quality.

          As was stated earlier, it all depends on the sensor size. A 6MP DSLR will give you much better pictures than a 6MP PAS.

      • After a certain pixel count, there's not much point in going much further in consumer devices. You're just adding data, but not improving the viewable image. Why have an image that is higher res than a monitor or your eyeball's ability to process data? Where is that cut-off?

        Well, monitors don't matter much, since the images taken by consumer cameras are often used for other media -- notably print -- that require much higher resolution than on-screen viewing. 8 megapixel resolution, IIRC from the various F

      • After a certain pixel count, there's not much point in going much further in consumer devices. You're just adding data, but not improving the viewable image. Why have an image that is higher res than a monitor or your eyeball's ability to process data? Where is that cut-off?

        Uh, some of us like to PRINT our images. Being able to make large prints is a hugely good thing. Not to mention being able to ZOOM IN on small parts of an image and still see detail.

        It staggers me that no other use occurs to you for

      • Aside from digital zoom, you also have to consider image editing. Its probably not in the realm of most people's use of digital cameras, but I enjoy being able to take digital images and either blow up specific sections into seperate pictures, or crop/resize the relevant portions of a picture later. For the hobbiest photographer, who doesn't want to spend thousands and thousands on a camera, open source editing software (GIMP) and a high resolution point and shoot camera is a viable alternative. Even if
      • Where is that cut-off?

        There is no cut-off. That's the point. It may be that in our future, we have higer resolution displays, holograms, holo-deck, whatever. Who cares.

        Personally, I won't say "That's Enough" until I can capture an entire landscape with such resolution that you can zoom in and clearly see the eyes of every damn ant that happened to be crawling around that day... Or better yet, print the whole thing at life-size, to cover a skyscraper or something. Okay, so that's probably not going to ha
      • by drsquare ( 530038 ) on Thursday May 18, 2006 @07:02PM (#15361697)
        Why are you assuming that monitors will not increase in resolution/DPI?
    • Dead wrong (Score:5, Informative)

      by frovingslosh ( 582462 ) on Thursday May 18, 2006 @03:48PM (#15360191)
      Actually, this article demonstrates what is wrong with the "more pixels" mentatlity and the above post shows just how lame some people think (particularly ACs). The truth is that the camera on the NASA MARS rover that has retured all of those great pictures of the red planet (or the studio mock-up of the red planet if you prefer) is 1.3 mega pixes, as was reported here previously on /. It's not all about the pixels, much more important is the quality of the lenses and the quality of the sensor. Using a 8 megapixel sensor on a camera with a cheap lense is a senseless mix, it will waste memory in each shot but will not give quality pictures. And, while I have not had a chance to evaluate this particular device, in general CMOS devices have a much poorer quality than CCD devices. So unless this chip somehow manages to give much better results than we have any reason to expect, it will only be used to hype "8 megapixels" and waste memory space with each shot, not provide better quality pictures.
      • by Anonymous Coward
        There is nothing wrong with "more pixels" if you actually have them (and not just blurry spots spread over more pixels or 4bit intensity resolution due to noise). The way most digital cameras on the market use them is obviously not going to scale in a useful way. A typical print simply doesn't need more than 3 to 4 megapixels. But that doesn't mean there aren't ways to use even dozens of megapixels. Take a look at the typical problems that non-photographers have with their point and shoot cameras: Tilted pi
      • Re:Dead wrong (Score:5, Informative)

        by david.given ( 6740 ) <> on Thursday May 18, 2006 @04:39PM (#15360646) Homepage Journal
        The truth is that the camera on the NASA MARS rover that has retured all of those great pictures of the red planet (or the studio mock-up of the red planet if you prefer) is 1.3 mega pixes, as was reported here previously on /.

        You may be unaware that although those cameras do have really great optics, those startlingly good images are mostly made by taking lots and lots of 1.3 megapixel images and then painstakingly piecing them together (by hand) into a mosaic back here on Earth. There are a hell of a lot of pixels there.

        One of the rovers is, I belive, doing a major pan right now. It's taking about two weeks to take all the pictures and transmit them back home.

      • Re:Dead wrong (Score:3, Insightful)

        by ceoyoyo ( 59147 )
        What a strange press release overall. CMOS image sensors are nothing new, nor are high resolution ones. CCD is used a lot in SLRs because it usually produces lower noise. CMOS is used a lot in point and shoot cameras because it's cheaper.

        People will buy the high pixel counts though. Really, nobody ever zooms in on their photos enough to realize that the picture they took with their cell phone is really only two effective megapixels anyway because of the sucky lens.
      • Re:Dead wrong (Score:4, Insightful)

        by coult ( 200316 ) on Thursday May 18, 2006 @05:35PM (#15361133)
        Technically you are correct that the rovers' main camera is 1.3 megapixel...however, the camera takes color images by snapping 3 different pictures with 3 different filters. This corresponds more accurately to a 3.9 megapixel consumer camera, since all but a few consumer digital camera have one third of their pixels for red, one third for green, and one third for blue; the final full RGB image is created by interpolating the missing colors, so the true resolution of a 3.9 megapixel consumer camera is probably about the same as the rovers' 1.3 megapixel camera, assuming identical optics.

        Another poster made the point that most of the images you see from the rovers are actually multiple images stitched together, resulting in even more 'megapixels' per image.

        On a separate point, what distinguishes good from great cameras is not megapixels but optical quality. A terapixel camera with a pinhole lens would produce much lower resolution photos than a 6 megapixel Nikon with mulithousand dollar glass attached.
        • Actually, the Mars rover camera used a filter wheel with over a dozen filters (not just red, green, blue, but different shades and ultraviolet and infrared, if I recall correctly). They would take one image at each camera position with each filter, then those would be composited back on Earth. Then the camera was repositioned for the next position and the sequence was repeated. The resulting set of images were stiched together into large panoramas.
    • I know this was rated funny, but in case anyone doesn't know, the advantage of posting an unscaled pic is that you don't have to worry about your target audience ... if they have an apple cinema display with a 2560x1600 resolution, they can see pretty much all that detail. If you scale your pic down in advance to 1024x768 those users lose 75% of the viewable detail.
  • see the ratio signal noise on this one ! It should be horribilis !
  • by xmas2003 ( 739875 ) * on Thursday May 18, 2006 @03:13PM (#15359879) Homepage
    Size matters when it comes to sensors ... so by cramming 8 megapixels into a tiny sensor, it will be pretty darn noisy for image quality - don't even try bumping the ISO! A several year old 4MP DLSR (even using older technology) will yield better images ... but yea, won't be as portable. Just be aware of the tradeoff and arguably sensor size is more important than megapixels.
    • Only if you are using the pixels for pure imaging. Several techniques such as cubic phase mask techniques [] use the spare pixels for wavefront sensing allowing tremendous depth of focus with fixed low f/# lenses via postprocesing.
      • No... it'll still be noisy. An individual pixel on an image sensor detects a certain amount of light (signal) and produces a certain amount of noise. If you divide that pixel into four, doubling the resolution of your sensor in x and y, each of those smaller pixels will detect a quarter as much light but produce about the same amount of noise, resulting in a factor of four reduction in SNR. If you use the extra pixels for something besides imaging it still leaves you with smaller, noisier pixels all arou
  • by Flying pig ( 925874 ) on Thursday May 18, 2006 @03:13PM (#15359883)
    At least one of their recent digital cameras has a CMOS sensor in the "APS" format. The main benefit of CMOS is power consumption, because the clocking needs are simpler. People who used to crack off the covers of the old dual in line DRAMs and make crude 1-bit sensors (with gaps for the read and write circuitry) will remember how far back the CMOS approach goes.
  • by RedBear ( 207369 ) <`moc.tenraebder' `ta' `raebder'> on Thursday May 18, 2006 @03:13PM (#15359884) Homepage
    Interesting news, but does it have improved dynamic range and low-noise high-ISO sensitivities? Because those are the main problems with digital capture these days, not resolution. I don't want a compact 8-megapixel camera that churns out 10 crappy pictures per second.

    • by Mark_Uplanguage ( 444809 ) on Thursday May 18, 2006 @03:22PM (#15359971)
      Google on "digital photography cmos chips" found this nice article s.asp [] which explains the benefits and seems to answer some of your questions, althouth I'd suggest salt-to-taste.
    • Agree 100%. I like my camera (one of the Nikon Coolpix ones) in every way, except that the damn lens is so small, and the CCD is so slow, that you need a flash unless you're in bright sunlight. I dislike flash pictures, unless you have a great flash (which a tiny point and shoot never does) and know how to use it, it adds ugly problems like redeye, highlights, and shadows.

      I'd happily give up 25% of the resolution and/or pay $50 extra for the camera to get one that can take a picture in typical room lighting
  • by RedMage ( 136286 ) on Thursday May 18, 2006 @03:14PM (#15359890) Homepage
    Several things will still be a challenge in "consumer" level images devices (i.e. cameras)
    1. More pixels mean higher demands on the lenses. And good lenses are NOT cheap.
    2. More pixels mean higher demands on storage. Storage is getting cheaper.
    3. More pixels mean higher demands on bandwidth. Bandwith is not universal.

    For your typical user of a point-and-shoot camera, 8+ megapixels won't mean much. Most people print images at 4x6" at best, or view them on the screen. For your pro or semi-pro user, they're not that affected by the point-and-shoot market, and will be looking for sharpness, clarity, color fidelity, and lack of noise. None of which are areas that CMOS sensors have excelled in.

  • by Quiet_Desperation ( 858215 ) on Thursday May 18, 2006 @03:15PM (#15359896)
    The lens doesn't have ANYTHING to do with it. Nope. Nada. Not a thing.

    This reminds me of a quip Jay Leno made years ago when he was still guesting on Letterman. He asked what the point of Twisted Sister on CD was. Are we missing some subtle nuance lost in older analog media?

    So now instead of 1-2 megapixel poorly lit, blurry shots up some woman's skirt, we'll see 8 megapixel poorly lit, blurry shots up some woman's skirt.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 18, 2006 @03:31PM (#15360056)
      So now instead of 1-2 megapixel poorly lit, blurry shots up some woman's skirt, we'll see 8 megapixel poorly lit, blurry shots up some woman's skirt.

      And that, my friend, is progress.

    • LOL. I just got my first camera phone, and I can't believe they bother. Still, I've used it a few times to take pictures of some random thing that I thought was funny - not exactly indispensable.

      It can be very hard to find a camera that balances picture quality (a.k.a. lens) and portability. Sure, it's hard to beat a digital SLR - but would you actually use it? I have an old AE-1 sitting in a drawer simply because it is too damn big to drag around with me. My first digicam was a little 1.3 MPixel Olympus,

  • What's new exactly? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by TangoCharlie ( 113383 ) on Thursday May 18, 2006 @03:17PM (#15359929) Homepage Journal
    CMOS isn't new.
    Digital camera's aren't new.
    CMOS digital camera's aren't new.
    So, what's new? So cameras can take 10 pictures in quick succession... Is that new? Erm.... no. My 3yrl old Minolta can store pictures in RAM before they get stored to the SD card so that you can take pictures quickly.

    Nothing to see, please move along.

    • CMOS isn't new.
      Digital camera's aren't new.
      CMOS digital camera's aren't new.
      [ ... ]
      Nothing to see, please move along.

      There is a bit to see here, but most people are missing it.

      The sensor market has been (mostly) split into two parts. CCD sensors are sold on the open market, so (for example) the 8 MP cameras from Konica/Minolta/Sony, Nikon, and Canon (and often a few others) frequently use exactly the same sensor.

      CMOS sensors, however, have been mostly custom-designed and built for one specific

  • Quality? (Score:3, Informative)

    by Clueless Moron ( 548336 ) on Thursday May 18, 2006 @03:22PM (#15359968)
    Devices using the new chip should reach consumers by late 2007 and will feature high-speed, high-megapixel digital photography capabilities normally found in more expensive, single-lens reflex cameras.

    Uh, what makes the single-lens reflex cameras so good is not so much the big sensor, but the fancy-ass $800 lenses, through-lens multi-point sensing, precision alignment, etc.

    It's pointless to put an 8 megapixel sensor behind a cheap lens. The image will still be just as blurry, colour-fringed, barrel distorted, and unevenly exposed. It's just that now the defects will be 20 pixels wide instead of 2.

    • The big sensor helps too. I can tell you that my APS size 6MP sensor is going to take better pictures than a fingernail size sensor, even if they used identical optics. Of course I also have the option of using much better optics.
    • Re:Quality? (Score:4, Informative)

      by Gordo_1 ( 256312 ) on Thursday May 18, 2006 @03:52PM (#15360218)
      You're mostly right, but the larger sensor size is also a major advantage in favor of dSLRs. When you squeeze 8 megapixels into something half the size of your pinky nail (which is approximately the sensor form factor most point-and-shoot digitals use) the pixels' close spacing causes interference which translates into higher overall noise (especially with higher ISOs).

      When you increase the size of photoreceptors so they fill a larger APS or 35mm format sensor (typical of most dSLRs), there is less interference, which translates into smoother output independent of such factors as number of megapixels, sensor technology (CMOS vs CCD), lens size/quality, metering instruments/algorithms, etc...
  • by AntEater ( 16627 ) on Thursday May 18, 2006 @03:24PM (#15359987) Homepage
    You don't know about complementary metal-oxide semiconductors. I do.
  • by fdiskne1 ( 219834 ) on Thursday May 18, 2006 @03:26PM (#15360014)
    My first thought was, "Cool! Higher resolution is dropping in price again." My second thought was, "Crap, now my users will be trying to email each other 3 megabyte and larger photos on a regular basis." I'm wishing there was some way new digital cameras could come with an education of what filesize means and how it relates to emailing and otherwise sharing with others. A large number of non-technical users have no idea of the concept. I've run across people wanting to email software CDs and copy DVD movies (inhouse, not MPAA) onto WAN-wide file shares.
  • CMOS is already here (Score:5, Informative)

    by Starker_Kull ( 896770 ) on Thursday May 18, 2006 @03:28PM (#15360035)
    The 5D, with a 13.1 MP full-frame sensor is CMOS. Most camera makers are slowly going over to them because of their much lower power consumption - I presume the reason any one cares about this particular one is because it's cheap.

    The main limiter with image quality (unless you're talking medium format or bigger) isn't the sensor any more, it's the lens. And right now, a picture made with a small piece of cheap plastic in front of an 8 MP sensor will reveal exactly all the flaws and distortions in said lens rather than a better image.
    • The 5D, with a 13.1 MP full-frame sensor is CMOS

      As are all other canon DSLRs for the last 4 or 5 years, including the 1Ds Mark II (16.7 MP), 1Ds, 1D, 1D Mark II, 10D, 20D, 30D, Rebel, Rebel XT, D60, and D30 (3.2 MP).
    • Actually, I'd put lens quality neck and neck with sensor size. There are just so many photons to go around, and shrinking the sensor means less of them available for a fixed time frame and lighting. I bought a minolta X50 (5MP) when it came out and loved the camera - simple, compact, bulletproof...and utterly useless in anything but full daylight. The noise at anything other than ISO50 equivalent was overwhelming - the shots in low light were just as poor as the 1MP Fuji freebie I got with the launch of XP
  • Dear Micron, (Score:4, Insightful)

    by blackcoot ( 124938 ) on Thursday May 18, 2006 @03:33PM (#15360075)
    Congratulations! Instead of a relatively low noise, moderately power hungry CCD sensor, I now have a relatively high noise, low power CMOS sensor that needs to be cooled to suppress dark current enough to get usable imagery. Thanks! I sure am looking forward to seeing digital cameras with TECs or cryo-coolers like my FLIR uses in them.
  • by Burlap ( 615181 ) on Thursday May 18, 2006 @03:34PM (#15360081)
    "This will immediately appeal to photography enthusiasts, but the average consumer is really more of a middle- to late-adopter and doesn't pay attention to the specs and features as much,"

    now, I worked in retail for 6 months (thank god thats past tence) and i have to call BS on this one. If anything, the average consumer is OBSESSED with specs and features. Just because they dont always know exatly what each feature really does, or which cameras have it does not meen that they arnt concerned with them. You will never see someone go into a store and say "oooo! that one looks cute, buy it".

    they bring out a cheap 8Mpix camera and it will fly off the shelves... signal to noise ratio? thats stuff that 99% of the salesfolk wont understand and therefore wont mention it to the customer. they will just see 8Mpix and a cheap price and pick it up
  • by Brit_in_the_USA ( 936704 ) on Thursday May 18, 2006 @03:43PM (#15360142)
    ..instead read this one at CNET rss []

    The new important thing for this sensor (to consumers anyway) is that it can capture 2mp at 30fps.

    It has been designed with capturing full motion 720p video in mind.

    This is great- I have long wondered why, as camera mega pixels sizes go up, we are still stuck with VGA video. I would love a digital camera still that can double as a HD video camera.
  • There is an algorithm out there where you reduce the number of pixels and replace them with a median value. This reduces the noise, but can obviously only be done with high resolution thingies. Could get you a 2 megapixel stable image out of a 8 megapixel noisy one...
  • Lens vs. MP (Score:3, Informative)

    by tinkerghost ( 944862 ) on Thursday May 18, 2006 @03:46PM (#15360165) Homepage
    Just for the record I would rather have a SLR 2MP camera than a P&S 8MP. The difference in focal precision and lens quality more than makes up for the difference in resolution. Let's face it a web pic is 72dpi & that's where most of these images are going to end up - 1280X1024 is only 1.3MP for 32bit color depth full screen image. 2MP is what?... 4X6 at photographic resolution? So unless I want an 8X10 (rarely) I am wasting 75% of the data 90+% of the time.
    I hear this all the time, oh this camera sucks because it's only a 3/4/5 MP one. I need to get the new X MP camera to take a good picture.... No you moron, you need to learn the basics of photograpy and get a decent camera. Pixel density has an upper limit where it is useful. After about 1MP for web work, and 2MP for general use, you're wasting your money. If you are a professional photographer or you do keep 8X10s of everything then you might need a 10MP, but if you do, you probably don't want a P&S anyway.
    *SLR - Single Lens Reflex - what you see in the viewfinder is exactly what the iris of the camera will see - CMOS, CCD, film. The light comes from a lens - hits a prism & get's split to the iris & the viewfinder.
    *P&S - Point & Shoot - seperate lenses for the iris & the viewfinder - usually fixed focal length for the viewfinder, and a guestimated focal distance based on image centering algorythms. Note the similarity between P&S and PoS.
    • Man, don't be such a camera snob. I have a layman interest in photography, and I appreciate the quality difference between SLR and P&S. Sure, if I'm taking pictures for a magazine or professional pictures, I would definitely want to use SLR. On the other hand, if I'm going out with friends, or taking a quick weekend trip somewhere, I don't want to lug around a big SLR camera. A Canon Elph will easily fit in my shirt pocket, and while it doesn't produce the rich color, crisp detail and depth of field of
  • Focus, DAMN IT! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Palal ( 836081 ) on Thursday May 18, 2006 @03:48PM (#15360175) Homepage
    My biggest problem with the point-and-shoot digital cameras (not the DSLRs) is the lack of decent focus. Many images come out blurry and the focus mechanism takes forever. On the DSLRs it's a different story and pictures come out near-perfect every time.
  • I might be jaded, but I worked in digital imaging about 6 years ago, and I remember a big splash hitting when Kodak (I think) announced a 6 megapixel CMOS sensor for digital cameras. At the time, they were touting that the chip was so cheap, we'd be seeing disposable 6MP digital cameras within a year or so. It was hailed as a huge breakthrough. It captured images faster than CCD (meaning faster file times) more accurate colors and it cost pennies to produce. Now, in 2006, I see an announcement that touts a
  • But the optics! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by hhr ( 909621 )
    Will the crappy optics in cell phone cameras actually be able to do anything with an 8MP picture?

    Sure, you can zoom in more on an 8MP picture. However, when your lens is always out in the open, covered with finger prints, dust, grease, scratched and soo tiny, that extra resolution will just capture noise.
  • Uhh...? (Score:3, Informative)

    by g0at ( 135364 ) <ben@ z y g> on Thursday May 18, 2006 @03:58PM (#15360264) Homepage Journal
    Clearly, slashdot editors aren't much into photography. First of all, even a toddler knows that the sensor is worthless (no matter its esoteria or expense) if the lenses in front of it are garbage. Secondly, the idea of CMOS isn't new; Canon has been using them for quite awhile now (e.g. 350D).

  • I remember when Steve Ciarcia reported in _Byte_ magazine on a RAM chip, its cover ripped off and replaced with a lens, offering a 256x128pxl (32Kpxl) imaging chip [] marketed by... Micron Technology.
  • A lot of comments seem to make a big deal out of the potential noisiness of the data. But if this thing can take ten snapshots per second, couldn't it take three shots in a third of a second and average the results to reduce noisiness without sacrificing resolution? I don't know much about photography, but it seems like this should be quite effective to me.
    • A lot of comments seem to make a big deal out of the potential noisiness of the data. But if this thing can take ten snapshots per second, couldn't it take three shots in a third of a second and average the results to reduce noisiness without sacrificing resolution? I don't know much about photography, but it seems like this should be quite effective to me.

      This will improve the noise level but will also result in signifigant bluring in the resulting picture if anything is moving during the exposure.

  • What use will an 8 megapixel sensor be when half of the pixels will be noise?

    If you know anything about digital sensors then noise at high ISO is a serious issue when using small sensors. Also the optics are important.

    I don't see the point of blurry, noisy 8MP images.
  • Sensors? Pfft... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Locus Mote ( 307298 ) <> on Thursday May 18, 2006 @04:45PM (#15360697) Homepage

    In terms of high-end photography, there are several requirements which rate MUCH higher than simple FPS:

    Input Dynamic Range. This is the range of light values in a scene which the sensor "sees" and is able to record. In order to understand this, think of light at dusk reflecting off wet pavement in the distance. The super bright orange glare hitting your eyes is extremely high intensity light, while the shadowed sides of houses and trees and things are low intensity light. Both of these elements have detail that can be recorded. With a low dynamic range, one or the other can be exposed properly. With a high dynamic range it is possible to capture the detail in very dark shadows and very bright highlights without clipping. (Clipping is truncation to flat black or white pixels with no detail). Chemical film, especially positive film (slide film), has a dynamic range which obliterates the best digital sensors.

    Falloff. This is the ability to clip gracefully. When using any type of transducer, whether it's a microphone, a square of film or a digital sensor, there is a response curve which maps values input values (light/sound) into recordable output values. In the age of analog (vacuum tubes, vinyl records and chemical film) the response curves were all based on Calculus. They literally rolled off (logarithmic) at the ends. This meant that as the microphone, vacuum tube or film overloaded, it did so gracefully with a smooth transition to clipping. In the digital world, our chips are "dumb". They can only do algebra, not calculus. Their falloff is linear. 8-bit = 256 values, 16-bit = 65536 values, etc. Anything above or below this is immediately clipped to white or black, on or off. The digital world is flat, if your input source is flat, you sail right off the edge into infinity.

    Single Pixel Resolution. 99.99% of digital camera sensors use a single layer of matrixed sensors (Bayer array). These sensors are located in gangs of three, similarly to the pixels on an old CRT television. The problem is that each sensor can only see red, green or blue. There is a lot of jibber-jabber that I could go on with, but essentially, bayer sensors really only see 1/3 of the picture information their lenses dump on them. Chemical film is stacked in layers, thus each pixel location "sees" all three RGB. Currently only the Foveon X3 sensor in Sigma digital cameras is capable resolving all the information in each color channel at each individual pixel location.

    Now, even if this new Matrix chip performs at even the sub-par level of today's CCD camera sensors, simply buying a camera with one in it does not by any means guarantee quality photography. Back when the sensor (film!) was interchangable from camera to camera, there was still intense competition between camera and lens manufacturers. This is because the sensor can only "see" the image that the lens and camera body deliver to it. The most important factor is the lens! Imagine rubbing vaseline on your glasses and walking around like that all day. This is life with a cheap camera lens. There's a reason why most professional lenses, without a camera body, cost betweed two and ten times as much as an entire point and shoot camera. If a lens is a valve for light, then a professional lens is like a firehose, a prosumer is like a garden hose, a point and shoot is a drinking straw and a cameraphone is a hypodermic needle.


    That's my 2(6.022*10^23) cents worth.

  • by CokeJunky ( 51666 ) on Thursday May 18, 2006 @06:47PM (#15361615)
    worth looking at.

    The problem with most low-end cameras and especially cell-phone cameras lies in the lens, not the sensor. Simply put, a small lens tends to have more distortion, and can't gather as much light to see in the dark well. Add that on to a light weight camera that is difficult to hold still, and you are garenteed that half your pictures will be blurry and dark.

    It's not that I have anything against it, but it looks like a product targeted at being able to sell a 8Mega pixel camera for $300 that people will compare with the $800-3000 offerings in the same pixel range and think they are getting a good deal, but really they will not get something worth having. For that matter, they would be better buying a $50 PHD camera (my mother-in-law who has a PHD in engineering calls them that for 'Push Here Dummy'), and spending the money saved on film and processing -- You will still have a crappy lens, but you will probably get better pictures.

Were there fewer fools, knaves would starve. - Anonymous