...of Megapixels and Sensor Density 

Last year's announcement of the full-frame Nikon D3 was about extended ISO range, perhaps even more than the full-frame sensor. Nikon did a superb job of selling low-light sensitivity and extended ISO range as must-have features. Photokina 2008 will likely be remembered as the show that embraced full-frame and extended ISO performance, but that also reignited the Megapixel wars. In both the traditional APS-C model DSLRs and the new pro full-frame class, resolution moved higher - in some cases much higher.

APS-C Digital

The APS-C chart shows that 12MP is the new starting point for top APS-C DSLRs. Olympus is now the only APS-C player to feature 10MP in their top DSLR, though that could change when a new midrange Olympus DSLR is introduced early next year.

Top APS-C DSLR Sensor Comparison
Camera Effective
Sensor
Resolution
Sensor
Dimensions
and Area
Percentage of
Full-Frame
Sensor
Density
(MP/cm2)
Olympus E-520/E-3 10 13.5x18
2.43 cm2
28.10% 4
Panasonic G1 12.1 13.5x18
2.43 cm2
28.10% 5
Canon XSi 12.2 14.8x22.2
3.28 cm2
38.00% 3.7
Sony A700, Nikon D300, Nikon D90 12.3 15.7x23.5
3.66 cm2
42.40% 3.3
Sony A350 14.2 15.8x23.6
3.72 cm2
42.90% 3.8
Pentax K20D 14.6 15.6x23.4
3.65 cm2
42.20% 4
Canon 50D 15.1 14.9x22.3
3.32 cm2
38.40% 4.5

Pentax grabbed the resolution crown last year with their 14.6MP Samsung APS-C sensor, but Canon won it back with the 50D announced at Photokina 2008. Perhaps even more interesting is the ISO range of the new 15.1MP 50D. The D300 excited users with a Hi1 6400 ISO option. Canon goes one better with both a Hi1 and Hi2 12800. It will be interesting to see if the new 50D high ISO options are real or just marketing.

Full-Frame DSLRs

The announcement of the full-frame Nikon D3 was about extended ISO range, and Nikon did a superb job of selling low-light sensitivity and extended ISO range of their full-frame sensor. This year manufacturers introduced two more full-frame DSLR cameras. They embraced low-noise sensitivity but they also extended the sensor resolution of their new full-frame sensors.

Full-Frame DSLR Sensor Comparison
Camera Effective
Sensor
Resolution
Sensor
Dimensions
and Area
ISO Range Sensor
Density
(MP/cm2)
Canon 5D 12.7 24x36
8.64 cm2
100-3200 1.5
Nikon D700/Nikon D3 12.1 24x36
8.64 cm2
100-25600 1.4
Canon 5D Mark II 21.1 24x36
8.64 cm2
50-25600 2.4
Canon 1Ds Mark III 21.1 24x36
8.64 cm2
100-6400 2.4
Sony A900 24.6 24x35.9
8.61 cm2
100-6400 2.9
Index Full-Frame Takes Over the High-End
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  • plonk420 - Saturday, September 27, 2008 - link

    one person i know says that this is a breakthru for indy film producers. another person in film doesn't believe that it's coming from a digiSLR...

    http://vincentlaforet.com/">http://vincentlaforet.com/

    a short film produced WITHOUT POST PRODUCTION (save for resizing) with the 5D Mark II as source. impromptu petition has even been setup to try to convince Canon to bequeath it with 24p in a firmware update...
    Reply
  • yyrkoon - Saturday, September 27, 2008 - link

    Being the leader in image manipulation, I am surprised that Adobe gave no details as to what CS4 is capable of ? This is an assumption on my behalf because I am sure you guys at Anandtech.com *would* report the nitty-gritty if it were made available . . . right ?

    It is rumored that CS4 will take advantage of CUDA for parallel processing of images. This could be a HUGE boon for image retouchers, and judging from the current CUDA enabled scripting filter examples on Adobes site, I would view this as the next logical step for them.
    Reply
  • Wesley Fink - Saturday, September 27, 2008 - link

    The info provided by Adobe was short on specifics and big on sweeping generalities in the Press release. Adobe does claim more support of current hardware and is said to fully support quad core processing. That should interest our readers. CS4 also claims to better support today's graphics cards (GPU) for smoother pan and zoom functions though they don't specify which GPU hardware they are talking about.

    To be blunt most PS users are forced to upgrade because Adobe makes new versions of its very popular Camera RAW plug-in incompatible with older PS versions. That means when you finally get your newer camera you are forced to upgrade PS if you want to process RAW files in Photoshop.

    We believed our readers would want to know a new version of Photoshop is coming, and they could find out more it they were interested. You can see the Press Release for yourself at http://www.adobe.com/aboutadobe/pressroom/pressrel...">http://www.adobe.com/aboutadobe/pressro...srelease... We decided not to repeat it. We will know more when Photoshop CS4 and PS CS4 Extended ship next month.
    Reply
  • yyrkoon - Saturday, September 27, 2008 - link

    Yeah, thats exactly what I did: read adobes support pages, and the list is quite extensive. Albeit not as extensive as I hoped.

    One thing that Adobe can not do quite right is standardize their UI, which they have changed AGAIN, and honestly it is annoying. They *claim* it will improve the user experience, and help speed things up, but that yet remains to be seen.
    Reply
  • melgross - Friday, September 26, 2008 - link

    There's an error in the first chart. The Nikon etc. numbers should read 15.7 x 23.5.

    This also shows why the 4/3 format has such a problem. If Olympus/Panasonic want to make a 15 MP sensor, the pixel density will jump to 6.2. That's way above where the other cameras will be. The 50D, with 15 MP is at 4.5. This will be a disadvantage in S/N. With less pixels, this hasn't been as much of a problem (though Panasonic has always has noise problems), but as site size continues to diminish, they will find it more difficult to make up for it.
    Reply
  • Wesley Fink - Friday, September 26, 2008 - link

    Dimension is corrected. The area was correct, but the decimal number for one dimension got dropped in editing. Reply
  • melgross - Friday, September 26, 2008 - link

    Olympus doesn't use the faster, and often more accurate, phase detection for auto focus?

    Or is it that the compatibility will only extend to the older method of contrast detection?

    If so, and there's no phase detection, that's a negative.
    Reply
  • strikeback03 - Monday, September 29, 2008 - link

    They do use phase detect in their SLRs, along with some having contrast detect capability. The micro-4/3 cameras, as they have no mirror or other means of redirecting light, cannot use phase detect AF.

    And I also wonder why anything in the lens has something to do with whether contrast detect AF works or not.
    Reply
  • Johnmcl7 - Friday, September 26, 2008 - link

    "The prototype has interchangeable Micro Four Thirds lenses and can fit today's Four Thirds lenses with full functionality by using an adapter"

    As far as I'm aware the G1 does not have full compatibility with 4/3 lenses, there's no AF unless the lens supports contrast detect AF which is expected to be the same for the Olympus micro 4/3. The press release is vague on the point as it simply says you can mnount the lenses.

    John
    Reply
  • Wesley Fink - Friday, September 26, 2008 - link

    You are certainly correct that the Press release is less than crystal clear on this point. Based on the info you provide I have slightly changed the description you quote to remove "with full functionality".

    We are also dealing with a prototype 6 months from introduction and we can only speculate on the shipping product. If your speculation is correct then four current 4/3 lenses support contrast detect. They are the 14-42mm, 40-150mm, 25mm f2.8, and the latest Panasonic/Leica 14-50mm.

    Olympus was able to add contrast-detect compatibility to these lenses with a firmware upgrade. We are left to wonder whether that may be possible with other current 4/3 lenses. We will know with the shipping Olympus Micro 4/3 compact.
    Reply

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