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Subject: "Question for the pixel /sensor experts" Previous topic | Next topic
baseelo Gold Member Nikonian since 04th May 2011Sun 22-May-11 10:15 AM
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"Question for the pixel /sensor experts"
Sun 22-May-11 10:19 AM by baseelo

Dearborn, US
          

I'm a total novice in digital photo field. I've been reading some books trying to understand the pixel/sensor/Dx/Fx issue. And my understanding is that the following points are true:

A-Fx sensors are 36mmX24 mm so the area is 864 square mm (8.6 square c.m.)

B-Dx sensors are 24mmX16 mm so the area is 384 square mm ( 3.8 square c.m.)

C- Dx sensors' area is only 44% of the Fx sensor's area.

D-When we say that a camera has a 16.2 mega pixel sensor, we actually mean the total pixels on the sensor.

E- The sensor of the D3x camera has 24.5 megapixels total so it has 2.8 megapixels per square c.m.

F- The sensor of the D3s camera has about 12 megapixels total, so it has about 1.4 megapixels per square c.m.

G- Not all pixels are the same, so the pixels on the sensor of D3x are so crowded (and small) so they have less light gathering power than those of the D3s ( which are bigger and lay more comfortably on the sensor) and that explains the good performance of the D3s with high ISO.

H- Ironically, D7000 which has a 16.2 megapixel sensor has 4.26 megapixels per square c.m. of its sensor which is more than D3x !!!!

Sorry for the long question, but are all of these points true? . And in that case, what value would resolution have in evaluating the quality of a camera if not all pixels are the same? And if we have these ironic points, it is hard for me to accept that D7000 has higher resolution (per square c.m.) than the queen of resolution (the legendary D3x.)
Please correct any wrong conclusions that I made and if some of the points are naive or if I'm missing something here, just remember that I'm just a beginner who is trying to understand some brand new facts.

Thank you

Basel

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Photography is the art of freezing light in the heart of the moment.

  

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Replies to this topic
Subject Author Message Date ID
Reply message RE: Question for the pixel /sensor experts
briantilley Moderator
22nd May 2011
1
Reply message RE: Question for the pixel /sensor experts
baseelo Gold Member
23rd May 2011
5
Reply message RE: Question for the pixel /sensor experts
Len Shepherd Gold Member
22nd May 2011
2
Reply message RE: Question for the pixel /sensor experts
PAStime Silver Member
22nd May 2011
3
Reply message RE: Question for the pixel /sensor experts
baseelo Gold Member
23rd May 2011
6
Reply message RE: Question for the pixel /sensor experts
baseelo Gold Member
23rd May 2011
7
     Reply message RE: Question for the pixel /sensor experts
Len Shepherd Gold Member
23rd May 2011
8
Reply message RE: Question for the pixel /sensor experts
Robman3
23rd May 2011
4
Reply message RE: Question for the pixel /sensor experts
PAStime Silver Member
24th May 2011
9
     Reply message RE: Question for the pixel /sensor experts
baseelo Gold Member
24th May 2011
10
     Reply message RE: Question for the pixel /sensor experts
Robman3
24th May 2011
11

briantilley Moderator Deep knowledge of bodies and lens; high level photography skills Nikonian since 26th Jan 2003Sun 22-May-11 10:47 AM
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#1. "RE: Question for the pixel /sensor experts"
In response to Reply # 0


Paignton, GB
          

All your conclusions are correct

The only thing I would add is that some of the numbers you've used are approximations. The D3X sensor actually measures 35.9mm x 24mm; the D3S is 36mm x 23.9mm; the D7000 is 23.6mm x 15.6mm.

One more thing - as well as the physical size of each photosite (pixel), sensor performance depends on the technology used. Things like high-ISO noise and dynamic range tend to get better with each new generation of sensor and firmware. The D7000 is newer than the D3S, which in turn is newer than the D3X.

Brian
Welsh Nikonian

  

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baseelo Gold Member Nikonian since 04th May 2011Mon 23-May-11 08:12 AM
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#5. "RE: Question for the pixel /sensor experts"
In response to Reply # 1


Dearborn, US
          

Thank you Brian,

I used approxiamation on intention just to keep things simple.

Talking about new sensors, I wonder what a new version of D3s will look like. Any ideas on any plans that Nikon has in that regard?

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Photography is the art of freezing light in the heart of the moment.

  

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Len Shepherd Gold Member Nikonian since 09th Mar 2003Sun 22-May-11 04:35 PM
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#2. "RE: Question for the pixel /sensor experts"
In response to Reply # 0


Yorkshire, GB
          

In one way this is a pointless discussion. Sensor technology is developing very fast so comparing a 2 year old camera to a new camera is apples and oranges.
As an owner of the D7000 it has more resolution when needed (which is not all the time) than my D3s or D300s and better noise than my D300s.
Some sites rate the D7000 resolution at 3200 as more than 80% of 200.
3 years ago this would have been impossible.

Photography is a bit like archery. A technically better camera, lens or arrow may not hit the target as often as it could if the photographer or archer does not practice enough.

Len Shepherd

  

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PAStime Silver Member Nikonian since 10th Feb 2009Sun 22-May-11 06:36 PM
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#3. "RE: Question for the pixel /sensor experts"
In response to Reply # 2
Sun 22-May-11 06:43 PM by PAStime

Kingston, CA
          

Yes, all of your points are correct.

There is more to the quality of the sensor (including its resolving capability):

- the types and qualities of filtering layers on top of the sensor
- the types and qualities of underlying processing electronics and software
- the types and qualities of underlying chip technology (CMOS, CCD, etc.) and the pixel device architecture
- the light gathering area of each pixel (it is far from 100%)
- the type and quality of micro lens above each pixel
- the quality of the analog and digital circuitry on the periphery of the sensor chip (it can be a significant source of noise)
- ... and more

You probably don`t want to read this paper but I do recommend you skim it to get an idea of some of the trade-offs related to pixel size and image quality.

Cheers,
Peter

  

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baseelo Gold Member Nikonian since 04th May 2011Mon 23-May-11 08:15 AM
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#6. "RE: Question for the pixel /sensor experts"
In response to Reply # 3


Dearborn, US
          

Thank you Peter,

I will definitely read your paper.

Your answer definitely helps me undrestand the subject better and I hope that the paper will shade some more light on it.

Thanks a lot.

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Photography is the art of freezing light in the heart of the moment.

  

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baseelo Gold Member Nikonian since 04th May 2011Mon 23-May-11 08:29 AM
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#7. "RE: Question for the pixel /sensor experts"
In response to Reply # 2
Mon 23-May-11 09:09 AM by baseelo

Dearborn, US
          

>In one way this is a pointless discussion.

Hi Len. You know I respect your opinion, but I totally disagree with you on this one. I don't think this discussion is pointless in any way.
Not all of us are blessed with the same level of photography knowledge or experience. So, what could be so obvious for somebody might be important to understand for another.

Sensor technology
>is developing very fast so comparing a 2 year old camera to a
>new camera is apples and oranges.

It is developing amazingly fast. But does that mean that any new camera is better than any old camera in all aspects and applications? Or in other words, if I go to Best Buy and grab a D5100, it will be superior in all aspects to a D3X simply because it is more recent? I can't agree with this logic. The comparison is not between apples and oranges,rather it is a comparison between two kinds of apples that have different genetic charechteristics. They are different,but still comparable. It is an attempt to understand the fortes and feebles of each one of these cameras to see, at least theoretically, which one would fit somebody's application.


>As an owner of the D7000 it has more resolution when needed
>(which is not all the time) than my D3s or D300s and better
>noise than my D300s.
>Some sites rate the D7000 resolution at 3200 as more than 80%
>of 200.
>3 years ago this would have been impossible.

I have a D7000 too and I love it! The exact facts that you mentioned about it got my curiousity going on trying to get better understanding of the subject.

I really appreciate your participation in this discussion.

Sincerely,

Basel

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Photography is the art of freezing light in the heart of the moment.

  

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Len Shepherd Gold Member Nikonian since 09th Mar 2003Mon 23-May-11 09:39 AM
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#8. "RE: Question for the pixel /sensor experts"
In response to Reply # 7


Yorkshire, GB
          

> if I go to Best Buy and grab a D5100, it will be superior in all aspects to a D3X simply because it is more recent?
The question was about sensors, not about complete cameras
I have not used a D5100 yet but it has much the same sensor technology as the D7000.
The D7000 comes closer to the D3s (not the pro body you mentioned) for noise than some current D3s owners would want, and beats it for resolution and video.
That cannot be said about the replaced D5000.
The D3X is around 10 times the price of the D5100 with more MP, still has a resolution advantage, but cannot compete for high ISO noise.
It is a reasonable forecast a D5200 perhaps 2-3 years from now will equal or beat the current D3x flagship for resolution.
It is also a safe forecast the D300s, D3s and D3x replacements will have more resolution and better noise than the current models.
The point I was making is forget all the historical outdated arguments about pixel density and size.
A lot of it was misunderstood because the area covered by each site (still well below 100%) and processing engine advances have dramatically increased resolution and noise performance - important details overlooked by the pixel density theorists.
Putting this in context Canon did not achieve the then holy grail of digital - good noise at 400 ISO - until the 1D Mk 2.
The D7000 has similar resolution at 3200 to the D300 at 200, and blows the D200 out of the water at 400.

Photography is a bit like archery. A technically better camera, lens or arrow may not hit the target as often as it could if the photographer or archer does not practice enough.

Len Shepherd

  

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Robman3 Registered since 12th Apr 2010Mon 23-May-11 12:36 AM
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#4. "RE: Question for the pixel /sensor experts"
In response to Reply # 0


West of Santa Monica, US
          

Hi Basel,

More basic to the conversation, what are your expectations and needs for the machine?

The pixel camps yes, are technically diverse however, ultimately the rendered content will be a result.

Even a 3MP camera's output can be put onto a billboard with the correct treatment.

For example, the D3S currently is "the" body for low light imagery.

The D3X is arguably the studio standard under $10k.

The D7000 currently, is the best value for stills and HDSLR in a compact format.

There are other brands to be sure, and larger format bodies costing well over the range of Nikon, but because of the glass and price value of Nikon's continued support of digital technology, there are compelling reasons to make informed choices within the brand.

Rob


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Visit my Nikonians gallery.

Visit my Nikonians gallery.

  

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PAStime Silver Member Nikonian since 10th Feb 2009Tue 24-May-11 02:28 AM
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#9. "RE: Question for the pixel /sensor experts"
In response to Reply # 4


Kingston, CA
          

Something to watch is increased use of 3D microelectronics, that is, the stacking of silicon chips into a monolithic multi-layer integrated circuit with layers interconnected via TSVs (through silicon vias). That lets one use most of the surface area of a sensor to collect light as the processing electronics are buried below the surface on a lower level. That potentially leads to greater sensitivity and higher dynamic range and lower noise. This type of integrated circuit is a very hot research topic at this time (it has been used for a while with memory only) and I expect lots of changes in imaging technology over the next decade. Cheers, Peter

  

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baseelo Gold Member Nikonian since 04th May 2011Tue 24-May-11 04:35 AM
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#10. "RE: Question for the pixel /sensor experts"
In response to Reply # 9


Dearborn, US
          

Thanks Peter,

Sounds like an interestiong topic.

I'll try to keep myself up-to-date on this issue.

Visit my Nikonians gallery.



Photography is the art of freezing light in the heart of the moment.

  

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Robman3 Registered since 12th Apr 2010Tue 24-May-11 05:34 AM
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#11. "RE: Question for the pixel /sensor experts"
In response to Reply # 9


West of Santa Monica, US
          

In about a decade, I'll retire the D3S then, thanks Peter.

Rob

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Visit my Nikonians gallery.

Visit my Nikonians gallery.

  

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