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Is Nikon's DX path a dead end?

gwprovost

Mesa, US
213 posts

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gwprovost Registered since 18th Jul 2002
Wed 16-Jan-08 01:02 PM



Nikon’s decision to stick with the 1.5x DX sensor exclusively for the foreseeable future seems to limit severely their potential for growth. Megapixels may or may not be the most important factor in the ongoing evolution of digital cameras, but it’s a safe bet that new DSLR models will continue to offer increased megapixels for at least the next two or three generations. It’s hard to see how Nikon with the DX sensor will be able to keep up with the competition.

I see lots of numbers thrown around on various forums, numbers that seem to have been plucked from thin air. There are just two factors that make up the megapixel count; the size of the sensor and the size of the pixels. There are currently four main sensor sizes; full-frame (Kodak & Canon), 1.3x (Canon), 1.5x (Nikon) and 1.6x (Canon). The pixel size in all of these current cameras falls within the 7-9 micron range. Current technology makes this the ideal range due to limitations of physics and optics. Attached is a graphical illustration.

If the D1h/D1x relationship holds true for the D2h/D2x, then the upcoming D2x will be 8 megapixels (it had better be, since that’s what the new Canon 1DII offers). That resolution on a DX sensor will limit pixel size to under 7 microns, which will make those pixels the smallest of any major DSLR on the market. Smaller pixels mean the signal/noise ratio will suffer as will the quality of the higher ISO settings. No major DSLR currently on the market has a pixel size smaller than 7.4 microns.

Even if Nikon can make this work, what’s the next step? You can see from the graph that within the 7-9 micron range Canon has plenty of room to make the full-frame 1Ds a 16mp camera. They also have room to increase the 1.3x (1DII) cameras up to 10mp. The 1.6x cameras are nearly maxed out at 6mp, which will leave the Digital Rebel holding down the entry-level position.

Nikon, with the 1.5 DX sensor at 8mp, will have seemingly reached the end with nowhere to go.

As a lifelong Nikon user I’m having trouble figuring out what exactly they have in mind. Am I missing something?

Click on image to view larger version


Attachment#1 (jpg file)

Gene

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