Clean ISO 3200 in low-res P&S?

Piyono

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I was just dreaming about a point & shoot camera that trades pixel count for super-clean, super-high ISOs. With today's sensor and DSP technology this would be a breeze.

The Nikon D3's sensor and processor combo can produce an incredibly clean image at 6400 ISO. Arguably the best available today.

The sensor is 36mm × 23.9mm with 4256 horizontal pixels and 2832 vertical pixels, making for approximately 118 pixels per millimeter along both axes. Let's say we take a 1/1.7" sensor and superimpose its 9.5mm × 7.6mm dimensions on the D3 sensor. We'd have an image of about 1123px × 900px.

That's a full 1,011,420 megapixels! Just the ticket for happy snaps!

A one-megapixel point n' shoot with a sharp 4x zoom lens and responsive interface that produces clean 6400 ISO? I'll take it! Hell, I'd even take a 2MP, 3200 ISO camera.


Where's my camera!?
 

Tea

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Keep dreaming, old son. The idea is good (thogh you'd need to work a little on the detail) but the chances of any manufacturer doing it anytime soon are probably zero. They are all megapixel mad. Totally off the planet.

The D3, however, has huge pixel sites - biggest of any camera on the market today. Not what I'd select for a tiddlt P&S sensor, ISO advantages notwithstanding. Let's do the numbers for something a little bit more reasonable. Let's say something with a pixel pitch in the zone where most of the best-regarded general-purpose DSLRs are at at the moment .... Nope, that leaves you with around 2MP. Not enough for a quality image. Looks as though we need to double it again, plus maybe a bit more ...... and all of a sudden we have blown our ISO dreams out the window, though a state of the art 5MP P&S would nevertheless blow these dreadful 10+MP point 'n weep things into the junkheap where they belong.

No way around it: we need a bigger sensor than a P&S can offer.

Olympus anybody?
 

udaman

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Keep dreaming, old son. The idea is good (thogh you'd need to work a little on the detail) but the chances of any manufacturer doing it anytime soon are probably zero. They are all megapixel mad. Totally off the planet.

The D3, however, has huge pixel sites - biggest of any camera on the market today. Not what I'd select for a tiddlt P&S sensor, ISO advantages notwithstanding. Let's do the numbers for something a little bit more reasonable. Let's say something with a pixel pitch in the zone where most of the best-regarded general-purpose DSLRs are at at the moment .... Nope, that leaves you with around 2MP. Not enough for a quality image. Looks as though we need to double it again, plus maybe a bit more ...... and all of a sudden we have blown our ISO dreams out the window, though a state of the art 5MP P&S would nevertheless blow these dreadful 10+MP point 'n weep things into the junkheap where they belong.

No way around it: we need a bigger sensor than a P&S can offer.

Olympus anybody?

Not necessarily true tea.

Canon 5D & Nikon D3 essentially have same size pixel photo sites, just that lazy arse Canon isn't going to update the 5D until Nikon kicks their sorry arse with a D300 FX version.

Olympus already has a 10k ISO PnS, lol. 'Clean' and 'dirty' are in the eyes of the beholder (just like people, lol). What would be much better is if Olympus put a FF sensor of the D3's ISO capabilities, perhaps a licensed Foveon, in the body of an OM1/OM2..., throw in a fast Live View & sensor stabilization, that works like Sony's- now that would be awesome.

For PnS, would be better to have the scaled up/ revised version of Kodak's TRUESENSE technology to get decently low noise ISO 3200, and more importantly good detail, out of a Fuji sized sensor 1/1.6in:

http://www.dpreview.com/news/0802/08020602kodaktruesense.asp
 
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Stereodude

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The manufacturers are already pushing 13.6MP point and shoots. I wonder when the madness will stop? :(
 

ddrueding

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If you take one of these crazy 10MP P&S cameras and do a high-speed shot with it, then take it into PP with the intent to leave with only a 1MP image, what sort of quality to you get? Surely being able to "burn" that much resolution will get you somewhere?
 

Piyono

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The D3, however, has huge pixel sites - biggest of any camera on the market today. Not what I'd select for a tiddlt P&S sensor, ISO advantages notwithstanding.

But clean images at high ISO is my top priority for this theoretical camera. What better way to achieve that than with big-ass pixel sites?

...Nope, that leaves you with around 2MP. Not enough for a quality image. ...No way around it: we need a bigger sensor than a P&S can offer.

I'm talking happy snaps, here. Party photos for Fakebook— er, Faecesbook— oh, dammit, what's the name again? Anyway, I could care less about prints for this idea.
 

e_dawg

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I was just dreaming about a point & shoot camera that trades pixel count for super-clean, super-high ISOs.

It already came and went. It was called the Fuji F10/11/30/31. 6 MP for years when everybody kept stuffing pixels onto the same small sensors. Then Fuji got pixel envy and released a 12 MP POS. While it wasn't clean to 3200 or 6400 ISO, it was clean to about 800 ISO, and you could use 1600 in a pinch. If they would have added RAW mode to it, used a better lens, and added image stabilization, it would have been the ultimate P&S. (and there's no reason it couldn't have been done)

Tea said:
[...] though a state of the art 5MP P&S would nevertheless blow these dreadful 10+MP point 'n weep things into the junkheap where they belong.

No way around it: we need a bigger sensor than a P&S can offer.

Olympus anybody?

As you know, Sigma is releasing their DP1 P&S in the summer, featuring the same 1.7x Foveon sensor as found in their SD14 dSLR. Only problem is that you're stuck with a fixed focal length non image stabilized 28/4 lens.
 

Tea

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Interesting choice of lens, that, E_Dawg. Rather brave, actually, to use a prime in a P&S. I take it that is a 28mm 28mm lens, as against one of those silly "35mm equivalent" measurements? (I've doubtless read this somewhere, and forgotten already. An actual 28mm would make the most sense.)

But the bit that makes it really interesting is the f/4 part. OK, size, weight, cost, all the usual stuff, but f/4 in a prime? Weird! I mean, how big and heavy is the Canon 50/1.8 FFS? And that is a monster as compared with some of those sexy little things that Pentax make.
 

e_dawg

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It's actually a 16.6 mm lens that is equivalent to a 28 mm (35 mm equiv) lens on the 1.7x Foveon sensor. Yep, it is quite wide and quite fixed. I can't get over that myself. Me thinks it was a "statement feature" more than what the consumer really wants. I would personally find a 47 mm (35 mm equiv) lens too long for an all-purpose lens, but 28 mm is kinda wide. I would have preferred a 35 or 38 mm lens myself (24-25 mm on APS-C or 21-22 mm on Foveon 1.7x).

I'm not sure if you're thinking they should have put in a faster lens or not, but I'm thinking they put faster lenses in P&S cameras these days, so they should have come up with an f/3.5 lens at least or an f/2.8-4 or something... At the same time, we're not talking about a tiny 1/2.5" sensor here, so anything faster than a f/4 lens at 16.6 mm might have caused design or production cost challenges.
 

Piyono

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I'll tell ya, I flipped through the sample gallery on the DP1 mini-site and wasn't floored. In a gallery of 37 photos only 2 are at ISOs higher than 100. One is at 400 and the other at 800 and in both grain is clearly visible. It's not *killing* me but it's there. Jaggies are clearly visible in some of the photos. Its color rendition is nice, I guess, although the site doesn't offer images against which to draw a direct comparison.
 

e_dawg

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Yeah, I thought the same thing when i looked at it. But to Sigma's credit, there's 2 things at work here:

1. The lens is pretty wide, and it seems like every shot is trying to capture maximum field of view and is shot at infinity. Nothing is really big enough to catch your attention and emphasize detail and contrast like there is with macros. It's just all a vast expanse, and any subject with texture or detail is too far away and too small-scale to matter.

2. The image processor is pretty conservative, eschewing high contrast, aggressive NR, and strong sharpening in favour of tonal range, detail, and post-processing headroom. If you do a little post-processing to apply some USM and bump the contrast a bit, it does wonders.

As for the lack of high ISO shots, the Foveon sensor, like the smaller 4/3 Olympus and Panaleica sensors, is not known for great high ISO performance. Sigma knows better than to draw attention to it with lots of pics at high ISO. But then again, most camera companies rarely use high ISO shots in their marketing materials. But do keep in mind the conservative application of NR in-camera to JPEGs.

Check out the pics after a bit of cropping and post-processing. I think they look pretty good:

DP1_400iso_crop_usm.jpg


DP1_100iso_crop_usm_1.jpg


DP1_100iso_crop_usm_2.jpg


DP1_100iso_crop_usm_3.jpg


DP1_800iso_crop_nn.jpg
 

Piyono

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Olympus just added another option in the small dSLR category that makes it a viable alternative to a high-end point & shoot: the 25 mm f/2.8 pancake lens. In combination with their new E-420 dSLR with psuedo A-mode Live View, this is a vague homage to their OM series.

http://www.olympus.com.au/component/option,com_product/id,316/Itemid,69/task,detail/


Yeah, just noticed that one, too. Looks nifty. Love that they stuck a prime on it. Can't wait to see how sharp it is.


I'd be really interested to see more lenses with multiple, discreet focal length stops like the Leica Tri-Elmar-M 16-18-21.

Something like that can be optimized for the best performance at each focal length without any FUD at the extremes. It seems like the perfect cross between a zoom and a prime.

Of course, this is not a lens thread.

]-[
 

Piyono

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2. The image processor is pretty conservative, eschewing high contrast, aggressive NR, and strong sharpening in favour of tonal range, detail, and post-processing headroom. If you do a little post-processing to apply some USM and bump the contrast a bit, it does wonders.

Yeah, I see what you mean... Sigma seems to have erred on the side of caution, leaving untapped potential in the images to be brought out by further processing.

Still, I want my 6400ISO.
 

Piyono

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P.s. I left my CoolPix 4500 unattended the other night (at a wedding, of all places) and it wandered off, probably with some floozy. Guess it had enough of my arm's-length self portraits. I'm sure it'll call in the morning once it sobers up and realizes what a mistake it's made... right?

At very least I hope it finds the decency to email me the photos in stored on the knockoff Sandisk Extreme II I stuffed into its flank.

I'll miss you, CP...
 
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