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(Short List)   When megapixels were nothing - an illustrated history of photographic cameras   (shortlist.com) divider line 25
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2864 clicks; posted to Geek » on 09 May 2014 at 2:12 PM (33 weeks ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2014-05-09 12:24:41 PM  
I wonder how many pixels you could get on an 8"x10" sensor.........
 
2014-05-09 01:03:33 PM  

cretinbob: I wonder how many pixels you could get on an 8"x10" sensor.........


Seeing as I have 41MP cell phone camera with a 1/1.2-inch image sensor.... Lots
 
2014-05-09 01:05:48 PM  
(Actual sensor size is 10.67×8.00 mm, one pixel is 1.4 µm)
 
2014-05-09 02:31:00 PM  
The problem with sensor size is the number of bad pixels per unit size, besides, with the current levels, how much more detail is needed for selfies and snapshots?

Hasselblad now has a 50 mp digital camera now, that's a 2-1/4" square, if they kept their traditional format.  At one point, they had a digital back but it had to be tethered to a computer as it had no storage built in.

Having recently started with my first digital DSLR, I'm impressed in many ways with the changes from film - for one thing, being able to shoot EVERY film, ever shot is pretty cool.  I can do Tri-X, Kodachrome, and Velvia all in the same session and change it back.  Makes it a lot easier to concentrate on the important things.  And oddly, I don't miss changing rolls - having a capacity of 1,000 shots per memory card is pretty nice [RAW images at around 40 mb each].

That being said, I own three of the cameras in that poster.  Leica, Hasselblad and Nikon.  At least the Nikon glass gets used on my new Df, which was the point of buying a Df, it's a lot like my old F2.

Still, film has a permanence that the digital medium sort of lacks.
 
2014-05-09 02:31:39 PM  
I don't see the "disc" camera on there. Have one in my closet somewhere. Maybe it wasn't that much of a historical moment.
 
2014-05-09 02:58:25 PM  
Megapixels? How quaint.

www.getdpi.com
 
2014-05-09 03:09:08 PM  
As a camera geek, I have to say that is much too truncated a list to be all that interesting. I own, or have owned, a few of the cameras on the list though, including that Minolta 110 SLR (which I am surprised to see represented on this chart).
 
2014-05-09 03:15:36 PM  
They stopped making cameras in 1981?
 
2014-05-09 03:16:34 PM  

bmwericus: The problem with sensor size is the number of bad pixels per unit size, besides, with the current levels, how much more detail is needed for selfies and snapshots?

Hasselblad now has a 50 mp digital camera now, that's a 2-1/4" square, if they kept their traditional format.  At one point, they had a digital back but it had to be tethered to a computer as it had no storage built in.

Having recently started with my first digital DSLR, I'm impressed in many ways with the changes from film - for one thing, being able to shoot EVERY film, ever shot is pretty cool.  I can do Tri-X, Kodachrome, and Velvia all in the same session and change it back.  Makes it a lot easier to concentrate on the important things.  And oddly, I don't miss changing rolls - having a capacity of 1,000 shots per memory card is pretty nice [RAW images at around 40 mb each].

That being said, I own three of the cameras in that poster.  Leica, Hasselblad and Nikon.  At least the Nikon glass gets used on my new Df, which was the point of buying a Df, it's a lot like my old F2.


I love my F2. I say it's the best camera Nikon ever made, due to it being fully mechanical but with good specs, and built like a tank like all F-series Nikons. I still shoot it all the time, and then scan the negs. The F3 wasn't all that much better in my opinion, and required a battery, and past that you get the AF and different exposure modes, but I don't use any of that stuff. You could argue that the F2 required a battery for the meter, but I don't keep one in mine, because I prefer a handheld spot meter anyway.
 
2014-05-09 03:39:09 PM  
How is there not a Pentax K-1000 on that graphic?
 
2014-05-09 03:49:30 PM  
Having the gall to compare digital photography to filmic photography is akin to comparing vinyl to MP3, Atari to Xbox One, or Frank Sinatra to Psy.

Digital. MP3. Xbox One. Psy.

Anything else? No? Great!
 
2014-05-09 04:40:10 PM  
Megapixels are nothing. They're maybe the single worst metric to evaluate a digital camera, and the more you have -- generally -- the worse your image will be.

/still shoots on a first-gen 5D
 
2014-05-09 05:08:19 PM  

Scrotastic Method: Megapixels are nothing. They're maybe the single worst metric to evaluate a digital camera, and the more you have -- generally -- the worse your image will be.

/still shoots on a first-gen 5D


I've never understood this, but I'm very much not an expert in photography, but I'd like to understand.

I do a lot of travelling and need pictures for work, so when I got a new phone last year it was a toss up between the Samsung Galaxy S4 and the HTC One. The HTC one famously had a much lower megapixel count, whilst Samsung keep pushing theirs up. Everyone said "megapixels don't matter", so I didn't want to decide based on that alone. I waited for example pictures to be uploaded by comparison websites, side by side with the same picture, and it was clear the Galaxy was vastly better than the One. I still don't understand why everyone acted like it was close, the detail the S4 got was much better than the HTC phone.

Megapixels were what I judged it on, and I'm glad I did, because it worked out great. Having more megapixels clearly made it a better camera.

But like I say, I don't really know what I'm talking about, so I would appreciate being told if I'm getting it all terribly wrong.
 
2014-05-09 05:26:22 PM  
my camera is a coffee can with a pin hole
 
2014-05-09 05:42:38 PM  

Safari Ken: bmwericus: The problem with sensor size is the number of bad pixels per unit size, besides, with the current levels, how much more detail is needed for selfies and snapshots?

Hasselblad now has a 50 mp digital camera now, that's a 2-1/4" square, if they kept their traditional format.  At one point, they had a digital back but it had to be tethered to a computer as it had no storage built in.

Having recently started with my first digital DSLR, I'm impressed in many ways with the changes from film - for one thing, being able to shoot EVERY film, ever shot is pretty cool.  I can do Tri-X, Kodachrome, and Velvia all in the same session and change it back.  Makes it a lot easier to concentrate on the important things.  And oddly, I don't miss changing rolls - having a capacity of 1,000 shots per memory card is pretty nice [RAW images at around 40 mb each].

That being said, I own three of the cameras in that poster.  Leica, Hasselblad and Nikon.  At least the Nikon glass gets used on my new Df, which was the point of buying a Df, it's a lot like my old F2.

I love my F2. I say it's the best camera Nikon ever made, due to it being fully mechanical but with good specs, and built like a tank like all F-series Nikons. I still shoot it all the time, and then scan the negs. The F3 wasn't all that much better in my opinion, and required a battery, and past that you get the AF and different exposure modes, but I don't use any of that stuff. You could argue that the F2 required a battery for the meter, but I don't keep one in mine, because I prefer a handheld spot meter anyway.


Yep, my F2 is still fully operational, but I'm in the boonies and film is a mail order deal from here, so why bother?  Since it's going digital, I decided to ride the farking horse in the direction he wants to go.

But you and I agree, the F2 really was the pinnacle of the Nikon F series, fully interchangeable everything, two motor drives, countless finders, etc.  It was and is a great system.  One reason I love my Df is that I can still use all those classic Nikkor manual focus lenses that I learned to use so well.  Mine made three trips around the world over the years.  Twice to Nepal and once to Kenya.
 
2014-05-09 05:59:22 PM  

Slaxl: Scrotastic Method: Megapixels are nothing. They're maybe the single worst metric to evaluate a digital camera, and the more you have -- generally -- the worse your image will be.

/still shoots on a first-gen 5D

I've never understood this, but I'm very much not an expert in photography, but I'd like to understand.


There are two reasons the MP war is silly.

The first is simple practicality: you can take a picture that will print at 4x6 at film-quality on something like a 3 megapixel camera. A film-quality 8x10 is a little over 7MP. Larger images are really unnecessary for 99% of users. If you're shooting for print, or a billboard, then yeah, you want a huge file. But for digital-only stuff that never leaves your PC, or for printing a photo the size of a photo, everything on the market is overkill.

The second reason is more scientific and is what I mentioned above. The "megapixel" rating describes the camera's sensor, the chip behind the lens that records light data. Each "pixel" in this regard is itself a very small sensor, and just like bytes, "mega" here roughly means a million. So there are millions upon millions of sensors packed on these chips...and the more of these sensors you try to pack on to a chip the smaller they need to be, so they don't perform as well as they should.

For example, I shoot a first-gen Canon 5D, like I mentioned. One of the reasons I chose that camera is its full-frame sensor, which is physically larger than any consumer-targeted camera, which means the sensors are a bit larger and therefore work with less noise and less bad data being generated...which helps make a better quality of image when compared to a camera with a smaller sensor, even at a comparable megapixel rating.

I may have gotten some verbiage or science a bit off up there, but it's all broken down pretty well here -- you'll note their chart of relative sensor sizes. And here's a less scientific article. Bigger is better when it comes to the sensor, just not the sensor's MP rating!

So, since MP is an easy thing to associate -- "hey this one has more of this stuff and it's written in big letters across the box, so it must be better" -- we ended up with a digital camera pixel arms race, where everyone's getting bigger and bigger. But the actual photos these cameras are creating contain much more data than is necessary, and the data they do create isn't as clean as it could be.

/sure there are a lot of advancements in cameras since my 5D, autofocusing and video and stuff, but I'm fine with what I have. I'm not writing off all digital camera tech, just the desire to inflate MP ratings when that actively contributes to poor image quality.
 
2014-05-09 06:01:26 PM  

bmwericus: Safari Ken: bmwericus: The problem with sensor size is the number of bad pixels per unit size, besides, with the current levels, how much more detail is needed for selfies and snapshots?

Hasselblad now has a 50 mp digital camera now, that's a 2-1/4" square, if they kept their traditional format.  At one point, they had a digital back but it had to be tethered to a computer as it had no storage built in.

Having recently started with my first digital DSLR, I'm impressed in many ways with the changes from film - for one thing, being able to shoot EVERY film, ever shot is pretty cool.  I can do Tri-X, Kodachrome, and Velvia all in the same session and change it back.  Makes it a lot easier to concentrate on the important things.  And oddly, I don't miss changing rolls - having a capacity of 1,000 shots per memory card is pretty nice [RAW images at around 40 mb each].

That being said, I own three of the cameras in that poster.  Leica, Hasselblad and Nikon.  At least the Nikon glass gets used on my new Df, which was the point of buying a Df, it's a lot like my old F2.

I love my F2. I say it's the best camera Nikon ever made, due to it being fully mechanical but with good specs, and built like a tank like all F-series Nikons. I still shoot it all the time, and then scan the negs. The F3 wasn't all that much better in my opinion, and required a battery, and past that you get the AF and different exposure modes, but I don't use any of that stuff. You could argue that the F2 required a battery for the meter, but I don't keep one in mine, because I prefer a handheld spot meter anyway.

Yep, my F2 is still fully operational, but I'm in the boonies and film is a mail order deal from here, so why bother?  Since it's going digital, I decided to ride the farking horse in the direction he wants to go.

But you and I agree, the F2 really was the pinnacle of the Nikon F series, fully interchangeable everything, two motor drives, countless finders, etc.  It was and is a great syste ...


I'd like to go digital eventually, but I'm poor, and non-AI Nikkor lenses are super-cheap nowadays. A few years ago I spent around $125 on eBay, and picked up some of the lenses I'd always wanted but could never afford, and replaced a few that I used to have, but had sold for one reason or other. They're mine for good now.
 
2014-05-09 06:12:21 PM  

Scrotastic Method: Slaxl: Scrotastic Method: Megapixels are nothing. They're maybe the single worst metric to evaluate a digital camera, and the more you have -- generally -- the worse your image will be.

/still shoots on a first-gen 5D

I've never understood this, but I'm very much not an expert in photography, but I'd like to understand.

There are two reasons the MP war is silly.

The first is simple practicality: you can take a picture that will print at 4x6 at film-quality on something like a 3 megapixel camera. A film-quality 8x10 is a little over 7MP. Larger images are really unnecessary for 99% of users. If you're shooting for print, or a billboard, then yeah, you want a huge file. But for digital-only stuff that never leaves your PC, or for printing a photo the size of a photo, everything on the market is overkill.

The second reason is more scientific and is what I mentioned above. The "megapixel" rating describes the camera's sensor, the chip behind the lens that records light data. Each "pixel" in this regard is itself a very small sensor, and just like bytes, "mega" here roughly means a million. So there are millions upon millions of sensors packed on these chips...and the more of these sensors you try to pack on to a chip the smaller they need to be, so they don't perform as well as they should.

For example, I shoot a first-gen Canon 5D, like I mentioned. One of the reasons I chose that camera is its full-frame sensor, which is physically larger than any consumer-targeted camera, which means the sensors are a bit larger and therefore work with less noise and less bad data being generated...which helps make a better quality of image when compared to a camera with a smaller sensor, even at a comparable megapixel rating.

I may have gotten some verbiage or science a bit off up there, but it's all broken down pretty well here -- you'll note their chart of relative sensor sizes. And here's a less scientific article. Bigger is better when it comes to the sensor, just not the ...


Thanks for the response. So am I just getting confused because in my experience with only phone cameras, it just so happens that in those particular instances more megapixels did make them better, but that's not always the case?
 
2014-05-09 06:36:58 PM  

Safari Ken: bmwericus:

Yep, my F2 is still fully operational, but I'm in the boonies and film is a mail order deal from here, so why bother?  Since it's going digital, I decided to ride the farking horse in the direction he wants to go.

But you and I agree, the F2 really was the pinnacle of the Nikon F series, fully interchangeable everything, two motor drives, countless finders, etc.  It was and is a ...

I'd like to go digital eventually, but I'm poor, and non-AI Nikkor lenses are super-cheap nowadays. A few years ago I spent around $125 on eBay, and picked up some of the lenses I'd always wanted but could never afford, and replaced a few that I used to have, but had sold for one reason or other. They're mine for good now.


Yep, I took advantage of the low prices on old, lightly Primes to fill out my lens assortment - feels like recycling those great classics.  I only wish I had room for all of them.  Since I've ALWAYS manually focused, I really don't miss the AF system at all.  And with RAW, I can fully ignore the camera pre-sets and just shoot.  Keep your eyes on the used market, I'll bet that some of the early Df adopters are going to be dumping them soon enough and it would feel totally natural to you as an F2 user.  Until then, I'm sure you F2 will soldier on unless you drop it in the ocean and can't retrieve it...
 
2014-05-09 06:48:45 PM  

bmwericus: Safari Ken: bmwericus:

Yep, my F2 is still fully operational, but I'm in the boonies and film is a mail order deal from here, so why bother?  Since it's going digital, I decided to ride the farking horse in the direction he wants to go.

But you and I agree, the F2 really was the pinnacle of the Nikon F series, fully interchangeable everything, two motor drives, countless finders, etc.  It was and is a ...

I'd like to go digital eventually, but I'm poor, and non-AI Nikkor lenses are super-cheap nowadays. A few years ago I spent around $125 on eBay, and picked up some of the lenses I'd always wanted but could never afford, and replaced a few that I used to have, but had sold for one reason or other. They're mine for good now.

Yep, I took advantage of the low prices on old, lightly Primes to fill out my lens assortment - feels like recycling those great classics.  I only wish I had room for all of them.  Since I've ALWAYS manually focused, I really don't miss the AF system at all.  And with RAW, I can fully ignore the camera pre-sets and just shoot.  Keep your eyes on the used market, I'll bet that some of the early Df adopters are going to be dumping them soon enough and it would feel totally natural to you as an F2 user.  Until then, I'm sure you F2 will soldier on unless you drop it in the ocean and can't retrieve it...


I fell in a lake once with my F, and it came out in better shape than I did. I sold that camera for rent money at some point, and I felt terrible about that, so I bought the F2 to console myself. I considered the F2 as the same camera, but with the bugs worked out (like the removable back). I learned my lesson though, so my F2 will stay with me forever.

Even with my AF/AE cameras, I use them full manual. I actually feel sorta bad sometimes, shooting my EOS 1 and other modern SLR's that I own or have owned. I'm like, here I have this super-advanced professional SLR, and I'm flat ignoring all its advanced features. I might as well be shooting large format, I tell myself. And I do sometimes, but damn that's expensive nowadays.

Nice to meet another camera geek, by the way. :-)
 
2014-05-09 07:00:39 PM  

Slaxl: Thanks for the response. So am I just getting confused because in my experience with only phone cameras, it just so happens that in those particular instances more megapixels did make them better, but that's not always the case?


What's more likely is that your first camera phone was a total dog, and then phone makers realized the camera could be a selling tool instead of a bonus feature, so they invested more money in better internals and a lens that's more than just the bare minimum to be called functional. Internals get better over time, too. So the tech in a camera phone evolved and manufacturers started paying attention to it. The quality, though, almost certainly comes down to the lens, software, and how nice of a chip they paid to put in there. It's not a purely MP thing.

Think of it like this: megapixels in a picture is like decibels in sound. Would you buy one stereo over another just because it could reach 300 decibels when the other only did 250? No, because at either volume you're gonna be deaf. You'll never need that amount of noise. And going by decibels, you have no idea how good the thing would sound. Very nice electronics and speakers can easily make the quieter system sound a lot better. That's what's up with megapixels -- they're a rating that's not directly related to quality, only capacity, and more is often worse.
 
2014-05-09 07:00:46 PM  
I have to admit, I'm a little surprised they didn't mention the Canon AE-1, given it was the first camera with a microprocessor.

/Still have mine.
 
2014-05-09 07:31:32 PM  

Slaxl: Scrotastic Method: Megapixels are nothing. They're maybe the single worst metric to evaluate a digital camera, and the more you have -- generally -- the worse your image will be.

/still shoots on a first-gen 5D

I've never understood this, but I'm very much not an expert in photography, but I'd like to understand.

I do a lot of travelling and need pictures for work, so when I got a new phone last year it was a toss up between the Samsung Galaxy S4 and the HTC One. The HTC one famously had a much lower megapixel count, whilst Samsung keep pushing theirs up. Everyone said "megapixels don't matter", so I didn't want to decide based on that alone. I waited for example pictures to be uploaded by comparison websites, side by side with the same picture, and it was clear the Galaxy was vastly better than the One. I still don't understand why everyone acted like it was close, the detail the S4 got was much better than the HTC phone.

Megapixels were what I judged it on, and I'm glad I did, because it worked out great. Having more megapixels clearly made it a better camera.

But like I say, I don't really know what I'm talking about, so I would appreciate being told if I'm getting it all terribly wrong.


As megapixels go up, the size of each pixel on a sensor goes down. As there's a finite amount of light for a picture, each pixel gets less light. To achieve a workable picture, you need to amplify the signal from those pixels. Amplification means noise. There's algorithms to reduce that noise though, but those require sometimes complex processing.

Also just about all camera phones don't let you play with the settings too much, and do everything for you. One of those pictures could have been (camera decided) ISO 800 with a 1/160 shutter at F/2.8, the other (better one) could have been ISO 200 with 1/30 at F/8 and a really steady hand.

/Sony Alpha 55 with 35mm/1.8 prime lens, 18-55mm/4.5 kit lens and 55-200mm/4.5 zoom lens.
//I'm definitely not a pro, but it works well enough for my needs.
///Seen only one other Alpha out in the wild.
 
2014-05-09 09:33:32 PM  
I always thought film was about 100 megapixels.

Also, with some smaller cameras, isn`t the pixel size getting smaller than the wavelength of the light you a trying to capture?
 
2014-05-09 10:40:22 PM  
I still prefer analog photography, it's just how I roll.
 
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