Can digital technology recreate Photography?

Discussion in 'Mirrorless Digital Cameras' started by eric__damn_those_seagulls__cantona|1, Jan 8, 2004.

  1. To get away from head to head battles between the dark angel and the
    people’s dslr for one second…

    I’ve been following the latest developments in medium format backs
    and it seems the way things are going, within five year we will
    have ‘blad backs that could make LF contact prints look pretty
    average. Having been to a major photography exhibition at the
    National Portrait Gallery here in London and eyeing up the amazing LF
    close-up portraits I have realised that perhaps the sheer potential
    for texture, detail and tonality possible in just a few years could
    redefine the photographic art as a whole. Think about it: in a decade
    your average amateur MF shooter could have systems of unprecedented
    photographic power in their hands. Could you image the awesome
    enlargements that would be possible: imaging capabilities that would
    previously only have been open to scientists and the military could
    be in the hands of a well-off amateur.

    p.s. I'm begging you not to bring up "it's the photographer, not the
    camera". This is true to a large extent, but we are talking about a
    photographic revolution here.
  2. If you have a way to make pixels smaller and still have an acceptable tonal range, and or chips bigger without yields falling through the floor and costs going through the cealing, run don't walk to your nearest patent office. Don't even waste your time reading the rest of this post.

    Moore's law only applys to development when the idea is scaleable. I.E. We know how to make smaller pixels, but we don't know how to make smaller pixels that work just as well as big ones. If smaller pixels had the dynamic range of larger ones, you would only have to develop your manufacturing processes to make pixels smaller economically and in higher volumes. But they don't. So now you have to invent a way to make a pixel that works at very small sizes. Not a better way to do what you are already doing but a completely new way to change light to an electrical charge. Someone my have a bathtub experience while I am typing this and 100 years from now we may not know how to get a smaller pixel to work.
  3. "Someone my have a bathtub experience while I am typing this and 100 years from now we may not know how to get a smaller pixel to work."

    Looking at the history of microcircuitry and digital photography over the last three decades, I think most people would concur that the former is far more likely than the latter! Do you seriously think MF digital backs will not exceed LF film quality over the next ten years? Have you read reviews of the awesome new Phase One 22MP back?

    Anyway, let's just make the (not unreasonable) assumption that MF backs will become affordable and better LF image quality over the next decade for the sake of argument.
  4. I think it is much more likely that they will make bigger chips than smaller pixels. I have it on good athority that there are already 100 meg+ single shot chips out there but only your unkle can afford them.

    What I think will stop most of us from seeing a 4x5 single shot back will be the market. It isn't hard to spend a billion plus on a simi conductor factory. I have been through one and the desk size end of line testers cost several times more than my house. It is my understanding that there aren't any high volume factories out there that are tooled up to make large ccds for digital cameras. There wouldn't seem to be much of a reason. As chip size goes up, yields go down. For most applications two chips are as good as one twice as big. It is only photography where you can't put two chips side by side and get the same result.

    If it were practical or economical to build ccds in the 2x3" range, do you think that Olympus would be spending so much money trying to make people believe that they don't need a chip bigger than their thumb nail?

    I suspect most of the people on this forum take photography pretty seriously. I furthar suspect that over half would be happy with the results from a 5 meg SLR. Probably another 30 or 40% would stop at 10 or 12 meg. Many working professionals seem content with 22meg. The market for a camera with a 100 meg chip is probably so small that you could never amortise the tooling.
  5. "Someone my have a bathtub experience while I am typing this and 100 years from now we may not know how to get a smaller pixel to work."
    Looking at the history of microcircuitry and digital photography over the last three decades, I think most people would concur that the former is far more likely than the latter!

    Actually I'm still waiting for nuclear fusion and my flying car. We're a ways closer to the physical (as opposed to technological) limit with pixels than with microcircuitry, though. Hmmm, maybe if we put a negative index plate on the sensor we could get c > cvac thereby reducing the wavelength of light ... or stack a couple of polarization-independent (nonbirefringent) doubling crystals in front of the sensor ... possibilities are endless ...
    Do you seriously think MF digital backs will not exceed LF film quality over the next ten years?
    No clue. Crystal ball's kinda murky tonight.
    Have you read reviews of the awesome new Phase One 22MP back?
    Yep. And I'm looking forward to getting affordable full-frame backs, hopefully before I expire of decrepitude (seriously).
    But to get back to the title of your post, "recreat[ing] Photography" happens all the time. It just takes a little talent behind the camera.
  6. One could just buy a film-type Hasselblad now and 'practice' for the future. When the digital back gets into the same price range of a A12 magazine, then 'recreate' Photography has a chance to take hold.

    If you can scan 120 film to the same scale as 35mm film can be scanned, one would really need to find a bank loan to get a 'now' digital back for the Hasselblad.

    Some boys look for bigger toys.....
  7. "It is only photography where you can't put two chips side by side and get the same

    Why not. This seems like a great idea with the camera software "stitching" the
    resultant, simultaneous images. This is already being done by some cameras and
    cards for sequential exposures. How about arrays of reasonably affordable, high-yield
    chips? ?
  8. There is an interesting review of the Leaf Valeo 22 on

    I'm, however, a bit pessimistic on your assumption. It's not really so much technology as that I don't think the setting "MF and larger is for those who're after high-quality, smaller formats are always enough for snapshooters" is going to change with digital. Most beginners and amateurs will use small cameras and only a few will consider the additional expense and difficulties associated with large cameras. Evne now whan can have a used LF setup for quite reasonable amounts of money, yet I don't see any rush to go get those 4x5" sheets.
  9. I agree with Oskar. Like it or not, technological advance is market-driven. As you get into higher and higher resolution, whether it be film or digital, there exists a rapidly diminishing demand for the products, making research and development and manufacturing unprofitable.

    I'd guess that 95% of photographers (and that includes everyone from the most prolific professionals to the rank amateur occasional snapshooters) don't care about better resolution. The overwhelming majority of photographs never get enlarged past 4x6 inches and very, very few get enlarged past 8x10 inches. In practical terms, that means all 35mm film cameras and many consumer-level digicams have more than enough resolution right now to completely satisfy the needs of almost all the people who take pictures. If there's no desire for bigger prints, there's very little incentive for spending more money on higher resolution. If there are few buyers for high-resolution technology, there is little incentive for manufacturers to develop it further. They will instead put their R&D money towards advances the public wants, like smaller cameras, or features that are easier to use, or lower noise at high ISO to eliminate the need for flash.

    Yes, resolution will likely continue to improve, maybe even to the point where someday you could have a digital P&S with resolution equivalent to MF film. The question is, will enough people be willing to pay for it to make it a worthwhile investment for Canon or Nikon?
  10. Why not. This seems like a great idea with the camera software "stitching" the resultant, simultaneous images.

    A big problem is the gap between the chips. Many astronomical imaging systems defeat this by taking multiple images and moving the optics slightly each time. Then the gap falls in different parts of the image each time and you can combine the individual images in register.

    What a strange world that would be; hand-holding at half a second to get sharper pictures..... :)

  11. I don't think we have to wait that long to see which direction it's going. If Canon announces a camera which superceeds the 1Ds (which I doubt) then it's going pixelwise. If more versions of the DRebel come out... well...

    I think it's completely futile to argue one way or another. We don't hold the data, the facts and the figures that the major camera corps do and we can't tell the future.
  12. I agree that a two chip system would inevitibly have some sort of gap. But if incorporated into a sort of film/sensor plane image stablization system, the two sensors, theoretically could make the quick move to of set this. then the image could be stiched in the cameras processor. The draw back to this would include slower top shutter speeds (say 1/500), a top end of about 1 frame per 3 seconds, weight, and heat(again all theory). Although technology in the mass market, is market driven. manufacturers also look at each others press releases. If nikons press release says that they have such a camera that has been tested and is working, canon will try to make a better model. Even if they don't intent to sell it on a wide scale. This(not pleading for what I want) is the fuel of progress.
  13. What is conceivable can happen...there is a flaw in this somewhere,when you look at history of technology. We should have a moon base already, and a colony on Mars. But never mind that. "Could you imagine the awesome enlargements that would be possible.." you ask rhetorically. Well, awesome enlargements are possible right now with 35mm film, and will be with digital techniques as soon as a HDTV standard is in place, its always 'politics' or market forces, eh what?. The major thing I see in the digital revolution is a real resurrection in interest in photography as a part of everyday lifestyle. And no one will need the slide projector or the album. Yesterday, I glanced over next table at Starbucks where a young lady was displaying her album from her PowerBook. Wow. Backlit transparencies were always the most desirable form of viewing images. Now its in the hands of the volks and not the expert. And I am happy,because after reading books and studying this craft for a lot of years, I am glad to see it become less a ritual than a freedom for the creative mind. Got an idea, you can do it. What is conceivable can happen, or- make it work in photoshop. That's my take,Eric,Gerry damn the seagulls(?)so why, Siegel. Be well, eat prunes and dry figs.
  14. I thought digital WAS photography - no recreation necessary!

    Photography is the recording of light. There is no "chemical" between "photo" and

    If you meant to ask if digital photography can recreate photochemical photography,
    then obviously not. Digital is photoelectric photography.

    In a decade I'd be surprised if MF sales are more than one tenth what they are today.
  15. My intention on this thread was not to start an electronic engineering technical discussion on the feasibility of extremely high resolution cameras in the next decade, but to explore how such a (relatively reasonable) scenario could change photography.

    Photography is a technical art, like it or not, and film format, resolution etc do heavily affect the final image produced. The point I was trying to make is that perhaps extremely high resolution digital cameras may resurrect old or produce completely new artistic trends in photography.

    To be honest this is probably the wrong forum to have posted on...
  16. I'm not sure if I get this one.

    The main attraction of fine art LF/MF photography is not the raw resolution of the film. It's the aethestic nature of how large pieces of film reproduce on conventional media. You could produce a 500 megapixel sensor for $100 and it still wouldn't look like LF Tri-X or Velvia and film pundits would still whine about it. The attraction of large format images in art galleries is not due to simple raw resolution.

    One you start getting beyond 5-6mpx the quality of the sensor has a bigger play over just raw sensor density.

    I do agree that improving sensor technology will allow consumers into areas of image quality and reproduction than Fuji and Kodak haven't previously allowed with the dismal qualitu of their consumer films and photo-finishing. However, I don't see anything changing much in the high end arena since many scanning backs already exceed the reproduction capabiity of LF film.
  17. Eric, I'm sorry that my answer wasn't what you had in mind, but the way you phrased
    your question was "Subject: Can digital technology recreate Photography?", and I
    believe that I responded to that.

    Film technology has stagnated in a serious way. The last true revolution in film, in my
    opinion, was Fujichrome Velvia. They came out with that more than a decade ago.
    Digital technology, however, seems to leapfrog itself all the time. The real revolution
    in digital is just beginning, and even now a good digital camera produces far more
    accurate color than any film. What remains to be done? Increase the resolution and
    dynamic range! Any artistic movement that is spurred by Digital will be rooted in the
    fact that folks don't need an enormous investment in equipment, space, and
    chemicals to equal or exceed the imaging possibility of a traditional darkroom. All
    they need is a reasonably recent computer and some time to learn how to use image
    editing software. THIS is what will allow any artistic revolution which may be yet
    coming to blast off, not mere megapixels.

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