Canon's resolution challenge

Discussion in 'Canon EOS' started by dan_south, Aug 10, 2013.

  1. I'm going to discuss speculative topics in this post. The purpose is not to speculate, but rather to ponder the technical and marketing challenges that Canon engineers will have to address as they design new high-end DSLR models.
    If Canon decides to produce a still camera with higher resolution than the 22 MP 5D Mark III, it's interesting to ponder what their video options might be.
    Would the camera shoot 4k video? If so, it would almost certainly cannibalize the market for the expensive 1Dc Cinema Camera.
    Would the camera shoot raw video like the Black Magic video cameras (except with a much larger sensor than the tiny ones that Black Magic uses)? This camera would be extremely appealing to the film and television industry, but again, it would probably hurt sales of the 1Dc.
    Or would Canon fit the camera with the same compressed 2k video formats that are available in their cheap Rebel models? That would seem like a let down for a camera with (potentially) state of the art still resolution.
    Of course, the big question in still photography is whether Canon can develop a sensor with enough dynamic range to match the best Sony-manufactured sensors.
    Each of these choices represents significant design challenges. It will be interesting to see what type of body they decide to release next.
     
  2. Doesn't the 1D C shoot 4K video? You don't need more pixels to shoot 4k.
    We'll see, but I think they'll leave 4k to the pros and not bring it to their pro-sumer bodies for another 3 years or so, unless super high rez monitors take off in popularity, then there'll be a rush to satisfy the need.
    I doubt that Canon is worried about Sony. The 1D X blows everything Sony makes into the weeds when it comes to AF, high-ISO performance and practical file quality. Could Canon make a body aimed at landscape photographers, yes, but I doubt they see that as a big market vs. the overall market for cameras with decent resolution and great AF and responsiveness.
    I'm curious to see the tests of the new 70D sensor. The DPReview images compare favorably to the prior generation, but it's not quite up to the full-frame 5D3; however, when applied to a full-frame sensor, the gap might be closed and even advanced. It really moved their crop-sensor IQ at high ISO forward a step or two.
    Canon has devoted a lot of resources to the professional video. I haven't looked at Nikon and Sony's video oriented lines, but Canon's is broad and deep with professional bodies and lenses. Are you talking about consumer, or something else?
     
  3. The resolution for 4K video is less than nine megapixels. The challenge isn't in creating a sensor with sufficient resolution, it's in equipping the camera with a processor that can handle the demands of processing and storing at least 24 high-resolution frames per second for an extended length of time.
     
  4. Doesn't the 1D C shoot 4K video? You don't need more pixels to shoot 4k.​
    I didn't suggest that 4k needed more pixels. I was talking about customer expectations and market cannibalization.
    If Canon announces a High MP camera with the same video features that go into a Rebel, people will complain. If they put 4k (or raw video capture) into this theoretical camera, 1Dc sales will drop. That's one of the dilemmas that Canon will have to face when designing their Next Big Thing DSLR.
    I doubt that Canon is worried about Sony. The 1D X blows everything Sony makes into the weeds when it comes to AF, high-ISO performance and practical file quality.​
    I'll have to disagree with that statement. The D800 has a Sony sensor, a sensor that is regarded by many as highly capable in terms of resolution, noise, and dynamic range. We don't know what sensors Sony has in R&D, but that company didn't get to where it is by sitting on its laurels.
    I agree that Canon's AF is better, but AF is not a sensor feature. The 1D X blows the D800 away in AF and frame rate, but not much else.
     
  5. The D800 has a Sony sensor, a sensor that is regarded by many as highly capable in terms of resolution, noise, and dynamic range.​
    Dan, David's clearly talking about the whole camera, not just the sensor, and he's right - Sony has no camera body to compete with the 1DX.
    And let's be clear about Sony's sensors - they only have a (debatably) worthwhile DR advantage (and here we're only talking about shadow noise - at the other end of the histogram, Sony sensors have nothing special to offer) around base ISO: at and above about 400 ISO, the DR difference between Sony and Canon sensors is irrelevantly small - and in the case of the 1DX, the low ISO DR isn't that far off the Sony sensors anyway.
    The 1D X blows the D800 away in AF and frame rate, but not much else.​
    I'd have the Canon's high ISO performance over the D800's any day of the week, Dan. The reality is that in terms of IQ, your D800 (and I'm not knocking it - great, if limited, camera) has only pixel count and some low ISO shadow DR advantage in its favour over the 1DX.
     
  6. The 5DM3 by it's self has the sensor to handle 4K video today
    Resolutions of common formats

    FormatResolutionDisplay aspect ratioPixels
    4K Ultra high definition television 3840 × 2160 1.78:1 8,294,400
    Digital Cinema Initiatives 4k (native resolution) 4096 × 2160 1.90:1 (256:135) 8,847,360
    DCI 4K (CinemaScope cropped) 4096 × 1714 2.39:1 7,020,544
    DCI 4K (flat cropped) 3996 × 2160 1.85:1 8,631,360
    Academy 4K (storage format) 3656 × 2664 1.37:1 9,739,584
    Full aperture 4K (storage format) 4096 × 3112 1.32:1 12,746,752
    The 5DMIII today has a 5760 x 3840 sensor, so well within the high end of 4K
    What it doesn't have is the processor and memory to handle data rates generated by 4K video. The Canon 1DC has dual Digic 5+ processors to handle the data streams. The C100, C300 have a DV III processor. The 5DMIII has a single Digic 5+ processor.
    It seems logical that Canon will over time support 4K cameras starting with this high end and working their way down as the component prices drop to where it makes sense. This isn't an overnight process, there's a LOT of infrastructure out there that needs to change
    • How many of us have 4K monitors today?
    • How many of us have video cards that can handle 4K monitors today?
    • How many of us have the amount of memory needed to handle editing 4K video
    • How many of us have the storage that's fast enough
    I have some of the boxes above checked, but not all
     
  7. Dan said:
    I agree that Canon's AF is better, but AF is not a sensor feature. The 1D X blows the D800 away in AF and frame rate, but not much else.​
    It's probably not fair to compare a pro camera to a consumer camera, but you seem intent on doing so. Raise the ISO and the 1D X's sensor blows away the D800's sensor. Nikon has built a "nice" camera for people that can take their time, use low to moderate ISOs and don't have a use for high fps. Competing with the D800, Canon has the 5D MkIII, which also includes a wonderful AF system and 6-fps. The 1D X allows incredibly high ISO so that the photographer can chose a shutter speed that stops action and not worry about file quality.
    It's about priorities. Increase pixel-density and you slow the camera down and reduce its file quality as higher ISO. All this is changing really fast. Canon's new sensor in its 70D is just one example. On DPReview you can see that it blows away the 7D's sensor at higher ISO. Three years from now, all the cameras mentioned will have better sensors and the compromises will have decreased, but there will still be compromises.
    The 5D MkII proved that video pros will turn to a consumer camera for professional projects, but I think that "reasonably priced" pro video cameras, like the 1D C, is pulling the pros back to the higher end. Still, students and others that can't afford $13,000, yet, will use consumer cameras for their video projects. I wonder how many will shoot in 4k, even if it's readily available. I'd love to see the format succeed and bring down the cost of monitors so that I can show my 5+k file stills on a big screen.
     
  8. Disclaimer - I haven't used a 1 DX. Perhaps its noise quality is far superior to the 5D Mark III. The 5D3 and the D800 are roughly in the same ballpark with regard to noise. Typically, I need to apply a bit MORE noise reduction in post to the Canon images, which I find surprising.

    I own and use both brands and love them dearly. - Sony cameras are not competitive, IMO, and I have no interest in discussing their relative merits. - The 5D Mark II was the most productive camera that I have ever owned. So, I hold no animosity against Canon gear.
    That said, shadow noise is the Achilles' heel of the 5D series. To dismiss Sony's superiority in this regard is tantamount to
    ignoring the fact that Canon will have to improve in order to remain competitive.

    Canon is superior to Nikon in video technology at this point (maybe forever). And that is the focus of my original post. If
    Canon wants to make a higher MP camera, do they invite criticism by endowing it with mundane video capabilities? Or
    should they add cutting edge video features and let sales of the 1D C drop? Black Magic has delivered raw video for the masses. Canon needs to keep up.

    I find this to be a fascinating quandary. If I were to speculate, my guess is that the video features will remain conservative due
    to the physical demands of 4k processing (heat sinks, memory, etc.). But anything is possible. BM has demonstrated that raw video can be captured inexpensively at 2.5k. The longer it takes to introduce Canon's next flagship camera, the greater the likelihood that it will contain impressive video features.
     
  9. <<<It's probably not fair to compare a pro camera to a consumer camera>>>

    Marketing jargon. Not helpful in a serious discussion of engineering features. We're not discussing Rebels here.
    Professional photographers use D800s every day.
     
  10. Pros use the 5D MkIII every day, but it's not in the same league as the 1D X in things like shutter life, AF speed and accuracy, ability to manhandle big lenses with 2.0X TC attached, high ISO performance, general build, weather proofing etc. Nikon also has "pro" cameras with the same types of feature improvements. Many pros make do with the lesser models because they don't think that they can afford the pro models, OR they don't need the features.
    You can replace the shutter on your 5D3 if you wear it out. If you don't shoot wildlife or sports, then it's AF will likely be good enough. If you don't shoot sports indoors, then the high-ISO performance of the 5D3 will be good enough. Still, there are real differences between cameras labeled "pro" and the consumer models. Not all pros need the features of pro camera, but many do.
     
  11. BTW, is anyone really shooting 4k video now? How do they use it? Do they archive it like we do our full rez stills, in case they have a use for it in the future?
    With our stills, we can at least show them as a huge print. I don't really know where 4k video is going. I know that several manufacturers are bringing much higher rez monitors to market, but I haven't seen much evidence of market penetration. Is anyone seeing something happening in the real world?
     
  12. Many pros make do with the lesser models because they don't think that they can afford the pro models, OR they don't need the features.​

    Or because they NEED the features that only a D800 can offer, or they need the resolution and size/weight advantage of the 5DIII. Joe McNally and Dave Black can shoot with any camera they choose. They own D4 and D3s bodies, but they also use the D800. If the D4 did everything that they needed, they wouldn't bother to bring that "lesser" "consumer" camera along on jobs.

    This whole notion of professional/non-professional cameras is just silly. One could use the same argument to imply that anything less than a 60MP camera is not professional. The person doing the shooting is the professional, not the camera. Galen Rowell famously used 'hobbyist' cameras such as the N80 and N90s for some of his assignments. His work somehow managed to get published and gain recognition.
     
  13. "Professional" describes a camera of a certain build quality, endurance, general functionality that's not in the "Consumer" cameras of the same manufacturer. We all know what it means, so there's no need to play coy. It doesn't mean that a pro can't make a living without a pro camera.
    Your focus on pixel count seems strange. The 1D X is only 18MP, but a pro sports or wildlife photographer, that can afford it, will much prefer it over a D800. Still, he or she might also own a D800 and use it in certain circumstances.
    I say that the "Professional" designation, at least with Canon, is way more than a simple marketing designation. There are real life differences in performance that will matter to many, but not all, pros.
     
  14. The D800 does not compete with the 1Dx range, the D4 does. Its Canon competitor is the 5D3.
    Lots of apples and oranges in this discussion.
    The D800/5D3 are not sports cameras. Neither are they designed for that. They are designed for shooting things that move slowly or not at all...like portraits and landscapes. Birding is sort of out to the side...in between the two. Their requirements are almost unique.
    The reason that p[roper video cameras are a much better bet for video's is BECAUSE they have small sensors, so the data paths have smaller files to process. The whole idea of buying a DSLR for video, specially 4k, is sub-optimal at best and a marketing con at worst.
    If one looks at the cost of one of the above cameras at $3k, you can buy a fully pro, digital video camera and do the job properly in the first place.
    I am in the ad industry and take it from me, no professional video photographer that we know uses a DSLR for professional video. That leaves the prosumer sector and though they might want to, a $700 Sony digital video camera will do a far, far better job.
     
  15. The D800/5D3 are not sports cameras. Neither are they designed for that. They are designed for shooting things that move slowly or not at all...like portraits and landscapes.​
    I'd very happily use the 5D Mk III for sport - its AF, and much else about its design, are very much geared towards fast moving subject matter.
    The gear requirements of bird and sport photography (I do both) are very close, and what works for one works for the other; the 5D Mk III is actually the first FF camera I've ever seriously considered owning, precisely because it will do the job so well.
     
  16. I'm with Keith, the Canon 5D MkIII is an incredibly versatile camera. Canon chose different compromises for the 5D MkIII vs. Nikon's compromises for the D800. I wouldn't worry about Canon's sensor technology. The 5D3's has the pixel-density it has so that it can be both a landscape and a sports camera. It's also very good with super-telephotos and wildlife.
    The 1D X carries the pixel-density compromise to another extreme, allowing incredible high-ISO performance and extremely fast file processing speed, thanks partly to a second processor, but also a carbon fiber mirror chassis, etc., etc. The 1D X is almost a no compromise camera, except if you want 4k video, you'll need to spring for the 1D C and if you want the ultimate in color depth, then you'll need to move to medium format.
     
  17. Oh - and this:
    no professional video photographer that we know uses a DSLR for professional video​
    Whole episodes of top TV programmes like House have been "filmed" with Canon DSLRs.
    That's professional enough for most of us.
    Or how about Captain America, Iron Man II, Black Swan, 24?
    http://canon5d.wonderhowto.com/inspiration/canons-5d-mark-ii-invades-hollywood-0129387/
    I don't work in the ad industry, but I do pay attention to what's happening out there..!
    ;0)
     
  18. The last time I was in London, a few years ago, I saw a bunch of press photographers standing in a specially designated area outside of the main entrance to the Palace of Westminster (the home of the British parliament). The Nikon shooters carried a mix of D3 and D700 bodies. The Canon guys each had two 5D Mark II bodies. I didn't see a single 1D-series camera in the group.
    Knowing what I have learned about "professional cameras" from this discussion, I should have yelled out to those "consumers" with their substandard D700s and 5D2s to move out of the way so that the "professionals" with the D3s could take photos of the Prime Minister and other dignitaries. Opportunity lost. Yet another embarrassment for the British Empire. (Okay, just kidding on that last bit.)
     
  19. The Canon guys only brought what they needed for the situation. In a more challenging situation, they would have pulled out their "professional" 1D MkIVs.
     
  20. I've got to admit, I find Francisco's comment about no pros using DSLRs very odd. There's *tons* of examples of pros using them for TV shows, movies, pretty much anything. The ability to shoot in low light, achieve shallow depth of field, and mount the smaller SLRs in places where the older and much larger cams couldn't go has made them very popular. Here's one more example:
    http://philipbloom.net/2010/05/12/redtails/
     
  21. David, I thought the same thing. I'm wondering where he's been. For some, small files might be an "advantage", as he suggests, but not the pros that want the very best IQ. The processors can now handle the data. That's just the point and why HD video came out of full-frame DSLRs. It's no spreading to dedicated video cameras. Yes, you have to make adjustments in your post processing power, but most of us are already doing that for our still shooting.
     

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