Sunday Musings: Sony's hypothetical A9 and megapixels

Discussion in 'Mirrorless Digital Cameras' started by kdghantous, May 14, 2016.

  1. "Zu schön für unsere Ohren, und gewaltig viel Noten, lieber Mozart!" - A compliment to Mozart, attributed to Emperor Joseph II, usually mistranslated.

    So we have a camera rumoured from Sony that will pretty much crush, kill and destroy anything else on the market with a 36x24mm sensor, save for the Leica M (which is a completely different camera type). Have a look at a recent report:

    Two features stand out. One great, one not so great: unlimited RAW burst; and a 72Mpx sensor. 72Mpx? Really? This does not make sense to me for several reasons.

    Image quality does not depend only on the number of photosites on a sensor. The Leica Q (24Mpx) delivers better image quality, from what I have seen on DPReview, than either the Sony RX1rII (42Mpx) or the Nikon D810 (36Mpx). I would buy none of these cameras, BTW. But my point is that if you really want a higher photosite density, you really have a lot of work cut out for you. Leica has, IMHO, the most intelligent philosophy when it comes to sensors.

    And what will 72Mpx files do to your system? I think the files from the Sony A7 are manageable on a modest computer with about 8GB of RAM (or an SSD). But 72Mpx is three times the pixel count (NB: not double the resolution). The camera itself can - and has to - handle that data. But I'm not convinced that this increase in file size is the smartest thing in terms of storage, back-ups, etc.

    Now, for the positive aspects. For deliverables, you could probably scale the exported files down to 24Mpx or even 12Mpx, depending on what your client or recipient expects. You could look at the camera's native resolution as extra headroom in case you need to heavily crop an image. And even if a lens is soft, a 72Mpx file will enlarge better than a 12Mpx file.

    I think I'd trade some of those photosites for some extra sensitivity. But, then again, the camera is not aimed at me anyway. Thoughts?
  2. I struggle with increasing file sizes too, but maybe we're just not thinking the right way.
    Resolution will simply continue its increase until it's no longer practical. What was once digital medium format territory is now commonplace in amateur cameras, and there are now 10K televisions just when we thought 1080p was enough.
    As long as the price of entry stays about the same, I see no reason to reject any technological advancements which will make our experiences incrementally better.
  3. It sounds very interesting, but it will be priced at a level such that I won't be able to even think about getting one. It's all about spending priorities in my case.
    I don't see the file size as being that big of a problem. When I first started doing a lot of post processing to my digital images, I was working with raw files from a 10.1mp Canon. And in order to preserve as much detail as possible, I was converting the images to tiff files, plus I was also scanning film images to .tif format. Now as you probably know, .tif is not a lossy format and the files can be huge. Many of the images I was working with were upwards of 100MB each. But when I saw how little of a difference there was between .tif files and .jpg's set to maximum sharpness levels, I stopped working so much with .tif files. Also I discovered Photoshop's raw file converter and saw all the controls it has, so I've just been doing much more in post to the raw files and don't even bother with .tif anymore. I archive the raw files anyway, and I find the size of the raw files to be quite compact, really, considering that they hold all the image information.
    For the past couple of years, I've been shooting with a Sony NEX 7. It's 24.3mp sensor, which is the same size numerically as that found in the A7 and A7II (but greater when it comes to pixel density because of its APS-C format), is plenty big enough for my purposes in most cases, but more to the point, the file sizes that it produces, especially the raw ones, are still easily manageable. Triple the file size and it still shouldn't impact my post processing all that much. I have a reasonably fast laptop with 8GB of RAM and I often work with as many as a dozen or more NEX files open at the same time in my processing software without difficulties. Nonetheless, like you, I'm more concerned about crowding the sensor and possible image degradation that may occur as a result of ever increasing pixel density. Especially noise being introduced at higher ISOs.
    Sooner or later the trend toward ever greater sensor resolutions will taper off, and may even reverse (it already has with Canon's G-series P&S cameras and even with Samsung's Galaxy smartphones), but it would seem that such a date is likely still a ways off. But the trend toward cheaper and cheaper digital storage capacities also shows no signs of lessening. Recently I have been buying fast 32gb SD cards for less than $10 each. In fact, what I've begun to do, since I archive the raw files only, is to just buy more memory cards and leave the images on the cards as they fill up. I don't have any information yet as to file longevity as they are stored on memory cards, but I'll wager it is at least as good as consumer-grade DVDs. Another option, which ends up being quite a bit cheaper per GB of storage, is to just buy SATA hard drives for archival storage. When I can buy a 3TB drive for as little as $70, the economics are certainly there.
  4. o we have a camera rumoured from Sony that will pretty much crush, kill and destroy anything else on the market with a 36x24mm sensor, save for the Leica M (which is a completely different camera type). Have a look at a recent report:

    Them is mighty big words, pilgrim.

    I have a Leica M9 but use a Sony A7Rii for superior image quality and versatility. If something is to be "crushed," digital Ms probably belong belong on the list too. However if someone really wants to use a Leica, it won't matter anyway.

    It's always fun to guess what the next latest-and-greatest Sony (or any other brand) will be. Until Sony releases it, the details will be locked in the most secure location possible, and those in the know are sworn to secrecy. The following list includes items for which Sony is often criticized...
    • Faster (12+) continuous shooting speed.
    • Larger (or unlimited) buffer. The A7Rii stops cold when the buffer is filled. A Nikon will continue to shoot, but at a slower pace.
    • Better weather resistance. I've used my Nikon D3 in a drizzle. No way would I do that with a Sony A7Rii - too many cracks.
    • Dual memory cards (suspenders and a belt)
    • Split models between lower MP (e.g. 24) for speed and high ISO, and higher MP (42+) for studio, architecture and landscapes. The A7Sii is marginal at 12.3 MP, except for video.
    • Improve focusing speed and tracking, to compete with flagship Nikon and Canon cameras. Could be as simple as a firmware change.
    • Larger body and vertical grip for better control with heavy lenses.
    • Live view during high speed shooting. If you can do it for video, why not for stills?
  5. (short chubby guy with red goatee)
    Sounds more like TooLoose Lotrek than Sony's secret photographer wandering about in the park
  6. Personally, I think "joy stick" control of the focusing spot is overrated. I have it on my Nikon, but rarely use it, and then mostly for taking repeated shots of a particular subject without the need to focus and re-compose. For action? I seriously doubt its effectiveness on the fly. There are other options that usually work better, such as face and eye recognition.
    I get pretty much the same effect by programming the center button on the 4-way. Press it once to access the variable spot and use the 4-way to adjust the position. Press any other button, including the shutter release, to lock it in.
  7. a camera rumoured from Sony that will pretty much crush, kill and destroy anything else on the market​
    sorry, had to chuckle at this.
    The Leica Q (24Mpx) delivers better image quality, from what I have seen on DPReview, than either the Sony RX1rII (42Mpx) or the Nikon D810 (36Mpx).​
    This seems pretty subjective, and not backed up by professional testing. Both the Sony and the Nikon actually achieve much higher overall scores on DXOMark. The Leica Q is rated at just #29 overall, and a woeful #68 for "landscape." I think the reason to get a Leica Q is for 28mm aficionados who need to print very large and shoot handheld; most people would be just as happy with a Ricoh GR or even a Nikon Coolpix A.
    The problem with an action camera with a 72mp sensor is that that much resolution is total overkill. Sports pros who have to transmit files for publication during an event could get frustrated with transfer times. Currently, pro sports cameras are less than 24mp, raising the question of why this would even be needed.
    For deliverables, you could probably scale the exported files down to 24Mpx or even 12Mpx, depending on what your client or recipient expects.​
    So, you are suggesting here that a 24mp or 12mp file will be the final result. Doesn't that defeat the purpose of a 72mp sensor?

    I do agree that a Sony body with improved tracking AF, dual memory slots, weather-sealing and fast frame rate could be an interesting alternative to a D5 or a 1Dx. But i dont think it would have to be 72mp, maybe not even 24mp.
  8. Downsampling for delivery is a practical necessity in many cases. Does it defeat the purpose of 72MP (or 42 MP)? Probably, but not entirely. I somewhat arbitrarily downsample most images to about 9 MP, an 8"x 12" image at 300 dpi. That's large enough to assess details and larger than most will get printed in a newsletter, brochure or program. The smaller image takes far less time to upload and download, and much less space for storage (for the client). They're twice as large as needed for viewing on most computers or an iOS device.
    I let the client know that higher resolution images are available if needed. That happens fairly frequently when they want to crop and enlarge a small portion for use in some graphics, or to print a poster. A few have been printed 16"x 24" for wall hanging, so it's nice to have medium format quality when you need it.
    Downsampling will usually preserve more detail than a lower resolution original, but upsampling will never create detail that wasn't there. When working to please others, or even yourself, it is better to have better quality than you need, than the least you can get by with.
    Some applications are judged more for their content than their technical quality, or quick delivery. Photography for active sports and news media are key examples. 20 MP is probably wasted on the page of a newspaper or a TV screen.
    DXO ratings must be interpreted carefully. Like Consumer Reports, they consider several parameters, and weight them when producing their ratings. You have to read their entire report and decide which characteristics are more important to you, and how they were measured. Some important characteristics, like color rendition and bokeh, which are precisely why the Leica Q is rated so highly by its users, are not measured at all. Many DXO tests are ad hoc. Lenses, for example, are tested on bodies by the same manufacturer, and can't be directly compared to results from other manufacturers, or even different models from the same manufacturer.
  9. i would still get the Leica Q if it served my purposes, despite DXOMark's ratings. im just saying that it's not the highest-rated camera.
  10. Sony has done a much better job lately introducing lenses native to their e-mount. We'll see where this goes, but for now it's just a rumor. Rumors always sound great.

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