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Author Topic: The End is Nigh for APS-C...Maybe  (Read 17288 times)

DarkPenguin

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The End is Nigh for APS-C...Maybe
« Reply #20 on: February 17, 2009, 11:51:25 am »

Go back to Massachusetts, comrade!

I'm filling the empty hole inside me with cameras.  Need to spend my 401k and IRAs before they drop to $0.  Might be time to buy another guitar.  I think you can actually pick the rosewood tree they'll kill in brazil for your fretboard!  Those guys could use the cash, too.
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fike

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The End is Nigh for APS-C...Maybe
« Reply #21 on: February 17, 2009, 11:56:02 am »

Quote from: professorgb
None of the following rant is a criticism of the OP or any of the kind folks who have responded to his post.  Rather, it is a request to revise our thinking about this issue.

Missing in all this  discussion is the question of why we need to continue purchasing new cameras.  Whether or not "the end is nigh for APS-C," you have to ask yourself how many cameras you need to buy.  Are you happy with the image your camera produces?  What would cause you to be so unhappy with your camera that you would need to replace it?

I'm going to beat a drum here, so please bear with me.  The economy is a sinkhole that is growing larger.  The average person is losing more economic ground than at any time in recent memory.  At the same time, we are ruining our environment.  Nobody knows this better than nature/environmental photographers who have documented the changes.  Every time we buy a new camera body, we create tremendous waste.  Even a 10 MP camera can produce beautiful images that can be enlarged far better than our old 35mm negatives could produce.  Why do most of us need a new camera body?

Because we're trying to keep up with the Jones family.  Because our camera manufacturers keep producing cameras that are only marginally better, but tell us that our old cameras can't do the job any more.

Come on, now.  I have an AE1 that is still working just fine.  I don't use it because of expense and environmental concerns.  But--and here's the point--it's 20 years old and still working as well as the day I bought it.

Unless you're a working professional--and many of us are--you simply don't need to keep buying new cameras.  And, even pros don't need them as often as we might think.  Sure, we put much more wear on a body than the average Joe or Jolene shooter, but we can still repair a shutter or a view screen.  I have colleagues using old 1-series Canons who still produce amazing work.

To answer the basic question here:  Buy the 10-22.  It's a fabulous lens, and you'll wonder how you got along without a true wide angle lens.  Then, use it--for years and years and years.  Don't buy a new body until the body you have is beyond repair.  Unless a repair is a substantial proportion of the cost for a new camera, repair the old one.  If you simply want a new, better-featured, better-image-quality machine, please donate your old camera to a school or other organization that can use it.

Just a rant from a depressed, middle-aged environmentalist.


Bravo!!! I totally agree.  That is why I consider my lens purchases investments....that will last a long time.  If I go to buy my next body after it dies in 3, 5 or 10 years, will that 10-22 lens be worthless?  In three years it may or may not be.  I think in 5 years it will be obsolete.  Planned obsolescence is alive and well in our modern economy.  Is APS-C another example of this?
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mahleu

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The End is Nigh for APS-C...Maybe
« Reply #22 on: February 17, 2009, 12:58:52 pm »

Even if the entire aps-c lineup was superseded by full frame there are a huge number of people with aps-c bodies around,
they'll be more than happy to buy your 10-22. If you really want it to be an investment, buy used, then you can basically sell
it on for what you paid.
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Daniel Browning

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The End is Nigh for APS-C...Maybe
« Reply #23 on: February 17, 2009, 01:20:04 pm »

Quote from: fike
I couldn't get over the suspicion that in 1 year or 3 years, APS-C finally may be phased out.  The manufacturers are swearing that isn't the case.  Perhaps they are right, but I would imagine that the advanced amateur or pro who currently buys a 50D will eventually expect full-frame in the X0D series.  The APS-C will probably be relegated to the ghetto of entry-level DSLRs.

You're overlooking one central and critical piece of things: the cost of silicon imaging sensor rises exponentially with area.

Image sensors don't follow Moore's Law. All other silicon applications, such as computers, can double performance every 18 months for the same price level. Or they can halve the price every 18 months for the same performance level. The reason this is possible is that transistors are shrinking.

Image sensors don't get any cost benefit from shrinking, because they cannot shrink. The area of the sensor has to remain the same. Although commercial full frame image sensors have been getting cheaper for the last 7 years, it's happening at such a slow pace that it will be much more than 3 years before they even come close to the cost that APS-C is now.

The 5D2 has a $1,500 premium over the 50D, despite the fact that the 50D is more advanced in several ways (gapless microlenses, autofocus, etc.). This is due to the large sensor. The 5D1 had a similar price premium over earlier APS-C cameras. This price premium has shrunk very little in the past, and I see no reason for it to accelerate in the future.

Quote from: fike
I think that the 50D has proven that increased resolutions and better low-light performance on the smaller sensor will become increasingly more difficult to achieve if at all possible.

Only the flawed reviews (e.g. DPR) show the 50D has more noise than the 40D or doesn't have the expected resolution increase. This myth has been debunked a dozen times over on LL.

Quote from: fike
Is the APS-C going to become a relic in the near future?

My sources say no.

Quote from: fike
Will it be relegated to entry-level DSLRs?

Outlook not so good.

Quote from: fike
Considering these issues, are EF-S lenses a good investment?

EF-S is a good investment compared to Mortgage Backed Securities, certainly. But I suggest bonds for now, while considering international midcap.

Seriously, APS-C is not going anywhere in the next 10 years. The highest volume imaging sensor market is mobile phones, then P&S. But those are high-volume with very low margins. DSLR has higher margins, and over 90% of DSLR sales have been and will continue to be APS-C. Manufacturers will certainly continue to pour R&D into it.

Quote from: fike
Manufacturers will not be able to let go of the megapixel war.  More pixels on APS-C is a dead-end due to lens limitations.

I disagree. The picture you get out of any lens will be related to the money you put in the glass. That's true for all DSLR sensor sizes. Full frame lenses have gotten so much more investment in the last 40 years that they are far ahead of APS-C lenses, so there are many inexpensive, high-quality lenses, especially when it comes to wide primes. This is beginning to change with things like Nikon's 35mm f/1.8.

Lens development will accelerate even further when the crippling optical viewfinders can be dropped for EVF, allowing APS-C to have wide primes with designs similar to FF35, thanks to unlimited flange focal distance (well, save a few mm for the filter stack, and no one wants too much cos^4 falloff anyway).

Quote from: fike
Innovating at the silicon level is the cheapest path to differentiation.

Innovating by increasing sensor size is hardly the "cheapest path", given that sensor cost goes up exponentially with the area of the sensor.

Quote from: fike
Innovations generally come in at the top of the product line, pushing older technology down market (FF for cameras or heated leather seats in cars).

I too think generally that's how it will go, despite the many exceptions.

Quote from: BJL
4. As someone else has said, size and weight advantages will always be a reason for some serious photographers to choose APS-C (or FourThirds) gear, even those who also use 35mm format or medium format gear for other purposes. Our common interest in hiking photography is one example!

While size and weight of lenses tends to correspond with sensor size in today's products, there's no reason that it has to in the future. For example, lenses for medium format cameras aren't that much larger than 35mm. In fact, many of them are smaller. The reason is that the aperture is the same or smaller (longer focal length but much narrower f-number).

Someone that desires wide aperture lenses for thin DOF and light gathering power will have to carry around heavy lenses, of course, but everyone else may use narrow f-number. They will simply use slower shutter speeds or less ND filtration to get the benefit of the larger sensor without the weight of the larger lens. This is the same way that medium format is used now.

EVF and other advancements will lead to much smaller camera bodies in the future, which takes care of the non-lens part of the equation. The larger sensor will require more electronics for the same shooting speed, but reducing the frames-per-second will allow it to have a smaller ADC, image processing block, cooling requirements, etc. I think the Sigma compact APS-C is illustrative here.

The missing piece, of course, is large inexpensive sensors, which I don't think will happen for a long time. I do expect it to happen sooner for APS-C.

APS-C will continue to have the highest value and dominate sales of all DSLR formats for many years to come.
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professorgb

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The End is Nigh for APS-C...Maybe
« Reply #24 on: February 17, 2009, 01:24:04 pm »

LOL.

Not Massachusetts--I grew up in Oregon.  Just as bad, I guess.

I'm now in Colorado, the future of alternative energy.

Quote from: DarkPenguin
Go back to Massachusetts, comrade!

I'm filling the empty hole inside me with cameras.  Need to spend my 401k and IRAs before they drop to $0.  Might be time to buy another guitar.  I think you can actually pick the rosewood tree they'll kill in brazil for your fretboard!  Those guys could use the cash, too.
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fike

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The End is Nigh for APS-C...Maybe
« Reply #25 on: February 17, 2009, 02:12:46 pm »

Quote from: Daniel Browning
You're overlooking one central and critical piece of things: the cost of silicon imaging sensor rises exponentially with area.

Image sensors don't follow Moore's Law. All other silicon applications, such as computers, can double performance every 18 months for the same price level. Or they can halve the price every 18 months for the same performance level. The reason this is possible is that transistors are shrinking.

Image sensors don't get any cost benefit from shrinking, because they cannot shrink. The area of the sensor has to remain the same. Although commercial full frame image sensors have been getting cheaper for the last 7 years, it's happening at such a slow pace that it will be much more than 3 years before they even come close to the cost that APS-C is now.

Only the flawed reviews (e.g. DPR) show the 50D has more noise than the 40D or doesn't have the expected resolution increase. This myth has been debunked a dozen times over on LL.

Seriously, APS-C is not going anywhere in the next 10 years. The highest volume imaging sensor market is mobile phones, then P&S. But those are high-volume with very low margins. DSLR has higher margins, and over 90% of DSLR sales have been and will continue to be APS-C. Manufacturers will certainly continue to pour R&D into it.

Innovating by increasing sensor size is hardly the "cheapest path", given that sensor cost goes up exponentially with the area of the sensor.

You've got a lot of really interesting stuff here.  I have excerpted the stuff I found most potentially controversial--and interesting.  So to the list...

Certainly larger (FF) sensors cost more than smaller (APS-C) ones.  The price increase is directly proportional to to area not exponentially greater.  The greatest cost on these chips, by many magnitudes, in R&D.  The actual COB (Cost of Build) is probably down well below $30.  I have no idea about this as far as reality. I am pulling this out of my @ss.  I am basing these assumptions on what the rest of the semiconductor industry considers appropriate margins.  The manufacturing and material costs of the rest of the camera almost definitely dwarf the silicon part of the cost.  

Of course Moore's law doesn't apply.  Sensor sites are actually pretty darn huge in comparison to current semiconductor interconnects.  These sensors use much of the same equipment and manufacturing technology as semiconductor processors, but they are really a different beast alltogether.  

I don't want to reopen the 50D resolution debate.  I have accepted that the 50D has taken pixel densities near to the limits of accutance with high-quality lenses.  I am of the opinion that further increases in resolution on APS-C are partially wasted.  With future generations of higher MP APS-C senosrs, either you will need to have a very wide-open aperature where most lens's quality begins to diminish, or you will be bumping against diffraction limits.  

Your response was really quite detailed and interesting.  Are you employed in the photo manufacturing industry?  I am only sort of kidding.  I would be very surprised if manufacturers weren't trying to put some of their best minds out on the street (internet street, that is) to debunk home-grown and crackpot theories like mine.  No manufacturer would want the public to lose confidence in the longevity of a standard like APS-C before its time.  That would certainly undermine their positions.
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Luis Argerich

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The End is Nigh for APS-C...Maybe
« Reply #26 on: February 17, 2009, 02:15:48 pm »

I don't buy the environmentalism argument in my honest opinion it is absurd and I say this with respect and making clear it is only my opinion.

Luigi

JohnKoerner

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The End is Nigh for APS-C...Maybe
« Reply #27 on: February 17, 2009, 02:51:36 pm »

I don't understand the nature of this argument at all.

You just finished purchasing a APS-C camera, and now you're worrying about whether (at some point in the distant future) this camera will go extinct, as justification for maybe not buying a lens that cost half as much as the camera itself?  

I think all indications show that the APS-C market completely dominates the FF market, so why would manufacturers discontinue this revenue? Makes absolutely no sense, but I suppose this sort of alarmist missive gives something to discuss

Since  APS-C offers more "reach" (in both telephoto and macro), I doubt it is going anywhere. Since the 10-22 is the best wide lens for the particular camera you selected, I would go ahead and get it. Basically, your quandary is like a guy swimming 3/4 the way across a lake, questioning whether he "can make it all the way" or not, and then swimming a greater distance back to his point of origin than he would have had to go to complete his original objective  

Silly.

Jack



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fike

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The End is Nigh for APS-C...Maybe
« Reply #28 on: February 17, 2009, 03:10:36 pm »

You are right that the 10-22 is the best wide angle option for APS-C.  That isn't the only factor for me.  I am also concerned about whether I am buying a future paperweight.  

You are also absolutely right that for most people this is a pretty academic (you could call it pointless) discussion.  The reason I care is that I hate buying things that will become obsolete.  the 50D is my second DSLR after my 30D.  I have loved both cameras for their combination of quality and economy.    I have always used full-frame lenses because I feared planned obsolescence.  


Quote from: JohnKoerner
I don't understand the nature of this argument at all.

You just finished purchasing a APS-C camera, and now you're worrying about whether (at some point in the distant future) this camera will go extinct, as justification for maybe not buying a lens that cost half as much as the camera itself?  

I think all indications show that the APS-C market completely dominates the FF market, so why would manufacturers discontinue this revenue? Makes absolutely no sense, but I suppose this sort of alarmist missive gives something to discuss

Innovate, differentiate, or die.

All it will take is for one  manufacturer to one-up another by moving full-frame down into the mid-range in an effort to cannibalize the mid-range markets of the others.  If a decent $1,800 full-frame camera came out this year, just after every LL member rushed out to buy one, we would see every manufacturer follow-suit just to keep up.  

Canon owned early DSLR sales because they were first to the game with a credible and affordable D60 camera.  The transition from APS-C could easily look a lot like that transition.  

Quote
Since  APS-C offers more "reach" (in both telephoto and macro), I doubt it is going anywhere. Since the 10-22 is the best wide lens for the particular camera you selected, I would go ahead and get it. Basically, your quandary is like a guy swimming 3/4 the way across a lake, questioning whether he "can make it all the way" or not, and then swimming a greater distance back to his point of origin than he would have had to go to complete his original objective  
Silly.
Jack

That's a cute story, but it really isn't anything like that.    

Thanks for the comments.
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Daniel Browning

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The End is Nigh for APS-C...Maybe
« Reply #29 on: February 17, 2009, 03:38:30 pm »

Quote from: fike
The price increase is directly proportional to to area not exponentially greater. The greatest cost on these chips, by many magnitudes, in R&D. The actual COB (Cost of Build) is probably down well below $30.

It is most definitely exponential. Any reference on semiconductor manufacturing costs for imaging sensors will explain this. And that's just for a single semiconductor mask (reticle), which only applies to sensors up to APS-C sizes.

For larger-than-APS-C, it's a whole different ball game: two or more reticles must be stitched together. Stitching accelerates the costs even faster than the already-exponential rate of increase. Canon's 1.3X format (1D-series) is a single stitch of two reticles, and full frame is two stitches of three reticles.

With a single stitch, manufacturing yields drop to less than 25% (!) of normal yields. The breakthrough of the 5D1 was that Canon found a way to increase stitching-related yields enough to get the price premium as low as $1,500.

I don't think it's due to higher R&D at all. The only R&D difference is stitching. Sensor designers such as Eric Fossum have commented that Canon's full frame pixel designs are very, very simple; not anyone near as advanced as digicam and mobile phone sensors (where much higher revenues lead to much higher R&D).

Every sensor innovation has started out in small sensors (phone and digicam) and slowly trickled down to APS-C and larger sensors. Fill factor, quantum efficiency per area, read noise per area, full well capacity per area, resolution per area, and almost any other area-based metric (except perhaps optical crosstalk) has been and remains to be far superior in smaller sensors. It's only the brute force of more area that makes larger sensors superior. In other words, it doesn't matter that small sensors are 2 times better in every way if they are 20 times smaller (that makes them 10 times worse).

R&D must consume a greater portion of the COGS, but that's only because the sales volume will be lower because of higher base COGS. Even if a luxury car had the same absolute R&D cost as an economy car, the R&D would have to be spread over lower volume (or longer time). If a luxury car cost the same to manufacture as an economy model, then volume could be the same, and R&D could be spread the same.

Quote from: fike
The manufacturing and material costs of the rest of the camera almost definitely dwarf the silicon part of the cost.

If that were true, then cameras that have the same bodies and features but different size sensors would be similar in cost. They're not even close. 5D vs 20D, 5D2 vs 50D, D3 vs D300, etc.

Quote from: fike
I don't want to reopen the 50D resolution debate.  I have accepted that the 50D has taken pixel densities near to the limits of accutance with high-quality lenses.  I am of the opinion that further increases in resolution on APS-C are partially wasted.  With future generations of higher MP APS-C senosrs, either you will need to have a very wide-open aperature where most lens's quality begins to diminish, or you will be bumping against diffraction limits.

I'll just say that I agree to disagree with everything you said here. (If someone wants to reopen that they can post a link to a different thread.)

Quote from: fike
Your response was really quite detailed and interesting.  Are you employed in the photo manufacturing industry?  I am only sort of kidding.

Thanks, I am not in the industry at all. I'm a open source software engineer. Whereas a normal photographer would be content with knowing the "what" of cameras that will help their photography (e.g. knowing that 50D ISO 130 has much more shadow noise and pattern noise than ISO 100 can be helpful), folks like me have a voracious appetite for the "why" (because ISO 130 is ISO 100 pushed 1/3 stop). Thankfully, there is a ton of information on the web to satisfy an appetite, and the cameras are relatively inexpensive so that I can test and apply the information for myself.
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JohnKoerner

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The End is Nigh for APS-C...Maybe
« Reply #30 on: February 17, 2009, 05:29:24 pm »

Quote from: fike
You are right that the 10-22 is the best wide angle option for APS-C.  That isn't the only factor for me.  I am also concerned about whether I am buying a future paperweight.

No camera is an investment; they are all consumable expenses. Lenses could be considered a slight investment, but even the best ones do not appreciate over time, they depreciate over time (as technology and innovation keep increasing). Thus, in a sense, all cameras will become paperweights, depending upon what kind of time frame you're talking about. In the end, the damn thing takes good photos, it'll last you quite awhile, and you've already bought the camera, so just enjoy what you have  




Quote from: fike
You are also absolutely right that for most people this is a pretty academic (you could call it pointless) discussion.  The reason I care is that I hate buying things that will become obsolete.  the 50D is my second DSLR after my 30D.  I have loved both cameras for their combination of quality and economy.  I have always used full-frame lenses because I feared planned obsolescence.

If you feel the way you do, it is odd that you have bought a 30D and now a 50D at all. Why not just get the 5D? I think it is crazy to believe these cameras will become obsolete. If anything, they will become less expensive and more commonplace, now that the technology has pretty much plateued. IMO, you're worrying over nothing. At worst, you might have to buy another wide-angle some day wayyy off in the future. Big deal.

At best, your prognositcations are wrong, and you won't have to do this.




Quote from: fike
Innovate, differentiate, or die.

Again, at this point, the ability to "differentiate" is pretty much plateued. ("Mouse nuts" I believe is the new term.)

Thus the difference is going to become LOW PRICE and VALUE over the next few years, not obsolescence.




Quote from: fike
All it will take is for one  manufacturer to one-up another by moving full-frame down into the mid-range in an effort to cannibalize the mid-range markets of the others.  If a decent $1,800 full-frame camera came out this year, just after every LL member rushed out to buy one, we would see every manufacturer follow-suit just to keep up.

You just have a negative outlook. The more competitors that jump to FF, the lower the prices of both crop and FF will become. So if a great FF is $1800 then a great crop will be around $900. Nothing more.




Quote from: fike
Canon owned early DSLR sales because they were first to the game with a credible and affordable D60 camera.  The transition from APS-C could easily look a lot like that transition.

Again, I just think you need to adjust your glasses, buy the 10-22, and enjoy your camera. If you take care of it, have a good monitor and software, you can take great photos for a very long time. And when it comes time for a new camera, there will still be crops available (just cheaper and a little better).




Quote from: fike
That's a cute story, but it really isn't anything like that.    
Thanks for the comments.

It is like that. You've made a definite commitment in getting not one, but two APS-C cameras. In order to take the best possible wide-angle shots with those cameras, you need the 10-22, it's that simple. Your only other option would be to spend more money on a lens that won't be as wide, or to just go ahead and spend more money still and bet a FF and a top prime. You're more than halfway across the lake, and you're being indecisive as to whether you should complete the swim. Your choices are (a) continue to flounder where you are and drown; ( swim all the way back to where you started and begin swimming from scratch across a new lake; © stop thinking so much and just follow through on what you started  

And have fun with your new camera, with the best lenses that are designed specifically for it,

Jack


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« Last Edit: February 17, 2009, 05:30:15 pm by JohnKoerner »
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Luis Argerich

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The End is Nigh for APS-C...Maybe
« Reply #31 on: February 17, 2009, 07:13:54 pm »

Ontopic question, isn't the Tokina 11-16 2.8 optically better than the Canon 10-22 ? Assuming the 1mm difference is no issue of course. Opinions?

Luigi

fike

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« Reply #32 on: February 17, 2009, 07:23:09 pm »

Quote from: luigis
Ontopic question, isn't the Tokina 11-16 2.8 optically better than the Canon 10-22 ? Assuming the 1mm difference is no issue of course. Opinions?

Luigi

I didn't know about that lens.  I will need to check into it.  Actually, as I have experimented with a borrowed 10-22, I have found the 10mm end to be a bit too wide for my taste.
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fike

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The End is Nigh for APS-C...Maybe
« Reply #33 on: February 17, 2009, 07:29:11 pm »

It looks like my perspective on the lifespan of APS-C is in the minority.  Time will tell.


meh



I still prefer the full-frame lenses because I am using the sweet-spot of the lens--avoiding corners and edges where distortion and fuzziness are most noticeable.  As for that 10-22,  I will keep experimenting with the borrowed copy I have. $700 isn't an impulse buy for me and ultra-wide angle is not absolutely essential to me because I shoot a lot of panoramic stuff, but it can be nice to avoid having to stitch multiple rows.

Thanks for the input from everyone.
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professorgb

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The End is Nigh for APS-C...Maybe
« Reply #34 on: February 17, 2009, 07:52:30 pm »

If the 10-22 is too wide, try the Tokina 12-24.  I like the lens very much--nice build quality, quiet and accurate autofocus, good image quality throughout the focal length range.  The only real problem is CA when shooting wide open (f4).  Stopped down to f8, it's incredibly sharp and bright, with very little optical distortion.

And it's much cheaper than the Canon lens ($489 vs. $689.95 for the Canon at B&H).

Quote from: fike
As for that 10-22,  I will keep experimenting with the borrowed copy I have. $700 isn't an impulse buy for me and ultra-wide angle is not absolutely essential to me because I shoot a lot of panoramic stuff, but it can be nice to avoid having to stitch multiple rows.

Thanks for the input from everyone.
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BJL

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The End is Nigh for APS-C...Maybe
« Reply #35 on: February 18, 2009, 03:28:25 pm »

Quote from: Daniel Browning
While size and weight of lenses tends to correspond with sensor size in today's products, there's no reason that it has to in the future. For example, lenses for medium format cameras aren't that much larger than 35mm. In fact, many of them are smaller. The reason is that the aperture is the same or smaller (longer focal length but much narrower f-number).

What matters, I think, is the total size and weight of the whole working camera, meaning a body with a lens. Medium format SLR bodies are very deep from focal plane to lens mount, and added depth there removes some length from the lenses, but leaves a clear overall size and weight disadvantage for the complete larger format camera.

The idea of using the larger 35mm format with longer lenses of higher minimum f-stop to minimize size difference is of only limited value. It might work in the situation you describe, for those who want only the traditional larger format advantages of higher resolution, finer tonal graduations and such, in exchange for using lower shutter speeds, but it cancels out the advantages in high speed/low light performance as well as the lower DOF, and those are very common reasons for preferring 35mm format over smaller SLR formats. Even then, when shallow DOF is not a priority, a smaller format can use lenses of equally high minimum f-stop, regaining the size advantage.
« Last Edit: February 18, 2009, 03:31:50 pm by BJL »
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BJL

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The End is Nigh for APS-C...Maybe
« Reply #36 on: February 18, 2009, 03:58:03 pm »

Quote from: fike
Innovate, differentiate, or die.
Indeed, but you are looking in exactly the wrong direction for most likely innovations: the strong trend of such innovations in digital cameras and electronics in general is getting the job done about as well as or better than before with smaller, lighter gear, or doing more with the same size of gear [like telephoto reach, macro enlargement], meaning if anything a move towards smaller formats as their image quality improves. Micro Four Thirds is the most promising and distinctive recent innovation; the formats where "die" is most likely are the larger ones, like MF and LF.

Aside: the 5DMkII is currently priced at US$2,700, the same as the 5D was almost three years ago; the A900 is a bit more, the D700 a bit less. I see no evidence of 35mm format DSLR prices declining much at al, and certainly not to anywhere near the "enthusiast" level of around US$1,000 (D90, 50D), even with three-way competition in place of the former Canon "monopoly". One factor is surely the reticle size limit, effectively 26x33mm, forcing low-yield stitching for 24x36mm sensors. That 26x33mm is the dominant and maximum reticle size limit amongst all steppers introduced for some years, with only a single, old, low resolution stepper model remaining that goes any larger.
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Daniel Browning

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The End is Nigh for APS-C...Maybe
« Reply #37 on: February 18, 2009, 05:08:06 pm »

Thanks for the response.

Quote from: BJL
The idea of using the larger 35mm format with longer lenses of higher minimum f-stop to minimize size difference is of only limited value. It might work in the situation you describe, for those who want only the traditional larger format advantages of higher resolution, finer tonal graduations and such, in exchange for using lower shutter speeds, but it cancels out the advantages in high speed/low light performance as well as the lower DOF, and those are very common reasons for preferring 35mm format over smaller SLR formats.

Agreed. It only gives the image quality advantages in ample light, which many will not value enough for the price premium of a larger format. Current sensor development trends indicate that smaller sensors trail the resolution of larger sensors by only small amounts (currently it's 21 MP -> 15 MP and 24 MP -> 12 MP, but I'm sure APS-C will make another jump soon). If that remains the case, the larger format will only be superior in noise and dynamic range, but not resolution.

I'm not a lens or camera designer, but my limited understanding leads me to guess that sensor size itself does not directly contribute a lot to the size of the camera; it's the surrounding electronics, mirrors/prism, etc. that make the size so large for larger formats.

In the future when the mirror, prism, etc. are replaced by EVF, it will open up new body size possibilities as well as reduce the minimum flange focal distance. If my guess is correct, there will be very few factors limiting the size of a larger format camera systems (e.g. FF35):

* For a given lens design, somewhat longer (focal length).
* For a given sensor size, somewhat larger (8x10 can't fit in a digicam).
* For higher resolution, somewhat larger or slower (electronics/cooling).

Despite those limitations, I think it will be possible for a slow, high resolution FF35 with narrow aperture lenses (say, 15mm maximum aperture for ultra wide to short telephoto, which is around f/5.6) to be as small as the Sigma APS-C compact is now. The cost will make it very unlikely, though.

Rangefinder lenses prove that short flange focal distance lenses can reduce total camera size greatly, even for moderately wide apertures. Pentax pancake lenses are also very short, so I think we're left with just shrinking the body.

The biggest problem is legacy lenses. With all the 35mm lenses out there, who will bother creating a whole new line of high qulaity, narrow-aperture, short, pocketable lenses? Second only to that is the fact that large sensors cost a lot of money.

I hope many other manufacturers will follow Sigma and use their own APS-C sensors in a compact, but with fast contrast-detect autofocus like the Panasonic G1 and full compatibility with their existing lens line.

That's a camera I would want in my pocket.
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--Daniel

BJL

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The End is Nigh for APS-C...Maybe
« Reply #38 on: February 18, 2009, 06:50:50 pm »

Quote from: Daniel Browning
Current sensor development trends indicate that smaller sensors trail the resolution of larger sensors by only small amounts (currently it's 21 MP -> 15 MP and 24 MP -> 12 MP, but I'm sure APS-C will make another jump soon). If that remains the case, the larger format will only be superior in noise and dynamic range, but not resolution.

In the future when the mirror, prism, etc. are replaced by EVF, it will open up new body size possibilities as well as reduce the minimum flange focal distance. If my guess is correct, there will be very few factors limiting the size of a larger format camera systems (e.g. FF35):

* For a given lens design, somewhat longer (focal length).
* For a given sensor size, somewhat larger (8x10 can't fit in a digicam).
* For higher resolution, somewhat larger or slower (electronics/cooling).

The biggest problem is legacy lenses. With all the 35mm lenses out there, who will bother creating a whole new line of high qulaity, narrow-aperture, short, pocketable lenses? Second only to that is the fact that large sensors cost a lot of money.

I hope many other manufacturers will follow Sigma and use their own APS-C sensors in a compact, but with fast contrast-detect autofocus like the Panasonic G1 and full compatibility with their existing lens line.

That is about how I see it too. Looking at the Olympus mockup of a tiny micro 4/3 body, I get the idea that lenses will dominate kit size with "mirror-less systems". That and enough room for a decent EVF, unless the LCD is enough. Either of my 4/3 lenses would make that body almost invisible!

With the wide angle design complications of SLR wide angle lenses mitigated by mirror-less systems, the two main factors in lens size (and thus in kit size) are likely to be
- focal length, which is reduced by reducing pixel size, which goes with reducing format size (unless one adopts very high pixel counts and then discards a large proportion of those pixels with heavy crops for telephoto reach)
and
- front element size and effective aperture diameter, which roughly measures light gathering speed and low light performance independent of sensor size.

So photographers like me who are not speed freaks can look forward to significantly more compact systems. On the other hand, those who seek traditional larger format virtues could be well served by 35mm format with lenses of modest aperture size but good quality, like Canon's recently developed range of f/4 L lenses. I see a place for similar "FX" lenses from Nikon; better than the mainstream zooms, lighter than the f/2.8's.
« Last Edit: February 18, 2009, 06:52:20 pm by BJL »
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Er1kksen

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The End is Nigh for APS-C...Maybe
« Reply #39 on: February 18, 2009, 10:28:29 pm »

The whole idea of hitting a limit in pixel count with the 50D's 15 megapixels is really overdone. After all, it's the only 15mp APS-C sensor we've seen so far. A single sensor from a single manufacturer isn't a very reliable sampling from which to draw conclusions about the possibilities of any and all future 15mp+ APS-C sensor designs.

The noise increase? Noise per pixel rose, noise per area not so much (misinterpreted as a noisier sensor). That's a natural effect of each area being divided between a higher number of pixels Noise really has more to do with the area of the sensor than the pixel pitch. Noise levels are most reduced by superior sensor technology, not larger pixels.

The suffering from diffraction? Well, it's going to have the same resolution as the 40D has at f16, perhaps, and the 50D and 40D and 30D might all have the same resolution at f22, and they all might be on the same ground as the rebel at f32, but the 50D's extra resolution will show through above its diffraction limit. So it's no worse than previous sensors at smaller apertures, and certainly better than them at larger apertures. Again, diffraction limiting misunderstood.

The softness at the pixel level? Maybe. But there's a question as to whether that's a result of the higher pixel density or other factors, such as an overambitious AA filter. Or whether that's an actual problem at all, some people seem to be of the opinion that the DPR tests are absolute bunk (I wouldn't be surprised, given that they run all of their RAW tests in ACR, even though it's been demonstrated that it's not, in fact, a "level playing field").

Higher pixel densities are going to place higher demands on lens optics. That much is true. But what that really means is that you'll be getting the full resolution out of your less stellar lenses, still more resolution than you'd be getting with a lower-res sensor that doesn't show off the lens flaws, and you're getting more out of your best optics that still outresolve the sensor. Eventually, if sensors outresolve even the best lenses, we can get rid of the AA filter to see the lens' full sharpness. Oversampling is not a bad thing.

The only real disadvantage is filesize. Hopefully someday, if we have high-megapixel sensors that outresolve our lenses, our cameras will have "smart" downsampling, as in they can recognize the lens and know how well it performs at a given focal length and aperture, and know to downsample accordingly to deliver the full resolution of the lens without storing the extra, unnecessary pixels. Even failing that, storage and processors continue to get better, faster, and cheaper.

High pixel density is neither deathblow nor limit for APS-C, rather, it's an advantage for telephoto shooting. Combined with the potentially smaller size and weight possibly with APS-C as compared to FF, I don't think it's going anywhere as long as we're still shooting cameras with a flat, digital image sensor recieving light from a conventional lens. And when (if) that changes, we're looking at the dissapearance of FF and 4/3 as well...
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