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Author Topic: Why Leica is staying at 37.5MP for the S (Typ 007)  (Read 44550 times)

ErikKaffehr

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Re: Why Leica is staying at 37.5MP for the S (Typ 007)
« Reply #40 on: November 17, 2014, 03:25:09 pm »

Hi,

I don't know why Leica doesn't push forward with smaller pixel pitch. The way I see it, Leica has chosen to develop a sensor suited for the M-series with many symmetrical lens designs have large beam angles. That kind of lens is not used on DSLRs, which need to have room for a moving mirror.

Fact is that DSLR makers don't move very fast either. 24 MP technology has been around in APS-C for something like three years, but we still don't have the 54 MP sensors that 'simple' upscaling of those sensors to 24x36 would yield.

I think there are some reasons for this. One is that development cycles for sensors are probably much longer than commonly believed. The sensors we see now may have been in development for perhaps three years. A powerhouse like Sony may have several generation of sensors in interleaved development. Leica probably cannot do the same.

Taking care of all data needs processing power, that may also be more available for large companies.

A final factor may be that large pixels may show high edge contrast. My sample shows that a higher resolved image can give a better image, but a very well resolved image may be quite a bit soft at actual pixels.

As a final note. The Leica/CMOSIS sensor may be a good fit for technical cameras, especially with older lenses. The later generation of Rodenstock HR lenses have retrofocus designs and lower beam angles. Leica owns Sinar now, they may consider going into the digital back business. But still I feel that 37.5 MP puts them behind the competition as 60 MP IQ-260s seem to be quite popular on technical cameras.

Best regards
Erik


Erik, thanks for showing these examples, again. They make quite clear that a future S (or any future camera, for that matter) would benifit from more sensels/resolving power. A 93,5 MP Leica S would be quite interesting for landscape, architecture and such.

Why Leica chose a 37,5 MP sensor for the new S, I don't know and I guess it will probably be enough resolution for most applications. I have a feeling that this is the best they can do at the moment, given the technology that is available to them at this point.

There are quite a few S photographers who'd have wanted more resolution, though. Maybe at PK'16 when CMOSIS have developed further, we'll see a 'high res' S to complement the 'high ISO' S.
« Last Edit: November 17, 2014, 03:30:35 pm by ErikKaffehr »
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ndevlin

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Re: Why Leica is staying at 37.5MP for the S (Typ 007)
« Reply #41 on: November 17, 2014, 07:21:09 pm »

They kept it at 37MPs because their fabricator could not make a (much) higher resolution chip that met their other quality criteria  and the marketing department said, "well then make it exactly 37.5 'cause we can sell that better alongside the CCD sensor and not obsolete the 006 so obviously/badly."

The rest is smoke and mirrors.  Those lenses would cut up a 50 or 60 MP sensor.

- N.  

ps.  they claim it will have "What promises to be best high ISO performance in MFD".  I'd lay real money that the 645z kicks its ass. And not by a little, either .  Nothing in CMOSIS's performance to date suggests their chip tech rivals Sony's in any way.  But time will tell.
« Last Edit: November 17, 2014, 07:26:40 pm by ndevlin »
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Re: Why Leica is staying at 37.5MP for the S (Typ 007)
« Reply #42 on: November 17, 2014, 10:58:53 pm »

ps.  they claim it will have "What promises to be best high ISO performance in MFD".  I'd lay real money that the 645z kicks its ass. And not by a little, either .  Nothing in CMOSIS's performance to date suggests their chip tech rivals Sony's in any way.  But time will tell.

Be careful Nick, some people have been called Sony/... fanboys for a lot less than that! ;)

Cheers,
Bernard

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Re: Why Leica is staying at 37.5MP for the S (Typ 007)
« Reply #43 on: November 17, 2014, 11:06:00 pm »

ps.  they claim it will have "What promises to be best high ISO performance in MFD".  I'd lay real money that the 645z kicks its ass. And not by a little, either .  Nothing in CMOSIS's performance to date suggests their chip tech rivals Sony's in any way.  But time will tell.

I actually could not find this claim anywhere on the Leica website...

Given that David Farkas is sometimes on this forum it would be nice if he could explain why he put that or why he believes that.
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ErikKaffehr

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Re: Why Leica is staying at 37.5MP for the S (Typ 007)
« Reply #44 on: November 18, 2014, 02:46:02 am »

Hi,

Lot of bad information in the article:


The Leica-S wideangles are clearly telecentric designs. So the writing below is just desinformation.
Quote
The result is that there is no sensor vignetting, no color shifts and no loss of sharpness in the corners. It’s easy to put this theory to the test. Take a Leica 18mm Super Elmar-M ASPH lens. Put it on the M 240 and take a shot. Then, mount the same lens on a Sony A7r. Yeah…. Oh and just to see that the advantage isn’t only at extremes, try a 35mm Summilux ASPH next. The Sony sensor in the A7r just isn’t adept at handling non-retrofocus lenses, with non-telecentric designs.
Clearly a sensor designed for large beam angles would make sense on technical cameras. But I guess that technical camera shooters prefer larger sensors and more megapixels, making better use of their lenses.

The 79dB quoted in the article would correspond to 13.1 EV, clearly better than the 12.34EV measured by DxO on the Leica M (240), but I guess 13.1 EV is possible on that sensor. Latest generation 135 FF sensors seem to be around 13.6 EV. Now, 13.1 EV is clearly between 13 and 14 EV, as mentioned in the article. But it is essentially 13 EV and quite a bit from 14 EV, not a lie, but pretty close!

I would agree that it is probable that the Pentax 645Z is a better high ISO performer than the Leica S (Typ 007).

I don't have anything against Leica, but I don't like desinformation.

Best regards
Erik


They kept it at 37MPs because their fabricator could not make a (much) higher resolution chip that met their other quality criteria  and the marketing department said, "well then make it exactly 37.5 'cause we can sell that better alongside the CCD sensor and not obsolete the 006 so obviously/badly."

The rest is smoke and mirrors.  Those lenses would cut up a 50 or 60 MP sensor.

- N.  

ps.  they claim it will have "What promises to be best high ISO performance in MFD".  I'd lay real money that the 645z kicks its ass. And not by a little, either .  Nothing in CMOSIS's performance to date suggests their chip tech rivals Sony's in any way.  But time will tell.
« Last Edit: November 18, 2014, 04:20:53 am by ErikKaffehr »
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Manoli

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Re: Why Leica is staying at 37.5MP for the S (Typ 007)
« Reply #45 on: November 18, 2014, 03:58:49 am »

If S photographers bought the S when they wanted or needed more resolution then they bought the wrong camera. If they bought into the S system in the hope that a higher resolution camera was around the corner then they need their heads examining.

Likewise, if Leica designed and built the lenses for the S with the intention that those lenses would never need to resolve anything more than a 37.5MP sensor, they too needed their heads examined.

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Re: Why Leica is staying at 37.5MP for the S (Typ 007)
« Reply #46 on: November 18, 2014, 04:02:24 am »

Simple answer to the title of this thread is 'faute-de-mieux'. They didn't have another option.
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peterv

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Re: Why Leica is staying at 37.5MP for the S (Typ 007)
« Reply #47 on: November 18, 2014, 06:36:15 am »

If S photographers bought the S when they wanted or needed more resolution then they bought the wrong camera. If they bought into the S system in the hope that a higher resolution camera was around the corner then they need their heads examining.

Though it wouldn't be abnormal these days to expect higher density sensors to become available for a system at some point in the future, because that's were most of the industry has been going the past ten, fifteen years. No guarantees, of course, but not unreasonable to anticipate.
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Ken R

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Re: Why Leica is staying at 37.5MP for the S (Typ 007)
« Reply #48 on: November 18, 2014, 07:12:49 am »

I liked the Leica write up about its new sensor. Cool to see they are using a state of the art sensor in their new S which is a superb SLR platform (those who have not used it should check it out). 37.5 MP provides a good balance between resolution and file size. For people work it is enough. Might be lacking a bit for wide angle landscapes compared to say the 60-80 MP backs otherwise, specially considering how good the Leica S lenses are, one should not feel the need for more res.

I prefer the platform interchangeability of my PhaseOne digital back (and the robust FW800 tethering) but if I were looking for an integrated solution the Leica S would be my choice.  From what ive seen Leica is a good company to deal with as well. (im sure there are disgruntled customers here just like with any company).

Once the new Leica S is in people's hands and one can get some RAW files then we will be able to really see how good the sensor is.
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dfarkas

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Re: Why Leica is staying at 37.5MP for the S (Typ 007)
« Reply #49 on: November 18, 2014, 10:20:02 am »

I actually could not find this claim anywhere on the Leica website...

Given that David Farkas is sometimes on this forum it would be nice if he could explain why he put that or why he believes that.
Sure, I'll chime in.

The information in my article is from my discussions at Photokina with the S product managers and Dr. Zimmer, the head of R&D at Leica. Leica engineers tend to be conservative by nature, so I was intrigued by the boldness of this claim. When I pressed the issue further, they said that the sensor team at Leica had been running tests comparing the first batch of chips from CMOSIS to the Sony 50MP sensor, which they have in house for testing.
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Re: Why Leica is staying at 37.5MP for the S (Typ 007)
« Reply #50 on: November 18, 2014, 10:46:03 am »

Hi,

Lot of bad information in the article:


Erik,

I'm sorry you feel my information isn't accurate. All the facts, figures and reasoning came directly from my conversations with engineers at Leica who are directly responsible for the work with CMOSIS designing the chip. Interestingly, you are the only person to take issue with my write-up since it has been posted a few weeks ago, but I am happy to address your specific issues.

Quote

The Leica-S wideangles are clearly telecentric designs. So the writing below is just desinformation.Clearly a sensor designed for large beam angles would make sense on technical cameras. But I guess that technical camera shooters prefer larger sensors and more megapixels, making better use of their lenses.


You are absolutely correct. The S lenses are telecentric designs, but the snippet of text you quoted from my article only talks about M lenses on an M240 and using those same lenses on a Sony A7r. I didn't make mention of the S lenses.

I think it would be interesting to explore in further detail just how telecentric the S lenses (or other MFDSLR lenses) actually are. Sure, I'd imagine a 180mm to be close to 100% telecentric, but perhaps an ultra-wide like the 24mm might not be totally telecentric.
 
Quote

The 79dB quoted in the article would correspond to 13.1 EV, clearly better than the 12.34EV measured by DxO on the Leica M (240), but I guess 13.1 EV is possible on that sensor. Latest generation 135 FF sensors seem to be around 13.6 EV. Now, 13.1 EV is clearly between 13 and 14 EV, as mentioned in the article. But it is essentially 13 EV and quite a bit from 14 EV, not a lie, but pretty close!


In my article I said "around 79db" as the early testing samples Leica received from CMOSIS were from the first wafer. Dr. Zimmer seemed to be hinting at slightly better performance when the sensor goes into full production. Likewise, there are other factors in the imaging pipeline that contribute to overall system DR. The range of 13 to 14 stops is a reasonable estimate based on current testing and knowledge of future optimization.

Quote


I would agree that it is probable that the Pentax 645Z is a better high ISO performer than the Leica S (Typ 007).


We will have to see when real-life comparisons can be made. I'm as anxious as you to see the results.

Quote

I don't have anything against Leica, but I don't like desinformation.


Agreed. I don't like disinformation either. That's why I fact check and speak directly to the source.


David
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ErikKaffehr

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Re: Why Leica is staying at 37.5MP for the S (Typ 007)
« Reply #51 on: November 18, 2014, 12:48:39 pm »

Hi David,

Sorry for using incorrect nomenclature. Calling the lenses telecentric is probably a mixup. But fact is that the issues you discuss are related to the M-lenses and not to the S-lenses. Many lenses are symmetric designs, they are popular as they offer very good image quality with a relative simple construction. Symmetric wide angle lenses have a large disadventage, however, they cannot be used SLR cameras as they don't allow for the mirror box.

Normal lenses for SLR-s often symmetric, a construction called "double gauss". This doesn't work with SLRs however, so a new solution to wide angles has been invented, probably by Angénieux, who called this design retrofocus. Another name for the same construction is inverted telephoto. The design increases the distance between the exit pupil and the focal plane. The retrofocus/inverted telephoto design is often referred to as telecentric, but I feel it is a missnormer.

All DSLR wide angles are essentially retrofocus type lenses, and this design is necessitated by the mirror box. Zeiss calls this design Distagon.

Now, retrofocus, inverted telephoto or Distagon type lenses have some advantages
  • Arbitrary long distance between outlet pupil and focal plane
  • Less vignetting than symmetric designs
  • Low beam angles, so they work well digital sensors
But, they also have disadvantages
  • Larger size
  • Longer as the main part of a Distagon type lens is outside the lens mount
  • Difficult to make
  • Distortion is much more difficult to control

Symmetric lenses are more compact but they have some issues, especially with digital sensors
  • Symmetric lenss have short distance between exit pupil and focal plane
  • Thus they have large beam angles
  • The large beam angle in combination with the cover glass is a cause of astigmatism, the reason that Leica M cameras have thin cover glass. The M8 had extremely thin cover glass leading to inferior IR-supression.
  • Natural vignetting on symmetric designs follows cosine four law, while Distagon types can reduce vignetting significantly.
  • As stated in your article the large beam angles of short symmetrical designs don't work well with deep sensor wells.

Later generation of wide angles for the M are slightly retrofocus designs, as there was a need to make space for exposure meter cell of the Leica M5.

I would suggest that you check the information above with any knowledgable optical engineer.

Now, Leica has a problem with lenses that are not designed for electronic sensor. The made several design choices:
  • Very thin cover glass
  • Coding on lenses enabling automatic correction of vignetting and lens cast
  • A sensor optimised for lenses with large beam angles
But, nothing of the above applies to the Leica-S series as it is a DSLR, and SLR cameras cannot use lenses with large beam angles because they need room for the mirror. So, for the Leica-S all the discussion of beam angles is totally irrelevant. Talking about the Sony A7r is also totally irrelevant as it is clearly intended to be used with lenses designed for it, even if it works perfectly well lenses designed for SLRs.

Getting back to the DR question. 79 dB is stated. You can convert dB to EV by dividing by 6.02. Now 79 dB is 13.12 EV, I would'n call that 13 to 14 EV, about 13 EV would be a truthful statement. Nikon D750 has a DR of 13.73EV while the Leica M (240) has 12.34 EV, which indicative of the CMOS lagging modern Sony developed sensors a bit. It is possible that the design have been improved, but the stated 79 db is 13.12 EV. The DR is coming from the sensor and it is not related to the processing pipeline, although it seems that some manipulation may be quite frequent.

As you see, claiming advantages of the CMOSIS sensors on the Leica-S is clearly irrelevant. On the other hand the CMOSIS sensor is probably very benefitial for the classic M lenses. But classic M-lenses cannot be used on the Leica-S.

These are the reasons I strongly suggest that the article has a lot of bad information. Clearly, it is not your fault, it seems quite clear that you got that information from Leica marketing.

Some good reading here:

http://toothwalker.org/optics/vignetting.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Angénieux_retrofocus
http://www.lensrentals.com/blog/2011/03/the-development-of-wide-angle-lenses
http://www.lensrentals.com/blog/2014/06/sensor-stack-thickness-when-does-it-matter

Best regards
Erik

Erik,

I'm sorry you feel my information isn't accurate. All the facts, figures and reasoning came directly from my conversations with engineers at Leica who are directly responsible for the work with CMOSIS designing the chip. Interestingly, you are the only person to take issue with my write-up since it has been posted a few weeks ago, but I am happy to address your specific issues.

You are absolutely correct. The S lenses are telecentric designs, but the snippet of text you quoted from my article only talks about M lenses on an M240 and using those same lenses on a Sony A7r. I didn't make mention of the S lenses.

I think it would be interesting to explore in further detail just how telecentric the S lenses (or other MFDSLR lenses) actually are. Sure, I'd imagine a 180mm to be close to 100% telecentric, but perhaps an ultra-wide like the 24mm might not be totally telecentric.
 
In my article I said "around 79db" as the early testing samples Leica received from CMOSIS were from the first wafer. Dr. Zimmer seemed to be hinting at slightly better performance when the sensor goes into full production. Likewise, there are other factors in the imaging pipeline that contribute to overall system DR. The range of 13 to 14 stops is a reasonable estimate based on current testing and knowledge of future optimization.

We will have to see when real-life comparisons can be made. I'm as anxious as you to see the results.

Agreed. I don't like disinformation either. That's why I fact check and speak directly to the source.


David

« Last Edit: November 18, 2014, 01:25:25 pm by ErikKaffehr »
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dfarkas

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Re: Why Leica is staying at 37.5MP for the S (Typ 007)
« Reply #52 on: November 18, 2014, 02:07:57 pm »

Erik,

Yes, I'm quite familiar with symmetric vs. retrofocus lens designs. The fact is that retrofocus lens designs are not 100% telecentric, especially for wide-angles. The light rays are still projecting from the exit pupil and radiate outward, creating an angle less than 90 degrees (perpendicular) relative to the sensor at any spot other than the very center. The angle decreases (relative to the sensor surface) towards the edges of the sensor. This is why Leica has employed offset microlenses on all of their DSLR bodies (DMR, S2 and S 006) to date, in order to more fully capture oblique angles of light at the periphery of the sensor. The new, shallower pixel well design of the MAX CMOS chip combined with Leica's parabolic cone-shaped microlenses now means this isn't necessary. Here's an excerpt from Leica's S2 brochure for reference:

Quote

In the Leica S2, a grid of microlenses on the sensor increases its sensitivity to light. The distinctive feature here is that the greater the distance of individual pixels from the centre of the sensor, the greater the relative offset of the microlenses. This compensates for the fact that image sensors are less sensitive to obliquely arriving rays of light at the edges, and that no lens can guarantee that incoming light rays are exclusively perpendicular to the sensor surface. The offset microlens solution was planned into the S-System concept from the beginning and is a feature that ensures that all Leica S-Lenses are practically free of vignetting.


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ErikKaffehr

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Re: Why Leica is staying at 37.5MP for the S (Typ 007)
« Reply #53 on: November 18, 2014, 02:33:50 pm »

Hi,

The excerpt talks about offset microlenses.

All lenses have some significant vignetting, although retrofocus designs may be a bit closer to cosinus^3 than cosinus^4.

Quite obviously, retrofocus lenses reduce the beam angle and don't eliminate it.

Here is a neat review of the Leaf Credo 50 http://www.getdpi.com/forum/digital-camera-reviews/51985-leaf-credo-50-review-guy-mancuso.html
And here is Doug Petersons Library Test of the IQ250: http://www.getdpi.com/forum/digital-camera-reviews/51985-leaf-credo-50-review-guy-mancuso.html

Both test include extreme wide angles with significant shifts on 50MP backs using Sony sensors.

Best regards
Erik


Erik,

Yes, I'm quite familiar with symmetric vs. retrofocus lens designs. The fact is that retrofocus lens designs are not 100% telecentric, especially for wide-angles. The light rays are still projecting from the exit pupil and radiate outward, creating an angle less than 90 degrees (perpendicular) relative to the sensor at any spot other than the very center. The angle decreases (relative to the sensor surface) towards the edges of the sensor. This is why Leica has employed offset microlenses on all of their DSLR bodies (DMR, S2 and S 006) to date, in order to more fully capture oblique angles of light at the periphery of the sensor. The new, shallower pixel well design of the MAX CMOS chip combined with Leica's parabolic cone-shaped microlenses now means this isn't necessary. Here's an excerpt from Leica's S2 brochure for reference:


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Re: Why Leica is staying at 37.5MP for the S (Typ 007)
« Reply #54 on: November 18, 2014, 03:12:00 pm »

The excerpt talks about offset microlenses.


Yes, as I wrote above, Leica currently uses offset microlenses in the S Typ 006 to prevent sensor vignetting for oblique angles of light. The new CMOSIS chip in the S Typ 007 will not require offset microlenses as the combination of shallow pixel well depth and conical microlenses will be just as, or perhaps more, effective.

Quote
Quite obviously, retrofocus lenses reduce the beam angle and don't eliminate it.

Exactly. Leica's approach is to prevent sensor vignetting via an optical solution on the sensor.

Quote
Here is a neat review of the Leaf Credo 50 http://www.getdpi.com/forum/digital-camera-reviews/51985-leaf-credo-50-review-guy-mancuso.html
And here is Doug Petersons Library Test of the IQ250: http://www.getdpi.com/forum/digital-camera-reviews/51985-leaf-credo-50-review-guy-mancuso.html

Both test include extreme wide angles with significant shifts on 50MP backs using Sony sensors.

Yes, and those significant shifts resulted in very visible vignetting and required capturing and applying an LCC correction in Capture One. This is a software approach. Leica's approach is through sensor and lens design. Just a different solution as the shifted images in the linked review are very nice after LCC application and post processing. Even though this is part of many tech camera users' workflow, I'm sure if given the choice, most would prefer to just take a single shot without the need for an LCC capture and additional PP work.



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Re: Why Leica is staying at 37.5MP for the S (Typ 007)
« Reply #55 on: November 18, 2014, 03:24:29 pm »

Hi David,

I am looking forward to raw images from the 24mm lens shifted 10 mm on the Leica-S and with the DNG file not containing information on correcting vignetting.

Best regards
Erik


Yes, as I wrote above, Leica currently uses offset microlenses in the S Typ 006 to prevent sensor vignetting for oblique angles of light. The new CMOSIS chip in the S Typ 007 will not require offset microlenses as the combination of shallow pixel well depth and conical microlenses will be just as, or perhaps more, effective.

Exactly. Leica's approach is to prevent sensor vignetting via an optical solution on the sensor.

Yes, and those significant shifts resulted in very visible vignetting and required capturing and applying an LCC correction in Capture One. This is a software approach. Leica's approach is through sensor and lens design. Just a different solution as the shifted images in the linked review are very nice after LCC application and post processing. Even though this is part of many tech camera users' workflow, I'm sure if given the choice, most would prefer to just take a single shot without the need for an LCC capture and additional PP work.




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Re: Why Leica is staying at 37.5MP for the S (Typ 007)
« Reply #56 on: November 18, 2014, 06:52:20 pm »

Erik,

 In the Leica Cappucino there is some coffee, some milk and a LOT of foam. The experience can still be positive although the price does not reflect the contents.

Edmund
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Re: Why Leica is staying at 37.5MP for the S (Typ 007)
« Reply #57 on: November 18, 2014, 08:08:48 pm »

I have never shot with a 50MP camera but based upon my experience with the P30+ and the Leica S2 I probably would not feel very comfortable going above 40MP handheld.
So when you have to shoot handheld with a > 40 MP camera, downsample to a resolution level that you are comfortable with --- and when you have the opportunity to use a tripod (or a high enough shutter speed), you can make use of the extra resolution.  With suitable processing, higher pixel counts is a "win-no lose" situation as far as the sharpness/resolution/detail of the final product is concerned.

Also, as has already been said in milder terms, describing interpolation or downsampling algorithms as "guesswork" is a sign of unscientific thinking, or even anti-scientific denialist bluster.  I see no examples of how images downsampled to a given pixel count are less sharp than ones from a sensor of that lower pixel count.

On the other hand, I can believe that Leica has reasonably decided that the minor benefits of an increased pixel count are not worth the substantial extra cost of having its very small sensor design partner CMOSIS design a new, smaller CMOS cell (and Leica designing new microlenses) and the trade-offs like lower frame rates that would go with it; Leica is aiming somewhat for DSLR style hand-held usage more than the traditional tripod oriented MF working mode.
« Last Edit: November 18, 2014, 08:28:14 pm by BJL »
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Re: Why Leica is staying at 37.5MP for the S (Typ 007)
« Reply #58 on: November 18, 2014, 08:41:08 pm »

They kept it at 37MPs because their fabricator could not make a (much) higher resolution chip rivals Sony's in any way ...
I basically agree, except that I think the hard part would be the design of a new, smaller, high quality pixel cell and its integration into a column-parallel ADC CMOS sendor design by CMOSIS, rather than the manufacture by the CMOS chip fab. to which CMOSIS and Leica outsource that task. It seems that sensors can use far less that state-of-the-art fab. technology, as the feature sizes are so much larger than needed for recent microprocessors, memory chips, and so on.
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Re: Why Leica is staying at 37.5MP for the S (Typ 007)
« Reply #59 on: November 19, 2014, 12:09:27 am »

Edmund

Yes, absolutely.

Erik

Erik,

 In the Leica Cappucino there is some coffee, some milk and a LOT of foam. The experience can still be positive although the price does not reflect the contents.

Edmund
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Erik Kaffehr
 
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