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Messages - jrista

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46
Lenses / Re: Development Announcement of a New 800mm f/5.6L IS II [CR1]
« on: August 19, 2014, 02:37:34 PM »
Which year was current 800mm f/5.6 lens released? Probably don't long ago. If so, do you think will be soon announcement of new shorter big whites like 300, 400,...

I'm just curious. Don't have money at the moment for neither of them. ;)

The 300/2.8, 400/2.8, 500/4, and 600/4 have all been updated over the last couple of years. They ARE new, and they are all using current, cutting edge optical technology. Given that the prior versions lasted for over half a decade at least, and if you go back to the original optical design before IS was added, over a decade...I don't think we'll be seeing any more new great white after the 800 is updated for quite some time.

If you want a 300 or 400, you'll just have to shell out the cash. They are truly pheonomenal lenses, and I don't think I've ever seen a sharper lens than the 300 f/2.8 L II...that sucker will make you bleed! :P

47
Lenses / Re: Development Announcement of a New 800mm f/5.6L IS II [CR1]
« on: August 19, 2014, 02:35:05 PM »
Is there any big performance gain to be had, or is it a question of it being half a kilogram lighter and two thousand dollars more expensive? Don't get me wrong though, the weight savings is surely worth it for some.

Jim

I'm not sure if there will be a significant weight difference. I think the 800 f/5.6 L was the first to use the fluorite lens design, although I don't know that it's barrel design used the lighter/stronger materials. If there is any weight reduction, I think it would be small.

There was quite a significant difference in IQ, particularly in the corners, between the old and new Mark II lenses for the 300 through 600 lenses, though. They are amazingly sharp, even with teleconverters attached. The 600/4 II with a 1.4xIII TC is on par with, if not better than, the old 800/5.6, so I would expect the IQ improvement on the 800/5.6 II to surpass the quality of the 600/4II+1.4xIII.

And who knows, maybe Canon will find a way to reduce weight even more. They have competition from Nikon on that front now as well, so they may have something up their sleeve.

48
Canon General / Re: A Rundown of EOS 7D Mark II Information
« on: August 19, 2014, 12:02:31 AM »
What concrete evidence do you have that the Canon marketing department had "them" do anything? That makes no logical sense. I've worked for a number of very large companies, and dealt with marketing people. NOT ONCE has a marketing person EVER told me what to do. The politics in most large companies simply won't allow that kind of thing to happen. Such a demand would have to go through umpteen channels, up then down then up again when the demand steps on someone elses turf and gets kicked back.

Well it depends upon what exactly you mean by the marketing term.
I just mean as opposed to the engineers.
I seriously doubt any engineer would think oh gee I better remove this MFA I just spent this time perfecting from the 40D. Or gee I better make sure to limit the fast min shutter speed in the 5D3 AutoISO Av shutter speed to happen to be just low enough to not really be useful even though it would have taken, if anything a few seconds less time, to have not put the limit in at all.

I seen and heard tale of all too many times where the whole MBA/manager/marketing types just come in and force the engineers to muck it all up. Or keep saying, no not yet, not yet, not yet, gotta milk more, gotta milk more.

And they do come up with all sort of schemes to calculate how they can minimize what they give without quite pushing people over the edge of leaving, which can be very annoying to those trying to push tech forward.

It's a totally different mindset.



Quote
From what I've found and read about MFA in older cameras (40D, 30D), it was something that may have been designed just for service center use. Assuming that's the case, then the functionality was included in the 40D, but not as a consumer function. As someone who has used BackyardEOS, an astrophotography software tool, for about six months now, I can attest to the fact that Canon includes a LOT of functionality in their firmware that is not directly accessible by menu options in the camera. When you dig into the Canon APIs, you learn that a whole range of awesome things are possible using it.

from what I heard it didn't seem to be that sort of thing at all, but basically what they put in the higher level cam and later the 50D


Quote
You can hook into that functionality via the API and do cool things...but then your on your own, as you rightly should be. So sorry, don't buy and never will buy the line that Canon Marketing is the sole reason that certain features of their cameras are disabled. That kind of thinking steps from a mentality steeped in anticoproration crap, and I honestly cannot stand that sort of thing. It's naive. Go work in a large company  like Canon for a year...the politics and turf and dominions wars will make your ears and eyes bleed...

How is it naive, as you just said, it will make your ears and eyes bleed (at least if you are in engineering).

Maybe you are reading too much into my use of marketing, thinking I mean a single person who is preparing some ad campaign or a few reps who go to trade shows. I was casting a very, very wide net with how I was using the term.

You seem to have only "heard", I am guessing third hand, about these "things" that "must" occur in companies like Canon. I've worked for some very large corporations in the past, and no one guy or no one group in one division has ultimate veto power over another division. You don't have a marketing group (and, BTW, most major companies have exactly that, a marketing group that puts together the companies entire public image) trumping the engineering group for ANY reason. The management team of the engineering group simply wouldn't allow it. Your throwing FAR too broad a net over "marketers" if your definition is that broad. You seem to simply mean "business people", and that is just plain and simply too general to be meaningful, and I am guessing that's the intent.

"Marketers" don't rule Canon. They aren't dictating to the engineers what to or not to put into or take out of a product. Product engineers are going to decide that, and they will usually be part of the overarching engineering teams, R&D, etc. In my experience, higher ups, upper management and executive types, don't want to know all the specific little nuanced details about the work that is being done. They often don't want to know the details at all. They want to know that they have a solid product that will sell. Those executives rely on other levels of management to manage all the details, who they themselves will usually rely on other levels of management to handle different groups of details, and they in turn will usually rely on other levels of management to actually handle the people making the details happen. There isn't some evil force at a company like Canon snickering in a corner office somewhere, saying: "Meheheheeee. Let's....REMOVE AFMA from the 40D! Yeah! That'll keep em coming back to the 50D!! Yeah! That'll sell us some more cammies!! MEEEHEHEHEHEHEEEE!"

Sorry...that's just ludicrous. It's backasswards economics. It's backasswards marketing. It's backasswards management. It's just plain backasswards period. That's not how the organisms that are big companies think. That kind of thinking is BAD for business. Maybe that kind of thing worked a few decades ago, but customers are savvy people these days. Corporate juggernaughts like Google can't even slip by clever snaky wording in their EULA's any more, because you have EULA hawks EVERYWHERE picking those things apart. You can't accidentally serve a hair in a salad at any high end restaurant and hope to survive anymore, because you have scathing eaterie reviewers out there who hunt around for just that kind of thing. And all of these people blog, or are journalists, or something...the majority have twitter, and they all use those internet outlets to call out companies when they are REALLY caught doing something nasty like that. Companies aren't going to pull the wool over their customers eyes anymore. The internet has changed the game, customers have far more power today to stop underhanded tactics like that, simply by being vocal, and secondarily by voting with their wallets when people at large are vocal about something particularly underhanded done by one company or another.

So sorry, but nah. Office politics PREVENT some unit, say "marketers", from dominating the rest of the company. The management staff of an R&D unit or other engineering unit aren't just going to lay down and say "Aww, oh, ok, fine."...they FIGHT! I've seen some crazy office politics and hardcore inter-departmental fights in my time. Everyone has their domain, their turf, and they don't just let people walk all over it for no good reason. I don't believe anyone at Canon is purposely forcing engineers to "muck it all up", forcing them to delay features, etc. Canon may have certain rules about features that they intend to keep "premium", such as AF-point linked metering. That's a simple business decision, not some evil plot to milk their customers for all they are worth, based on the simple fact that, given it's been over a decade, and people buying Rebels and xxD's plain and simply don't seem to care. Owners of the 7D and 5D lines have been a little vocal about getting that feature, however I only know of a handful of people who complain about it a lot. AF-point linked metering falls into like 12th place after a long line of other things people would prefer Canon improve (including, apparently, the addition of a touch ui to all pro-grade DSLRs), all of which come after improved sensor IQ. Maybe someday Canon implements better metering...but my suspicion is the first thing they are going to invest time and money into is the thing people ask for most by a significant margin. If Canon was purposely gimping features for some underhanded purpose, either in an effort to be anticompetitive or somehow "keep customers coming back for more" (although how that would possibly work, when the digital camera market place is chock full of heated competition meaning most consumers, who are the vast bulk of the bottom line, can just jump ship and move to another brand on a moments notice when a bunch of reviewers tell them to...I don't know), someone would have gathered up a bunch of evidence and outed them by now. I mean, for christ sake, your saying Canon has purposely been withholding features for the express purpose of milking their customers for all their worth...for a decade. The internet would have destroyed them for that by now, if it was actually indeed occurring.

49
Canon General / Re: A Rundown of EOS 7D Mark II Information
« on: August 18, 2014, 07:52:34 PM »
In the first case it's a direct quote from a Canon guy at a show in Europe.

I'm not doubting that a Canon employee at a trade show might say something like that. I just doubt that he would have any access to the information to justify such a statement. Canon has never been enthusiastic about AFMA. I think they see it as a way for customers to really screw up their camera settings and create extra work for their service centers. I think they dropped it from the 60D because they viewed it as a consumer product and didn't want the headaches. I suspect they took so much grief for doing that they they decided with the 70D to just bite and bullet and include it.

This seems far more logical to me than some kind of secret conspiracy at Canon to keep their customers buying upgraded cameras. I honestly cannot see Canon purposefully screwing their customers over for an extra buck. Historically, that has the opposite effect...you piss your customers off, and they go elsewhere for their needs.

And yet 40D MFA code got disabled.
Marketing had them cripple the min shutter speed for AutoISO Av on the 5D3 for no sane reason.
etc.

What concrete evidence do you have that the Canon marketing department had "them" do anything? That makes no logical sense. I've worked for a number of very large companies, and dealt with marketing people. NOT ONCE has a marketing person EVER told me what to do. The politics in most large companies simply won't allow that kind of thing to happen. Such a demand would have to go through umpteen channels, up then down then up again when the demand steps on someone elses turf and gets kicked back.

Sorry, but I find the whole notion that Canon Marketing is making demands of the engineering or product development side of Canon to be laughable.

From what I've found and read about MFA in older cameras (40D, 30D), it was something that may have been designed just for service center use. Assuming that's the case, then the functionality was included in the 40D, but not as a consumer function. As someone who has used BackyardEOS, an astrophotography software tool, for about six months now, I can attest to the fact that Canon includes a LOT of functionality in their firmware that is not directly accessible by menu options in the camera. When you dig into the Canon APIs, you learn that a whole range of awesome things are possible using it.

It does indeed seem as though there are a number of features included that may be explicitly intended for service center use. I don't know why they are restricted, but Canon certainly has their reasons...and I am HIGHLY skeptical that the reason is simply: The marketing department somehow thinks that purposely gimping cameras is going to attract more customers. A lot of that functionality probably support's Canon's testing and diagnostic utilities that are used when you send a camera in for repair, and a lot of that functionality should probably NOT be accessible by consumers using the menu system of the camera.

You can hook into that functionality via the API and do cool things...but then your on your own, as you rightly should be. So sorry, don't buy and never will buy the line that Canon Marketing is the sole reason that certain features of their cameras are disabled. That kind of thinking steps from a mentality steeped in anticoproration crap, and I honestly cannot stand that sort of thing. It's naive. Go work in a large company  like Canon for a year...the politics and turf and dominions wars will make your ears and eyes bleed...

50
Canon General / Re: A Rundown of EOS 7D Mark II Information
« on: August 18, 2014, 07:34:17 PM »
Schrodinger's Camera is coming--it's currently alive and dead--which one it stays, remains to be seen.

Hah! Very nice! :D And, really about as true as it gets. We won't know till we know. Just wish Canon would hurry up and release it already. :P Alive or dead.  ;)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SRvCvsRp5ho

Yes indeed, we shall only know the truth when it is announced and reviewed.  Hopefully in a few weeks!

And yes, "Wanted, Dead Or Alive" is the PERFECT theme song!  We will either salivate to get it, or turn sadly away, but we want to know WHICH!  We've waited long enough to find out!!!

I'm really waiting on the 5D4 even more, since even if the 7D2 doesn't do too much for the sensor (unless of course it does  ;D ;D and then we are totally golden), the 5D4/1DX2 story might be different. So yeah just bring those last two on for they are Wanted, Dead or Alive!!!!!!!! And then we can finally know whether Canon is in the game again or whether some may finally hit the point to stop whining and just switch (not that the Nikon side is all roses, the lenses are not as exciting for one, but if the 5D4 and 1DX2 drop the ball sensor-wise, maybe it's time Nikon's issues be damned).

I wouldn't switch, myself. I'd add a D810 and a 14-24 to my kit for landscapes. I still think that overall, Canon is still much better for the action stuff, in my case wildlife and birds. The lenses are truly to die for.

51
Canon General / Re: A Rundown of EOS 7D Mark II Information
« on: August 18, 2014, 06:16:56 PM »
In the first case it's a direct quote from a Canon guy at a show in Europe.

I'm not doubting that a Canon employee at a trade show might say something like that. I just doubt that he would have any access to the information to justify such a statement. Canon has never been enthusiastic about AFMA. I think they see it as a way for customers to really screw up their camera settings and create extra work for their service centers. I think they dropped it from the 60D because they viewed it as a consumer product and didn't want the headaches. I suspect they took so much grief for doing that they they decided with the 70D to just bite and bullet and include it.

This seems far more logical to me than some kind of secret conspiracy at Canon to keep their customers buying upgraded cameras. I honestly cannot see Canon purposefully screwing their customers over for an extra buck. Historically, that has the opposite effect...you piss your customers off, and they go elsewhere for their needs.

I am thinking your right, AFMA is probably a source of camera screwups and extra service center costs. I bet that's why they have been putting effort into R&D on automatic AFMA technology...they have at least one or two patents for such technology. It's certainly better if the camera can figure out for itself what the best AFMA setting is, than to have a customer do it and maybe mess something up (without realizing it, most likely), and then complain to Canon about the issue.

In the second, maybe the EOSfun guy was full of it, but he a history of popping up right before an announcement and dropping hints that always turned out to be true.

Except the statement isn't even true. This forum was filled with rave reviews from actual users (mostly wedding and event photographers) about the incredible improvement in high ISO performance offered by the 5DIII when it came out. I'm not interested in re-opening this old debate, but there are plenty of people who think the 5DIII sensor was a vast improvement over the 5DII.

The 5D III sensor is a vast improvement over most of Canon's older sensors, for sure. The difference between the 5D III and 7D for identically framed shots is massive. I was printing at 24x36 most of the time with my 7D images. I just received three new prints at 40x30", all taken with the 5D III. The big, blurry backgrounds look exquisite!

Of course, I pretty much live and die at high ISO. Once I get back out into the mountains (hopefully next week), It'll be my first change to see how well the 5D III does for landscapes. I'm sure it will be better than the 7D, simply because of frame size...but I do wonder about the shadow pulling.

52
Canon General / Re: A Rundown of EOS 7D Mark II Information
« on: August 18, 2014, 05:06:14 PM »
Schrodinger's Camera is coming--it's currently alive and dead--which one it stays, remains to be seen.

Hah! Very nice! :D And, really about as true as it gets. We won't know till we know. Just wish Canon would hurry up and release it already. :P Alive or dead.  ;)

53
Canon General / Re: A Rundown of EOS 7D Mark II Information
« on: August 18, 2014, 12:01:31 PM »
And I dislike it when people post stuff like this without actually reading and understanding what they respond to.

You made the same wrong claim and prediction that you've made before. You will not see another step in the higher MP image. I know because I've tried these things. I wish you would to.

Well, maybe we finally have something we can agree on. ;P I do agree, you will not see another step in a higher MP image, for the reasons I tried to explain to LTRLI.

I guess that's where our agreement ends, though.  ::)

If you lift the shadows in the image, however, you should actually get more steps with a sensor that has lower read noise. IF YOU PULL THE SHADOWS. If you take images of step wedges, and do not pull the shadows in them, then again as I described to LTRLI, you won't notice any difference between cameras. Shoot a step wedge with a 5D III, and shoot a step wedge with a D800, and compare the out-of-camera results on a computer...and there won't be any difference. The reason for that is that the DR gain on the D800 is in the deep shadows, because read noise has been reduced...and those shadows are several stops below the level that a computer screen can render. You have greater editing latitude, and the ability to UTILIZE more dynamic range in an image created with a sensor that has lower read noise.

Most computer screens render 8-bit meaning they cannot naively render more than 8 stops of DR in an image, where as most RAW files are 14-bits, and they contain images with 11-13+ stops of DR. The 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th, and 13th stops of additional DR in a RAW will all be rendered as either very deep shadows, or simply blacks, when the gamma curve of the screen is applied. This is WHY we tend to lift shadows...to "recover" those stops of dynamic range that cannot be rendered properly by a computer screen.

So, if you are taking photos of step wedges, then comparing the unmodified OOC results, I am honestly not surprised if you are not seeing any difference between the D800, 5D III, and any other cameras. Without modification, without pulling up the shadows, your only seeing a gamma-corrected 8 stops or so, which is leaving a few stops at least buried in the shadows. A simple test, but one that might be prone to a little subjectivity, would be to take some step wedge shots with a D800 or D810, and a 5D III, and pull up the shadows until the noise in the shadows either starts exhibiting unsightly patterns, or becomes more pronounced than throughout the rest of the tonal range. With a Canon, you might be able to recover up to about three stops (11-8) before Canon's unsightly noise becomes a problem. With a D810, you should be able to recover four to five stops before noise becomes more pronounced in the shadows than at any other level...however it won't have any pattern, it should just be nice, clean, random noise. You could lift the full 5.8 stops (13.8-8) and still have good results...but the shadow noise will likely become more pronounced than at any other level at some point.

Anyway, after doing that kind of shadow pull...then compare the step wedges. It's in this particular case that you should notice the DR advantage of cameras that use Sony Exmor sensors. The advantage should be up to around two stops over non-Exmor sensors, and sadly, the worst competitor on the market at the moment are Canon sensors.

54
Canon General / Re: A Rundown of EOS 7D Mark II Information
« on: August 17, 2014, 06:51:03 PM »
I'm going to snip most of the text here, because this is getting long.

But you say that suddenly for read noise we can only compare photosite to photosite and that you can't normalize as you did above to see if the higher MP might do as well compared at the same scale. Why? How is this noise magically behaving differently and scale invariant? It sounds like are mixing up the relative invariance between how each photosite does for read noise with the way the noise results scale which have nothing to do with one another.

I mean what if sensor A has 40MP of photosites that have the same read as sensor B that has 10MP of photosites that have the same read. Now you say to look at only the ScreenDR and compare the tiny photosite of the 40MP camera to the big one of the 10MP camera and you say they do about the same and get about the same score. But you are comparing photosites that are at only 1/2 the scale of the others as if they were the same scale so if you want to know what the relative comparison between the two was in terms of how you could do in this regard on an even basis, well you are not doing that. You are just seeing how the 40MP camera would do if you took full advantage of the extra res of the 40MP, but nobody says you have to take advantage of the extra res. If you compare the 40MP camera the 10MP scale it would probably give a slightly better overall result or just call it the same to be simple as the 10MP camera. The PrintDR numbers would tell you that. But just using your ScreenDR numbers you'd think that there is no way you could ever be able to use the new camera to match the old camera's result.


And I still await to hear why it makes sense to only compare mid-tone noise at normalized scale and NOT at 100% view, but it makes sense to only compare read noise at 100% view. Why does it make sense to compare apples to apples for mid-tone noise but makes sense to compare apples to oranges for deep tone noise???

and for that matter, when you want to simply see how a full RAW does, taking advantage of the full res of each RAW, you want to still normalize mid-tone noise, when in that case you should not be normalizing either mid-tone noise or shadow noise.

I don't get the point in comparing one always normalized and one never normalized. I mean you can do that if you want, who knows why, but whatever, but that is one thing, to then say that DxO is raw BS and the PrintDR is fake, has no bearing on reality, and nobody should ever compare in any way using that, blah blah blah, is just flat out wrong.

There is noise, and there is editing latitude. In pretty much every thread on here that ends up with the DR debate, what do people talk about? The amount of noise they can see, or the amount they can lift the shadows? In all the threads I've been party to, it all ultimately comes down to how much you can lift shadows. In none of the DR debates I've ever been party to has anyone ever said "You don't see as much noise with an Exmor sensor." No, the thing everyone always says, and the thing everyone always tries to demonstrate, is "Look how much I lifted the shadows! Look, I have a fully detailed sun, and detailed shadows, in this landscape photo. Oh, and look over here, the Canon sensor has tons of nasty red banding noise when I lift the shadows."

As far as I can tell, as far as most consumers are concerned, DR all boils down to EDITING LATITUDE. It means more shadow lifting.

So, why do I treat them differently? First, you are not wrong about comparing cameras...you need to normalize. And normalization affects read noise as much as it affects photon shot noise. But that is comparing final IQ. That's fine and dandy...but I believe people are misusing final IQ (of UNEDITED images) to refer to editing latitude. It's THAT, the use of normalized images to refer to editing latitude, that I believe is wrong. I believe DXO's publishing of Print DR exclusively on their ratings, completely ignoring Screen DR entirely, has lead to the misinterpretation of REAL WORLD editing latitude in a RAW.

Since everyone always ultimately arrives at "pulling shadows" in DR debates at one point or another, I'm always harping on that point. More DR means less noise, and normalizing means even less noise for larger sensors, but we cannot edit normalized images. We only edit full size images. So, from an editing latitude standpoint...I believe Print DR is invalid. For one thing, the Print DR numbers at DXO are only valid if you downsample an image to exactly that size. I don't think many people actually downsample their images to exactly 8x12 @ 300PPI all the time...hell, I think it's actually probably quite rare. So always referring to 14.4 stop of DR when discussing shadow lifting ability is plain and simply wrong in all the infinite other possibilities for image size. And that's not even mentioning that when it comes to the types of photography that tons of DR are most useful for, say landscapes, your probably UPsampling, rather than downsampling, which makes it even more invalid.

The other thing is that we don't edit RAW images after downsampling them. They would no longer be RAW. We edit RAW images at native size. So we deal with the native noise levels and noise frequencies when we are pulling shadows. So yes, normalization will reduce all noise, including read noise, we can't downsample our RAWs...we must edit them at native size. If we take DXO's Print DR numbers as a reference for editing latitude, they would have you believe that you have more than an additional stop of editing latitude with a D800, and nearly two additional stops of editing latitude with a D810. That is plain and simply false. Hence the reason I treat read noise uniquely in the case of editing latitude.

Finally, as far as visible noise goes from a human perception standpoint...read noise only exists in the deep shadows. It doesn't really matter if you have 38e- worth of read noise (as in the 1D X), or ~3e- worth (D800) or ~6e- worth (D810). You can't see it at native size. You still can't see it after normalization. Perceptually, read noise is inconsequential from a visual standpoint. Photon shot noise, on the other hand, or what you have called midtone noise (I think that's a bit of a misnomer...photon shot noise exists at every level of the signal, from the highlights down to the utter depths of the shadows, well below the read noise floor), affects the entire signal, and is the prime source of noise that we actually perceive in our photographs.

So, I don't believe that read noise frequencies are consequential to normalization...you can't see them anyway. That leaves photon shot noise as the primary noise culprit we are dealing with when normalizing images for comparison. Sure, read noise frequencies get normalized as well, but only a computer algorithm can tell the difference, so as far as I'm concerned, normalization of read noise frequencies is immaterial. When it comes to photon shot noise, well that is a part of quantization of the incoming photonic wavefront itself. Photon shot noise is ultimately determined by frame size, as your gathering the same amount of photons regardless of what your pixel size is. If your using a 1D X, each pixel is gathering more photons than the pixels of a D800. At native size, the D800 will appear noisier on a per-pixel basis, however after normalization there won't be any significant difference (in noise...the D800 still certainly maintains the advantage in overall detail, no question). There won't be any difference, because the amount of visible noise in those two photographs really has nothing to do with read noise...it has to do with the total quantity of light gathered. Now, the D800 has higher Q.E., so it should have an advantage...but at the same time, it also has a lower fill factor (more pixels, still an FSI design, so more die space has to be reserved for wiring and readout transistors.) I think in a normalized context, where a D800 image was downsampled to the same size as a 1D X image at ISO 100, the D800 would probably have a slight edge, as I don't think it's fill factor is going to entirely negate it's increased Q.E. However, fundamentally, the overall amount of perceptual noise (photon shot noise) in the images has to do with total sensor area. Read noise is there, and it is less in the D800...but we can't see the difference with our eyes. The shadows are shadows, both cameras have more dynamic range than any computer screen can handle anyway (~11stops for Canon, ~13 some stops for Nikon)...so the stuff in the shadows is buried several stops below the limit of a computer screen regardless.

The only time read noise becomes a meaningful factor is when your pulling shadows. THEN, and only then, does the advantage of having LESS read noise really become a meaningful issue. In that case, the D800, and any other Sony Exmor based camera, wins, hands down, no contest. However, and here is where DXO comes in again...A D800, D810, A7r, A7s, etc. don't have an 8x light gathering advantage over a Canon camera (as DXO's PrintDR numbers would have you believe). In fact, its about HALF that, one stop less, or a 4x advantage. Personally, I think being off by 100% is a meaningful thing. If DXO was saying the D800 had a 4.1x advantage over Canon cameras, I'd have never said a peep. But saying the D800 has nearly an 8x advantage over Canon cameras...yeah, I have a problem with that.

So...I keep read noise levels in the context of discussions on DR (which pretty much ALWAYS end up referring to shadow lifting ability at some point), distinct from the whole concept of normalization. Because were talking about editing latitude, something that cannot be compared in a normalized context (at least, as far as I see it.)

Well, I don't think I can explain my stance any better than that. I'm guessing you still disagree, but that's ok. Nothing either of us can do about that at this point. :P

55
Canon General / Re: A Rundown of EOS 7D Mark II Information
« on: August 17, 2014, 02:18:20 AM »
Quote
We are now WELL into the era of significantly improved DR.

Basically 12+ vs. 13+ stops. The DR meme is driven entirely by BS DxO tests that aren't even physically possible (i.e. claims of >14 stops from a 14-bit ADC).

Actually, it's more like 10.x stops vs. 13.x stops. I agree, DXO's PrintDR numbers are BS. Just use DXO's ScreenDR numbers, which are literal measurements taken directly from RAW, and a far more trustworthy number. Canon IS behind by about two stops. That is a FACTOR OF FOUR TIMES. DXO would have you believe it was closer to three stops, or EIGHT times...I agree, BS, and highly misleading. That doesn't change the fact that two stops is still a meaningful difference...always has been.

once again, wrong wrong wrong, which is so bizarre because then you flip around and say that photosite density doesn't matter for noise and only sensor size does!!!! that is like saying 1+1=2 and no 1+1 does not equal 2 at the same time.

I think I may begin to see part of our disconnect. Maybe a little clarification of what I think of when I say some of these things would help.

So, first off, I do believe that only sensor size really matters from a fundamental IQ standpoint. I believe that "noise" is relative to sensor size. That's a fairly general statement, maybe I've been lax in my specificity in the past. So, to clarify this first point...I believe that photon shot noise is relative to sensor size. Very specifically, I believe that the total amount of photon shot noise, which affects the signal top to bottom, from the highlights to the shadows, which is an intrinsic part of the real image signal itself, is fundamentally relative to total sensor area.

In that respect, I believe larger sensors will always outperform smaller sensors given similar technology, for identical framing. Assuming non-similar technology, I believe that it is possible, for a short period of time, for a sensor of smaller area to outperform a sensor of larger area...but only so long as the larger sensor's technology is inferior. I believe the generational gap between the small and large sensor would need to be fairly large for the smaller sensor to outperform a larger sensor...within a single generation, I honestly do not believe that any smaller sensor would outperform a larger sensor in terms of overall IQ.

I believe this, because if you frame a subject identically in frames of different physical sizes, the larger the frame, the more total light you gather. That's it. I don't really think that needs any further qualification. More light, better IQ. It's better if you don't normalize, it's better if you do normalize. More total light gathered per unit area of subject, better IQ. It's as simple as that.
---

Alright, second. Read noise. I consider read noise to be a fairly distinct form of noise, different in nature and impact than photon shot noise. I do NOT believe that read noise has anything to do with pixel size or sensor size. I believe read noise has to do with the technology itself. I believe read noise is a complex form of noise, contributed to from multiple sources, some of them electronic (i.e. high frequency ADC unit), some of them material in nature (i.e. sensor bias noise, once you average out the random noise components, is fixed....as it partly results from the physical material nature of the sensor itself, it's physical wiring layout, etc.) I believe read noise affects overall image quality, but in a strait up comparison of two images from two cameras with identical sensor sizes, read noise in an invisible quantity. It doesn't really matter how much you scale your images, whether you scale them up or down, whether you normalize or not. Before any editing is performed, read noise is an invisible deep shadow factor, it cannot usually be seen by human eyes.

In this respect, two landscape photos of the same scene taken with different full frame cameras are all largely going to look the same. Photon shot noise is going to be the same, it may just be more finely delineated by a sensor with smaller pixels. Normalize them all, without any other edits, and you aren't going to notice much of any difference between the images. The most significant differences are likely to be firmware/setting related...a Daylight white balance setting will probably differ between cameras (one may be slightly warm, another slightly cold), small nuances of exposure may differ between cameras (one may slightly overexpose, another may slightly underexpose), there may be nuanced differences in color rendition that cater to different personal preferences.

When it comes to read noise, to me, that is all about editing latitude. Because it's a deep shadow thing, it doesn't manifest until you start making some significant exposure adjustments. You have to lift shadows at very low ISO by several stops before the differences between a camera with more sensor+ADC DR and a camera with less sensor+ADC DR really start to manifest. Those differences only matter at ISO 100 and 200, they are significantly diminished by ISO 400, and above that the differences between cameras are so negligible as to be nearly meaningless...sensor size/photon shot noise totally dominate the IQ factor.

I do believe that normalization is important to keep the frequency of photon shot noise, which is the primary visible source of noise in images that have not been edited, at the same frequency for comparison purposes. I do believe that normalization will and should show differences between larger and smaller sensors. I do not believe, however, that normalization of a non-pulled image is going to have any impact on how deep the blacks appear to an observer. I believe the only thing that can actually measure the differences in the deep shadows, where read noise exists, are software algorithms. I do believe that having lower read noise means you have better editing latitude when editing a RAW image in a RAW editor, and that for the purposes of editing, lower read noise, which leads to increased dynamic range (primarily by restoring what would have otherwise been lost to read noise in the shadows) is a good thing, and something that can and does certainly improve certain types of photography. This is the fundamental crux of my belief that DXO's PrintDR numbers are very misleading, and why I prefer to refer to their ScreenDR numbers...as the increase in DR that you gain from having lower read noise is only really of value WHEN editing a RAW image and lifting shadows. Otherwise, I really don't care about comparing cameras within a "DXO-specific context"...I care about comparing cameras based on what you can actually literally do with them in real life. (I KNOW you disagree with this one, but we should just agree to disagree here, because neither of us is ever going to win this argument. :P)

That is my stance on these things. I am pretty sure you'll disagree in one way or another, and that's ok. However I do not believe that my assessment of these things is fundamentally wrong. I believe it may be different than your assessment, or DXO's assessment for that matter. But I do not believe I have a wrong stance on this subject. I separate photon shot noise and the impact it has on overall IQ (which is significantly greater) from read noise, and the impact it has on the editing latitude you might experience when adjusting exposure of a RAW image in a RAW editor at an unscaled, native image size.

56
Canon General / Re: A Rundown of EOS 7D Mark II Information
« on: August 16, 2014, 11:50:18 PM »
Quote
We are now WELL into the era of significantly improved DR.

Basically 12+ vs. 13+ stops. The DR meme is driven entirely by BS DxO tests that aren't even physically possible (i.e. claims of >14 stops from a 14-bit ADC).

Actually, it's more like 10.x stops vs. 13.x stops. I agree, DXO's PrintDR numbers are BS. Just use DXO's ScreenDR numbers, which are literal measurements taken directly from RAW, and a far more trustworthy number. Canon IS behind by about two stops. That is a FACTOR OF FOUR TIMES. DXO would have you believe it was closer to three stops, or EIGHT times...I agree, BS, and highly misleading. That doesn't change the fact that two stops is still a meaningful difference...always has been.

I think the 7D II needs to close that gap. I truly do. Back to the original point that started this now lengthy debate...I think Canon needs to focus on making the 7D II close the IQ gap, particularly the sensor IQ gap, between Canon cameras and their competitors cameras, far more than they need to focus on adding a touch UI. In that context, I think people are out of their minds to be bitching and moaning about the point made in the first post of this thread that said there would not be a touch UI or WiFi. It doesn't matter if touch or wifi make it into the camera or not, I honestly could care less, those are such trivial features...so long as they make it in there ALONGSIDE a radically improved sensor.

Alright, I got more stuff to do (astrophotography stuff this time). Later chums.

57
Canon General / Re: A Rundown of EOS 7D Mark II Information
« on: August 16, 2014, 11:40:06 PM »
My point, in all of my comments, is that a touch UI is not the thing Canon NEEDS to focus in, and it shouldn't be the one feature that people use to decide whether to guy the 7D II or not. If the 7D II hits the streets with the same old "classic" Canon sensor technology...that, in my honest opinion, is a MASSIVE FLUB!!
As I said, I don't care if they do include a touch UI, SO LONG as that does not mean they don't deliver a significantly improved sensor, significantly improved AF system, and also an improved metering system.
Focus on a touchscreen?  Including a touchscreen as a causative factor in the exclusion of a totally redesigned sensor? The R&D resources needed to implement a touchscreen and touch UI, features which are present in several other dSLR models, are minimal, and are miniscule compared the R&D resources needed to develop a truly new sensor with dramatically improved IQ, which is a MAJOR investment.  Are you actually suggesting that Canon should not implement a touchscreen in the 7DII because those miniscule resources would have been better spent on sensor R&D? 

As for real photographers in the real world flocking to Nikon for the D800, the facts don't support that idea.  Anecdotes ≠ data.  I know one wedding photog who switched from the 5DII to the D800...because she got a great deal a Nikon package from another wedding photographer who was switching to the 5DIII.  At the birding spots I frequent, there are more white lenses than black ones, and some of the black ones are now the Tamron 150-600 mounted on a Canon body.

Photography related internet forums are not representative of the buying public, at any level.  The number of working pros who frequent such forums is pretty small.  You mention DPR Forums, and that there is a 'strong and growing' group who are dissatisfied with Canon.  Have you looked at the DPR 'gear list'?  For 'Most Owned', Canon bodies outnumber Nikon by 65%.  On the 'Most Wanted' list, Canon bodies outnumber Nikon, as do Sony and even Pentax. 


However, if Canon pisses off their long term, loyal customers who have been using their DSLRs, in the same way with the same menu system and same old "archaic" buttons and dials for YEARS, by doing anything to upset the fundamental functionality of their DSLRs...how do you think THAT would affect their bottom line...or worse, their reputation?
Honestly, do you think that Canon would turn the back side of the 7DII into the EOS M, with a big touchscreen, a couple of buttons, and a little dial?  Really?  I don't get how including a touchscreen would 'upset the fundamental functionality' of a dSLR.  Did Canon's addition of the Rate button to the 5DIII disrupt the workflow of those long term, loyal customers?  (Hey, wait...maybe that's why they switched to Nikon in droves!  ::) )  The touchscreen is a feature.  If you don't want to use it, don't. 

First, I never said anyone was flocking to the D800. I did say that I've been encountering more photographers who I know who have move to Nikon cameras (usually the D800, I know another guy who moved to the D7100, and I know a number of new astrophotographers who have actually chosen Nikon D5000 series cameras instead of Canon cameras, given news that a Nikon hacker cracked their black point clipping and restored the full signal, all while still maintaining RN below 6e-), and some who have moved to Pentax cameras. That isn't "flocking"...however it is very interesting to me. Don't put words in my mouth.

I am the first to say that portraiture and event photography isn't the largest group of photographers. I still believe that action photographers outnumber them ten to one at least. Doesn't change the fact that I used to see nothing but Canon cameras at the local state parks where I do most of my bird photography, and since I picked up my 5D III, in the couple dozen times I've been out, I haven't seen another Canon camera out there except my old friend David Stephens. Another bird photographer friend of mine, Kiomichi, was actually with Pentax, and he also moved to Nikon for better IQ. The amount of people that I personally know who are moving to different camera systems has been surprising...I figured some would, but it seems most are now. I've found that very interesting. And it's always the same thing...they want better IQ. These guys certainly aren't a statistical representation of all photographers...but it's a trend, it's a consistent change I've noticed in the photographers I know, many whom I've known for several years.

I use the word TREND here specifically. I certainly don't think it's affected Canons' bottom line. NOT YET. But it's a trend. This isn't an existing change that has suddenly occurred to Canon. It's the perceptual threat that COULD, and in my opinion likely WILL, change Canon as we move on into the future. It's as Maurauder stated, the "average joe" that is currently Canon's bread and butter don't give a flyin rat's ass about the fundamental technology. All they care about is what reviewers say the most good things about what camera or brand...and then they go buy that camera or brand. THAT is the perceptual issue Canon has, THAT is the perceptual threat Canon faces. I mean, I don't know how many comparison reviews have been posted on our forums alone recently, but it seems like every one of them favors the Sony Exmor-based camera over the Canon. Canon cameras still get solid points for their strengths, but it still seems like the final recommendations are no longer the one-sided "Get a Canon Camera" that they used to be. The field is split, competition is tough, and the leading factor in that competition is that one freakin sensor brand! :P

I know your stance on all this. I thought you were a little more open minded, and as much as I really DISLIKED ZigZagZoe (that guy was an arrogant prick), I think he found the one thing about you that is your greatest flaw, and he kept on pressing it: You are NOT open minded on this topic (and, you can be just as much an arrogant prick, too, when you choose to be!) To you, so long as Canon's bottom line keeps growing, so long as they sell more total units damn the consequences, your unwilling to see the potentially dangerous situation Canon is in.

No, nothing has happened yet. Nothing may happen at all. Perceptions have changed for many people, and future perceptions are ultimately going to be shaped by the people recommending cameras. I don't like DXO, I think they have some serious flaws in the core of their methodology...but people listen to them. I don't care much for a LOT of the YouTube video reviewers who have cropped up over the last several years...I think a lot of them are obviously biased, others seem to lack any kind of understanding of what it takes to perform an objective, unbiased review. But, the simple fact of the matter is...people listen to them. And, I'm happy to admit, as much as I like Canon...I STILL WANT BETTER IQ!!! :P I KNOW I can't be the only die-hard Canon fan who wants my next Canon camera to have the same IQ as any camera that uses a Sony Exmor...I want it all, I want phenomenal high ISO IQ, and I want phenomenal low ISO IQ. I want a FLAT read noise curve, both for my terrestrial photography but even more so, for my astrophotography. I WANT BETTER IQ. I want faster frame rates for the 5D and 7D lines. I want better metering (I really want a full color RGB metering sensor that can detect the subject and perform better tracking...it's ok in the 7D and 5D III, so, so much better in the 1D X.) And I'm a Canon user! :P

So, as I've said...unless Canon really starts demonstrating that they can not just create new technology, but employ it in actual commercial products, and SOON...I honestly cannot help but wonder if they are going to become the next Kodak, or Nikon, or Microsoft, or Minolta, or name any one of a hundred companies that either did not see the winds of change and change tack to catch them, or that simply ignored the winds of change, and just sat on their laurels and did nothing to really, truly compete with game-changing innovation from their competitors.

I don't know if Canon is any of those things yet...we still need the 7D II, and probably the 5D IV (or whatever the next Canon DSLR is) to actually be released. But looking at the market landscape...knowing that so many of my photographer friends have moved from Canon to some other brand...hearing so many reviewers recommend cameras other than Canon...it all adds up to a bad smell. I think the 7D II is a critical release for them. I think they need to invest every single resource they have in improving their fundamentals. I honestly don't know exactly how much resources it would take to implement touch for the 7D II...however I'm sure it's more than minuscule. It's not just the hardware, it's the firmware implementation, the testing, that I believe takes up resources. I write software for a living. I've written software since I was eight years old for christ sake. If there is anything no company on earth understands, it's how much time it REALLY takes to design, implement, test, refine/debug, and release software. Most companies think they can crank out some complex new web site product for their customers in a month or two, and executives are always surprised when it takes five times longer and ten times the budget to actually accommodate all their ideas and features and deal with all the quality assurance loops and the whole nine yards of implementing a stable, reliable piece of software.

So yes, I think that Canon could be using up a meaningful amount of resources by implementing a fully functioning touch UI for a professional grade device that has TONS more features than an EOS-M. I do not think that the amount of resources necessary to implement touch is on the same scale as developing new sensor technology...however developing new sensor technology permeates throughout the entirety of Canon's imaging enterprise, and is a FUNDAMENTAL aspect of their photographic tools, one that has a critical impact to IQ, just like AF, metering, frame rate, etc. I'm not necessarily saying Canon should move touch screen resources to sensors. However I do think touch screen resources could be put to better use on other firmware. Say, maybe, creating firmware for a new DIGIC that can produce ISO 400k that kicks the crap out of the A7s. OR maybe creating and improving firmware that improves their AF performance even more (having used the 5D III for months now, it still has some of that jitter that the 7D had with it's 19pt AF system...I REALLY think Canon needs to eliminate that problem. It's not as bad, but still present, and it's the single most annoying thing about Canon's DSLR usability.)


Anyway, I'm out. Got other things to do.
It seems you were wrong about that, too...   ;)

Heh, dude...you just never stop. I actually left, did stuff, and came back. I never said I was out permanently, just that I had S___ to do.

58
Canon General / Re: A Rundown of EOS 7D Mark II Information
« on: August 16, 2014, 10:17:49 PM »
I think jrista's whole point was essentially that at THIS level of the Canon spectrum, cool features should play second fiddle to fundamentals. And I agree. If Canon is trying to make a paramount pro-level crop, keep pricing reasonable, and focus most consciously on the things that matter most to the target market they're after on the broadest scale possible....then they (and we) should be clamouring for solid and unmatched fundamentals. Maybe some analogies were misaligned but I appreciate his take on this.  I've been Canon since I was five years old holding dad's A1. I still have it.

The 70D fills the upscale consumer market. The enthusiasts and the crossover videographers. Feature rich with touch and wifi.

The 7DX is for a more discerning palate looking for solid build (1DXish) in a crop that can handle harsh conditions if need be and deliver 1DXish AF and FPS.  If engineering such a beast negates the use of touch and wifi, so be it. I agree that I do not believe Canon would cut such features without serious reason. One of which may be price considering everything else they wish to accomplish.

I can live fine without either. I won't miss them. I know how to toggle a canon menu well enough. So do most of the pros who would be considering this grade of machine.

In the end, all this is little more than enjoyable conjecture and academia. We don't and won't know anything til the proverbial S___ hits the fan next month :-)

Yup, this is it exactly. As I said, I don't care if they do include a touch UI, SO LONG as that does not mean they don't deliver a significantly improved sensor, significantly improved AF system, and also an improved metering system. If the 7D II hits with a consumer-grabbing tough UI, and none of the above...well, I'd perceive that the same way so many other people perceive Canon these days...as being obsessed with video and consumerism, and having lost interest in the true photographer, in solid image quality from top to bottom.

59
Canon General / Re: A Rundown of EOS 7D Mark II Information
« on: August 16, 2014, 10:13:51 PM »
Canon has a problem. I know you do not believe that, but they do. It's a perceptual problem, and it could seriously affect their revenues and ability to fund the necessary R&D in the years to come. Such things have happened before, and often companies, even if they were on the top of the world, NEVER recover (Kodak?) So...seriously...touch screens and touch UIs?

Canon has a perceptual problem?  That depends on who is doing the perceiving.  If you're referring to CR Forums and similar places, perhaps.  Perceived 'poor sensor IQ' is an Internet forum problem Canon has had for years.  Hasn't affected their market share, though.

As dtaylor stated, the analogy to Kodak is a red herring. 

Seriously, touch screens and touch UIs.  Entry level cameras have them.  Canon wants people to upgrade, and people don't like to give up features to which they're accustomed.  Omitting basic features which a majority of their customer base expects to be included (a category into which touch screens fall, but low ISO DR does not) would certainly 'seriously affect their revenues and ability to fund the necessary R&D in the years to come'.

I'm actually referring to real photographers I know out in the real world. Most are portrait, wedding, and event photographers. The majority of them already moved to the D800. Some are now seriously considering the D810. Others moved to Pentax (ironically, they really liked the small lenses most, but they also liked the IQ and shadow lifting ability.) The last several photographers I've encountered at the places I do my wildlife and bird photography, not one single one had a Canon camera. None had anything good to say about Canon. The only guy who DID have a Canon camera is an old friend who has haunted Cherry Creek State Park with a 7D, 5D III, and a 500mm f/4 L for years.

I also take my knowledge here from all over the net. Not just here on CR...there is a VERY strong, powerful pro-Canon stance here, obviously, as one would expect. The story is not the same on DPR forums, Fred Miranda, photo.net forums. There is a strong and growing presence of members on those forums who are, just like myself, wondering when Canon is going to do something about overall still photography image IQ.

The PERCEPTION is that Canon only cares about video now, and that they no longer care about the still photographer. That, fundamentally, is the biggest thing I've gathered, from real life photographers I know as well as the mounting trend on photography related internet forums. People perceive Canon as having forgotten about the still photographer, and as putting all their resources, both in video/cinema specific divisions as well as the DSLR/photography division, into video and video alone.

Is that a wrong perception? Looking at all the facts laid out behind us, it's really hard to think anything different. Starting with the 5D II, Canon dropped a video DSLR that sold TONS, and became one of the most popular DSLRs in history...because of the video features. Since the 5D II, the major "newsworthy" (I use that term, because when you dig into the image sensor world, most of the news sites, blogs, etc. pretty much ignore Canon, all the news is from Sony, Atpina, Omnivision, Samsung, Panasonic, Toshiba...basically everyone BUT Canon) image sensor improvements have all been...yup, video related. The 7D II has long been rumored to be a major VIDEO update. Canon has invested a significant amount of money and resources into their EOS Cinema line, including major send-in firmware updates, dual-pixel AF, etc.

I believe the 1D X and 5D III are excellent cameras, and I love the 61pt AF system. I wish the RGB metering system was also included in the 5D III...I've had a couple tough times with 5D III metering where it kept exposing rather high, when it shouldn't have been. I finally switched to full manual mode to solve that problem, but I shouldn't have had to. But aside from the 61pt AF system, and the full RGB metering sensor of the 1D X...what other major STILL photography innovations has Canon created since the release of the 1Ds III and 5D II? Even the sensors in the 1D X and 5D III only had minor evolutionary changes, some could be considered cheats (i.e. thinning of the CFA dyes to make them more transparent). They aren't bad, they do their job well enough, but they aren't as good as the competitors. And the 1D X and 5D III not having significant IQ improvements isn't a bad thing. Canon really did listen to their customers with those two cameras, and delivered what their customer demanded. But the video innovations that have found their way into actual marketable products that Canon is selling far outnumber the number of still photography innovations that have actually found their way into a camera. Even on the video front...Canon's innovations are getting trounced by the likes of Red and friends.

However, the 7D II is years past it's due date. We are now WELL into the era of significantly improved sensor IQ. We are now WELL into the era of significantly improved DR. My point, in all of my comments, is that a touch UI is not the thing Canon NEEDS to focus in, and it shouldn't be the one feature that people use to decide whether to guy the 7D II or not. If the 7D II hits the streets with the same old "classic" Canon sensor technology...that, in my honest opinion, is a MASSIVE FLUB!! Not only a massive flub, but a dangerous flub, for a company that appears to be increasingly perceived as no longer caring about fundamental photography IQ, and instead is obsessed with video (and, as you say, maybe also selling the cheapest cameras possible to the greatest number of consumers....as far as I am concerned, if that's all Canon focuses on into the future...creating cameras with neat little features that attract the bottom up while ignoring the things their true photography customers are demanding, then I'm going to lose interest...because as someone who is very serious about their photography, I'm going to be left behind as the rest of the HIGH END photography technology from every other company moves past me at light speed.) Canon can't forget about their pros and serious photographers in an attempt to attract more bottom-rung consumers. They may rake in the dough...but they will lose their reputation as a photography company that actually cares about photography and image quality.

(BTW, your point about low level consumers being tied to their fancy touch screens and touch UIs...that also applies to high end consumers and professionals, which has also been a point I've been trying to make. Consumers are fickle, they jump from thing to thing, one year they may have a Canon Rebel, the next a Nikon, and the year after that some entry level Sony mirrorless. However, if Canon pisses off their long term, loyal customers who have been using their DSLRs, in the same way with the same menu system and same old "archaic" buttons and dials for YEARS, by doing anything to upset the fundamental functionality of their DSLRs...how do you think THAT would affect their bottom line...or worse, their reputation? It's more important that Canon keep what works with the professional level cameras (xD series), and fix the things their high end customers are demanding, than to filter low end features that fickle consumers demand up to the high end. If they do, fine...but it isn't what I, as a very serious photographer who cares very much about my image quality, believes they should be putting any amount of effort into. I would MUCH rather put every ounce of spare resource they have into competing on the core technological front, and give Canon users a major boost in sensor IQ across the board. The time has come for Canon to address more than just the bottom line.)

60
Canon General / Re: A Rundown of EOS 7D Mark II Information
« on: August 16, 2014, 05:51:41 PM »
I concur.  The potential absence of a touch screen surprised me, rather than upset me.  But for me a killer AF with amazing speed and accuracy, combined with a high burst rate (and deep buffer to use it), are the two main "must have" items for this camera.  An improved sensor is also very desirable and I think that may be the biggest challenge for them to achieve. 

Like you, I also want them to succeed and succeed well.  Not just because I have a lot invested in their equipment, but because I want to see them retain their own sensor designing team.  The best way to make sure both Sony and Canon sensors continue to improve is a healthy competition and spirit of innovation for both sensor design teams. (Oh yes, and Fuji too!).

I totally agree. We really need competition in the marketplace. Aptina and some of the other sensor manufacturers don't really compete in the larger form factor  camera market (DSLRs and larger-sensor mirrorless). Since Nikon has effectively bowed out...it's mainly Sony and Canon, with a little bit of competition from Panasonic and maybe one or two other small players. So I agree, it's critical that Canon succeed here, so they don't hand Sony a default monopoly on a platter.

Jon, am I detecting a note of pessimism when it comes to the sensor tech, or do you think they'll pull it out of the hat?

I dunno. I've watched Canon for years now. I had high hopes, based on the patents I've read about. But when you dig into the history of those patents, many of them were initially filed before the 7D came out, or shortly after the 7D. Some were filed around the time the 1D IV came out. Filed, then granted usually around 18 months later. That means Canon had the technology long before that. Some of the patents indicate initial research in 2004, 2005, 2006.

A lot of Canon's patents sound very similar to the technology Sony has in the Exmor. I know Canon has a CP-ADC patent. They also have some very interesting patents that involve reducing dark current noise (something else Sony is very good at...Sony has some of the lowest dark current noise CCD sensors on the market that kick the crap out of the long-standing Kodak sensors. A Kodak KAF-8300, for example, has 0.02e-/s/px dark current noise accumulation, where as the new Sony ICX 674 and 694 sensors have an incredible 0.003e-/s/px...which is so low that no one who uses an astrocam with a Sony CCD even bothers with dark frames anymore...they simply aren't necessary anymore.) Canon has a patent that uses some kind of dynamic power disconnection to prevent dark current accumulation...I suspect it could reduce dark current levels below even Sony's CCD sensor levels. Canon also has a dual scale ADC readout system, which would allow them to switch to a slower readout speed when possible, which would also reduce read noise (a lot of read noise comes from high frequency components...reduce the frequency, reduce the noise.)

Canon has all this technology, and yet...where is it? Some if it is a decade old!! Where is it?

Yeah, I'm pretty pessimistic now when it comes to Canon's ability to actually EMPLOY their patents in actual products. There is another company that was like that. They were one of the most innovative companies in the cellphone industry. They have a patent library that is MASSIVE, and has some of the most incredible technology in the cell phone, smartphone, and tablet industry. They had technology patented long before Apple started making things like the iPhone and iPad that could have crushed Apple before they even got started. But they never used the technology. They invented it all...and just sat on it.

That company was Nokia. They used to be at the top of the cellphone world. They were the biggest manufacturer, raking in more money than all the rest combined. Look where they are now. They are a shadow of their former shadow, and Nokia itself no longer even owns a lot of those patents as they've sold them to Microsoft. Microsoft themselves is another company that rested on their laurels, and lost the race. They are still a force in the tech industry, but they have a major perceptual problem...they are often perceived as irrelevant now.

When I look at Canon...I see some kind of blend between Microsoft and Nokia being their future. Canon has a LOT of amazing technology. They've prototyped ultra high resolution sensors with very high frame rates. They file more patents every year than nearly all other companies. And yet...where are the products that use that technology? Canon is quickly racing towards a future where they could potentially be perceived as irrelevant by the consumers that currently pay Canon's bills, fund their innovation. Canon is quickly racing towards a future where they have a ton of technology that they are just sitting on, just like Nokia, just like Kodak, instead of putting it to work making competitive products that give their competitors a run for their money.

So yeah. I'm pretty pessimistic about Canon's ability to bring technology to bear in their products. The 7D II should have been in the works a long time ago. Canon should have been making it a competitive product long before the 5D III was released. Canon should have known where their competitors were going, so they wouldn't have been caught so massively off guard (as it seems clear now that they were...otherwise they wouldn't have had to delay the 7D II release so much...it's now two years overdue, that's a really long time.)

I am hoping the 7D II gets a major boost to still photography IQ, but it's a pessimistic hope.  :-\

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