August 27, 2014, 07:09:43 AM

Author Topic: *UPDATE* EOS 70D is Coming, The Future of Pro APS-C Will Change  (Read 55401 times)

CarlTN

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Re: *UPDATE* EOS 70D is Coming, The Future of Pro APS-C Will Change
« Reply #195 on: February 15, 2013, 09:55:53 PM »
Don, I agree, the bulk of their cameras are mirrorless, because they're compact cameras.

However, I happen to like looking through a mirror and pentaprism.  Not that this is a fair comparison, but are electronic viewfinders going to replace the roof prism in high end binoculars too?  Last year I compared a lot of them, they're all a little different.  I didn't buy any of the "alpha class", but I did compare them.  One of the ones I bought was a lot cheaper, and actually had more contrast than a Swarovski...however it was the 2009 Swaro, and not the new one...they didn't have any new ones. 

Regarding the Olympus, I do find that interesting.  It is the same size sensor as 4/3, the "2x crop" with 4:3 aspect, right?  Like, at what ISO settings did it pull ahead of the 7D, etc?  I'm certainly not trying to say the 7D is some kind of mountain king...I don't even own one myself.  However, if the price for a new, non-refurb body somehow falls to the $700 range, I might succumb to buying one...regardless of whatever other FF body I decide on (I need to sell at least one pair of bino's, and a small telescope first).

I admit, the new Olympus body looks cool.  I once considered trying to study industrial design, back before all my dreams were crushed, and half my life got wasted away.  Also wanted to design "the next Porsche".  I dreamed pretty big as a kid.  They did see my design...I sent it to them.  This was 1989...I digress again.  I guess I'm just citing an example of using imagination.  My dreams weren't very realistic, but I took the chance anyway.

Oh, and regarding other unrealistic dreams...I mentioned in another thread, about my dream lens.  Some kind of really fast zoom, like a 60-115 f/0.8.  Maybe it's not even possible to build something like that without severe aberrations and vignetting...but what if it were possible?  Of course, it would be expensive.  I just...would absolutely love to shoot shallow DOF wildlife at sunset with something like that.  A companion lens could be a fixed focal length, 165 mm f/1.0...

Don Haines

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Re: *UPDATE* EOS 70D is Coming, The Future of Pro APS-C Will Change
« Reply #196 on: February 15, 2013, 10:07:00 PM »
Don, I agree, the bulk of their cameras are mirrorless, because they're compact cameras.

However, I happen to like looking through a mirror and pentaprism.  Not that this is a fair comparison, but are electronic viewfinders going to replace the roof prism in high end binoculars too?  Last year I compared a lot of them, they're all a little different.  I didn't buy any of the "alpha class", but I did compare them.  One of the ones I bought was a lot cheaper, and actually had more contrast than a Swarovski...however it was the 2009 Swaro, and not the new one...they didn't have any new ones. 

Interesting.... I never thought about binoculars.... mine are completely optical.... no electronics.... but I could really see how things like IS could shake up the world (no pun intended). I have a 15 power pair and you need to use a tripod or a tree to see things at night without too much shaking. In the daytime the eyes can compensate, but not at night.

As to EVF's.... I haven't seen one that I like as much as an optical viewfinder... but I have not seen the good ones. I really don't know how they stand in comparison
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CarlTN

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Re: *UPDATE* EOS 70D is Coming, The Future of Pro APS-C Will Change
« Reply #197 on: February 15, 2013, 10:16:24 PM »
I apologize to anyone else, I guess we have gotten a tad off topic.

Don...You mean the Olympus doesn't use an EVF, or do you mean the one it has "isn't a good one"?  I should know this already, sorry.

Interesting you mention IS with binoculars, Canon and a few others have had IS binoculars for years.  I've not tried them, although I have read they are superb. No electronic viewfinder needed.  One of them is a 15x50, I believe.  Priced over $1k.  Still cheaper than Swarovski.

The ones I wound up buying are all roof prism, an 8x32, 8.5 x 45, and a 12 x 60.  The largest of these was made in Japan, the others were made in China by competing companies...one a Vortex, the other a Vanguard.  I also have had a mid 1990's Celestron 15x80 for a long time, which I love, but they are only practical for tripod use.

jrista

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Re: *UPDATE* EOS 70D is Coming, The Future of Pro APS-C Will Change
« Reply #198 on: February 15, 2013, 10:40:49 PM »
The mirror is a holdout from the days of film, when you had to look through the lens to see what you were pointed at and how to focus. If you can get rid of the mirror you get rid of a lot of mechanical components and motors, and you get rid of mirror shake. I'm sure that they are working on it....

Except for the fact that optical viewfinders are still vastly superior to electronic viewfinders. I already wrote this up in another thread here, but basically the BARE MINIMUM pixel density you need for an EVF to be crystal clear (no pixelation) is 5000ppi, with over 12,000ppi necessary to support people with 20/10 vision (such as myself.) Dynamic range is also lacking. Low-light performance is highly dependent on the image sensor, which is no where near as good as the human eye in low light. I can spend a few minutes letting my eyes adjust to the dark and see a billion stars in the sky...an EVF? Maybe a few...the brightest of the bright...riddled by noise from the sensor as it's jacked up to ISO 25600.

A mirror is an essential factor in getting the best viewfinder humanly possible, utilizing the best low-light sensor we can get our hands on....the human eye. I'll hold onto my DSLR with its clunky mirror box until the end of time, when I'm a desiccated husk of paper-thin dried flesh encasing a tomb of dust, before I move to an EVF (or maybe possibly, when image sensors have reached 100% Q.E. and are capable of a couple million ISO...yet even then, my eyes are a hell of a lot clearer with far more dynamic range than an image sensor could ever hope to be at ISO 1,638,400).
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CarlTN

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Re: *UPDATE* EOS 70D is Coming, The Future of Pro APS-C Will Change
« Reply #199 on: February 15, 2013, 11:44:08 PM »
Jrista, interesting points.  However, I'm pretty sure there aren't 1 billion stars visible to your naked eye.  If you don't count galaxies (and you really can't), the max individual stars someone with 20/20 vision can see, only number in the thousands...not millions, or billions.  Since you claim you have 20/10 vision, I'm sure you can see a few more than someone with 20/20.  However, you're still not going to see anything dimmer than 6th magnitude...or that's what the experts say anyway.

You can see a lot of stars with some big binoculars...especially if your pupil can dllate larger than 5mm (which I'm sure you'll claim yours can dilate to 10mm, haha).  If they can dilate to 6 or 7mm, then try some 11x70 giant binoculars in a place like New Mexico, and see what all you can see then (I've not been there yet, and also not sure how big mine can dilate).

Given your claimed great vision, I can only deduce that you haven't spent many hours in front of a computer monitor.  If you have, then expect your great vision to begin to deteriorate very soon.

As for the couple million ISO, at this rate, sensors will have the option in 3 to 5 years, I would say.  Certainly they will be 1 million, if not by the next pro camera body cycle...then by the next after that.  Not that it means they will have good mimamic grange or color depth at that amount of gain, of course.  And I'm sure Nikon will make a camera body with terrible performance at that high gain, but at ISO 100, look out!

Btw, I expect a 2Dx in time for the 2016 Olympics in Rio...so that means it will get released by fall or Christmas, 2015, to the "pros"...and probably to everyone else, only after the Olympics are over.  The Nikon D5 will be available a year before that...you know, because Canon are behind the times, and can only mimic the innovations Nikon do first.  So that means a Nikon D5 with an ISO 500,000 or 1 million, by the end of 2014 or beginning of 2015.  It will be 18 or 20 MP, and will deliver files with a nice, green tinted color that can't ever be removed.

jrista

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Re: *UPDATE* EOS 70D is Coming, The Future of Pro APS-C Will Change
« Reply #200 on: February 16, 2013, 03:21:54 AM »
Jrista, interesting points.  However, I'm pretty sure there aren't 1 billion stars visible to your naked eye.  If you don't count galaxies (and you really can't), the max individual stars someone with 20/20 vision can see, only number in the thousands...not millions, or billions.  Since you claim you have 20/10 vision, I'm sure you can see a few more than someone with 20/20.  However, you're still not going to see anything dimmer than 6th magnitude...or that's what the experts say anyway.

Haha. You have heard of hyperbole, no? Embellishment? Artistic license? Of course you can't see a billion stars, not individually. You can see about 6000 or so with the unaided eye, and as far as I know even someone with 20/10 vision is limited to seeing stars around magnitude 6. I was trying to emphasize my point...with, yes, a little embellishment for flare.

Given your claimed great vision, I can only deduce that you haven't spent many hours in front of a computer monitor.  If you have, then expect your great vision to begin to deteriorate very soon.

My vision without glasses or contacts is somewhat poor as I am near sighted. However with corrective lenses, according to my last eye doctor visit only a month ago, I have at least 20/10 vision. I'm a software engineer, I've written software for a couple decades spending at least 8-10 hours a day in front of a computer, and have fiddled with computers since I was eight. My vision went rather nearsighted when I was pretty young, but has stayed the same for quite some time...it has not changed for years, and I do not suspect it will change for many more years. I do keep my face as far from the screen as I can, though...my standard posture at work is low-riding, kicked back in my chair, keyboard and mouse at the edge of the desk...monitors pushed back to the wall of my cubicle. I have a good 4 feet or so between my eyes and the screen at all times...keeps the vision good. :)

Also, according to my eye doctor, most people of younger to middle age who have a mild to moderate need for corrective lenses tend to have better than 20/20 vision when wearing their lenses, as the procedures used by ophthalmologist identify the best level of correction are intended to find the BEST lenses for each individuals eyes. (I've been asked to read lines smaller than necessary for 20/20 vision for years, and that is standard practice at the eye clinic I've visited for ears, which sees thousands of patients a year.) Outside of those with fairly severe problems or extreme near or far sightedness, most people who see an ophthalmologist (vs. a simple optometrist) should have 20/15 to 20/8 vision. It also seems that despite mild problems like high floater counts (mine is around 50 per eye, while average for my age is less than 30 and normal would be only a few), I still am able to read the 20/10 vision line perfectly well. So...I would not say it is particularly unusual for people in today's medically advanced world to have better than 20/20 vision...many have vision as good as 20/8 with their glasses on!

As for the couple million ISO, at this rate, sensors will have the option in 3 to 5 years, I would say.  Certainly they will be 1 million, if not by the next pro camera body cycle...then by the next after that.  Not that it means they will have good mimamic grange or color depth at that amount of gain, of course.  And I'm sure Nikon will make a camera body with terrible performance at that high gain, but at ISO 100, look out!

Oh, the million ISO thing was another bit of hyperbole. 8) I guess it is not necessarily "impossible", however it is likely improbable (at least in any useful form in the kinds of light levels we might actually NEED it for...)

We are currently at a native ISO of 51200 thanks to the 1D X. ISO settings up to 204800, regardless of brand, are "artificial", in the sense that they are only a digital boost above and beyond the maximum native setting. For the purposes of ISO, those that use H1 and H2 etc. are "fake", and really don't count. You can achieve the same thing by boosting on your own in post with RAW, and probably get better results than the camera. ISO 51200 is approximately two stops higher than the last native ISO setting of 12800, however it is not quite as good from an IQ standpoint as ISO 12800 was (more on why in a moment). There is a finite limit to how far we can really push ISO, simply because the amount of light that will actually reach a sensor in a given very small, finite amount of time is limited.

ISO is not really a boost to sensitivity, it is simply a reduction in the white point...it instructs the sensor to register a lesser amount of charge in each pixel as "maximum saturation", or the purest color for each pixel. The only way to truly boost sensitivity is by improving the "photon keeper rate". For any photon incident on a pixel, one of three things can happen: it reaches the photodiode and frees and electron (increases the charge in the pixel), it is converted to heat, or it reflects. So long as we continue to use bayer-type sensors with color filters over each pixel, we'll have an intrinsic maximum quantum efficiency (photon keeper rate). Probably around 40% or so depending on how strong or weak the CFA is. A move to color splitters rather than color filters could certainly increase Q.E., maybe to 80% or more, as instead of filtering light (converting it to heat or reflecting it), light of inappropriate frequency for a given pixel is simply redirected to the appropriate neighboring pixels...this preserving it. Theoretically, we could utilize nearly 100% of the light incident on any pixel with color splitters. Use of low-noise electronics or efficient hardware noise reduction like the Sony Exmor sensor allows further improvement. To really push beyond 80% Q.E. you need the electronics to be extremely cold...around -80°C is the sweet spot. At that level, noise from dark current (the bulk of read noise) is 200 times less than it is at room temperature...that would be a read noise level on the order of 0.01e-, where as today the average read noise level is around 3e-...three electrons worth of charge. Now, making a consumer-grade or even professional-grade camera that has less native noise than a Sony Exmor AND is capable of being kept at -80°C is no mean feat...it would be ONE HELL of a feat...and it still wouldn't actully reach 100% Q.E. (asymptotic relationships and all that.) We generally call such thermally cooled, low-noise sensors scientific-grade...they are usually CCD and often have Q.E. between 80-90%, and devices with such sensors cost tens of thousands of dollars.

Assuming an equal exposure value and sensors with equal quantum efficiency (i.e. equal fab tech at the same pixel size), a photo taken at ISO 12800 is going to have four times as much light on the sensor as a photo taken at ISO 51200. Because there is four times less light, at the same Q.E., the ISO 51200 photo will look approximately four times as noisy. The 1D X has a quantum efficiency of about 47%, so if we assume a near-perfect sensor can achieve about 94%, then technically speaking we could reduce the amount of noise in an ISO 51200 photo by a factor of two...which is still twice as noisy as the ISO 12800 photo. However, again assuming the same exposure value, ISO 102400 is going to look twice as noisy, ISO 204800 will look twice as noisy again, and so on. The difference between ISO 51200 and ISO 1683400 is a whopping 25x the amount of light needed to produce the desired exposure, or five stops. At ISO 51200 you have approximately 7 stops of dynamic range, which would leave you at a piddly 2 stops of dynamic range by ISO 1683400, and five orders of magnitude more noise at the same exposure value.

Using the 1D X as a basis, with a Q.E. of 47% it has a maximum saturation of 170e- (electrons) at ISO 51200. Assuming 94% Q.E., that would be a max. sat. of 340e-, and for 100% Q.E. a max. sat. of 362e-. Since 100% Q.E. means you are efficiently converting every single photon into an electron, that means 362 photons are captured per pixel. At ISO 1638400, you would capture a mere 11.3 photons per pixel before it saturated! While you might be able to make a photo with such a minimal amount of light, it would by nature have to be lacking in detail as the available photons would be so distributed as to cause 16x as much noise as at ISO 51200 on the 1D X today. Color fidelity would also be decimated with so little physical information representing color.

For all intents and purposes, an ISO 1638400 photo would be monochrome, rather soft, and extremely grainy. For one, I do not believe we will reach a native ISO 1683400 by the next generation of DSLRs, probably not even within the next two generations (assuming the current release cycles are maintained, that would mean we don't see ISO in the millions for at least EIGHT YEARS.) Assuming anyone can keep improving high ISO performance much beyond where the 1D X is now, especially with smaller pixels, one would have to assume the IQ at those ISOs would barely be as good as what we get today with ISO 51200, and then only if quantum efficiency is doubled (which is within the realm of possibility, although at what price point I couldn't say.)
« Last Edit: February 16, 2013, 03:26:35 AM by jrista »
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CarlTN

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Re: *UPDATE* EOS 70D is Coming, The Future of Pro APS-C Will Change
« Reply #201 on: February 16, 2013, 04:34:22 AM »
Jrista, your post is entirely too long, but I endeavored to read it.  Interesting most of the time.  I appreciate you taking the effort to school me!  One thing I can promise you…if I wrote a post this long, no one would read it!!

Haha, hyperbole?  I just wanted to bring you back down to earth a bit.

4 feet from the monitor eh?  What is it, a 40 inch?  Lucky you.  I’ve not had an eye exam in 9 years…my corrected vision isn’t remotely as good as it was 20 years ago…then it was 20/15.  I didn’t say it was all that unusual to have corrected 20/10, although given your years in front of a computer, I still find it a bit odd.  I sit closer to my monitor, and don’t use glasses.  I don’t program, however…nor do I usually spend more than 6 hours per day at a computer…sometimes far less.  To watch tv and drive, I use glasses.  To use my camera, it can be a bear to decide whether or not to use them…especially if I need to look at the live view display a lot.  And why all the detail about vision, are you also an eye doctor of some kind?  Interesting about the floaters.  Mine look like Krusty the Klown…and they mock me!

“ISO is not really a boost to sensitivity, it is simply a reduction in the white point...it instructs the sensor to register a lesser amount of charge in each pixel as "maximum saturation", or the purest color for each pixel.”

Interesting, and how do you know this?  If it’s not gain, it shouldn’t be referred to as gain.  But it often is. 

“So long as we continue to use bayer-type sensors with color filters over each pixel, we'll have an intrinsic maximum quantum efficiency (photon keeper rate).”

A good argument for the stacked color technique?

“Probably around 40% or so depending on how strong or weak the CFA is.”

CFA stands for what?  I tried googling, there are approximately 6 quadrillion different meanings.

“A move to color splitters rather than color filters could certainly increase Q.E., maybe to 80% or more, as instead of filtering light (converting it to heat or reflecting it), light of inappropriate frequency for a given pixel is simply redirected to the appropriate neighboring pixels...this preserving it. Theoretically, we could utilize nearly 100% of the light incident on any pixel with color splitters.”

Or we could simply stack the color diodes?  And for that matter, we could eventually incorporate a 4th color, and record each at 16 bits?

“To really push beyond 80% Q.E. you need the electronics to be extremely cold...around -80°C is the sweet spot”

QE stands for Quantative Efficiency?  Or Quantative Easing?  :P  Ahh, I missed it the first time, quantum efficiency.

“At that level, noise from dark current (the bulk of read noise) is 200 times less than it is at room temperature...that would be a read noise level on the order of 0.01e-, where as today the average read noise level is around 3e-...three electrons worth of charge.”

I assume the best and largest telescopes employ something similar to this with their imagers?  I know the amateur astronomy imagers are cooled CCD, but not sure what type of imager the big time scientists use.

“…and devices with such sensors cost tens of thousands of dollars.”

That’s chump change to a few on here, I bet. 

“At ISO 51200 you have approximately 7 stops of dynamic range, which would leave you at a piddly 2 stops of dynamic range by ISO 1683400, and five orders of magnitude more noise at the same exposure value.”

Quite interesting.  Kind of sounds like how older aps-c cameras like mine, get described.  2 stops!  But by your train of thought here, it almost seems like there wouldn’t have been the leap even to ISO 200,000, and yet it’s happened…while the photosite area got decreased at the same time.

“Since 100% Q.E. means you are efficiently converting every single photon into an electron, that means 362 photons are captured per pixel. At ISO 1638400, you would capture a mere 11.3 photons per pixel before it saturated! While you might be able to make a photo with such a minimal amount of light, it would by nature have to be lacking in detail as the available photons would be so distributed as to cause 16x as much noise as at ISO 51200 on the 1D X today. Color fidelity would also be decimated with so little physical information representing color.”

Photosite area makes the most difference here.  To achieve a really high usable ISO, obviously there would be a reduction in resolution, and the pixel array would be summed.  Nobody expects to get a sharp 24x36 print at ISO 1 million…and probably nobody would expect anything other than monochrome, to boot.  Would still be interesting to use at times.

“For all intents and purposes, an ISO 1638400 photo would be monochrome, rather soft, and extremely grainy”.   I just kind of said that.

“For one, I do not believe we will reach a native ISO 1683400 by the next generation of DSLRs, probably not even within the next two generations (assuming the current release cycles are maintained, that would mean we don't see ISO in the millions for at least EIGHT YEARS.) Assuming anyone can keep improving high ISO performance much beyond where the 1D X is now, especially with smaller pixels, one would have to assume the IQ at those ISOs would barely be as good as what we get today with ISO 51200, and then only if quantum efficiency is doubled (which is within the realm of possibility, although at what price point I couldn't say.)”

Your points make a lot of sense.  I suppose you could be right…but I did say up to 5 years…you’re saying 8 years.  Not that much difference.  Obviously I lack your knowledge on the subject, I was just applying observation and intuition.

There are those who think DSLR cameras will fade away, mechanical shutters will fade away, and certainly reflex mirror/prisms will fade away.  I do see pro camera bodies getting lighter in weight, but not much smaller in physical size.  It's really my goal to buy the replacement for the 1Dx.  I hope I can afford one by then.
 
Obviously the main, and only true meaningful improvement, would be an increase of…gimamic strange…available at the medium to higher ISO settings, such as from 1000 to 25,600…or perhaps up to 32,000.  So that means a native ISO of perhaps up to 80 or 100,000…Again, of course, Nikon’s tympanic lagrange will exceed 40 stops at ISO 20, and will drop to 5 at the high ISO’s.
« Last Edit: February 16, 2013, 04:46:05 AM by CarlTN »

jrista

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Re: *UPDATE* EOS 70D is Coming, The Future of Pro APS-C Will Change
« Reply #202 on: February 16, 2013, 01:36:17 PM »
“ISO is not really a boost to sensitivity, it is simply a reduction in the white point...it instructs the sensor to register a lesser amount of charge in each pixel as "maximum saturation", or the purest color for each pixel.”

Interesting, and how do you know this?  If it’s not gain, it shouldn’t be referred to as gain.  But it often is. 

It is gain...but gain is not sensitivity. Gain is simply the amplification of a signal. In the context of an image sensor, the native strength of the signal is caused by photons releasing electrons in each pixel's photodiode. By boosting gain, you are only changing how the original signal is treated....not increasing the amount of photons actually detected by the sensor. The only way to increase the fundamental "sensitivity" of an electronic image sensor is by improving the ratio of photon to electron conversions...or, in other words, by increasing quantum efficiency. For every stop of increase in ISO, you effectively reduce the maximum amount of electrons allowed for the maximum charge of each pixel.

If you start out with say the ~90,000 electrons of charge (e-) in the 1D X at ISO 100 with a Q.E. of ~50%, then it takes ~180,000 photons to fully saturate a pixel. At ISO 200, your maximum saturation is ~45,000e- or ~90,000 photons, however you are also boosting gain so 45,000e- is read out as the same maximum pixel value as 90,000e- was at ISO 100. At ISO 400, your maximum saturation is ~22,500e- or ~45,000 photons, and a 22,500e- charge is read out as the same maximum pixel value as 90,000e- at ISO 100. So on and so forth. By ISO 6400 you are down to 1,406e-, by ISO 12800 you are down to ~703e-, ISO 25600 to ~352e-, and ISO 51200 to ~175e-. As you can see, at ISO 51200 your actual maximum signal strength is about 0.2% what it could be at ISO 100. Applying gain to such a low "real" signal can't actually increase "sensitivity"...it only amplifies the power of the signal that exists, which increases all the noise present in that very low signal to noise ratio.

Now, if you double the Q.E. from 50% to 100%, you have 180,000e- at ISO 100 and ~352e- at ISO 51200. The ratio between those two is the same, however ISO 51200 is now actually twice as "sensitive" to light as it was before now that you are converting 100% of the incident photons, so it should produce images that are about half as noisy. Thing is, once you get to 100% Q.E. there is nothing more you can do to improve sensitivity outside of increasing pixel area, as a larger pixel is capable of holding a higher maximum charge. That could either be achieved by reducing megapixel count in the same form factor, or by increasing the form factor while maintaining pixel size.

“So long as we continue to use bayer-type sensors with color filters over each pixel, we'll have an intrinsic maximum quantum efficiency (photon keeper rate).”

A good argument for the stacked color technique?

Actually, I think the color splitting technique developed by Panasonic is the best way to maximize Q.E. Stacked pixels actually won't necessarily improve Q.E. Each color is still getting roughly the same amount of light that it got before with a bayer-type sensor, as the silicon itself in a Foveon-type array acts like the filter. The benefit of Foveon is really a resolution benefit...you utilize the entire surface area of the sensor to maximize resolution, rather than distributing the resolution of different colors as in a bayer design.

With a color splitter, you preserve 100% of the incoming light at every pixel...no light is filtered in any way.

“Probably around 40% or so depending on how strong or weak the CFA is.”

CFA stands for what?  I tried googling, there are approximately 6 quadrillion different meanings.

Color Filter Array. It is what gives bayer-type sensors their ability to sense color. It allows for extremely high pixel densities, at the cost of some color resolution.

“A move to color splitters rather than color filters could certainly increase Q.E., maybe to 80% or more, as instead of filtering light (converting it to heat or reflecting it), light of inappropriate frequency for a given pixel is simply redirected to the appropriate neighboring pixels...this preserving it. Theoretically, we could utilize nearly 100% of the light incident on any pixel with color splitters.”

Or we could simply stack the color diodes?  And for that matter, we could eventually incorporate a 4th color, and record each at 16 bits?

Stacking, as I mentioned before, is still filtering...and any given "pixel" is unlikely to preserver 100% of the light. A stacked design improves color resolution, eliminates color moire (the bane of bayer-type sensors), and might be slightly more sensitive to light than a bayer design. To my knowledge, only a color splitting design is actually explicitly designed to preserve 100% of the incident light that is not previously converted to heat or reflected.

“At that level, noise from dark current (the bulk of read noise) is 200 times less than it is at room temperature...that would be a read noise level on the order of 0.01e-, where as today the average read noise level is around 3e-...three electrons worth of charge.”

I assume the best and largest telescopes employ something similar to this with their imagers?  I know the amateur astronomy imagers are cooled CCD, but not sure what type of imager the big time scientists use.

“…and devices with such sensors cost tens of thousands of dollars.”

That’s chump change to a few on here, I bet. 

CCD is usually used in scientific devices. Cooled CCD in devices where noise can interfere with the scientific study at hand.

“At ISO 51200 you have approximately 7 stops of dynamic range, which would leave you at a piddly 2 stops of dynamic range by ISO 1683400, and five orders of magnitude more noise at the same exposure value.”

Quite interesting.  Kind of sounds like how older aps-c cameras like mine, get described.  2 stops!  But by your train of thought here, it almost seems like there wouldn’t have been the leap even to ISO 200,000, and yet it’s happened…while the photosite area got decreased at the same time.

No, ISO 204800 is an artificial ISO setting. It is what we call a digital boost over the highest native ISO setting. You could, for all intents and purposes, replicate ISO 204800 in post with RAW if you wanted to. Just underexpose a scene at the highest native ISO setting by the required number of stops...say ISO 25600 on the 5D III. In post, lift that exposure by THREE STOPS, and you have done exactly what the camera does to get ISO 204800. ISO 104200 and 204800 on all cameras is "fake". Outside of the 1D X, ISO 51200 on all other cameras is also "fake". Outside of the 5D III and 6D, ISO 25600 on all other cameras is "fake". Some other cameras support native ISO up to 12800 (Nikon's D3 line, D4, and a few other models, a couple Sony cameras, etc.), but for the most part, ISO 12800 is also "fake". ISO 6400 is generally the highest "native" or "real" ISO setting on the majority of cameras outside of those listed.

So, no...we have not actually achieved ISO 204800. It's called an "expanded" mode for a reason. ;) It might be possible to get to ISO 204800 within the next generation, which should roll out approximately 3 years or so from now. Assuming we maintain the gains we have been getting so far, we might see ISO 833,600 7 years from now or so. But even then, we are really starting to push the limits. Assuming a hypothetical ISO 800k sensor of the future was still 18mp, with 100% Q.E. The 1D X today has a full well capacity of 90367e- with 47% Q.E. At 100% Q.E., the full well capacity would be 192,270e-. ISO 800k would have a maximum saturation point @ 23.5e-, ISO 400k @ 47e-, SO 200k @ 94e-. ISO 200k might look almost as good as ISO 51200 on the 1D X today assuming read noise is greatly reduced (or about a stop worse than ISO 51200 today if read noise is NOT improved). ISO 800k would look about two stops worse than ISO 51200 does today. If ISO 1.6 million was actually attempted, it would have that maximum saturation of 11e-, and look about 8x as bad as ISO 51200 does today.

On top of a native ISO 800k...we then might get some additional "fake" levels of ISO. H1 would be that ISO 1638400, and H2 would be ISO 3267800! But...they would still be fake...you could still achieve the same thing, and probably do a better job, by boosting an ISO 800k exposure by two stops in post.

“Since 100% Q.E. means you are efficiently converting every single photon into an electron, that means 362 photons are captured per pixel. At ISO 1638400, you would capture a mere 11.3 photons per pixel before it saturated! While you might be able to make a photo with such a minimal amount of light, it would by nature have to be lacking in detail as the available photons would be so distributed as to cause 16x as much noise as at ISO 51200 on the 1D X today. Color fidelity would also be decimated with so little physical information representing color.”

Photosite area makes the most difference here.  To achieve a really high usable ISO, obviously there would be a reduction in resolution, and the pixel array would be summed.  Nobody expects to get a sharp 24x36 print at ISO 1 million…and probably nobody would expect anything other than monochrome, to boot.  Would still be interesting to use at times.

Aye. I touched on this before, but once you have achieved the maximum quantum efficiency possible with the fabrication design of the sensor (i.e. eliminated as many sources of reflection or conversion to heat, such that as many photons reach the photodiode and release an electron as possible). Once your fabrication process is technologically advanced enough to eliminate (or nearly eliminate) photon loss, the only other thing one can do to increase IQ at high ISO would be to increase pixel area. That would indeed either require a reduction in megapixels, or an increase in form factor.

For the most part, I don't think the vast majority of photographers will need or want ISO 800k, 1.6million, 3.3million, etc. There will probably certainly be a group who always wants and could use more, but for most photographers I think will be satisfied with much less. Most photographers may already be quite satisfied with ISO 51200, and doubling real sensor sensitivity with ideal Q.E. (over 90%) would make ISO 51200 that much more usable, maybe even printable?

“For all intents and purposes, an ISO 1638400 photo would be monochrome, rather soft, and extremely grainy”.   I just kind of said that.

“For one, I do not believe we will reach a native ISO 1683400 by the next generation of DSLRs, probably not even within the next two generations (assuming the current release cycles are maintained, that would mean we don't see ISO in the millions for at least EIGHT YEARS.) Assuming anyone can keep improving high ISO performance much beyond where the 1D X is now, especially with smaller pixels, one would have to assume the IQ at those ISOs would barely be as good as what we get today with ISO 51200, and then only if quantum efficiency is doubled (which is within the realm of possibility, although at what price point I couldn't say.)”

There are those who think DSLR cameras will fade away, mechanical shutters will fade away, and certainly reflex mirror/prisms will fade away.  I do see pro camera bodies getting lighter in weight, but not much smaller in physical size.  It's really my goal to buy the replacement for the 1Dx.  I hope I can afford one by then.

I think people may be over-estimating the physical weight of the parts involved in the mirror/mirror box and the pentaprism. The savings there is probably only a few grams. The vast bulk of the weight in a DSLR-style body is the body itself (metal alloy, in the case of professional-grade cameras that have to take a beating, as well as the layers of plastic and rubber grip), the dense electronics packed into the body, and the batteries (which are quite heavy in and of themselves, even for a mere 2000mAh or so). The relative weight of the mirror itself and the pentaprism is fairly minor, and I do not believe removing them while maintaining the overall size and ergonomics of current DSLRs (which is one of their greatest strengths...they fit the hand extremely well, are easy to grip, and at least in the case of Canon the controls are almost blissfully placed.) I don't see the mirror, nor the fundamental design of a DSLR (half-silvered mirror with AF unit underneath the mirror box and OVF+metering sensor overhead) going away or changing any time soon.

Mirrorless designs, while compelling in that they can make things really small without much or any loss in IQ, are really only highly compelling for consumers. I do not think mirrorless offers what professionals, or high-end enthusiasts and hobbyists, need. There are significant benefits to an OVF, to the large size and handholdability of a DSLR, and to the weight balance offered by the heavier DSLR bodies when using telephoto and supertelephoto lenses. Have you seen the photos of EF 800mm L lenses tacked onto the front of an EOS-M? The DSLR is not going anywhere, and won't be going anywhere nor morph into something else any time soon. I'd say not within the next two generations at least. Alternative product lines will probably be introduced, in addition to existing DSLR lines. Those alternative products will probably get one or two high end versions that cater more to some pros. But the DSLR won't be replaced by mirrorless...mirrorless will simply be another option.

And remember...once we maximize the Q.E. gains at the technological level...the only other option is to increase pixel area. That is far easier done with a FF sensor than a µ4/3 sensor, and even easier with a MFD sensor. I see a diversification of options (along the level of diversity that is largely already present in the MFD market...with all the interchangeable backs having different resolutions and different pixel sizes and all that), not a conversion of options.
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Re: *UPDATE* EOS 70D is Coming, The Future of Pro APS-C Will Change
« Reply #203 on: February 16, 2013, 02:01:34 PM »
Quote
“At ISO 51200 you have approximately 7 stops of dynamic range, which would leave you at a piddly 2 stops of dynamic range by ISO 1683400, and five orders of magnitude more noise at the same exposure value.”

Quite interesting.  Kind of sounds like how older aps-c cameras like mine, get described.  2 stops!  But by your train of thought here, it almost seems like there wouldn’t have been the leap even to ISO 200,000, and yet it’s happened…while the photosite area got decreased at the same time.
I dont believe that the photosite area matters (very much). What matters is the size of the sensor, how efficient it is at counting photons, and how many photons are hitting it.

Quote
“Since 100% Q.E. means you are efficiently converting every single photon into an electron, that means 362 photons are captured per pixel. At ISO 1638400, you would capture a mere 11.3 photons per pixel before it saturated! While you might be able to make a photo with such a minimal amount of light, it would by nature have to be lacking in detail as the available photons would be so distributed as to cause 16x as much noise as at ISO 51200 on the 1D X today. Color fidelity would also be decimated with so little physical information representing color.”

Photosite area makes the most difference here.  To achieve a really high usable ISO, obviously there would be a reduction in resolution, and the pixel array would be summed.  Nobody expects to get a sharp 24x36 print at ISO 1 million…and probably nobody would expect anything other than monochrome, to boot.  Would still be interesting to use at times.

Right. Essentially, a "multi-giga-pixel" that perfectly counted every single photon but had sufficiently small sensels that each only counted either "1 photon" or "no photons" would seem to have horrible noise performance, yet be able to measure flawless all of the available information better than todays cameras. This is similar to how printers essentially have a binary "splatter of ink" vs "no splatter of ink" decition in each spot, yet manages to deliver a large tonal range.

Photosite area does not directly affect Q.E., however it does have an impact on full well capacity. Double the size of the pixel, and you get four times the full well capacity (i.e. a 4µm pixel might get about 50,000e- at 100% Q.E., an 8µm pixel should get around 200,000e- at 100% Q.E., if not more). For those two hypothetical sensors, the 4µm sensor would have a maximum saturation of ~98e- at ISO 51200, while the 8µm sensor would have a maximum saturation of ~390e- at ISO 51200. The 8µm sensor is about four times as sensitive to light as the 4µm sensor at the same Q.E., and as such should always produce better IQ at any ISO setting.

Quote
“For one, I do not believe we will reach a native ISO 1683400 by the next generation of DSLRs, probably not even within the next two generations (assuming the current release cycles are maintained, that would mean we don't see ISO in the millions for at least EIGHT YEARS.) Assuming anyone can keep improving high ISO performance much beyond where the 1D X is now, especially with smaller pixels, one would have to assume the IQ at those ISOs would barely be as good as what we get today with ISO 51200, and then only if quantum efficiency is doubled (which is within the realm of possibility, although at what price point I couldn't say.)”

Your points make a lot of sense.  I suppose you could be right…but I did say up to 5 years…you’re saying 8 years.  Not that much difference.  Obviously I lack your knowledge on the subject, I was just applying observation and intuition.
Say that current tech can give us 2 stops of DR at that level of ISO, and that it is limited by photon shot noise. What possible developments can make it better? Color splitting 1 stop. Slightly more advanced microlenses/active circuitry 0.? stops? Seems to me that there is a physical wall.

I was actually describing that in the context of future tech, with lower read noise and near-100% Q.E., could potentially give us as much as two stops of DR at that level of ISO. That future tech already included color splitting, maximizing the efficiency of microlenses, thermal cooling to -80°C, etc. There is indeed a physical wall...and I don't think we could do much better than a couple stops of DR at such a high ISO. Which is why I think it would only really be effective as a "monochrome" setting...with so little light, color fidelity would take a huge hit unless you had MONSTROUS pixels and a humongous full well capacity. With an 3.3mp FF sensor with 16µm pixels at 100% Q.E., you might get around 800,000e- FWC, which would mean ISO 51200 max sat of 1563e-...which should have the IQ of ISO 6400 in the 1D X today (which is actually quite amazingly good, if you've seen any ISO 6400 shots from the 1D X!) Not really sure how useful or applicable a 3.3mp sensor might be these days...I guess if you are only publish online at low resolutions, and NEVER crop, it would be the greatest low-light sensor ever...but 3.3mp just seems lacking. ;P
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Re: *UPDATE* EOS 70D is Coming, The Future of Pro APS-C Will Change
« Reply #204 on: February 17, 2013, 07:10:30 AM »
As much as I hate to divert attention away from the above posts (which filled in some serious gaps in my knowledge) I thought I'd mention that, over at the dark side, based on the addition of a Nikon DSLR SKU and an upcoming press conference, the admin speculates that the D7000 replacement will be announced in the coming week.
If that is true, I guess it will "compel" Canon to react?

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Re: *UPDATE* EOS 70D is Coming, The Future of Pro APS-C Will Change
« Reply #205 on: February 17, 2013, 11:58:35 AM »
As much as I hate to divert attention away from the above posts (which filled in some serious gaps in my knowledge) I thought I'd mention that, over at the dark side, based on the addition of a Nikon DSLR SKU and an upcoming press conference, the admin speculates that the D7000 replacement will be announced in the coming week.
If that is true, I guess it will "compel" Canon to react?

If Canon does "react", my guess is it would only be on paper. I think Canon will hold out as long as they need to in order to produce a quality product.
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Re: *UPDATE* EOS 70D is Coming, The Future of Pro APS-C Will Change
« Reply #206 on: February 17, 2013, 12:01:37 PM »
As much as I hate to divert attention away from the above posts (which filled in some serious gaps in my knowledge) I thought I'd mention that, over at the dark side, based on the addition of a Nikon DSLR SKU and an upcoming press conference, the admin speculates that the D7000 replacement will be announced in the coming week.
If that is true, I guess it will "compel" Canon to react?

If Canon does "react", my guess is it would only be on paper. I think Canon will hold out as long as they need to in order to produce a quality product.

I would hope so.

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Re: *UPDATE* EOS 70D is Coming, The Future of Pro APS-C Will Change
« Reply #207 on: February 17, 2013, 04:03:30 PM »
As much as I hate to divert attention away from the above posts (which filled in some serious gaps in my knowledge) I thought I'd mention that, over at the dark side, based on the addition of a Nikon DSLR SKU and an upcoming press conference, the admin speculates that the D7000 replacement will be announced in the coming week.
If that is true, I guess it will "compel" Canon to react?

If Canon does "react", my guess is it would only be on paper. I think Canon will hold out as long as they need to in order to produce a quality product.

+1, with the important distinction that "as long as they need to" is not the same as "as long as possible".  We may be seeing, as you imply over on the big megapixel thread, the results of a company that invests conservatively.  that is, perhaps economics drove them not to invest heavily and take risks in maturing their 180nm process.  Accordingly, their decisions are the best to keep the company healthy, not to win every last spec war.  ergo, a 5D mark iii that soundly met customers needs with essentially incremental improvements to legacy sensor technology.

without the converse being somewhat evident over on the Nikon side (with news of plummeting stock prices, influenced by their debt structure) I wouldn't have otherwise suggested this, but it appears that the D800 may have been a very risky investment, perhaps for both Sony and Nikon.  The decision certainly made some waves, but I'm not so sure that Canon is trembling in their boots;  their conservative nature just compels a more measured approach to economics and corporate health.

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Re: *UPDATE* EOS 70D is Coming, The Future of Pro APS-C Will Change
« Reply #208 on: February 17, 2013, 09:25:20 PM »
As much as I hate to divert attention away from the above posts (which filled in some serious gaps in my knowledge) I thought I'd mention that, over at the dark side, based on the addition of a Nikon DSLR SKU and an upcoming press conference, the admin speculates that the D7000 replacement will be announced in the coming week.
If that is true, I guess it will "compel" Canon to react?

If Canon does "react", my guess is it would only be on paper. I think Canon will hold out as long as they need to in order to produce a quality product.

+1, with the important distinction that "as long as they need to" is not the same as "as long as possible".  We may be seeing, as you imply over on the big megapixel thread, the results of a company that invests conservatively.  that is, perhaps economics drove them not to invest heavily and take risks in maturing their 180nm process.  Accordingly, their decisions are the best to keep the company healthy, not to win every last spec war.  ergo, a 5D mark iii that soundly met customers needs with essentially incremental improvements to legacy sensor technology.

without the converse being somewhat evident over on the Nikon side (with news of plummeting stock prices, influenced by their debt structure) I wouldn't have otherwise suggested this, but it appears that the D800 may have been a very risky investment, perhaps for both Sony and Nikon.  The decision certainly made some waves, but I'm not so sure that Canon is trembling in their boots;  their conservative nature just compels a more measured approach to economics and corporate health.

My  thoughts exactly. :) +1
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Re: *UPDATE* EOS 70D is Coming, The Future of Pro APS-C Will Change
« Reply #209 on: February 18, 2013, 11:04:57 PM »
Jrista, excellent points.  I should have known "color filter array", it's just that your post was so long, my brain had reduced its frames per second.

I didn't necessarily mean that pro cameras would need to eliminate the pentaprism to reduce weight...I was speaking generally about each of those aspects of cameras, that many people think will go away someday.  However, the larger body required to encompass the pentaprism, does indeed add weight.  Not that I dislike pentaprisms, I do.  As for the batteries...well in a pro camera they are three 18650 rechargable lithium ion...and each one to my hand, feels not much heavier than a AA (I recently bought several to use in some bright LED flashlights, and these are 3000 mah).  Each are 3.7 volts...

If Panasonic color splitting technique is so superior, why haven't the other companies developed their own versions?  Isn't this technique too new to really predict it will be the future of sensor design?

Hjulennison, I disagree on the in-effectiveness of the Foveon sensor.  I used to own one...and if I worked within its limitations, it provided a very wide, very saturated color palette, that was enjoyable to further manipulate in PS.  I also disagree that pixel photosite size/area is not a factor, because it just is.  The bigger the area, the more photons fall on that area.