I am not interested in this constant regurgitation of theoretical tech mumbo jumbo.
NSS! We all knew that already.
Photographers are interested in the images they can capture using the gear available today.
Hmm, interesting. If photographers only care about the images their gear produces...then, that must mean that Canon produces IQ that is more than sufficient for the majority of photographers...who, as statistics would have it, use Canon gear...right?
Today's situation is simple and clear:
- Currently Nikon D800/E and Sony A7R have way more resolution at all ISO settings than any Canon EOS camera. This is usefuly in many images and shooting contexts. :-)
- D800/E + A7R have way more DR at the most frequently used low ISO settings. This is useful in many images and shooting contexts. :-)
- D800/E and A7R images have not more noise but very slightly less DR at ISO settings 3200 and 6400 compared to any Canon EOS currently on the market (including 5D III and 1Dx). In practice it is a wash.
- And from ISO 12800 upwards - if one ever needs it - IQ is basically a tie between Nikon D4 and 1Dx
And, how well...exactly...have the D800 and A7r, or D600 or D300 or D7100 sold, in comparison to the 5D III, 1D X, 1D IV, 5D II, 7D, etc. from Canon? Again, given the facts, Canon cameras sell significantly better. Canon cameras maintain the top slots in best seller lists around the world. Canon cameras are ubiquitous and endemic at sports and the Olympics, by orders of magnitude above any other brand. Canon cameras dominate wedding photography. Canon cameras are the most seen camera brand on back country trails where landscape photographers dominate. Canon sells, Canon is extremely successful, and some of the best photos in the world are made with Canon equipment, printed on Canon printers.
So...how well has this improved DR improved SoNikon's market position? Seems to me it hasn't really done much of anything. Nikon is still in decline (something, to be quite frank, I do NOT want to see...a competitive marketplace is essential for the consumer, and if Nikon continues to fail, it will disappear....go the way of Kodak, or be absorbed by a larger entity like Sony...either way, fewer competitors is BAD...and I don't want that to happen.) Sony, while their sensors power half the known market of digital photography devices, has yet to demonstrate it can make a good camera
I believe Sony and Nikon are making the fatal mistake individuals like yourself seem to demand they make: Cater to every customer whim
, rather than be a successful business
. Sony's electronics division hasn't been a successful business for over a decade...it's hemorrhaged money for over a decade. Nikon has compelling products, but they can't seem to turn them into products that sell well enough for their business to succeed. It may be that Nikon invests too much money on R&D, and not enough money on manufacture, on their supply chain, on optimizing the efficiency of their manufacturing pipeline, etc. Whatever it is, neither company is successful, at the moment, as a business. Businesses make money, in the form of revenues, that then fuel further PRODUCTION, and if you have revenues left over, R&D. Canon excels at business. Their manufacturing pipeline is ideal. Their supply chain is usually stuffed. They, too, have compelling products, and they too continue to research new products and technology....they just do the whole business thing from top to bottom better.
I honestly have no worries that Canon will fail. On the contrary, I worry what will happen to Canon if their competition dries up because their competition listens to the whims of their bitchy customers too much, and fails at the business side of things. What would we have if Canon became a default monopoly? They are good at business...which is their strength....which means innovation would slow to a crawl as their business continued to thrive. IMO, Nikon and Sony need to get their S___ together, and beef up their businesses
, instead of spending tens of billions of dollars inventing new technology that may or may not be compelling enough to sell while their businesses bleed out
Canon is lagging behind Nikon/Sony in sensor capability and should do everything they can to close the gap as soon as possible. Or leapfrog Sony/Nikon ... if they are able to. Canon should not rely much longer solely on other strengths of their eco-system (mainly: UI and lenses), since this is a high risk strategy. After all, to most photographers, image quality is the single most important and central feature of any image capturing device. :-)
Yeah, Canon's sensors lag behind. But their cameras are second to none. Image quality is not 100% dependent upon the sensor. If we take a very naive approach to determining what percentage each body factor affect IQ, we could simply divide it all up evenly: Sensor, AF System, Meter, Frame Rate. Four things, so each thing, in a naive distribution, has a 25% effect on IQ. Problem is, the sensor simply records whatever is projected on it. DR doesn't matter for squat if your image is focused incorrectly, metered wrong such that highlights are clipped, or doesn't include the best moment of action. As such, the sensor, in my opinion, should really have one of the lowest IQ factor ratings. I would say the meter is probably similar, again it is just a sensor and a little bit of logic to determine exposure. That makes AF and Frame Rate the two most important factors in IQ. Again, if you don't focus your subject, then frame rate doesn't matter...you'll get a string of missfocused frames that, even if they have gobs of DR and are perfectly metered, still go strait into the trash. That makes AF the most important factor in IQ. So, if we divvy it up more appropriately, we might get something like 50% AF, 25% Frame Rate, 13% Meter, and 12% Sensor.
It's no wonder Canon hasn't put so much effort into their sensors lately. They already have a damn good sensor. Their AF systems consistently performed BELOW the bar before...particularly the 5D II and 1D III cameras. Their metering systems were lagging, either being simply monochrome, or basic two-color rather than full RGB. Their Frame Rates were always good, but now they are even better. Canon, in the last round of body releases, improved their worst-performing components that primarily affect IQ. The 1D X received a new high resolution, full RGB metering sensor combined with a dedicated DIGIC4 chip. The 1D X and 5D III both received a new record-breaking 61pt/41pt c/t reticular AF system with multiple double cross-type AF points and highly configurable zone selection. The new 61pt AF system has the widest frame spread of any FF AF system. The new 1D X meter and it's AF system are wired together, allowing the high resolution meter to identify subjects, which is then fed into the AF system to improve tracking. These were the low hanging fruit, and the most requested improvements (alongside better high ISO performance) from Canon's customers.
Therefore a 5D IV should have significantly higher resolution and significantly better DR compared to 5D III sensor at ISOs 100, 200 and 400. Plus some further improvements in IQ at higher ISO settings (if possible in addition to low ISO improvements). Plus of course, all the other features needed to make it 100% competitive in 2014/15.
Should it? Really? I'm sure the 1Ds X (or whatever name Canon ends up releasing the Big MP camera under) will have a higher resolution sensor, as that camera is explicitly designed for studio work, where resolution is critically important (however not more important than the AF system.) As for the 5D IV, if that is indeed what Canon is working on, why MUST it have a "significantly" higher resolution? Does that really fit with that bodies primary customers usage scenarios? The 5D III is a wedding camera, first and foremost. Like the 5D II and 5D before it, wedding photographers live and die by the 5D line (every wedding photographer I've ever met or known has used something from the 5D line, with the exception of one, who used a D3 and occasionally a D800). When it comes to which camera is most used and most loved by wedding photographers, the 5D III wins hands down. The D800, while used by some wedding photographers, is frequently talked about as being too much, being too slow with its huge RAW files, those RAW files being too hefty to process quickly, etc. The D800 is NOT an ideal wedding photographers camera. The 5D III, however, is...and its most loved feature? The sensor? Nope. The AF system!
Personally, I expect the 5D IV to get a modest boost in sensor resolution, along with the elimination of read noise (reduced from the 30e- or more that current Canon cameras have to the 3e- or less that is necessary for DR to improve to 14 stops) and a boost to low ISO DR. Too much more resolution and they take the 5D line out of its ideal positioning as the worlds best general-purpose FF DSLR, where as more DR is better for everyone. I don't suspect we'll see the shift to 16bit color with the next 5D...instead, if Canon does make that shift, I suspect it will be in the 1Ds X...so I wouldn't hope for more than 14 stops of DR in the next 5D either.