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Author Topic: What will be the standard high ISO levels 6 to 8 years from now?  (Read 16603 times)

pedro

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Re: What will be the standard high ISO levels 6 to 8 years from now?
« Reply #45 on: September 02, 2012, 12:03:01 PM »
I suspect this situation will be down to what the R&D/ Marketing bods consider to be the most important feature for that time.

At one time, it was all about fps, AF and/ or megapixels. Now it seems to be about IQ, DR and ISO.

Without a doubt, the current 61pt AF seems to have satisfied most people - and most are happy with the 18-22mp range (note i said 'most' not 'all').

DR, IQ and ISO seem to be very much about the capabilities of the sensor combined with the light processing software used with the sensors.

The ability to improve the sensitivity of a sensor seems almost a given, working on how technology seems to improve. So, that would imply that the software needed to maximise the effectiveness of the newer sensor technology will be the guiding factor.

Will we see ISO listed at 408k or even 816k? I think we will - as H1 & H2 settings on the current 1D series model(s), because ultimately - for some strange reason - a whole load of people seem to want the ability to photograph a black cat in a coal cellar without a tripod or flash.

I like to push the ISO envelope as much as the next person (having spent most of my life doing shift work and using a camera at 3am frequently), but even in film days I found I could push a roll of 3200 to 12800 and hand hold at 1/60th second without too much effort. ISO 6400 on the 5D2 produced a much more acceptable image noise/ grain  wise and with the IS on some of the lenses, allowed me to shoot as slow as 1/20th hand held.

So I'm more than happy with what is currently available - but I wouldn't complain if I were offered more  ;)
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Re: What will be the standard high ISO levels 6 to 8 years from now?
« Reply #45 on: September 02, 2012, 12:03:01 PM »

elflord

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Re: What will be the standard high ISO levels 6 to 8 years from now?
« Reply #46 on: September 02, 2012, 10:18:33 PM »
Wouldn't it be nice if "Moore's Law" applied to iso performance? It sort of does up to a point already...

"Stops" are a log scale -- if performance goes up by 1 stop every N years, that is an exponential trajectory.

This does seem to be how it is working -- sensor performance is going up by maybe about a stop every 5-7 years.

jrista

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Re: What will be the standard high ISO levels 6 to 8 years from now?
« Reply #47 on: September 02, 2012, 10:39:43 PM »
To the OP, if we take a look at Sensorgen.info data on quantum efficiency, we see it increases about 7-8% for every additional stop of ISO. If we follow that trend, assuming Canon can keep increasing Q.E. by about 8% per stop of ISO, and if they can maintain the rate of Q.E. improvement of 16% per 4.5-year cycle...then every 4.5 years we should see two more ISO levels. That would put the next generation at a native ISO 102400 on a sensor with about 57% Q.E. for the 5D IV, and if current statistics hold true, a native ISO of 204800 with about 60% Q.E. for the 1D XI.

Now, the real question is how usable that ISO will be. I am not sure a sustained linear increase of 8% per stop is really going to make an ISO 204800 usable. It'll be better than a digital boost ISO, but dynamic range is going to severely suffer and noise will still be horrendous. I would suspect that we won't see usable ISO 204800 until we are in the 80% Q.E. range, which would greatly improve S/N ratios even in the shadows. I don't know if we can really achieve that level of efficiency in a consumer-grade device, though...to date, its always required far more rigorous constraints on manufacturing quality, and usually requires some kind of active/thermoelectric cooling. Sony Exmor technology, combined with a backilluminated sensor and...really for honest usability...ungodly fast lenses...might make it a possibility. Either way...that would put usable ISO 204800 a good 8-10 years away at the earliest, or about two to two and a half product cycles.

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Re: What will be the standard high ISO levels 6 to 8 years from now?
« Reply #48 on: September 02, 2012, 11:42:27 PM »
I would much rather see ISO 25 and less, without any loss in highlight range.

YES, I do like having ISO 12,800 on my T1i but all the time a need slower ISO speeds either so I can shoot wider open or have longer exposures for waterfalls.  I know you can use ND filters but they can be annoying and even at ISO 100 I would like the images to be cleaner.
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Re: What will be the standard high ISO levels 6 to 8 years from now?
« Reply #49 on: September 03, 2012, 02:10:47 AM »
i'm not sure why people keep saying super high ISOs like 200K that will will look good won't be possible.  I'm sure there are advances in science and technology that none of us have any idea about.  they just made a camera that can capture light moving, and i bet everyone would have said that no way will that ever happen like a year ago.

i seriously doubt that anyone here is an optical engineering expert with a multi-billion dollar firm to back our research, so its hard to take any argument (including my own) seriously.

I know its fun to guess, and i understand that people are making valid points, but the honest-to-goodness truth is that no one here knows nuthin'.
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Re: What will be the standard high ISO levels 6 to 8 years from now?
« Reply #50 on: September 03, 2012, 03:09:07 AM »
Either way...that would put usable ISO 204800 a good 8-10 years away at the earliest, or about two to two and a half product cycles.

Btw: "usable" is very vague, because the dynamic range decreases with higher iso speeds. So even if the noise is still acceptable, with the current models you can get blown out highlights much faster. Happened yesterday to me when using the 60d @iso3200 for action shots in bright sunlight and hard shadows, even 100% recovery in Lightroom doesn't help all the time. Last not least, color rendition gets worse, too.

pedro

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Re: What will be the standard high ISO levels 6 to 8 years from now?
« Reply #51 on: September 03, 2012, 05:03:08 AM »
To the OP, if we take a look at Sensorgen.info data on quantum efficiency, we see it increases about 7-8% for every additional stop of ISO. If we follow that trend, assuming Canon can keep increasing Q.E. by about 8% per stop of ISO, and if they can maintain the rate of Q.E. improvement of 16% per 4.5-year cycle...then every 4.5 years we should see two more ISO levels. That would put the next generation at a native ISO 102400 on a sensor with about 57% Q.E. for the 5D IV, and if current statistics hold true, a native ISO of 204800 with about 60% Q.E. for the 1D XI.

Now, the real question is how usable that ISO will be. I am not sure a sustained linear increase of 8% per stop is really going to make an ISO 204800 usable. It'll be better than a digital boost ISO, but dynamic range is going to severely suffer and noise will still be horrendous. I would suspect that we won't see usable ISO 204800 until we are in the 80% Q.E. range, which would greatly improve S/N ratios even in the shadows. I don't know if we can really achieve that level of efficiency in a consumer-grade device, though...to date, its always required far more rigorous constraints on manufacturing quality, and usually requires some kind of active/thermoelectric cooling. Sony Exmor technology, combined with a backilluminated sensor and...really for honest usability...ungodly fast lenses...might make it a possibility. Either way...that would put usable ISO 204800 a good 8-10 years away at the earliest, or about two to two and a half product cycles.
@jrista: Thanks for your insightful comment. It seems like I was "intuitively" on track. As said earlier...If ISO 102k within the next 6 to 8 years gets improved in quality according to your post, it will be a big leap for every photographer. Fiddling with my 51 k and 102k these days I'd be even happy with some 25.6kish ISO 51200 about 6 years from now. It would be about a 2/3or one stop improvement, which I would highly appreciate. I guess it depends on one's type of photography. Coming fromTri-X pan film days, gearing towards Robert Frank and Robert Capa style, I feel pretty happy even at nowadays 51k on my 5D3. The 1Dx, as its said to be one stop better due to less MP, seems to be there already. That is plenty of improvent! Cheers and thanks, Pedro.
« Last Edit: September 03, 2012, 05:08:38 AM by pedro »
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Re: What will be the standard high ISO levels 6 to 8 years from now?
« Reply #51 on: September 03, 2012, 05:03:08 AM »

jrista

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Re: What will be the standard high ISO levels 6 to 8 years from now?
« Reply #52 on: September 03, 2012, 11:37:00 AM »
i'm not sure why people keep saying super high ISOs like 200K that will will look good won't be possible.  I'm sure there are advances in science and technology that none of us have any idea about.  they just made a camera that can capture light moving, and i bet everyone would have said that no way will that ever happen like a year ago.

i seriously doubt that anyone here is an optical engineering expert with a multi-billion dollar firm to back our research, so its hard to take any argument (including my own) seriously.

I know its fun to guess, and i understand that people are making valid points, but the honest-to-goodness truth is that no one here knows nuthin'.

One need not be a certified optical engineer with a Ph.D to understand the concepts. Its pretty basic, and boils down to total light per time interval. At ISO 204800, the time interval is generally going to be VERY short (there are exceptions, such as say night sky or astrophotography). The shorter the time, the more impact the random nature of light is going to have on the final image. People talk a lot about read and electronic noise...however in the grand scheme of things, it is photon noise, or photon "shot" noise as I prefer the term, that completely dominates. The reason photos appear noisy at high ISO has nothing to do with the amount of electronic noise generated in the sensor...by the time you pass ISO 400 electronic noise results in 2-3 electrons per pixel, vs. a maximum saturation level of thousands to tens of thousands of electrons. Its a minuscule percent.

If you think of light passing through a lens and onto a sensor as a "rain" of photons, then we can use real rain as a corollary. If you watch a flat surface, such as a dry, flat concrete slab made up of small one foot squares (pixels), during a rain storm. Assuming a constant and moderate amount of rain, under a short observation, say 5 seconds, you will have a widely dispersed pattern of infrequent drops visible on the slab, and maybe a few strikes per square. Under a longer observation of say 5 minutes, you will have a much denser dispersal pattern, with the infrequent dry spot but mostly a wet slab, and just about every square will have at least one drop. As another corollary, quantum efficiency would be the rate of photons that strike an actual concrete square in our slab, and not one of the gaps between concrete squares. If our concrete slab has 3" gaps between each square, were going to lose a fair number of rain drops. Some drops may strike a concrete square, then drain off into one of the gaps. The "quantum efficiency" of our concrete rain catching slab is not ideal. We could improve it by reducing the size of the gap between each square, to say 1/2". We can also improve it by say creating a small ridge around the edge of each square to hold more of the raindrops that strike it. Our quantum efficiency is a lot higher now. To throw in an extra factor, a heavy rain would be like having a wide aperture, where as a light rain would be like having a narrow aperture.

A high ISO photo is like the concrete slab for 5 seconds. From a "total light captured" perspective, it doesn't matter how large the pixel size is when talking about very high ISO...the random nature of light and discrete nature of photons will mean that few, rather than many, pixels will actually encounter a photon at all, and for those that do, the total amount of photons will be low. A wider aperture increases the rate of photon "rain", so you can improve the number of pixels that encounter photons by using a faster lens. But even doing that, the grand total amount of light is still going to be considerably lower than a lower ISO setting in more light...because were working with a "light photon rain", rather than a "heavy photon rain".

The only way you can really make a high ISO setting produce the same kind of image quality as a much lower ISO setting is to increase the amount of available light. This can either be done by increasing the illumination of the scene, or using a faster lens. In the case of ISO 204800...a MUCH faster lens with near-perfect qualities at apertures we have yet to hear of. We can also improve quantum efficiency, however the thing about Q.E. is that it will only matter if we are actually "losing" photon strikes to heat or reflection. If we had a latticework of wood laid over the top of our concrete slab to represent readout wiring, any rain drops that strike the latticework can't be counted as a captured rain drop on our slab. Same deal with a sensor...there is a lot of electronic wiring for each pixel that can get in the way, converting a photon to heat. Photon strikes at the right angle of incidence can even reflect off of the surface of the sensor that is not actually part of a photodiode, and even with a microlens, just as with any lens, the right angle of incidence can cause reflection of a photon rather than capture. With backilluminated sensors with multiple layers of microlenses, and say potentially even nanocoated microlenses to avoid reflection, along with all of the advanced electronic noise reduction present in Sony Exmor sensors, we might be able to push 60-70% Q.E. To get much farther than that, we would need to start applying active cooling to reduce the temperature of our sensors to well below zero, improving electronic efficiency and making photon capture and conversion into electrons more effective. We might be able to push 80% or more at that point (much like scientific-grade CCD sensors.)

If we can surpass 80% Q.E. in a commercial-grade image sensor, we might see usable ISO 204800 with acceptable IQ for regular use. It will never offer the same kind of IQ as much lower ISO settings, such as 1600 and less, but it could theoretically be useful. It will still be noisy, particularly in the kinds of situations where one would actually need it....say photographing the auroras without such long exposures that the fine, helical filamentary nature of them become blurred into nothing (and even then, we might actually need ISO 819200 or higher to REALLY capture an Auroral discharge in full detail.)

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Re: What will be the standard high ISO levels 6 to 8 years from now?
« Reply #53 on: September 03, 2012, 12:24:29 PM »
A Usable ISO 51,200.

pedro

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Re: What will be the standard high ISO levels 6 to 8 years from now?
« Reply #54 on: September 03, 2012, 01:01:42 PM »
A Usable ISO 51,200.

As mentioned in my recent post, I kinda heard or read about the 1Dx being one stop better at high ISOs. How usable are ISO 51k on the 1Dx? My 5D3 looks promising...yes there is some NR needed, but not that much, well exposed to the right. Anyone?
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Re: What will be the standard high ISO levels 6 to 8 years from now?
« Reply #55 on: September 03, 2012, 01:13:48 PM »
A Usable ISO 51,200.

As mentioned in my recent post, I kinda heard or read about the 1Dx being one stop better at high ISOs. How usable are ISO 51k on the 1Dx? My 5D3 looks promising...yes there is some NR needed, but not that much, well exposed to the right. Anyone?

Not really useable.  When you fire at that ISO level, ANY highlight you see in your frame will be blown badly.  The 1DX's useable limit as I've found in real life situations is 25,600.
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Re: What will be the standard high ISO levels 6 to 8 years from now?
« Reply #56 on: September 03, 2012, 01:29:47 PM »
Well, A Usable ISO 51,200 for Color Images.

On the 5D3 I can use 51,200 as my limit for high-speed B&W. ISO 25,600 is my limit for Color Images.

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Re: What will be the standard high ISO levels 6 to 8 years from now?
« Reply #57 on: September 03, 2012, 01:57:27 PM »
I think it will be one stop better than today with the same pixel size. Quantum Efficiency of CMOS and CCD is very high - something around 30-50 percent of the incoming light is converted to charge. perhaps you can nearly double it. More is physically impossible.

A possible development might be the collection of 4 or 8 times the charge without increased noise. This would be an improvement in Dynamic Range by lowering the ISO value - I think Sony/Nikon have some advantage in it. As mentioned above ISO 25 or ISO 12 would be welcome if I had REAL Dynamic Range of 16 bits ... similar to good B&W film.
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Re: What will be the standard high ISO levels 6 to 8 years from now?
« Reply #57 on: September 03, 2012, 01:57:27 PM »

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Re: What will be the standard high ISO levels 6 to 8 years from now?
« Reply #58 on: September 03, 2012, 02:07:44 PM »
To the OP, if we take a look at Sensorgen.info data on quantum efficiency, we see it increases about 7-8% for every additional stop of ISO. If we follow that trend, assuming Canon can keep increasing Q.E. by about 8% per stop of ISO, and if they can maintain the rate of Q.E. improvement of 16% per 4.5-year cycle...then every 4.5 years we should see two more ISO levels. That would put the next generation at a native ISO 102400 on a sensor with about 57% Q.E. for the 5D IV, and if current statistics hold true, a native ISO of 204800 with about 60% Q.E. for the 1D XI.

Now, the real question is how usable that ISO will be. I am not sure a sustained linear increase of 8% per stop is really going to make an ISO 204800 usable. It'll be better than a digital boost ISO, but dynamic range is going to severely suffer and noise will still be horrendous. I would suspect that we won't see usable ISO 204800 until we are in the 80% Q.E. range, which would greatly improve S/N ratios even in the shadows. I don't know if we can really achieve that level of efficiency in a consumer-grade device, though...to date, its always required far more rigorous constraints on manufacturing quality, and usually requires some kind of active/thermoelectric cooling. Sony Exmor technology, combined with a backilluminated sensor and...really for honest usability...ungodly fast lenses...might make it a possibility. Either way...that would put usable ISO 204800 a good 8-10 years away at the earliest, or about two to two and a half product cycles.

You are being awfully generous there about actual progress made over those years if you are talking about middle gray SNR (they have cleaned up banding and ugly noise character and such a lot, which at times, can you lead to a larger usable increase in stops than the change in middle gray SNR alone would imply though, however even in that regard they have now made pretty huge strides so it will be hard to continue that trend now) which is leading to changes in stops being paired with changes in Q.E. that don't make any logical sense.

One thing with an almost ISOless sensor like Exmor you can capture using extreme under exposure at low ISO and then lift and get nearly as clean an image as shooting at a higher ISO but shooting low ISO with large underexposure means you still have the top end not chopped off, raising ISO a stop chops off a stop each time so if you applied some fancy warped tone curve maybe you can get some more DR out of things. I don't know how easy it is to do extreme tone mapping like that, I'm sure with careful work you could make it reasonably natural to an extent to definitely help a bit.
« Last Edit: September 03, 2012, 02:16:00 PM by LetTheRightLensIn »

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Re: What will be the standard high ISO levels 6 to 8 years from now?
« Reply #59 on: September 03, 2012, 02:31:59 PM »
We'll probably get to a point where ISO values are no longer relevant, similar to the way CPU's have stopped focusing on their clock rates.   I agree that the focus would most likely shift to more of a low light quality rating.  Remember that a high ISO number doesn't mean you'll want to keep the picture as it would most likely remind you of painted sandpaper.  My crystal ball stops there..... :)
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Re: What will be the standard high ISO levels 6 to 8 years from now?
« Reply #59 on: September 03, 2012, 02:31:59 PM »