NDA report: The 8 megapixels are coming!|
(Friday, January 9, 2004 - 13:51 EST)
We can't talk specifics (yet), but get ready for a wave of 8 megapixel digicams.
As always at this time of year, we're under NDA (Non-Disclosure Agreement) with essentially all the major digicam manufacturers. We know a lot of what's coming over roughly the next 6 months, but can't breathe a word of it to anyone.
Well, almost. While we can't say anything about any individual manufacturer's plans, it certainly doesn't violate anything that we've signed to observe that 2004 is going to be the year of the 8 megapixel prosumer digicam.
Sony made waves a couple of months back when they introduced the DSC-F828, the first prosumer-level digicam with an 8 megapixel CCD. (Although let me hasten to note that the 828's pixel count was arguably the *least* significant of its new attributes, the four-color "RGBE" sensor technology being a much more important innovation.) Based on what we've seen in the back rooms at CES, it looks like the F828 is going to have a lot of competition in the near future, not only in the area of pixel count, but in terms of optical parameters as well. (cough, cough long zoom, cough, cough)
This is exciting news, but it also leads me to wonder what's going to happen with image noise. It's no secret that making sensor pixels smaller leads to increased image noise, all other factors being held constant. I'm personally of the opinion that the general internet discussion has blown image noise quite a bit out of proportion, but it *is* still an issue, and an important one at that.
And just how much better are 8 megapixel files than 5 or 6 megapixel ones? For my part, I'd much rather see a 5 megapixel camera with *really clean* shots at ISO 800 or 1600, than an 8 megapixel one that struggles at ISO 200.
We obviously don't know how the coming round of 8 megapixel digicams are going to perform, but count me as at least one voice calling for a little re-thinking of the whole megapixel "race" that we seem to be engaged in.