My Postings on Digital Photography

Digital Photography

Copyright 2010 by Stephen Vermeulen
Last updated: 2010 Jul 10
Digital Photo Frames

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The year 2000 saw the introduction of the first consumer digicams with 3M pixel capability. This was a significant event as this level of resolution is what you need to product images of sufficient quality to print at sizes greater than 8"x10". During this year Epson introduced the highly successful 870 and 1270 printers which were finally good enough to make a lot of pros happy.

The end of 2000 saw the introduction of the Olympus E10, the first mass market true 4M pixel unit, plus some announcements of 6M pixel technology to appear in 2001. So it looks like 2001 will be another good year for digital photography.

The end of 2001 saw the arrival of consumer 5M pixel units with the first shipments of the Nikon 5000, and earlier in the year the Minolta. As well the 4M pixel units were king of the counter for the Christmas season, driving the 3M pixel units into the introductory class and the 2M pixel units in to the value class.

At the start of 2002 the conventional digicams are still at the 5M pixel mark, but Foveon released the first version of their true colour pixel sensor (which is going to be used in this camera from Sigma), which stacks the RGB senstors vertically at the same location, this is equivalent to about a 10M pixel sensor (and it may increase light sensitivity). So by the later part of 2002 expect to see a big jump!

In September 2002 Canon announced their new EOS-1Ds SLR with a 11.1M pixel sensor. Now at US$7600 this is only for the pros, but I would expect to see this technology filtering down to the amateur cameras within the next year. Let's see its about time for the Canon G3 to appear, maybe it'll have more than 6M pixels. Alas, no such luck with the new G3 (and no need for me to replace my G1 with a G3 either). However, it looks like the 10M pixel point is where 35mm film finally gets surpassed by digital (see the Luminous Landscape's excellent review of a pre-production EOS-1Ds for the reasoning behind this). So when do we see something like the Nikon Coolpix 5700, but with a 10M pixel sensor? Perhaps it will be the G4?

Steve's Digicams has a preview review on the new Nikon Coolpix 5700 which is due out in July 2002, this has a lot of tempting features that make me consider an upgrade from my Canon G1. Its also making me think about not getting an SLR-type Digicam (since the 8x zoom covers a pretty good range). What I like about the 5700 is:

  • the 8x zoom range, this is equivalent to a 35-280mm zoom on a 35mm SLR. I find that 200mm and more is really pushing what I can typically hand-hold (without an image stabilizer), and that 35mm is often not "wide enough". So my ideal 8x zoom would be a 28-220mm or 24-190mm range. But this is a vast improvement over the G1's 35-105mm range. And for wide angle work, one can often use the panoramic stitching approach to do a good job.
  • the popout and tilt/twist LCD display (after using this on my G1 I am finding it to be very difficult to go to any camera without this)
  • the 5M pixel sensor, not quite 6M but a significant step upwards from 3M.
  • the faster (and slower) shutter speeds (as compared to the G1), it also has a bulb exposure mode for up to 5 minutes
  • the continuous shooting mode (the G1 was a bit too slow to be really useful, but it got me thinking about the advantages of it and how all the extra exposures don't cost you anything)
  • the hot shoe flash mounting (the G1 has this, and I like it a lot, bounce flash is so much nicer than direct flash)
  • the compact size (its certainly a lot more compact than an SLR type - especially in the lens), though not as compact as the G1, its probably not too bad
  • the use of a rechargable lithium battery - great for light weight and lots of power
  • IBM Microdrive compatibility
The things I don't like about it are quite minor:
  • the lack of an infra-red remote control (although I have not made much use of the one the G1 has, its nice and very compact).
  • use of USB 1.1 rather than 2.0 (even though the G1 is only a 3M camera I find that USB 1.1 is really a bit on the slow side, especially when downloading a few hundred pictures).
Another year passes, and it's now August 2003. For the last year the prosumer market has been stalled at the 5M pixel level, above this price range is another grouping of cameras, the entry-level SLR digital units (with interchangable lenses) which are all using 6M pixel sensors these days. The pro-level SLRs are still in the 10-14M pixel range. Finally though, Sony has broken ranks and has just announced their Cyber-shot DSC-F828 which gives you an 8M pixel sensor and a 28-210mm (35mm equivalent) zoom. This is expected to ship in November 2003, just in time for Christmas season (this also gives you 3-4 months to save up for it, and I bet the demand for these will be high enough that a pre-order will be needed). This has been given first look reviews by all the major digicam web sites, if you start with Steve's DigiCams he has links to the others as well. After reading through these reviews about the only things that come to mind that I don't like about it are:
  • size, I really like the more compact form factor typical of digicams than the old 35mm film equipment, as well this unit has become somewhat heavy. But, given the capabilities of this camera I doubt this is going to stop me from buying one. Only if another company offered one with very similar specifications, would I consider the difference in size or weight to be important.
  • the remote control appears to be an option, and its a "wired remote" as well. What is Sony thinking? Again, as I use my remote very rarely I don't see this as a big problem.
It's now the end of November 2003 and SONY is starting to talk publically about the DSC-F828, they are allowing one to pre-order it, so there's a good chance this will ship before the end of the year. They have also quietly dropped the price by US$300, which makes sense given the success of the Canon EOS Rebel. They already have the manual online here. Sony Japan has posted some more sample images from this camera. More sample images can be found at:
  • A-Digital-Eye 21-Dec-03, has added some duplicate shots taken with the Canon Digital Rebel so you can compare the two cameras. To my eye the photos are virtually identical, although the Sony pictures are just a bit sharper and the Canon's have less noise in the sky. I would guess that if you printed a pair at 8x10 or 11x14 size you would not be able to tell the difference. I would like to see some higher ISO shots to see how well the Sony does then as the Canon seems to do a nice job at higher ISO.
  • DCRP Review 17-Dec-03
  • e-FotoGrafija 17-Dec-03
  • The Luminous Landscape has a full review 28-Dec-03. Figure 1 in this article compares the amount of hardware you might need to surpass the DSC-828 by taking the digital SLR format route (its actually a bit biased against the SLR as a D10 is used, which has a smaller than full-size sensor so if the 1.5x cropping is taken into account a smaller zoom could be used, say a 28-135mm). This is a really good illustration of why a digi-cam like the 828 makes a superior travel camera than a digital SLR.
  • Digital Outback's review of the 828, their main issues with it being the limited usefulness of the electronic view finder and the presence of chromatic aberration (CA). The Luminous Landscape did not have as much CA trouble. They compared it to the inexpensive Canon 28-135mm lens (which is the right thing to do as this lens is a likely purchase for the Digital Rebel owner) and it appears that the 828 has a somewhat sharper lens. Of course the 828 is noisier that the Canon. They point out that with the smaller sensors of the digi-cams (like the 828) you get shorter focal length lenses (for the same viewing angle) and this gives you more depth of field at the same F-stop, meaning its easier to get sharp focus, but its also more difficult to blur out the background to isolate the subject from its surroundings. I need to find a reference that explains this effect. 29-Dec-03
  • Digital Camera Resource's review of the DSC-828. This one has a good selection of sample photos. 30-Dec-03
  • Steve's Digicams has updated their review of the DSC-828. 31-Dec-03
  • Digital Photography Review's DSC-828 review concludes that the imafe quality problems are this camera's weak spots. They also note a couple of oddities about trying to quickly take a series of photos while in one-shot mode. 11-Jan-04
The first previews of the Nikon 8700 are starting to appear at the end of Jan 2004. This looks like direct competition to the Sony 828. CNets first mention is here. Looks like the Minolta A2 will be joining the 8MP crowd, this one will bring an image stabilizer to the party. And now there are roomers of the Canon Powershot Pro 1 to be announced soon. The Powershot Pro1 has now (10 Feb 2004) been officially announced and is due to ship in April.

Lots of information about the Minolta A2.

This thread discusses a number of LCD screen protectors.

In Jan'06 Olympus became the first manufacturer to wake up and produce a DSLR with live LCD preview, the E-330. Unfortunately this is only a 7M Pixel unit (though that might be a good thing from the noise perspective), but now someone has broken from accepted tradition its only a matter of time before a higher end camera with live preview comes along. Personally, I think this is a great thing, I have been using the external LCD for almost all of my composition for about 5 years now (on a Canon G1, an A95 and a Minolta A2) and greatly prefer this method. An early review of this is here. In late Feb'06 Panasonic introduced a similar unit the DMC-L1, which includes an image-stabilized Leica lens.

In July'06 Panasonic announced their Lumix DMC-LX2, which is a compact point and shoot with a wide-angle (28mm equivalent) 4x optical zoom. While not an extrordinary camera it also introduces the ability to do video at 848x480 (30 fps) and even 1280x720 (at 15fps) resolutions, which is much better than anyone else can do with a digicam. It looks like Panasonic has introduced the 848x480 video mode to most of their other new cameras, but not the 1280x720 mode.

In Sept'07 Casio announced a 6MP camera capable of shooting 60 frames per second at full resolution. This is an order of magnitude faster than anything else and will be a driving force for other manufacturers to look at boosting their speeds (which typically have not changed much from the days of film and motor drives capable of a few frames per second). While the obvious application of this is for sports photography, it would also be very useful to the amateur photographer when trying to take photos of children at play or at some "one of" event like a wedding where you you are looking for a magic moment type photograph. Hopefully they will also have a "pre-press" capture (where the camera starts taking pictures as soon as the shutter button is half pressed and on the full press it saves 5-10 of the photos just before the full press).

General Topics

Miscellaneous Items

  • 2010-Jul-10: A cute little marketing slip, Sony (or at least the pro photographer they hired) used a Canon DSLR to take some of their product press photos. How embarrassing! [9292] [1]
  • 2009-Jun-11: Fotopedia will be an online encyclopedia of photographs. [8121]
  • Gallery Wraps, a frameless mounting technique for prints that have been made on some sort of fabric media. [3144]
  • Shoppers Drug Mart has a prints from digital service. [3143]
  • Microsoft is proposing a new file format: JPEG XR, that will improve the dynamic range. [3142]
  • A web site called Four Thirds User has been launched which will specialize in the four thirds system [3141]
  • SnapVillage, is a stock photo website with a simplified pricing model [3140]
  • Low Budget Shooting, by Cyrill Harnischmacher, ISBN: 978-1933952109. Discusses various ways of building your own photographic tools. [3139]
  • Windows Vista may mess up your EXIF info. [3138]
  • The effect of megapixel counts and print sizes, this article demonstrates that 5Meg (or more) can produce apparantly identical results at a 16x20 print size. In my experience with printing 8MP images (all shot in JPEG) from my Minolta A2 at 13x19" size (on a Canon i9900 printer), its pretty much impossible to see any evidence of their digital origins - about the only chance is if you can pick out a sharp edge between a light and a dark object, then you might be able to make out a narrow band of lighter area intruding onto the dark region (which is probably a JPEG artifact). I have done a 13x19 print from the Minolta A2 of trees in autumn standing in a field of long dry grass, and even on the grass I cannot make out stair casing. I did some test prints once from my 3MP Canon G1 and printed a 16x20 as a tiled 8x10 set (which means that the printed pixels were about 100 pixels per inch) and in those you could see pixelization on the edges of things, but if you viewed from a reasonable distance you could not see them. My conclusion is that 5MP should be good enough for most people, especially if you get a camera with a larger sensor to reduce the sensor noise. Of course if one is purchasing a camera with less than about a 5x optical zoom then more pixels might well be useful to allow for additional cropping before printing. [3137]
  • Flickr launches geotagging [3136]
  • Protecting your photos once the've been put on your hard drive. [3135]
  • The JPEG2000 standard for image compression [3134]
  • Fotolia is paying for original images [3133]
  • Could the compound eyes of insects be applied to photography? A camera with about 90,000 microlenses has been developed as a thesis project. [3132]
  • Foto Search Digital Stock Photography is a stock photography site, probably quite useful if you are preparing corporate brochures or websites and need some professional quality material. [3131]
  • The potential trouble you may get into by using proprietary RAW format files, and how wants to help [3130]
  • Wired writes on the issue of finding photographs from within your vast collection. [3129]
  • Some nice photo mosaics of the World At Night have been created recently (Aug 2004). [3128]
  • a PhotographyBlog review of Digital Photography Hacks, a book by Derrick Story, ISBN: 0596006667. [3127]
  • Making sense of digital camera photo sensors [3126]
  • Legal Handbook for photographers, at least for the USA. More information on this subject. is a site dedicated to this issue. A site from Tomas Hawk that is collecting information about photo policies in privately owned, public spaces. Is photography becoming illegal in the USA? [3125]
  • An article that explains the difference between a circular and a linear polarizing filter, and goes into the potential colour shifts that can result. More on using crossed polarizers as a filter to enhance infra-red photography. [3124]
  • Comparing the picture quality of a Nikon D100 to Velvia film that has been scanned. I would have to say that digital won. [3123]
  • Petteri on Mastering Wide-Angle lenses [3122]
  • This article has a good explanation (and demonstration) of why colour information in video (and also photographs) is less important to our eyes than luminance and especially that we really don't see blue very well at all. [3121]
  • Breaking the gigapixel barrier, using a 6MP camera and stitching a large number of images together. The result is quite amazing. This also has some (simulated) comparison between this resolution and other real resolutions. This sort of resolution is not really so far away as one might think, consider that the current resolution size is about 10MP, so multiply this by just 100 and you have 1GP. Now a factor of a hundred sounds a lot, but since sensors are not lines, they cover an area, so all that needs to be done is to multiply the number of sensors in each dimension by a factor of 10. This could be done today by making the sensor larger, roughly 4 to 8 inches across would do it (but then you're looking at a pretty big camera - but such large format cameras have been used before), or else if the sensor was made more dense we would have to wait about 6 to 9 years (circuits shrink by about a factor of 2 every 2 to 3 years). Sensor noise might be one limiting factor here, but I would think we would hit some sort of optical limit before this happens too. [3120]
  • A brief explaination of colour management. [3119]
  • Mar'06 a review of the Pantone Eye One Display LT colorimeter and the Huey low cost calibrator. Another review of the Huey here. London Drugs stocks the Huey and the Eye One calibrators. [3118]
  • Pantone makes a colour calibration system, and in Jan'06 they announced another called Huey. Here is a review of the hueyPRO which improves upon the original Huey. [3117]
  • The WDCC (Warrington District Camera Club) [3116]
  • Tony Smith Creative Photography from the UK has some interesting IR photos (film based) along with a variety of portraiture, including a lot of Bands. [3115]
  • DV FAQ [3114]
  • Kodak's new Ultima Picture Paper seems to be a good improvement over their Premium Picture Paper for Epson inkjets. [3113]
  • FAQ on building PhotoCDs [3112]
  • Ron Reznick has done some nice work with birds, he has pages here as well. [3111]
  • DLC Photography, a nature photography site [3110]
  • Some very good insect macro photography using a laser triggered camera. [3109]
  • Macro photography. For high magnification photography using a macro coupling ring to attach a 50mm focal length lens in a reversed direction appears to work quite well. These are available from Adorama and B&H Photo if you can stand paying $25-30 to ship a $8 part! [3108]
  • Scanner Detail comparison article [3107]
  • Building your own infra red filter out of junk [3106]
  • Hacking up a Fuji Finepix 2300 to allow it to take infrared photos [3105]
  • Infra Red photography on digicams, and more infrared here [3104]
  • Fire Pictures - from the National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC). Not necessarily digital photography, but there are some amazing pictures here. [3103]

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