Tuesday, July 23, 2013

The "Canon’s Testing a 75MP+ Pro DSLR" Rumor

Photography Bay has a post up about Canon testing a 75mp pro camera. Considering that Nikon and Canon are slowly eating into the medium format market, the rumor could have been left at that, but the post keeps going on,,, and starts testing the bounds of credibility.

"The resolution of the sensor is greater than 75MP."  Yes, that's possible, it would give it a pixel pitch in the ballpark of  the Sony DSC-RX100. Certainly medium format territory. You won't get the same levels of dynamic range that you see with the high end DSLR's today, but under controlled lighting, it would be workable as a studio camera.

"The rear LCD is shockingly high resolution." Again, possible, considering that if you count dots and not pixels, most LCD's today approximate 640*480 over 3-3.5". Most smartphones are a higher density, so at best, it would be equally the display quality of Apple's Retina display. I would say that "shocking" would be an exaggeration. Certainly would have it's uses, though.

"So is the frame rate, which is possibly greater than the 1D-X". Bahahahaha. The EOS 1-DX hits 11.5fps; 75mp/14bit-depth is something like 1.5 terabytes per second in terms of internal processing bandwidth. You wouldn't just need a new processor, you would need pretty much "a new everything", including new memory card technology. (A Nikon D4 write-out to an XQD card is roughly 125mb/s.) Yes, the likelihood is that any such camera would have to achieve this frame rate at a lower resolution, but what's the point? Canon has a camera that does that already, the 1-DX.

I won't dive into whether or not 75mp would be more than what today's lenses are capable of, but what I can say is that 75mp is more than what today's lenses are capable of when hand-held, image stabilization or not. If you need high frames per second, then your subject is moving quickly. If you are tracking a quickly moving subject, then you don't have a stable base to maximize insane amounts of resolution. So, even taking into account decent levels of technology improvement, what the rumor is referring to is not something akin to what we see on the market today.

So what could it be?

The only saving grace to this rumor is if 75mp refers to a some kind of pixle binning or arrangement, or something like the upcoming variation of Canon's new dual-pixel phase detection autofocus announced with the EOS 70D; which would make such a sensor more akin to a 32mp sensor, closer to the Nikon D800. Or... it could be the Foveon-like post-Bayer sensor that showed up in this patent, as reported by NorthLight-Images. In which case it's really a three-colour 25mp sensor, which would be nothing to sneeze at. However, it would still be an enormous amount of information to move off the sensor, still 75mp worth before the the three inputs from each photodiode stack are merged into one output pixel. (If you want to read about how Canon is trying to get around the sensitivity and noise weaknesses of the Foveon sensor, try reading here. Beware: something get's lost in Google translate...) If you count up all of the photo sites, this is twice the amount of raw data that a D800 would process internally, and at 11 fps, it would be doing it twice as fast. However, writing out a final 25mp file at 11fps would definitely be within the realm of possibility for next generation hardware. 

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