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Friday, January 26, 2007

Beyond Megapixels

Today's camera manufacturers are thinking about more than pixels

"Today's consumers are becoming second- and third- rather than first-time digital camera buyers," notes Andy LaGuardia, senior manager of corporate communications for Fujifilm. "When they bought their first digital camera, they wanted as many megapixels as they could get or afford. Now they're coming to the camera store with experience that tells them to look into battery consumption, shutter lag and other performance issues."

There's a distinguishing line to be made between consumer and professional cameras, however. Although today's compact and affordable digital SLRs offer more than ample resolutions for most photographers, professional cameras will likely still see further increases in resolution.

"In the digital SLR category, there's room at the top of the market for professional cameras to exceed the 16.7-megapixel benchmark established by the Canon EOS-1Ds Mark II," says Chuck Westfall, Canon USA's director of technical marketing. "Speaking strictly about image sensors, there are no significant limits on sensor physical dimensions using CMOS technology, but the bulk of the market will continue to be in the 35mm size of the 24x36mm category and smaller because of other factors like lens selection and conventional 35mm-based SLR camera body design."

Moving Beyond The Sensor
Issues such as signal noise, color accuracy, shutter lag and image processing are increasingly becoming key qualities to evaluate when considering any digital camera.

"I think now where you'll see the technology pushes are in the 'individual technologies' that happen behind the scene," says Nikon's Heiner. "You're going to start to see new noise-reduction algorithms employed and other things that improve image quality."

Along with such features, the ease with which photographers can create good-quality images and see them to the final print has grown in desirability. This is especially the case with understanding the importance of in-camera image processing.




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