Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Pentax/Samsung new 14.6MP CMOS sensor.

I found these images today from a Japanese or Asian site that shows how Samsung is promoting the new 14.6MP CMOS sensor that are shipped with the Pentax K20D and the Samsung GX-20. The new sensor was developed jointly (Pentax and Samsung). From what I was told, Pentax engineers, who have more experience than Samsung with photographic equipment, designed the sensor. Samsung is manufacturing the sensor since they already had manufacturing plants and the technical experience to make this new CMOS sensor come to life.

Click on images above to enlarge.

The images are self explanatory, although technically, I don't quite fully understand the process. I have always been amazed to read, on various sites, that CMOS APS-C sized sensors were limited to 10MP. A decade ago, CCD sensors were apparently limited to 3 or 4MP while CMOS sensors were too expensive and had a lower IQ. We have surpassed these barriers many times over and I have no doubts that new technological advancements will make it possible in a not-so-distant future, to pack 20MP on an APS-C sensor with excellent IQ at all ISO.

The buzz word these days is Full Frame. The full frame sensors are a vestige from the 35mm cameras era. It was just a handy way to make 35mm lenses fit on a new digital SLR design. Yes, the 35mm lenses do fit on the APS-C sized camera but project an image circle bigger than what the sensor can capture, hence the cropped image circle that makes a 200mm lens act like a 300mm lens and a 20mm wide angle lens act like a 30mm lens. I think it's wonderful. Have you priced a 300mm f/2.8 versus a 200mm f/2.8 lately? Telephotos are much more expensive than wide angle lenses. APS-C ultra wide angle lenses are now available, at about the same reasonable price of full frame wide angle lenses, making the APS-C sized cameras getting the best of both worlds. See previously post "APS-C versus Full Frame".

Pentax may produce a full frame sensor in the future, but it will only to meet the false perception of the consumers that bigger is always better. With time, the APS-C sized sensors will have the same IQ and pixel count of the full frame sensors. Full Frame DSLR cameras and lenses will always cost more to manufacture and will forever be heavier. As example, the Canon EOS-1Ds Mark II series and the Nikon D3 are great cameras but costs between $5,000 and $7,000 US. If you have ever held one of these cameras, you know just how heavy and bulky they are.

So, from my point-of-view, I believe in technology, the same technology that brought us from silver halide film to this new digital age and to this 14.6MP CMOS sensor that the Pentax K20D and the Samsung GX-20 have introduced. It offers the greatest resolution in its class.

Isn’t technology great?

Thank you for reading. Tomorrow, I will post more about my PMA 2008 experience with the new Pentax cameras and lenses.

Thank you for reading.

Yvon Bourque
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