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Improving Digital Photography

michael posted more than 11 years ago | from the let-there-be-light-and-high-resolution-graphics dept.

Graphics 401

Milican writes "'It's easy to have a complicated idea," Carver Mead used to tell his students at Caltech. "It's very, very hard to have a simple idea...And now one of Mead's simplest ideas--a digital camera should see color the way the human eye does--is poised to change everything about photography. Its first embodiment is a sensor - called the X3 - that produces images as good as or better than what can be achieved with film.'" We had a previous story about Foveon last February.

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craig is a n00b (-1)

mhr003 (629333) | more than 11 years ago | (#5041122)

CRAig is a noob noob noob noob

fp! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5041127)

i claim this fp in the name of George Nayef Kayatta, R.M. (renaissance man)! [pricelessart.org]

Not FIrst post! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5041129)

This is not the first post so you don't have to read this.

Old news (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5041131)

Why do you replay articles from last year? Jeez, it isn't even running Linux or Beawolf?

Pixel Noise (3, Informative)

DrinkDr.Pepper (620053) | more than 11 years ago | (#5041141)

How is this at all like the way the human eye sees?

I hate pixel noise in my digital pictures. I have heard that since red color has to be detected at the deepest part of the silicon there is an abudance of noise in the reds.

Re:Pixel Noise (2, Insightful)

forand (530402) | more than 11 years ago | (#5041212)

I think the point is that we don't have three detectors in our eyes to see base colors and then construct the true color.

Re:Pixel Noise (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5041352)

Sure, but this sensor is still RBG and still has pixels. Nothing like my eye at all. It's not even closer than the old style of CCD.

It's like the eye because... (5, Informative)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 11 years ago | (#5041243)

It sees a real "color" instead of on red/green/blue (dispersed in fine pixels of course). It may not be able to see red quite as well as other colors, but it only means that the sensitivity at the red level is the limitation you have for the picture as whole.

What you don't get is Moire patterns - at all!! That is what you probably hate when you say you hate "pixel noise" because it's totally obvious (due to the color changes), very distracting, and annoying to clean up after.

Re:It's like the eye because... (5, Informative)

tjwhaynes (114792) | more than 11 years ago | (#5041325)

It sees a real "color" instead of on red/green/blue (dispersed in fine pixels of course). It may not be able to see red quite as well as other colors, but it only means that the sensitivity at the red level is the limitation you have for the picture as whole.

I don't think I agree - it still looks like a standard red/green/blue pickup (and that is exactly like the human eye - we don't have different cones for, say, lime green and grass green). There is possible mileage in having more layers picking up wavebands spanning a smaller range of wavelengths (and there are humans with 4 types of cone rather than 3 - tetrachromatic vision) but it's not going to matter too much for our normal vision. Useful for simple spectroscopy (colour profiles etc.) though.

What you don't get is Moire patterns - at all!! That is what you probably hate when you say you hate "pixel noise" because it's totally obvious (due to the color changes), very distracting, and annoying to clean up after

It's pixelated still so you will still get Moire patterns as soon as the smallest details are finer than the resolving power of the X3 bins (think Nyquists theorem). However, the bizarre colours you get from a fine-grained black and white grid shouldn't be present to the same extent as all the measurements of colour intensity are done at the same point in the X3 layer, as opposed to the different spatial positions of the red green and blue bins in a colour CCD.

Cheers,

Toby Haynes

Nyquist free... (5, Informative)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 11 years ago | (#5041396)

t's pixelated still so you will still get Moire patterns as soon as the smallest details are finer than the resolving power of the X3 bins (think Nyquists theorem). However, the bizarre colours you get from a fine-grained black and white grid shouldn't be present to the same extent as all the measurements of colour intensity are done at the same point in the X3 layer, as opposed to the different spatial positions of the red green and blue bins in a colour CCD.

The bizzare colors (what I really hate about digital photos) are not just reduced - they are gone. If you read the review at DPReview.com you'll find that it has resolution right up to Nyquist is noise free and you get some detail beyond. Here's the relevant section (near the very end of the review, where they test against some resolution charts):

The SD9 is capable of delivering all nine individual lines of the horizontal or vertical resolution bars up to its maximum absolute resolution (sensor vertical pixel count) and slightly beyond. Note also that because the X3 sensor doesn't need a color filter array it doesn't suffer from color moiré.. Absolute resolution is just less than the Canon EOS-D60, Nikon D100 and Fujifilm S2 Pro (at 6 mp).

However, because the X3 sensor doesn't use a low pass (anti-alias) filter it is able to resolve detail all the way up to Nyquist. Beyond Nyquist the system will alias without any objectionable color moiré. Where a Bayer sensor camera would turn detail beyond Nyquist (such as distant grass texture) into a single plane of blurred color the SD9 will continue to reproduce some individual pixel detail (without color moiré).

Re:Pixel Noise (5, Informative)

tjwhaynes (114792) | more than 11 years ago | (#5041272)

How is this at all like the way the human eye sees?

This foveon system is like the human eye inasmuchas the light photons penetrate multiple layers and register at more than one levels in the same spot. For example, take a look at this cross section of the human retina [eyedesignbook.com] .

Current CCDs only collect one waveband of light at one area. To simulate colour, they collect three different wavebands in adjacent areas on the surface of the CCD. Hence the funky moire patterns you that you see in tightly patterned cloth on the sample piccies on the site.

I hate pixel noise in my digital pictures. I have heard that since red color has to be detected at the deepest part of the silicon there is an abudance of noise in the reds.

If the upper layers are completely transparent in the red, then your concerns don't apply. As long as the actual transparency of the upper layers is reasonable, then there is little cause to worry - traditionally CCDs are far more sensitive to the red end of the spectrum than the blue so even modest photon loss at the red end is unlikely to seriously degrade the pictures.

The other nice thing about this technology is that the spatial size of the light bins is approximately three times larger than that for the equivalent physical sized CCD - that means better signal-to-noise ratios for this new technology.

Anyway, the presentations look compelling. I await cameras with reasonable numbers of megapixels (say 4Mpixels +) and reviews...

Cheers,

Toby Haynes

Re:Pixel Noise (5, Informative)

mohaine (62567) | more than 11 years ago | (#5041353)

Current color CCDs only measure one of the primary colors at each pixel. Once a picture is taken, the missing colors are 'guessed' by looking at the surrounding pixels that did capture that color. This process is really slow because each pixel is missing 2 colors.

The X3 actaully measures RGB at each pixel, giving much better quality, at a higher speed.

Re:Pixel Noise (5, Interesting)

rendermouse (462757) | more than 11 years ago | (#5041374)

Read a bit about The Color-Sensitive Cones [gsu.edu]

"In 1965 came experimental confirmation of a long expected result - there are three types of color-sensitive cones in the retina of the human eye, corresponding roughly to red, green, and blue sensitive detectors. "

If this X3 thing is so great... (3, Funny)

intermodal (534361) | more than 11 years ago | (#5041143)

wait till a few years down the road once he's up to X10!

Re:If this X3 thing is so great... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5041191)

Damn, ya beat me to it.

Whats the hold up? (3, Interesting)

cosmosis (221542) | more than 11 years ago | (#5041401)

The X3 announcement came out almost a year ago, and still their is only one, ONE camera that has this technology. If its so superior (which is it by the way!) then why the hell hasn't this thing been flooding the market? It defies description.

In fact, earlier this year the announcment was that we should see several cameras with X3 technology on the store shelves in time for Christmas. What happened?

Planet P Blog [planetp.cc] - Liberty with Technology.

I've read about this in a dozen magazines already (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5041147)

I've read about this in a dozen magazines already. So why I am reading it about it again here?

Old news.

So (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5041149)

With a digital camera mimicing the human eye, will there be contact lenses for cameras? Glassed for cameras? LASIX for cameras? Instead of a flash for nightime pictures, will we feed them carrots?

Foveon won the PopSci Best of What's New for 2002 (5, Informative)

Drakonian (518722) | more than 11 years ago | (#5041150)

in Photography. Check out the article here [popsci.com] .

Re:Foveon won the PopSci Best of What's New for 20 (3)

Drakonian (518722) | more than 11 years ago | (#5041215)

I also think it should be noted that this Popular Science article (and the submitted article) make it clear that it wasn't Carver Mead who invented it/thought of it but Dick Merrill who thought of it and Dick Lyon who brought the dream back to life after Merrill forgot about it. Mead just founded Foveon Inc.

Re:Foveon won the PopSci Best of What's New for 20 (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5041283)

Does responding to your own post increase your Karma?

Surely digital photography is 'good enough' (-1)

Lord Hugh Toppingham (319381) | more than 11 years ago | (#5041162)

Its good enough for most people. What is the point of this ? I cannot tell the difference between photos taken on a 3.5 MegaPixel digital camera and those I take on my 35mm Minolta.


More pointless technology.

digital print... (2)

WPIDalamar (122110) | more than 11 years ago | (#5041163)

That's all great and all... but until there's affordable printing solutions that can print better than film, there won't be as widespread adoption.

Re:digital print... (1)

DrinkDr.Pepper (620053) | more than 11 years ago | (#5041170)

What about Dye Sublimation printers?

Re:digital print... (2)

binaryDigit (557647) | more than 11 years ago | (#5041267)

He said "affordable" ;) Actually dyesub printers are getting relatively cheap, at least compared to days past. The Olympus printers are nice (I have the p330 and the p400 looks sweet). They are not however anywhere near the $200 price range of the nicer inkjets that I assume the original poster means by "affordable".

But that said, I don't think printing technology is holding anything up. After all, you always want the best quality now, you can always acquire and print with better tech tomorrow, but any better tech won't improve the pictures you've already taken.

Re:digital print... (2)

Hobophile (602318) | more than 11 years ago | (#5041372)

They are not however anywhere near the $200 price range of the nicer inkjets that I assume the original poster means by "affordable".

I got my girlfriend a HiTi 630PL Photo Printer [hi-ti.com] for Christmas, which is a dyesub printer. I paid around $170 for it; you can also get a model that can print independently of a PC (by reading directly from the memory card) for around $250.

She's been pretty busy lately and hasn't had much of a chance to test it out, but all the reviews I saw were very positive. Additional supplies cost $20 for a 50 print kit (includes paper and ribbon), so cost per print is about $.40, which compares favorably to inkjets.

The downside is that it only prints 4x6 size prints, but her current camera can't really do anything better than 8x10 so it's not holding her back much.

upload pics walmart (1)

xdrone (597762) | more than 11 years ago | (#5041284)

i know some places like walmart allow you to upload your digital photos for processing just like regular photographs. so digtal costs the same a traditional development. i would guess all negatives are scanned and printed from digital theses day at many places.

e-Photomat (1)

Devios (603168) | more than 11 years ago | (#5041330)

I'd rather not drive to the local pharmacy to get my 35mm film developed...

Why not upload my digital pictures to the local pharmacy and let their automated system print, arrange, and package my photos, and then have a pharmacy employee send the pictures back to me via snail-mail?

Maybe they could even deliver the packaged 'developed' photos to my house for a small fee.

The e-Photomat?

Re:digital print... (2)

Washizu (220337) | more than 11 years ago | (#5041341)

I use Shutterfly.com to print and share my digital photos. 4x6 prints are less than $0.50 each. Here's a link [shutterfly.com] to some crummy photos I've taken with my new Canon Power Shot S200.

Re:digital print... (4, Interesting)

angle_slam (623817) | more than 11 years ago | (#5041350)

That's all great and all... but until there's affordable printing solutions that can print better than film, there won't be as widespread adoption.

The minilab system that is widely regarded as the best is the Fuji Frontier system [fujifilm.com] . How does it work? By scanning film. Of course, it accepts files from digital cameras as well.

What is the best way to get large, "professional" prints? The Lightjet [cymbolic.com] . How do these operate? Using very high quality scans! (See West Coast Imaging [westcoastimaging.com] , for example). My point? You can already get digital images produced in the exact same manner as the best film prints.

There are already a lot of people who think digital photography has surpassed even medium format photography. See the Luminous Landscape [luminous-landscape.com] , for example.

As for widespread adoption, photojournalists have all but abandoned film. The P&S crowd is already beginning to abandon film.

Review of X3 Camera (2, Informative)

SparkyTWP (556246) | more than 11 years ago | (#5041171)

For those of you interested in a review of a X3 camera and a simple explanation of the technology behind it, this review [dpreview.com] is pretty decent.

Sadly... (2, Insightful)

Fideaux! (44069) | more than 11 years ago | (#5041172)

..Mead picked probably the crappiest camera company possible to produced his first camera. Sigma is known for making low-cost, and relatively low-quailty aftermarket lenses for the big camera manufacturers. Others will argue with the same info that they were given by the camera salesperson who makes a comparitively huge commission on the Sigma (or ProMaster, or one of of Sigma's off brands), but trust me, they suck. (They might also say that Sigma builds lenses for the big camera manufacturers, also false) They've made a few cameras that have been embarassing flops.

I've talked to a few people who have used the Foveon Sigma and while they rave about the technology, the can't stand the camera for handling, feature set, etc.

What Mead needs to do is play whatever game Canon/Nikon/Minolta/Olympus wants him to play to get his chip in their cameras. Then it'll really take off.

Actually (2)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 11 years ago | (#5041320)

The feature set is supposed to be pretty good, according to DPReview. The only real complaints they had about the camera were the red noise, and poor behavior in low light conditions. The camera had some really nice features including "undo last delete", histograms for each of the coolor channels, and even the ability to zoom in on an area of the pictures while examining the histogram to get a histogram for a small region of your photo. The software that comes with the camera is also supposed to be very good (though I have no idea if it works in OSX yet).

Over at Photo.net [photo.net] people seem to like some of the Sigma lenses pretty well. The 70-200 I think, is supposed to be a fine lens and people use it on other bodies all the time.

I agree I would have liked to see a Nikon or Canon body with this chip, but given that's probably a year or two off I'm probably going to buy the SD9 as my first digital SLR.

Re:Sadly... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5041321)

He didn't pick them. They are the only company he could convince to use this overhyped technology. It should mean something that no major photographic company has adopted this. Mead is a publicity whore and he's been talking this up for almost four years now.

Re:Sadly... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5041392)

Yeah, when I didn't know anything about cameras I bought an expensive camera and shitty Sigma lens. After the realization that the camera is not really involved in the actual picture-taking (when the shutter opens the camera is just an empty box) I took it all back and got a shitty camera with an expensive Canon lens. The pictures were much better. The Sigma had barrel distortion on a prime lens, how shitty can you get!

I bet the major players aren't interested in his technology because they are developing their own.

His idea for a sensor isn't as revolutionary as it seems, I mean EVERY pro camera manufacturer wants a sensor thats 1) the same size as 35mm film (or other common film sizes) and 2) registers the colors of each pixel in the same physical spot. All cameras will be this way someday.

This is hardly news... (5, Informative)

MarcoAtWork (28889) | more than 11 years ago | (#5041177)

for an excellent (as usual) review of a camera based on this sensor check dpreview

http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/sigmasd9/ [dpreview.com]

net-net (2)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | more than 11 years ago | (#5041358)

While an excellent review, if you're just looking for a good sense of what the sensor can do without reading all twenty four pages (and completely slashdotting dpreview), check out this page [dpreview.com] .

The net-net of the review is that it's a great sensor, very accurate, the camera as some first-generation issues, and, of particular interest to this audience, uses a proprietary x3f raw image format that must be converted with Mac or Windows software.

compression as well (1)

forand (530402) | more than 11 years ago | (#5041184)

My friend works at foveon and he has been telling me that they had this technology for some time, he also mentioned that they figured out some way of storing the data such that you could have better than film quality in a small file size(i.e. 1-2 megs).

leave politics alone (5, Funny)

L. VeGas (580015) | more than 11 years ago | (#5041185)

"It's very, very hard to have a simple idea."

I don't know about anyone else, but this GW Bush bashing is getting a little tiresome.

Re:leave politics alone (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5041252)

No it isn't. Speak when you're spoke to, worm! Hell, listen to Rush Limbaugh sometime. He still quite enjoys Clinton bashing. If that is still a big thing on mainstream radio, then surely GW Bush bashing can't have become passe yet.

Uh-oh, here come the digital bashers. (5, Interesting)

aussersterne (212916) | more than 11 years ago | (#5041188)

Before all of the replies saying that digital is for geeks and film will forever rule, please be sure that you have used current and professional quality digital gear, including 35mm gear made by Canon or Nikon with standard lens mounts, digital medium or digital large format backs (depending on the type of vs. film comparison you plan to make).

Consumer digital cameras are one thing... X3 is another (still hotly debated)... but most photo editors and labs out there right out agree that a Canon EOS-1D, EOS-D60, a Fuji S2 or a Nikon D1X or D100 is simply takes better pictures in nearly every regard (including resolution) than a 35mm film camera, with any brand or grade of film. With the latest range of full-frame cameras such as Canon's EOS-1Ds (11 megapixel, I believe) and Kodak's 14 megapixel offering, the distance between digital and film (with digital on top) will only increase.

And before you comment on other film sizes, realize also that many of the largest advertising companies shooting commercial spreads abandoned film long ago and are shooting with digital medium format or large format backs. Yes, many of the fashion or product spreads you see in your favorite checkout stand magazine are in fact digital these days.

Film is well on its way to becoming a playing for history hobbyists and an art tool for retro artists, and no amount of "ludditing" will change this.

Re:Uh-oh, here come the digital bashers. (2, Informative)

realmolo (574068) | more than 11 years ago | (#5041268)

Film still rules for taking pictures in low-light. Digital cameras just can't handle low-light situations, by their very nature.

Plus, the speed of film is better. Digital cameras aren't very good for action photography.

So, uh, yeah. Digital is great for posed shots in good lighting. So I guess it is the best. Whatever.

Re:Uh-oh, here come the digital bashers. (5, Informative)

aussersterne (212916) | more than 11 years ago | (#5041328)

Film still rules for taking pictures in low-light. Digital cameras just can't handle low-light situations, by their very nature.

Plus, the speed of film is better. Digital cameras aren't very good for action photography.

So, uh, yeah. Digital is great for posed shots in good lighting. So I guess it is the best. Whatever.


Remember, I said "please be sure you have used the gear".

The ISO 1600 and 3200 shots from the pro digitals are easily less grainy and have better dynamic range than their film counterparts. Try it. And my EOS-1D can do 1/16,000 shutter speed with zero lag. Is that fast enough for you?

Yet another person who is bashing without trying.

Re:Uh-oh, here come the digital bashers. (2)

Malc (1751) | more than 11 years ago | (#5041333)

Really? How low are the light levels you're talking about? I took some wicked night time pictures recently with my brother using his Canon G20 set to up to 15 seconds of exposure. Pretty good for a consumer camera, plus way better than anything we could do as amateurs using 35mm due to the immediate feedback.

Re:Uh-oh, here come the digital bashers. (3, Informative)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 11 years ago | (#5041388)

And then there's astro-photography, which is almost all digital, because film has reciprocity failure at low light levels.

Besides, night scopes are digital, and they seem to work ok. You can even buy them at CostCo.

Re:Uh-oh, here come the digital bashers. (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5041337)

Actually, for really low light situations(astronomy) digital cameras are preferred by many because they are much more light sensitive and have no reciprocity failure (the pixels do not "tire" of getting light like film does). We (amateur for me) call them CCD cameras but the technology is the same.

Re:Uh-oh, here come the digital bashers. (2, Informative)

Cuthalion (65550) | more than 11 years ago | (#5041366)

Do you mean long exposures, or low contrast? For long exposures, this four minute exposure [dpreview.com] disagrees with you. In the article the guy says he couldn't even see that terrace it was so dark.

What do you think it is about low light situations that precludes digital cameras from working well?

As for speed.. yeah, my digital camera only goes up to ISO 1000. But you don't have to go to 1000 to take normal non-posed shots successfully (There's a lot of space between posed shots and extremely fast moving action shots.)

You forgot to add that you can't use UV or IR film in digital cameras. :D

Re:Uh-oh, here come the digital bashers. (2)

dillon_rinker (17944) | more than 11 years ago | (#5041381)

Umm...you do realize you repeated yourself, right? High speed=short shutter time=low light.

Digital cameras aren't very good for action photography.
Right...and there's a world-wide market for maybe five computers (true when it was said) and 640K is enough for anyone (true when it was said). Methinks you missed the point of the article (you did read the article, didn't you?) There is a new technology now available that is about an order of magnitude better than CCDs. So I suppose that what you say is true...for now.

Re:Uh-oh, here come the digital bashers. (1)

Parkudah (556673) | more than 11 years ago | (#5041315)

I agree that eventually almost all commercial work will be digital. But when it comes to fine art, digital gets laughed out the door. No one is going to pay big bucks for a cookie cutter image spit out at will. I have my own darkroom. Traditional printing is not a push button process. Film is the only choice for fine art photographers, not 'retro' artists like you say. MS Paint has been around since Win3.1, when was the last time you heard of an artist trading in their paintbrush for that?

Re:Uh-oh, here come the digital bashers. (2, Informative)

howlinmonkey (548055) | more than 11 years ago | (#5041334)

How many people own a $4-5k (or more) camera? The models you list are wonderful for professional photographers and studios, but don't slam the average user for not being able to afford pro gear. Current consumer devices take relatively good photos. Still not as good as a hobbyist with a midlevel analog camera can do.

Most importantly, not many consumer level output devices can print photos as well as film. I have seen some really nice photo prints from digital but, on the average, still not as good as well developed film.

Re:Uh-oh, here come the digital bashers. (2)

aussersterne (212916) | more than 11 years ago | (#5041386)

I posted simply to pre-empt the inevitable stream of "Digital sux, its for chumps and vain people, film rulez!" posts that seem to always occur when Slashdot posts a story about digital shooting.

You're right, an EOS-1D is still pretty pricey... But you should be happy about its success. As Canon (for example) has continued to release new models, the prices of the low-end pro cameras like the EOS-D30 (nearly on par with 35mm pro film quality, much better than any 35mm consumer film quality) have dropped like a rock on the used market, to similar price points of high-end consumer digitals.

If the innovation continues at this pace and Canon and Nikon continue to flood the market with better and better cameras, you will soon be able to buy a better-than-35mm pro digital system for approximately the same price as a 35mm film system. Of course, the only problem is that you will still be drooling over the high-end models, which will continue to improve...

Re:Uh-oh, here come the digital bashers. (2)

Safety Cap (253500) | more than 11 years ago | (#5041370)

Good luck bub.

Digital sucks when it comes to zooming, panning, tilting, or yawing (i.e., any camera movement). The sad fact is that you get artifacts and skips no matter what your speed or resolution. Until the capture rate is high enough that the human eye can't perceive the problems (that ol' DA boxcar versus the analog sine wave), it will never look good enough. At that point (petabyte storage, anyone?) you have achieved quality that analog film had for the past 40 years.

Computers are stupid (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5041194)

They are only as cleaver as they are programmed to be. Most people are stupid, therefore computers are.

Artificial eyes (0)

index72 (591909) | more than 11 years ago | (#5041206)

Now may be the time to reassess the possibility of restoring lost eyesight.

Digital Color Correctness (1)

Brackney (257949) | more than 11 years ago | (#5041207)

Interesting that this topic should come up now. Just the other day I was shooting some pictures with my Mavica MVC-CD200, and was running into some color correctness issues. Shooting on film with fluorescent or incandescent lighting will usually result in color shifts in the photos, so I use some special color correcting bulbs when I shoot with my 35mm SLR. I noticed that when I used the digital camera with those bulbs, the pictures all had a blue shift to them. I googled on the topic to learn a bit more, but came up empty. Any good resources for lighting, color correctness and digital photography on the web?

Re:Digital Color Correctness (1)

guido1 (108876) | more than 11 years ago | (#5041263)

Any good resources for lighting, color correctness and digital photography on the web?

http://www.dpreview.com/ has tons of info, including a review of a camera that uses the X3 sensor.

Re:Digital Color Correctness (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5041274)

Your camera ought to have a white balance setting. That ought to take care of it.

from a Foveon employee.. (-1, Redundant)

J x (160849) | more than 11 years ago | (#5041210)

The VPS capability allows signals from adjacent pixels to be combined into groups and read as one larger pixel. For example, a 2300x1500 image sensor contains more than 3.4 million pixels. But if the VPS capability were used to group those pixels into 4x4 blocks, the image sensor would appear to have 575x375 pixels, each of them 16 times larger than the originals. The size and configuration of a pixel group are variable--2x2, 4x4, 1x2, etc.--and are controlled through sophisticated circuitry integrated into Foveon X3 image sensors.

The comparisons stink (5, Insightful)

sweetooth (21075) | more than 11 years ago | (#5041223)

Comparing the SD9 and a Nikon CoolPix 2500 is hardly a fair comparison. They compare pictures from an $1800 SD9, a $300 Nikon Coolpix 2500, and a $2300 35mm Nikon F5 film camera. Hell, replace the coolpix 2500 with a coolpix 5700, Nikon D100, or Nikon D1 and this comparison will mean more.

The tech is cool, but the comparison makes it seem like biased reporting.

Re:The comparisons stink (2)

Quill_28 (553921) | more than 11 years ago | (#5041292)

I would disagree, any new technology is going to be expensive, so using price as a guide(at least at first) is really unfair.
Also, both cameras were 2MP cameras, how is that biased?

Re:The comparisons stink (2)

Hieronymus Howard (215725) | more than 11 years ago | (#5041318)

DP Review has a great review of the SD9. They compare it with the Canon D60 (6 megapixel vs the SD9's 3 megapixel). The Foveon x3 in the Sigma equals the SD9 for quality. This is because the x3 contains 10 million photodetectors, as opposed to the 6 million in the D60. Very impressive.

HH
--

Diminishing Returns (2, Insightful)

argmanah (616458) | more than 11 years ago | (#5041244)

At some point higher resolutions and more colors per pixel ceases to be impressive. I honestly can't tell the difference between a normal sized print of a 3 megapixel camera and a 5 megapixel one.

While I'm sure at the professional photography level this is a tremendous advancement, I think to the consumer this is just another step to making their digital photos take up even more space on the memory card/stick/etc.

Re:Diminishing Returns (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5041404)

I know more than a couple people who bought 4 megapixel cameras, then set them to shoot at 640x480 so they wouldn't have to shrink the images later :) People love to waste money, and this camera will help them do that.

Some interesting tidbits.. (1, Offtopic)

J x (160849) | more than 11 years ago | (#5041245)

Back in the late 1970s Carver Mead of CalTech and Lynn Conway of Xerox PARC computerized the design of integrated circuit chips. Before them chips were designed by mechanical drawing and hand-taped photo-masks. This often resulted in spaghetti-looking chip circuits. Mead & Conway reduced chip design to a hierachical set of physics and geometry issues, and wrote a compiler to issue these from higher level descriptions. Chip design was then transformed more-or-less into a computer language. People then added optimization and simulation-testing tools to further automate the process. It got so simple that chip design labs were offered in engineering colleges with same-semester turn-around. Some guy in my class twenty years ago designed a "homogeneous coordinate multiplier" which become the geometry engine of a startup called Silicon Graphics.

Another solution for the problem... (2)

chrisseaton (573490) | more than 11 years ago | (#5041247)

The new thing being done here is making each pixel sensitive to all three colours at once, but couldn't we concentrate to making the pixels smaller so that pretty soon we could squeeze three into the space one used to occupy, achieving the same affect?

Re:Another solution for the problem... (1)

guido1 (108876) | more than 11 years ago | (#5041303)

We could, but why not approach it from both ends?

Shrink the pixel distance, and make each pixel sensitive to all 3 colors. This way you get the higher resolution from the decreased distance, and better color imaging...

Re:Another solution for the problem... (2)

Rogerborg (306625) | more than 11 years ago | (#5041345)

No matter how small you make them, you're still throwing away 2/3 of the information. That's the big leap here; no fuzzy interpolation, no artifacts, no guessing.

Re:Another solution for the problem... (3, Insightful)

Kizeh (71312) | more than 11 years ago | (#5041347)

Not really. The overall size of the sensor actually matters because of optics. The larger the total sensor size, the easier it is to make wide-angle lenses and lenses with very shallow Depth of Field, suitable for portraiture, for example. Also, as the pixel size increases, the noise tends to decrease and sensitivity increase. So making pixels smaller means that you have to combat more noise and work more sensitivity into the new, smaller pixel, and you have to put enough of them together to keep the total sensor size the same, or preferrably bigger.


Also, issues with "separate" pixels are how many pixels for what color (usually there are more green pixels than other pixels, for psychovisual reasons), what tiling pattern you put them in, how you combat moire, and how you interpolate/combine the data that you have. No one solution, stacking pixels a'la Foveon, SuperCCD a'la Fuji etc is really better or worse. They each have their drawbacks which resonate far into the firmware and algorithms. Also, there is the issue of sensor type. Currently we have CCD (various types, actually, as any astronomer can tell you), X3 and CMOS, and each is continually being improved. Technical progress with one type may well surpass a theoretically more pleasing design.

Re:Another solution for the problem... (3, Interesting)

Hieronymus Howard (215725) | more than 11 years ago | (#5041395)

Yes you could, but increasing the number of pixels on the sensor increases the cost. The foveon x3 sensor captures detail roughly equivalent to 2x (not 3x) that of a conventional sensor. So a 3 megapixel foveon == 6 megapixel conventional, but costs less. A 6 megapixel foveon (which doesn't exist yet) would equal 12 conventional and very expensive megapixels.

HH

May not be such a big deal... (5, Insightful)

Kaa (21510) | more than 11 years ago | (#5041249)

First of all, Foveon sensors do NOT see the world like a human eye does. This is obvious to anyone who has even the slightest idea about the anatomy/neurology of the human eye, but of course that automatically excludes marketers...

Second, there is an active discussion of Foveon advantaged/disadvantages on sites like www.dpreview.com and it seems that the general consensus is that it's a promising technology, but needs more work. Yes, it's good in some areas, but the current implementation is lacking in some others.

Third, a sensor is not the only important part in digital photography. Basically, the advantage of Foveon is that its images do not suffer from certain artifacts that the conventions Bayerian sensors have to deal with. That's not such a huge deal.

All in all, a Foveon sensor is technically better, but that doesn't necessarily mean it'll be more successful in the marketplace... So far it's only available on a Sigma platform and no serious photographer is interested in building his photo system out of Sigma cameras and Sigma optics.

Good As Film? What SIZE film? (0)

ausoleil (322752) | more than 11 years ago | (#5041251)

I have an 8*10 view camera (the film is 8 inches by 10 inches) that captures approximately eight to ten magnitudes more photons (data) than does a 35mm. Think that it compares to that?

Re:Good As Film? What SIZE film? (2)

ivan256 (17499) | more than 11 years ago | (#5041335)

It doesn't matter if it compares to that. Cameras like that are both uncommon and impractical.

If you got an array of these sensors that was 8"x10" do you think your camera would compare to it?

Re:Good As Film? What SIZE film? (2)

Rogerborg (306625) | more than 11 years ago | (#5041365)

If you bother to read the article, you'll find that they are comparing it favourably with 120mm. But then, you're really only interested in telling us that yours is 8"x10", aren't you?

Re:Good As Film? What SIZE film? (1)

aonaran (15651) | more than 11 years ago | (#5041406)

If you read the article, you'd know the answer to that question. :) It was 120mm. (in the text under the butterfly picture near the bottom of the article.)

Nothing like year-old news... (0, Troll)

harrkev (623093) | more than 11 years ago | (#5041256)

I actually saw a Sigma camera in person that featured this sensor -- in February 2002 at the Photo Marketers Association convention in Orlando. This is neat stuff, but let's get current here!

Digital Cameras, the guts. (2)

_Sambo (153114) | more than 11 years ago | (#5041262)

So here is how digital cameras currently "see" light. (Color being different frequencies of light waves):
The light comes in through the lens.
The light is filtered through the charged coupled device (CCD).
This is where photons are translated to pixels. (Terry Pratchett readers will call this the painting demon.) This is also where all of the non-lens work is done. (White Balance, Compression, Color Interpretation, Sharpness, Saturation)
The resulting data is written to an image file with all sorts of fun Exif information (image tag info.) and
Voila! A new image is born.

All of this research is going in at the CCD level. I am interested to see how well it compares to the trained photographer's eye's interpretation of color.

Art=!Elephant Shit.

Which of my eyes? (2)

Boss, Pointy Haired (537010) | more than 11 years ago | (#5041264)

If I look at an object of [presumably] fixed colour, I actually see slightly different colour tints with each eye.

If it is of any relevance, my Iris' are also not well defined in colour - my left eye is predominantly green, whilst my right eye is obviously more bluey (but nowhere near as blue as a person with "blue" eyes).

I can pass all colour blind tests with, er, flying colours.

Re:Which of my eyes? (2)

cant_get_a_good_nick (172131) | more than 11 years ago | (#5041410)

(Bad joke follows)
So you can see those 3-D movies without those dorky glasses?

Need new screens, no? (2)

KjetilK (186133) | more than 11 years ago | (#5041266)

This looks cool, but to really appreciate the difference, we would need new screens to look at these pictures, wouldn't we?

Can anybody provide some insight about that?

Re:Need new screens, no? (3, Informative)

SoCalChris (573049) | more than 11 years ago | (#5041378)

No new screens would be needed. This new sensor only affects the way an image is captured, not how it is displayed. Current CCD chips actually use 4 "pixels" to record each pixel of the image. 1 red sensing pixel, 1 blue sensing pixel, and 2 green sensing pixels. It is set up like the following for each pixel the camera records...

RG
GB

The CCD device in a digital camera has one of these set up for every pixel the camera is to capture.

This new way will allow all 3 colors to be captured on one "pixel" instead of 4, so that will allow much higher resolution pictures to be taken. Hopefully this simplified explanation makes sense, and didn't totally confuse everyone :)

I think they are way behind... (1)

Mitreya (579078) | more than 11 years ago | (#5041282)

... the X10 webcam. :)

It's finally here, and it's promising (2)

aquarian (134728) | more than 11 years ago | (#5041286)

The Foveon sensor has been much hyped, and due "any time now" for years. Well, it's finally here, being used in a digital SLR by Sigma [dpreview.com] . It does indeed seem to have a lot of potential, but it's not perfect yet. Basically, camera makers need to play with it some more to get their firmware exactly right. Also, the sensor itself isn't as sensitive in low light as current models. But it's competitive already. Future versions should be even moreso, but it depends on how much it can be improved, and at reasonable cost. Only time will tell...

Previous story about Foveon last February?? (1)

dereklam (621517) | more than 11 years ago | (#5041302)

We had a previous story about Foveon [slashdot.org] last February.

The Slashdot editors can remember which stories they posted last February, but they can't remember dupe stories they posted the same day??

And for something useful for this... (2)

dasmegabyte (267018) | more than 11 years ago | (#5041305)

http://www.sigma-photo.com/ -- an actual manufacturer.

This is an incredibly awesome technology and I wish against wishing i could just drop in my Fuji and go with it rather than having to drop about $3k when the tech makes the rounds to Fuji/Canon/Minolta. This really is what digital photography needs, it's going to be as big a boost to the market as was the single lens motion picture camera or kodachrome. No more moire, no more "interpolation," no more expensive low light high sensitivity CCDs, cameras using this can be cheaper because of this. Less jaggies. All the minor stuff that's keeping film afficianados out of the digital age are going to go away.

Of course, for joe q megapixel, there's going to be no benefit whatsoever. It's not going to make the digital zoom better or make the software to send 640x480 snapshots of the baby's ass to grandma any easier. And this may be the reason why the biggest names haven't touched this now year old technology. Or it could be that they're trying to find a way out of licensing it...Fuji'll probably adapt their own kickass "hexagonal" pixelalignment to the idea of single pixel tech and make a good product that much better.

Improving Digital Pornography (-1)

Blacklist Blacklist (629645) | more than 11 years ago | (#5041306)

well, that's what I thought it said. sounds good to me.

Who needs a digital camera anyway? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5041307)

Simply make Lego models of your friends and family and photograph them with a normal camera.

Cheaper (2, Funny)

MojoMonkey (444942) | more than 11 years ago | (#5041308)

I'd be cheaper for me to just gain the ability to hold my damn current digital camera still while taking a picture. That would improve the pictures of my pooch 100%.

It looks interesting (1)

eXtro (258933) | more than 11 years ago | (#5041311)

It's only a 3.34 megapixel camera, yet the images I've seen are sharper than other prosumer digital cameras with higher pixel count. This makes some sense, since most digital cameras only dedicate a certain number of the available pixels to each colour, but I'm suprised that the quality is so high.


I'm still waiting to buy a digital camera to replace my Nikon N90s. I have a Canon S300 I use (mostly) for scuba diving but I've held back on buying a SLR. The ones I can afford don't offer full frame, so, like this Sigma SD9 your 18 mm wide angle lens becomes a 24 or 30 mm lens.


If I could find a camera with the Foveon technology, full frame and that would preferably preserve my investment in Nikon lenses I'd buy it in a minute if they could sell it to me for around $2000.00.

Re:It looks interesting (2)

eXtro (258933) | more than 11 years ago | (#5041383)

Hmm, when I read reviews it listed the SD9 as having 3.34 megapixels, however it really has over 10 million. What I think the reviewers are doing is assuming that only 1/3 of the 10 million pixels are one of red, green or blue. This is true for other digital cameras, but not for this particular camera.

Corporal punishment (1)

Dr. Cody (554864) | more than 11 years ago | (#5041327)

Now, I'm not usually one to condone castration for sloppy reporting, but reporting the wavelengths of light as "3/100,000 of an inch" and "1/50,000 of an inch" seems to make this punishment fit the crime.

Reviews, etc. (3, Insightful)

skatedork (139277) | more than 11 years ago | (#5041331)

A good review is at dpreview.com (skip to conclusion [dpreview.com] if you're in a hurry).

This technology still has a way to go, but the SD9 certainly is an interesting camera.

One huge problem is with adaptation - Sigma makes consumer-grade lenses and cameras, some of which are of poor quality (but quite affordable). For these cameras to be adapted by professionals, Sigma need to create a camera with Canon or Nikon mounts, but furthermore, they need to erase the stigma attached to their equipment by many professional photographers.

If they were to make a full-frame sensor in a Canon mount that worked better at higher ISOs, this camera would be a huge seller.

Astrophotography? (3, Interesting)

SoCalChris (573049) | more than 11 years ago | (#5041338)

Since this new chip is able to gather more light than traditional CCD chips, I would imagine that there will be some interesting uses for it in astrophotography. Instead of having to use a CCD imager with a 30 minute exposure to get an image, wouldn't you technically be able to get a higher resolution pic with this a lot quicker?

That's just a thought...

Good as Film? (5, Funny)

dave_f1m (602921) | more than 11 years ago | (#5041354)

Great, now I can stop scanning in those 21Mpixel images from film, and get a 10Mpixel digital camera. Since it uses 3 layers, those pixels must count for more than twice as many from the 35mm film. And the dynamic range is surely greater tha slide film. Finally the shadow detail in that otherwise brightly lit scene that I needed to use slide film, and capture at 48bit can be resolved with a 24bit image! Now I won't need more memory - my files will be 1/4th the size, and look just as good!
And it sees just like we do! Same 3 colors, same intensity relations, all on each pixel! Because everyone knows the human eye has only one kind of sensor in it. It's not like mammal eyes that have rods and cones.

Sorry, film will be around a little longer....

- dave f.

Re:Good as Film? (1)

dave_f1m (602921) | more than 11 years ago | (#5041405)

Sorry, I looked at the site, where it said 10M. And assumed 8bpp. Looks like the Sigma camera that is available is 3.2Mpixel, 12bpp. So... 1/10th the size for the files.

- dave f.

Pseudo Mirrored (2)

Flamesplash (469287) | more than 11 years ago | (#5041355)

From the X3 link

"A Dramatically Different Design
The revolutionary design of Foveon X3 image sensors features three layers of photodetectors. The layers are embedded in silicon to take advantage of the fact that red, green and blue light penetrate silicon to different depths--forming the world's first full-color

Ahh... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5041361)

Ahh, fresh SAN* news!



*Slashdot Advertising Network

In Soviet Russia (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5041375)

The picture takes YOU!

Re:In Soviet Russia (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5041391)

Pajonet.com [pajonet.com] takes You!

moron "supporting" failed 'institutions' (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5041376)

buy for now. 2002-11-12 ALLCHIN, JAMES E. [slashdot.org]
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The human eye? (5, Interesting)

kaphka (50736) | more than 11 years ago | (#5041379)

I hate to break it to y'all, but in the human eye, each spot in the fovea is occupied by one receptor, which is maximally sensitive at one wavelength -- in other words, it works the way that current digital cameras work. (Random Googled link. [univie.ac.at] ) I suppose that if the human eye needed to determine the color of a particular "pixel", it would have to interpolate, just like a CCD camera... but that's a moot point, because that doesn't actually happen in our visual system. (It's much, much more complicated than that.)

Now, this technology does sound like a great way to increase the resolution of digital cameras, if it's feasible. However, all this "neuromorphic" stuff is pure marketing. (Though I admit that "Foveon" is a clever name.)
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