Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Canon hits the wall ?

The most recent review of the Canon 50D by dpreview.com suggests that the successor to the 40D hasn't eked much more resolution out of the images than its predecessor.

Ever since the introduction of the first "prosumer" digital SLR with the D30, Canon have done an epic job of increasing pixel count (and therefore resolution) of this line of cameras while keeping the noise level down:

D30, 3.1 megapixel, 10.1 micron pixels, [full-frame 7.9 mpix]
D60, 6.3 megapixel, 7.4 micron pixels, [full-frame 16.1 mpix]
10D, 6.3 megapixel, 7.4 micron pixels, [full-frame 16.1 mpix]
20D, 8.2 megapixel, 6.5 micron pixels, [full-frame 21.0 mpix]
30D, 8.2 megapixel, 6.5 micron pixels, [full-frame 21.0 mpix]
40D, 10.1 megapixel, 5.7 micron pixels, [full-frame 25.9 mpix]
50D, 15.1 megapixel, 4.7 micron pixels, [full-frame 38.7 mpix]

(all the chip sizes are essentially identical for this series of cameras)
The full-frame values are what you'd get in a full-35mm-size chip of the same pixel density.

The review suggest that both resolution and noise levels on the 50D are no better (or, in the case of noise level, worse than) the 40D. Have we finally hit the limitations of resolution with these Bayer matrix sensors ?

And for those who are wondering why I care: here's an explanation.
To oversimplify: pixel density is more relevant for telephoto shooters, while the total number of pixels is more relevant for people that can fill the frame with their subject.