The two seem completely at odds with each other â?? image quality and size. It’s been a rule of thumb since the invention of photography that a larger camera with a larger recording area (be it silver or silicon) will â?? all else being equal â?? produce superior image quality. And so photographers continue to schlep around cameras and lenses that weigh them down; all in a search for the optimum image.
On the other hand, we all would like to be free from encumbrances. To walk around a foreign city (or a dangerous one) without the weight and sometimes attention drawing of a DSLR would be nice. To take a hike in the woods with ones spouse, able to photograph the mists of early morning or a chance encounter with a deer, without the baggage (both literal and metaphorical) that a DSLR involves is something many of us wish for.
The digital revolution has provided us with no end of cute, small, inexpensive and well featured little pocket cameras that would seem to do the trick. For some users they do. For snapshots at family gatherings or vacation pictures which will end up as smallish prints from Walmart, they’re often just fine. But for the more serious and critical photographer, no matter how appealing these cameras might be in terms of features they usually disappoint in terms of image quality(kodak).
The reason for this is simple: small sensors. For example the Ricoh GR2, a very popular pocket digicam among more serious photographers, has a sensor that measures 7.6 X 9.5mm. Take out a ruler to see how small this is â?? about the size of your smallest finger nail. And, as we know, smaller sensors, especially those with high pixel counts (which we mostly all want) will have very small photo sites. Net results â?? noisy images, even at the lowest ISO settings, or, if the manufacturer has used aggressive noise reduction on-chip, reduced resolution.
An APS-C Sized Sensor
Which brings us to the sigma DP-1, the subject of this report. For the first time we have a shirt-pocket sized digicam using a roughly APS-C sized sensor. This is approximately the size used in popular DSLRs such as the Canon 40D and Nikon D300, and slightly larger than the 4/3 format used by Olympus and others in their DSLRs.
To make the comparison a bit easier to visualize let’s compare the diagonals of these formats. The Ricoh GR2 and Canon G9 (and similar digicams) have sensors with about a 10mm diagonal. On the other hand a 4/3 format DSLR, like those from Olympus, has a 22.5mm diagonal. A typical Nikon or Canon or Pentax DSLR with a roughly APS-C sized sensor has a diagonal measurement of about 28mm. Godzilla was right â?? size does matter.
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