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View Full Version : Small sensor size FZ3, big default ????



pham
10-28-2004, 02:31 AM
I've found that FZ3 has a smaller sensor size than orthers, here more detail:
FZ3: 1/3.2"
FZ20: 1/2.5"
DX7590: 1/2.5"
Z3: 1/2.5"
DSC-V1: 1/1.8"

As i know, the sensor size is one of most important key for image quality.

So what do this means ? Why reviews on dpreview and Jeff review show better image of FZ3 than Z3 ?
Jeff, why don't you remark this point in your review ???

brad nichol
10-28-2004, 05:48 AM
Hi Pham

In general smaller sensors should mean less quality, but it is not that simple.
A digital camera is more than just the sensor, it is an amalgam of its lens, sensor and image processor.

The image processor and sensor have just as big a part to play in image quality as the sensor itself.

The FZ3 gets away with a very small sensor because it has an incredible lens (it has to be because small sensors need very high res lens to work well) and top notch image processing in the camera.

Manufacturers are getting much better at obtaining high performance from smaller sensors, a great case in point it the Canon G6, despite its higher pixel count (7.2 meg) on a sensor the same size as the G5 it still seems to outperform its 5 meg parent in all areas including noise, and in my opinion is a better performing sensor/lens/processor combo than its sister 8meg pro 1 camera, which actually contains a much larger sensor.

The main deficit of small sensors is image noise, but it is really a much overstated issue for most real world images. The FZ3 does have pretty high noise levels if you use it in very low light levels or at 200ISO plus, but its amazing level of sharpness and colour rendition (for a 3 meg camera) more than outweighs this.

In any case now that we have access to truly amazing noise reduction software such as noise ninja many of the noise issues are simply a memory.

2 years ago I would have thought long and hard about buying a camera with a small sensor, now it hardly rates a mention, I am far more interested and swayed by image processing and especially optics.

Just think of this as a closing thought, many animals have sensors and optics in their eyes far smaller than any digicam and they can obtain amazing levels of detail (think birds of prey). Humans have pretty good eyesight too with what is a pretty small sensor and very high equavalent mega pixel count.

Who knows, the future may hold developments in small sensors that throw all out current thinking out with the bath water.

Hope this helps

Brad Nichol

D70FAN
10-28-2004, 06:25 AM
Hi Pham

In general smaller sensors should mean less quality, but it is not that simple.
A digital camera is more than just the sensor, it is an amalgam of its lens, sensor and image processor.

The image processor and sensor have just as big a part to play in image quality as the sensor itself.

The FZ3 gets away with a very small sensor because it has an incredible lens (it has to be because small sensors need very high res lens to work well) and top notch image processing in the camera.

Manufacturers are getting much better at obtaining high performance from smaller sensors, a great case in point it the Canon G6, despite its higher pixel count (7.2 meg) on a sensor the same size as the G5 it still seems to outperform its 5 meg parent in all areas including noise, and in my opinion is a better performing sensor/lens/processor combo than its sister 8meg pro 1 camera, which actually contains a much larger sensor.

The main deficit of small sensors is image noise, but it is really a much overstated issue for most real world images. The FZ3 does have pretty high noise levels if you use it in very low light levels or at 200ISO plus, but its amazing level of sharpness and colour rendition (for a 3 meg camera) more than outweighs this.

In any case now that we have access to truly amazing noise reduction software such as noise ninja many of the noise issues are simply a memory.

2 years ago I would have thought long and hard about buying a camera with a small sensor, now it hardly rates a mention, I am far more interested and swayed by image processing and especially optics.

Just think of this as a closing thought, many animals have sensors and optics in their eyes far smaller than any digicam and they can obtain amazing levels of detail (think birds of prey). Humans have pretty good eyesight too with what is a pretty small sensor and very high equavalent mega pixel count.

Who knows, the future may hold developments in small sensors that throw all out current thinking out with the bath water.

Hope this helps

Brad Nichol

Some afterthoughts to Brads comments:

The FZ3 is only a 3MP image so the smaller sensor size doesn't present much of a problem.

Nobody seems to care about noise above ISO200 in low cost consumer cams.

Noise Ninja is good, but it can't recover detail that has been cancelled out by noise.

As always, the proof is in the picture, and so far nobody seems to be complaining about the FZ3's picture quality (below ISO200).

John_Reed
10-28-2004, 06:58 AM
Hi Pham

In general smaller sensors should mean less quality, but it is not that simple.
A digital camera is more than just the sensor, it is an amalgam of its lens, sensor and image processor.

The image processor and sensor have just as big a part to play in image quality as the sensor itself.

The FZ3 gets away with a very small sensor because it has an incredible lens (it has to be because small sensors need very high res lens to work well) and top notch image processing in the camera.

Manufacturers are getting much better at obtaining high performance from smaller sensors, a great case in point it the Canon G6, despite its higher pixel count (7.2 meg) on a sensor the same size as the G5 it still seems to outperform its 5 meg parent in all areas including noise, and in my opinion is a better performing sensor/lens/processor combo than its sister 8meg pro 1 camera, which actually contains a much larger sensor.

The main deficit of small sensors is image noise, but it is really a much overstated issue for most real world images. The FZ3 does have pretty high noise levels if you use it in very low light levels or at 200ISO plus, but its amazing level of sharpness and colour rendition (for a 3 meg camera) more than outweighs this.

In any case now that we have access to truly amazing noise reduction software such as noise ninja many of the noise issues are simply a memory.

2 years ago I would have thought long and hard about buying a camera with a small sensor, now it hardly rates a mention, I am far more interested and swayed by image processing and especially optics.

Just think of this as a closing thought, many animals have sensors and optics in their eyes far smaller than any digicam and they can obtain amazing levels of detail (think birds of prey). Humans have pretty good eyesight too with what is a pretty small sensor and very high equavalent mega pixel count.

Who knows, the future may hold developments in small sensors that throw all out current thinking out with the bath water.

Hope this helps

Brad NicholI would add a chart I made up and posted a couple of months ago showing the sizes (in square microns) per photo site of various cameras often discussed on this forum:
http://john-reed.smugmug.com/photos/8393787-L.jpg
As Brad said, there's a lot more to good noise performance than simply sensor size. If you look at the Panasonic "core package," they've started with a patented high-efficiency light-collecting CCD sensor layout, coated it with two, not one, layers of micro-lenses on the chip surface to better concentrate collected light on the sensor sites, and then mated the sensor with a very high resolution Leica-licensed long-zoom lens with included stabilizing element. In every comparative test of resolution I've seen on dpreview's site, each of the Panasonic cameras, i.e., FZ3, FZ10, etc., has shown the highest line resolution, and complete absence of Moire effects, when compared to similar cameras from Canon, Fuji, and Konica Minolta. To me, as an engineer, the design excellence of this "core package," and the ability to produce it and offer it in a line of affordable, high-performance, user-friendly cameras with so much "bang for the buck," is a great tribute to the engineering team at Matsushita (Panasonic), cooperating with their team-mates at Leica. Really awesome!

pham
10-29-2004, 08:26 AM
Thanks you all for explainations.
But i don't understand the sensor size per photo site. What do this means ?
FZ3 has 5.08 and S1 has 6.63, which is better ???

wmussatto
10-29-2004, 01:52 PM
Think of the sensor as composed of buckets. Each sensor site collects light. All other things being equal (more in a moment) the smaller the sensor site (i.e., bucket) the less light getting into the individual site/bucket. Small == less light per bucket. Heat, eletronic noise etc. cause things that look to the sensor like light and these are less dependent on the size of the bucket so you get less light and the same amount noise..

All else is NOT equal. For example Sony's latest 7.2MP sensor replaces a 5MP sensor but delivers less noise. Apparently Panasonic's sensors, compared to the ones used in say Minolta's do a better job of getting light while excluding noise.