Monday, December 2, 2013

The digital camera scam

In this article (on Monday December 2nd, 2013), Canon themselves state:
TOKYO, August 24, 2010—Canon Inc. announced today that it has successfully developed an APS-H-size*1 CMOS image sensor that delivers an image resolution of approximately 120 megapixels (13,280 x 9,184 pixels), the world's highest level*2 of resolution for its size.
 Canon has been sitting on a 120 megapixel sensor of APS-H size for three years. To give you a flavor of how big APS-H (29.2 x 20.2 mm), you could fit 1.46 APS-H sensors into a 35mm sensor. That means that expanded to a 35mm size, the sensor would be 175.2 megapixels. What is going on? Canon is sitting on gigantic sensors and rolling out minuscule improvements year on year. Nikon is doing exactly the same thing.

Digital sensors on cellphones are up to 41 megapixels now. The Nokia Lumia has a 1/1.2 inch sized sensor with 41 megapixels. That's 8.8mm x 6.6mm. You could fit 14.8 sensors that size into a 35mm frame and have 610 megapixels. Yes, you read that correctly - six hundred and ten megapixels. 610 megapixels printed at the 300 dpi that purists demand would produce a 2:3 ratio image of 30000 x 20000 pixels or 66 inches by 100 inches.

So, it looks as though the technology is definitely there and definitely being held back by manufacturers who will continue to milk the public by producing underpowered garbage, year on year. This sounds like a Yakuza extortion operation to me. If they produce a new camera every year with a few extra pixels dribbled onto it then they can charge $2,000+ for the new camera. If they produced a camera with the full 120 or 600 megapixels they would have to top that the next year and that's hard work. This way they can lie on their laurels and milk the market.

It seems to me high time that governments around the world investigated what appears to be collusion between camera manufacturers to drip-feed small increments in sensor sizes. It is noticeable also that the images produced from the same sensors for different target markets seem to be of very different quality. The low end of the market has pretty rough-looking images while the high end has nice sharp images. I suspect that the images are deliberately not as good as they could be in order to persuade the owner of a low-end camera to trade up to a higher end camera.

I smell something very fishy with the camera companies. They seem to be adding unwanted extra features and selling the heck out of the features instead of producing adequate sensors. We need an investigation into this scam.  The public is being sold lemons and subjected to price gouging.


  1. I think you will find this is a common thing with most big companies that produce goods. A famous one, was Hoover, who could of released a bag-less vacuum cleaner as far back as the 1970's but decided against it so they could generate sales by selling the bags after the main purchase of the cleaner. Intel were exposed roughly 10 years ago of the same, holding back technological advances they had made. No doubt the list goes on.

    Is this a bad thing? Personally I don't think so, as consumers don't miss what they never had in the first place and operating like this insures the future of many companies who do this. Another thing to think about is it also gives R&D departments the time to explore new areas in technology.

  2. You are entitled to your opinion. I disagree with it. If companies are forced to innovate then this lazy half-assed approach where they make a big development then dribble it out a bit at a time and hence exploit the market won't happen. I'm a consumer and I resent being exploited.