17 May, 2014

Not all pixels are created equal

Fiji

It looks like Sony's new A7s is going to dramatically demonstrate (once again) that not all pixels are created equal. In the past there seemed to be a race to pack as many pixels on the sensor as possible. This provided large numbers of pixels, but in correspondingly small sizes.

I think the benefits of the A7s larger pixels will not simply be about high usable ISOs; although plenty of that. It will also be a matter of colour sensitivity and the exposure range. So, I'm looking forward to the DXOMark score. I think it's going to give the current, top-rated sensor, the (19MP) Red Epic Dragon (that scored 101) a run for its money.

While the A7s seems to be directed to video, it will help us to think about whether we really need 30MP+.

This isn't the first occasion in recent times when pixel quality drew some attention over the pixel count. Many who used the Fujifilm X100, reported that, yes, it only had 12MP – but what pixels they were.

I'm not interested in buying a Sony A7s, and I don't think there's any magic in 12MP as a number. I do think that this camera's performance will highlight some other sensor qualities that have been getting short-shrift over the last couple of years.

18 June Update: The DXO score is in and the A7s scored 87 — LESS than either the A7 or A7r. This does bring exposure range and colour sensitivity to the forefront of the debate, but not in the way I expected.

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