Apple Recorder!

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by jpsalvesen, Feb 21, 2008.

  1. jpsalvesen macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Apr 16, 2007
    #1
    If hope Steve Jobs is reading this...

    There's a huge hole in the digital camera/video camera market. And Apple could fill it nicely.

    The current problems are that megapixels sell. Those 12 megapixel compacts are just b*llcr*p. Furthermore, we do not have a good way of connecting iPhone/iPod touch to a digital camera. The iPhone does ok 2mpx pictures, but that's definitely not enough.

    I'd like to see this compact recording unit:

    1. Record 720p video
    2. 6 megapixel camera with fair picture quality at ISO800 or maybe even ISO1600 (not the impressionistic noise reduction algorithms) and good dynamic range, some wide angle, and good autofocusing performance. Perhaps rebrand 6mpx to "sharp enough for the wall in your living room".
    3. Weather resistant - no need to worry about a bit of rain.
    4. Wifi/bluetooth connection to your other apple equipment.

    I can see this baby streaming live 720p to your apple TV. I can see it dumping its data into iMovie. I can see it uploading directly to youtube. Maybe it even has a touch screen and is kinda like a fatter iPod Touch - only with the described camera unit?

    There are no units that can do this well, AFAIK. And such a unit would bring desirability back into the commoditized video cam/digicam market. Let's hope this unit shows up pretty soon!
     
  2. Grimace macrumors 68040

    Grimace

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    #2
    Not going to happen, at least any time soon.

    To get low noise at ISO 800 or 1600 you need a hefty DSLR sensor - there are already plenty of DSLR cameras trying to do this. WiFi/BT could be added, but not for streaming live 720p video -- that is just too much right now.

    Also, getting this into an iPod Touch form factor? Good luck, we can't even get a 3G phone yet...
     
  3. jpsalvesen thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Apr 16, 2007
    #3
    I think fair quality at 6mpx/800ISO is perfectly feasible. Fujifilm F31 was pretty good at ISO 800, since it used a slighty larger-than-normal sensor and stuck to 6mpx. Olympus already does a pretty good job at 10mpx on its fourthirds-system. An Olympus E-410 sells for not much, so the sensor can't be prohibitively expensive.

    Oh, and 802.11n has 74Mbit/s throughput. I think that's enough for fair quality 720p.

    As for the form factor, maybe I'm a bit unrealistic there. But it shouldn't be impossible to get something fairly compact to do the described. A 6mpx with moderate zoom. Hmm. Maybe the unit should be modeled from a handicam?
     
  4. jtblueberry macrumors regular

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    #4
    Me thinks sony or canon would beat apple to a product like this. What are you describing...the icam?
     
  5. miloblithe macrumors 68020

    miloblithe

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    #5
    I agree high quality 6MP ISO 800 and even 1600 can be done on a small sensor, but I don't think Apple could be the one to do it. Who manufactures these sensors? I'd hope that Fuji would be the one to make it.
     
  6. Digital Skunk macrumors 604

    Digital Skunk

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    #6
    How about Apple get the professional hardware, iPhone, buggy Leopard, new/updated consumer electronics, RIGHT first, then they can work on keeping up with their main electronics stuff, then they can make sure that the iTS stays on top of it's game, then ....... I hope you get the point.

    Apple's plate is already kind of full with the stuff that people already expect from them, let alone a camera running OS X.

    Apple isn't in the business for taking any electronics and making them fanboy favorites. They still need to work on the current stuff and get that right. Besides.... after looking at what Apple is doing with the iPhone, I would hate to see what a P&S camera would look like and how many bugs and missing features it would have.
     
  7. jpsalvesen thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #7
    Fuji would be a great partner in developing the sensor and the optics, if Fuji is able to create such a sensor that can also do 720p@30fps. After all, Apple does limited basic electronics/computer development. They tend to sit down with partners and figure out the required specs. Then Appple design and implement the casing and the user interaction/software/firmware.
     
  8. Digital Skunk macrumors 604

    Digital Skunk

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    #8
    Just for the record.... there aren't too many companies that make their own sensors. Canon, Sony, and now Nikon are the main three. Fuji makes their owns Super CDD, but the point and shoots get the Sony sensor, as does the Nikon, Casio, Panasonic, and other small point and shoot cameras.

    Fuji, Nikon, and Canon's higher ends stuff gets the company made stuff, and even Nikon gets their D300 chip from Sony.
     
  9. ChrisA macrumors G4

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    Redondo Beach, California
    #9
    The Laws of Physics conspire against you. To get good images at 1600 ISO you need a larger sensor. At least an inch across. Technolgy can't help here, there are only so many photons reflected off the subject and the bigger the sensor the more of then you catch. A sensor that large needs a lens with a focal length about 1.5 inches. The minimum diameter of the lens is going to have to be about 3/4 inches. If you want any kind of "zoom" feature that multiply all the lens sizes above by three (at least) The minimum possable size is close to something like an Olympus e-volt camera.

    What this tells us is the technology is very close now to what physics will allow. This always happens with any mature technology. At first there is rapid change and advances then the rate of change slows as we get close to theoretical limits. Airplane are a great example of this. Rapid change in the early 1900's but now todays ailiners look like 20 year old airlines except for very subtle changes. Consummer cameras will very soon be like this, we are already close. The make them smallers means accpting poorer quality images. The basic pproblem is that light comes in "packets" called photons so if you collect a small number of then you run into the problems associated with the statistics of small numbers. There s no way out of this.

    The other problem is the law of optics that says that the resolution of a lens is proportional to the diameter of the lens over the wavelength of light. When photographers talk about this this call it "defraction" or "defraction limit". The bottom line is that tiny lens will always produce blurry images, nothing we can do to fix that.

    So yout "hole" is likely to always be there.
     
  10. miloblithe macrumors 68020

    miloblithe

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    #10
    Looking at the results the 6MP Fuji F31fd got from a 1/1.7" sensor several years ago at IS0 800, I see no reason why someone couldn't design a 1/1.5" or 1/1.6" 5 or 6MP sensor that does great at ISO 1600, or even beyond, theoretically. The problem is pixel size/density, not the absolute size of the sensor. You could make a 20 pixel camera (5x4 pixels), with a 1/2.5" sensor that would be awesome up to ISO 25000. It'd be fairly useless, but you could do it.
     
  11. -hh macrumors 68020

    -hh

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    #11
    IIRC, the benchmark today for high ISO performance is the Nikon D3, which is a 12 MP full frame sensor that's using a 8.45µm pixel pitch. If you're going to try to push to a small sensor and with high ISO, that's what I'd recommend you use as your starting point for a hypothetical design.


    -hh
     
  12. Lovesong macrumors 65816

    Lovesong

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    #12
    While I would have to agree with most everything that ChrisA and -hh have said, I would argue that technology can sometimes bend the laws of physics a bit. Case in hand, the MA-Imager. We all know that binning will increase your light sensitivity. Now what if we took a chip and based it on binning?

    Yeah, it's only 4MP right now, but like I said, technology has nowhere to go but up.
     
  13. miloblithe macrumors 68020

    miloblithe

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    #13
    OK, if the Nikon D3 is the benchmark, the same pixel pitch would be achieved on a 1/1.5" sensor that's about 0.7-0.8 megapixels (assuming my rough math is right). That's pretty low. But the D3 is a pretty high benchmark. Say you go for pixels that are 1/4 that size, you could have a small 3MP camera with a small sensor that can do ISO 1600 roughly as well as the D3 does IS0 6400. Make it a 4MP camera. That'd probably still be very good, if well designed, at ISO 1600.
     
  14. Digital Skunk macrumors 604

    Digital Skunk

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    #14
    Technology will never bend the laws of physics, it's we who do not understand those laws, and as physics becomes understood by us, our technology improves.

    Physics is the benchmark, technology is the outcome of our understanding.

    We can produce any size sensor we want, the combination of noise reduction and sensor construction methods will continue to improve, etc etc. As I said in another topic, the megapixel race will continue and image quality will always improve as do construction methods. We will see FX consumer sensors in only a few years.
     
  15. -hh macrumors 68020

    -hh

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    #15

    Lets see....call ~0.8MP as 1050 x 700, and 3MP roughly 2100 x 1400. Good news is that this is doubling each dimension, which results in the per-pixel site's area becoming 1/4 the size of the benchmark. Good - - I was initially afraid that you did a 1/4 size change of the linear, which since a sensor depends on its two-dimensional area would have been (1/4)^2 = 1/16th the area.

    While the swag of ISO 6400 --> 1/4 ---> ISO 1600 looks like a good start, I think its optimistic: there's an overhead function present that's being ignored.

    In simple form, each sensor area has to have some finite amount of its total area allocated to being its photon receptor and some finite amount allocted for overhead stuff (such as for "wiring" back to the CPU etc). Obviously, the "wiring" overhead has already been minimized as much as possible ... prior work of chip optimization ... which means that if we attempt to scale down the structure, the photon receptor is going to take the brunt of the size reduction hit, which will always be greater in magnitude than the scaling.

    For example, lets say that we have some hypothetical chip that has a 100 square units-of-measure pixel site (10 x 10), and that 25% of it (25 units^2) is occupied by this overhead junk. This means that the balance of 75 units^2 is the actual (true) area of our photon receptor, so for a 100 units^2 metric, our true sensor is only 75% of this.

    But now we decide to double our pixel density by going to a 50 unit^2 site size (7 x 7). Because we've already shrunk our overhead wiring, we can't easily shrink it futher, so it still will occupy 25 units^2 per pixel site. This means that we now have 50 - 25 = 25 units^2 remaining area for our photon sensor...our true sensor area is now 50% of a site that's 50% of what we started with.

    Thus, between the two designs, we went from a 75 units^2 sensor size to a 25 units^2 sensor size - - a 67% reduction in area as the result of what initially seemed like it should have only been a 50% cut.

    FWIW, I have no idea as to the overhead% is - my 25% is admittedly a wild donkey guess, pulled out of flatuant air. But it is clear that the higher that this overhead number is, the more that this factor becomes a problem in making assumptions on scaleability.


    -hh
     
  16. miloblithe macrumors 68020

    miloblithe

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    #16
    That's a good point. My understanding is that newer sensors have cut down a little on the wasted sensor space or overhead a bit, but the fundamental limits still apply.

    Still, I think that if someone wanted to go out and design a small-size camera that produced good results up to ISO 1600, it would be possible. It's just that such a camera would not be a commercial success, so no one's rushing out to do it.
     
  17. jpsalvesen thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Apr 16, 2007
    #17
    I think it could be, if it was otherwise sexy, and someone credible like Apple produced it. "Image quality redefined", showing side-by-side 100% crops between this 6mpx camera and a 12megapixel-camera, at ISO 400. If it was weatherproof, shock-resistant and alu, I'd bet you could make some commercials that would really capture the imagination of the audience.

    "This commercial was shot using an Apple Recorder".
     

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