When 2 megapixels is better than 5

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May 4, 2007
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#1
I'm glad Apple didn't go more than 2 megapixels on the iPhone because more would have just crippled it. There's a lot of disinformation on this subject so I hope this post is informative...

The reason most cell phone cameras are so crappy is the quality of glass (lens) and the actual size of the image sensor, not how many megapixels it has.

Here's why:

* When you have a small lens, that translates into less light entering the sensor. Since size is a primary concern for most, makers will skimp anyway they can. That means smaller, plastic lenses but the end result is the quality of the on-board camera suffers.

* The size of the sensor itself is a concern. Bigger sensors mean the chip manufacturer can make the light collectors in the sensor bigger (meaning they will collect more light) if they don't add more megapixels. However, most manufacturers opt for bigger megapixel count (and thus smaller light collectors) because of the "megapixel myth". This is the primary reason why digital SLR cameras are a lot better than smaller point-and-shoot cameras in low light and why you'll see a lot of point and shoot cameras start at ISO 50 and get grainy after ISO 200.

The problem is everyone wants more and more megapixels in a smaller and smaller device but they want to be able to defy the laws of physics to do it.
 

wjp09

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Gold
Feb 25, 2007
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#3
Thanks for the explanation^ Im perfectly happy with 2mp. I only take pictures on my cellphone for 'random spur of the moment things' If im going to a sporting event Ill take my camera (7.2 mp) and take quality pictures.
 

robhon

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Mar 17, 2007
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#4
I'm glad Apple didn't go more than 2 megapixels on the iPhone because more would have just crippled it. There's a lot of disinformation on this subject so I hope this post is informative...

The reason most cell phone cameras are so crappy is the quality of glass (lens) and the actual size of the image sensor, not how many megapixels it has.

Here's why:

* When you have a small lens, that translates into less light entering the sensor. Since size is a primary concern for most, makers will skimp anyway they can. That means smaller, plastic lenses but the end result is the quality of the on-board camera suffers.

* The size of the sensor itself is a concern. Bigger sensors mean the chip manufacturer can make the light collectors in the sensor bigger (meaning they will collect more light) if they don't add more megapixels. However, most manufacturers opt for bigger megapixel count (and thus smaller light collectors) because of the "megapixel myth". This is the primary reason why digital SLR cameras are a lot better than smaller point-and-shoot cameras in low light and why you'll see a lot of point and shoot cameras start at ISO 50 and get grainy after ISO 200.

The problem is everyone wants more and more megapixels in a smaller and smaller device but they want to be able to defy the laws of physics to do it.
From the pics I've seen it looks like the actual lens on the iPhone camera is fairly small. You think that's going to have a significant effect on the overall picture quality?
 

itsabouttime

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Feb 18, 2007
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#5
I'm glad Apple didn't go more than 2 megapixels on the iPhone because more would have just crippled it. There's a lot of disinformation on this subject so I hope this post is informative...

The reason most cell phone cameras are so crappy is the quality of glass (lens) and the actual size of the image sensor, not how many megapixels it has.

Here's why:

* When you have a small lens, that translates into less light entering the sensor. Since size is a primary concern for most, makers will skimp anyway they can. That means smaller, plastic lenses but the end result is the quality of the on-board camera suffers.

* The size of the sensor itself is a concern. Bigger sensors mean the chip manufacturer can make the light collectors in the sensor bigger (meaning they will collect more light) if they don't add more megapixels. However, most manufacturers opt for bigger megapixel count (and thus smaller light collectors) because of the "megapixel myth". This is the primary reason why digital SLR cameras are a lot better than smaller point-and-shoot cameras in low light and why you'll see a lot of point and shoot cameras start at ISO 50 and get grainy after ISO 200.

The problem is everyone wants more and more megapixels in a smaller and smaller device but they want to be able to defy the laws of physics to do it.
Thank you, I wasn't aware of this.
 

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#7
From the pics I've seen it looks like the actual lens on the iPhone camera is fairly small. You think that's going to have a significant effect on the overall picture quality?
Hard to judge at this point... it's going to limit its ability to shoot in low light, that's for sure (especially since most cellphones don't have flashes either).

It looks very similar to the iSight built into the latest crop of MacBooks/MacBook Pros, but those are only 640 x 480. I don't have an iSight so I can't comment on quality but they're been known to be relatively decent.

I know Apple did quite a bit of work on the software for the iSight to get the picture quality as good as it can get so hopefully some of that image processing will trickle down (and over) to the iPhone.

That said, those alleged photos floating around look pretty good to me, especially considering how small the lens in the iPhone actually is—much better than a lot of others.
 
#8
I'm glad Apple didn't go more than 2 megapixels on the iPhone because more would have just crippled it. There's a lot of disinformation on this subject so I hope this post is informative...

The reason most cell phone cameras are so crappy is the quality of glass (lens) and the actual size of the image sensor, not how many megapixels it has.

Here's why:

* When you have a small lens, that translates into less light entering the sensor. Since size is a primary concern for most, makers will skimp anyway they can. That means smaller, plastic lenses but the end result is the quality of the on-board camera suffers.

* The size of the sensor itself is a concern. Bigger sensors mean the chip manufacturer can make the light collectors in the sensor bigger (meaning they will collect more light) if they don't add more megapixels. However, most manufacturers opt for bigger megapixel count (and thus smaller light collectors) because of the "megapixel myth". This is the primary reason why digital SLR cameras are a lot better than smaller point-and-shoot cameras in low light and why you'll see a lot of point and shoot cameras start at ISO 50 and get grainy after ISO 200.

The problem is everyone wants more and more megapixels in a smaller and smaller device but they want to be able to defy the laws of physics to do it.
 
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Remain Nameless

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May 14, 2007
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#9
We're not buying the iPhone for it's amazing photo-taking abilities, it's just the icing on the cake!

I have less than one megapixel photo abilities on my current phone and that's fine for me (after all, if I'm serious about taking photos, i use this cool device called a CAMERA... not a phone.).

2 megapixels is great in general and fits the iPhone nicely.
 

boxta

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May 15, 2007
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#10
I agree.. megapixel doesn't mean much

it is really the quality of the glass and the quality of sensor that matters the most,....

Frankly.. 2 megapixel means you can have a picture about 1600*1250... which is frankly... more than enough for web viewing on most cases.... and plenty for a 4*6 print ... (still get more than 250dpi, which is enough for printing)

so I am not sure what's the big deal.. the point about sensor size being fixed, and squeezing more pixels in it would degrade image quality is totally valid.

The whole reason why SLR produce much cleaner picture, with lower noise at higher ISO is mainly attributed to the sensor size being much bigger than compact cameras. I have a 10megapixel Canon SLR, and I can tell you even 10mp on a SLR size sensor is starting to push it. You will find the 8.2mp Canon 30D produce a slightly cleaner image than the 10mp Rebel. Even though 10mp would retain a little more detail when you print it.

Frankly, I don't think the size of the glass matters as much.. (quality of glass and sensor size matters more). For example, a 70-200 L glass from canon is 67mm while a shorter L glass is 77mm. Does that mean the 70-200L has worse quality because it's smaller? of course not. It is really a variable in the design of the glass, but a good quality small glass would produce much better pic than a bad quality large glass...

just wanna share my 2cents as i am quite a serious photography hobbyist.
 

Spin This!

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#12
Frankly, I don't think the size of the glass matters as much.. (quality of glass and sensor size matters more). For example, a 70-200 L glass from canon is 67mm while a shorter L glass is 77mm.
True. Again it really depends on what you're sticking behind that glass, too. Smaller sensors mean the glass can be made smaller because you don't have to focus on as large an area. (For example on my Nikon D200, my 18-200 DX format lens would be much much bigger if it was to be made for 35mm).

I don't think you can go wrong by buying any of the "L" glass either. ;)

You'll will usually find the better glass is "faster" which consequently makes the glass physically bigger though.
 

jpmihalk

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May 16, 2007
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#13
I would also think that storage space is a somewhat limiting factor... since most people will use their iPhones for music and some for video, pictures will add up pretty quickly too at 2MB per photo. If people want higher quality photos to view, they can always load them. It's a balancing act.
 
#14
I would also think that storage space is a somewhat limiting factor... since most people will use their iPhones for music and some for video, pictures will add up pretty quickly too at 2MB per photo. If people want higher quality photos to view, they can always load them. It's a balancing act.
4 and 8 GB are a marketing choise: iPhone has the same storage of the Nano, which is the most popular one
 

archer6

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May 15, 2007
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#16
If people want higher quality photos to view, they can always load them. It's a balancing act.
Now that makes sense, however I'm sad... you've popped my bubble... ;)

I thought the balancing act was Steve on the stage hyping his latest toy........:p
 

dblaron

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Feb 17, 2007
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#17
You all are about 65% right. only because 65% of a digital cameras relation to other built in hardware is 35% of the device. you have to take in to consideration the AD interface. (analog to digital) this is very important. put it this way most phones today only put in the bare minimum of memory. this causes them to skimp on their software for the camera. because really there are only a few companies that make AD chip sets. in that size sensor. So with that they have to rely on how well their software processes them. that is why digital cameras are still superior to phones. because that is the only function they have to do. but once the memory is upped they will get better. So with that you are 100% right on your topic. yet there are more things to factor in than just the sensor. And Apple has taken this in as a factor and will be better than any other camera phone because of the memory. Its kind of like cannon vs. sony. its all in how they process the information. That is why there are so many cameras on the market. and each pattent is slightly different. you will find that most electronics have a lot of the same components in them. that is why it costs around $13000 to get a electronics pattent.
 
May 6, 2007
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#18
Exactly. I am fine with 2 MP, because it's not like I am going to take serious pictures with the iPhone. The camera is a nice feature, but it's certainly not a make- or- break thing, at least not for me.