hardware vs software emphasis

over the weekend, i went on the COBA photo shoot which was focused with taking pictures from different camera bodies and determining where people will start to see a different when printing images relative to its file size. i think that it is pretty much agreed upon that 8x10s can be printed without a loss of quality with a 3MP camera. but after that, where do the pixels start to matter?

one of the folks at the photo shoot was the inventor of the foveon X3 sensor. the sensor is a very innovative way to approach imaging and when i first heard about it, i thought it would revolutionize the digital imaging world. to an extent it has, but there are some inherent hardware limitations to this sensor currently which make it less attractive to me, particularly its 3MP images…i sort of think it’s cheap how they claim it’s a 10.2MP image sensor, but anyway…

so i was talking to the inventor of the X3 sensor and he was telling me about how RAW images are the only way to compare two cameras because once its off the sensor, how you deal with the image is all software. and software programmers are crazy and their implementations can vary from programmer to programmer. and it is true. how you decide to deal with the RAW images is a big deal and it can vary wildly from program to program. but this is a very hardware-centric view of how to compare two cameras.

the software programmer may come to you and say that the images that come out of a camera are really dependent on the hardware and how bad of an image you start with and how much correction you need to implement on the software side.

personally, i have a consumer emphasis. so for me, i want to know out of the camera, which image comes out the best. which ones requires the least amount of post-processing on my part to get the image to where i want it to go. so whe i compare images, i definitely look at the combined effort of the software and hardware pieces to see where it brings me.

i don’t think it’s fair to blame the software because the sensor is good. the camera is bad if the software is bad. the camera is just as bad if the hardware is bad too. it is interesting to see how different people see the world though.

speaking of which, MAN, these COBA people are hard core. they all wanted to shoot everything RAW. now, i haven’t shot RAW in a long time, but it’s a serious pain in the butt having to process these. i need a faster computer.


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