The highly interesting DPReview article „Does sensor size still make a difference?” has got me thinking. The author is dealing with the question whether sensor size is still important. We all know that large sensors will always offer better image quality than small ones. The more interesting question therefore is when will we reach the “good enough” point so that such differences will become meaningless?
For some ambitious photographer the answer is surely “never”. However, one shouldn’t overestimate their numbers. The development of computational photography and sensor technologies such as BSI marches on extremely quickly. This is how smartphone makers – and it is them who have been pushing innovation in the realm of photographic technology for years now – are trying to eliminate three blatant disadvantages of small sensors: low dynamic range, practically no control over depth of field and bad noise performance. And as you can observe going from one smartphone generation to the next, significant progress is being made in unbelievably short time periods. For example two years ago taking a portrait shot with a blurry background with a smartphone was unthinkable. With the first iteration of “fake bokeh” technology the deception was immediately apparent. With the now second iteration even experienced photographers have to look closely, in order to not be deceived. How long will it take until it is no longer possible to distinguish fake bokeh from real one? Five years, maybe ten? I imagine that that is how long it will take for most photographers who are currently using a DSLR or a mirrorless camera to no longer see any benefit in lugging such big and heavy equipment. The camera of a photography enthusiast will look similarly to a Pentax Q – body like current compact cameras and lenses no larger than an apricot. Is this realistic or am I watching too much SciFi? What do you think? 😉