ISO the new megapixel – Really?

The short answer is yes, the long answer maybe not. At this point many savvy buyers get that megapixels aren’t that important, but we suspect that most people still don’t realize its largely a marketing tool.

Low noise in high ISO is a much better thing to look at, largely because its harder to fake, it requires some sort of objective performance measurement. Our article on true resolution talks a bit about why we prefer to actually calculate resolution instead of using the rated number.

One thing I wanted to address was whether ISO should be the new megapixel.  Ignoring noise reduction algorithms and advancement of ccd and cmos tech and assuming we’re comparing two cameras with similar gen tech, the noise performance is largely a result of how much light each pixels is getting.  The amount of light is directly related to the pixel size in microns – you can search for cameras with the biggest pixels on our site (which we think is a really cool way to find high quality cameras) and not surprisingly they tend to excel at low light shooting as well as many other areas.

Funny the bigger the pixels the less megapixels the manufacturer can stuff in a given sensor so perhaps big pixels should be the new megapixel – resulting in cameras with less megapixels – ironic.  And yet we’re already seeing that.  Many high end cameras are using the newer backlit 10MP sensor while cheaper cameras are throwing in smaller 14MP sensors.

Consider the D3x vs D3s – both current gen top of the line SLRs from Nikon – so why the huge difference in mega pixels, high speed shooting is definitely a reason but when you look at their DXO mark ISO scores you start to see that big pixels might just be the real reason behind the difference.  The D3s has pixels which are twice the size 71.1 vs 35.2 microns of surface area and offers a significant advantage when shooting in low light.  Everything is just faster and better on the D3s.

12 clean megapixels is more than enough, heck most manufacturers should just stuff a slightly bigger digicam sensor with 6MP in their entry level cameras and the photo quality of most cameras would go through the roof: less compression needed, faster to process, faster shooting and response time, less noise, better color and dynamic range, etc.

Remember when you watch a great encoded blu-ray on a 80″ screen you’re watching 2MP and it looks fantastic, so of course you can do large prints with a really clean and sharp 5 or 6MP.

Snapsort launches digital camera recommendations

Today Snapsort released a significant update to its digital camera site: http://snapsort.com, as well as comparing cameras the site now recommends cameras for any price range and for any combination of features that are important to you.

Just tell me which camera to buy!

Not sure which camera to get?  Not interested in spending a lot of time figuring it out?   Simply enter your budget, and Snapsort will give you a few recommendations depending on whether you’re looking for a small camera or one with a lot of zoom (for example).

For example:

Recommendations on the fly

You can explore digital cameras at Snapsort, to find cameras with the features that are important to you, instead of just putting the cheapest or newest camera at the top of the list, Snapsort ranks all the cameras instantly against your criteria to show you which ones are the best.

For example:

Compare any two cameras to quickly see the differences

Once you’ve narrowed down your choices, you can compare any two digital cameras and have Snapsort tell you the advantages of each, and give its recommendation.  Snapsort even customizes the recommendations based on your exploration criteria.

Examples:

There’s much more to the site too, so dive in and take a look around!

Follow us on twitter: @snapsort

Visualizing the world of Digital SLRs with Open Source Software

People have now compared over 20,000 different combinations of cameras at http://snapsort.com!  
We’ve been keeping track of which cameras get compared the most often, as seen on snapsort’s homepage. This weekend I spent some time trying to use this data to visualize cameras and their relationships to one another, the premise being that if two cameras are compared to each other a lot they’re likely very similar.
Here are two pictures of all of the DSLRs from the last two years, and their relationships to each other based on comparisons made at http://snapsort.com
  • Each dot is a camera, cameras are color coded by brand (NikonCanonPanasonicSonyOlympusLeicaOthers)
  • Lines between cameras represent comparisons made, the thicker the line the more comparisons made between those two cameras
Low res without labels:
High res with labels:
(be sure to click and view at 100% zoom)

Interpretation
  • The visualization seems to go from low end at the left to high end at the right
  • Nikon and Canon are the center of the world 🙂  You can see tight competition between the Nikon D90 and the Canon Rebel T1i, and the Nikon D700 vs Canon EOS 5D Mark II
  • The bottom left is occupied by Sony, you can see their line up from low end to high end, all competing with Nikon and Canon SLRs but not a lot
  • At the top you see the micro four thirds cameras from Panasonic and Olympus, such as the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF1 and the Olympus PEN E-P2, competing with each other and sometimes the bigger SLRs
  • To the far right there are a couple of Leicas mostly on their own
  • Top left corner you see a number of Olympus cameras, a low end Sony, and a couple Pentax
How these were made
  • Created graph files in GML format
  • Imported them into Gephi and rendered using their layout tools
  • Exported to SVG
  • Rasterized to PNG using Gimp

Snapsort.com updated: discussions, pricing from amazon and other retailers, and more

We updated Snapsort.com last night, the new release includes: discussions/comments on comparisons and cameras, prices from more retailers including Amazon.com and B&H; Photo Video, more detailed comparisons, and new cameras.


Discussions

Every comparison page and camera page now hosts a discussion forum powered by Disqus!

For example, you could discuss the Canon T2i vs T1i (two of the hottest SLRs from Canon), or discuss the Nikon Coolpix P100 vs. the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX1 (two super zoom compacts that record HD video).

Individual cameras also get discussion pages, so you could for example discuss the Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ10 (a great travel zoom feature 12x zoom in a compact body).

As our discussion pages mention: the intention is that these be used to discuss the cameras (your opinions on them), and but not for feedback on Snapsort, please discuss Snapsort itself at our support community.

Improved Prices

Snapsort now includes prices from Amazon.com, the Amazon.com marketplace (e.g. 3rd party stores selling through Amazon),  B&H; Photo Video, Calumet Photographic and more.

We’re excited to have these great stores on Snapsort.com.  Having more options means you can find the best place to buy your camera for you, whether that means a store you trust, or a store that has good shipping and/or return policies, or just the store with the best price.

Our pricing pages for SLRs now give some indication as to what lenses each kit includes or doesn’t include, by showing an illustrative graphic.

Finally, through amazon.com and their marketplace, we now have a fair number of used and refurbished listings. These are clearly marked.  Buying used can be a great way to buy an older camera or get a great deal on a new camera.

More Detailed Comparisons

Our comparisons now consider a few more features including: the size of the camera, the frames per second they record video at and for digicams their best aperture at full zoom.

For example, when comparing the Canon Rebel T2i vs T1i Snapsort tells you that “The Rebel T2i records at a slightly higher frame rate” pointing out that the T2i does 1080p video at 30fps where as the T1i only does 20fps.

As another example, when comparing the Canon Powershot SX1 vs the Panasonic Lumic DMC-FZ38 Snapsort tells us that “At full zoom the Panasonic DMC-FZ38’s lens captures slightly more light (0.7 f-stops)”.

New Cameras

As with most of our updates we’ve included new cameras that have been recently announced or released.

Snapsort now includes a link from the main page to show you some of the most recent cameras.

New Logo

We’ve also got a new logo now!