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[filmscanners] Re: Foveon

On Wed, 13 Feb 2002 02:48:18 -0800  Arthur Entlich (artistic-1@shaw.ca)

> Once
> production ramps up, the price per unit will drop and yields will likely
> improve allowing for larger chips.  Also, there is no specific advantage
> to a larger chip if the lenses are very good quality

I disagree. Intriguing and promising though this Foveon tech is, a
full-frame chip size would be much better for any type of CCD. It's not as
if the output from existing CCD and CMOS designs is exactly shabby in real
life, it's just that there isn't enough of it.

That is where the breakthrough really needs to happen : some sort of wafer
tech which makes large chips possible at low cost and high yield. The day
that happens I really will start jumping up and down.

What Foveon may give is information *density* on a par with film. That's
wonderful if true (I rather suspect it's true for medium-fast film but
'grainlessness' is a plus which fudges ultimate resolution for smoothness
of tone). However the chip size will constrain the overall equivalence to
half frame or perhaps APS.

There are many reasons for 35mm's enduring success, but one is that the
total amount of information available is sufficiently versatile to
encompass many uses. Used carefully, it permits a size of use for which
there's a wide requirement, at a quality for which there's a wide
requirement, and all with good ergonomics.

The film is just an encoding medium, and until CCD's can achieve both
equivalent or better information density *and* size, equivalent versatility
is not going to be available from digicams. There may be overriding reasons
why this is acceptable (eg press use turnaround speed; your acheing
shoulder), but in absolute quality terms it is a brick wall. Fine-grain
films are required to begin to approach the transfer abilities of the best
lenses. If a CCD can match that ability per unit area, great, but it needs
to be the same size for the exact same reasons that 6x9cm negs beat 35mm.

And yes, 6x6, 6x7, 6x9cm and 5x4" CCD's would be nice too, but let's not
be greedy, yet :)


Tony Sleep
http://www.halftone.co.uk - Online portfolio & exhibit; + film scanner info
& comparisons
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