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Large sensors top compact sales ladder

Posted 2/04/2009 at 3:37 PM
I've long been of the opinion that the single biggest benefit of digital SLR cameras over their compact counterparts is the size of the sensor. The increased sensor size results in lower noise meaning better images  (see our article on digital SLR sensors for more information).

A few weeks ago I speculated as to how long it would be before full-frame sensors become standard in all digital SLRs. However, over the last few weeks two compact cameras have topped our sales charts consistently - the Canon PowerShot G10 and Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX3. We cannot get enough of these models and they are normally pre-sold long before stock arrives.

Interestingly, both of these cameras use larger-than-standard sensors. The Canon uses a 1/1.7 inch, 14.7 megapixel sensor. The Panasonic uses a 1/1.63 inch, 10.1 megapixel sensor.  This is compared to a standard compact sensor size of around 1/2.2 inch and that will result in significantly improved images.

Is the megapixel race over? Is attention about to shift to the quality, rather than quantity, of the pixels? It may be that we see digital SLR sized sensors in compacts before we see full frame sensors in all digital SLRs.

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