Just thought I'd start a discussion about digital camera sensor size.
Here's what got me thinking about this. Interesting article about a spectacular digital medium format camera: Phase One: All the camera $55K can buy.
The article makes the point about digital medium format being so much more expensive than film medium format is/was. The high cost is all attributable to the cost of the much bigger image sensor.
In the film days now fading into history, medium-format cameras and film cost more than ordinary 35mm film SLR products, but not an order of magnitude more. Things are different in the digital era. The light-gathering image sensor chips cost a lot of money compared to film, and the cost goes up dramatically the larger the sensor. That makes medium-format digital cameras very expensive, though of course film purchasing, developing, and digitization is no longer an expense.
The sensor is most of the cost of this $55,000 camera:
In total, the street value is $54,860--most of that from the $40,000 sensor, and the rest from three lenses and the 645DF camera body. Even the rugged Pelican case in which the products are packaged cost more than a lot of people's cameras.
One thing that I wonder about is sensor size getting cheaper in the future. Maybe in another 10-20 years, the price of big sensors will come down and all decent cameras will have a 35 mm full frame sensor. Maybe the high end DSLRs will all have sensors equivalent to medium format -- or bigger.
In 25 years, we've gone from the Mac 128k to the Mac Mini with 2-8 GB of ram. LCD screens are now inexpensive even for the 24" size. I would expect that Moore's Law would apply to camera sensors as well.
It seems like these big sensor cameras are a coming trend that we'll see in a lot of mid-level cameras soon. There is a ton
about the Sony NEX cameras coming this summer. The new Olympus PEN cameras look pretty cool too.
Here's a diagram of the different sensor sizes in current digital cameras:
Eventually, all my Nikon DX stuff will be outdated. The question is, how many years will it take?