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Saturday, December 17, 2005

The Promise of the Cypress Sensor


A little more than a month ago, Cypress, which made the sensors for the now historical Kodak full-frame DSLRs, announced a 9MP, APS-C-sized chip made without microlenses that will begin shipping to manufacturers this coming February. My friend Bob Atkins, photographic polymath and all-purpose factotum of photo.net, wrote an introduction to it here.

You can read the press release for yourself at the tail end of Bob's article, but here are some of the salient points: it's a CMOS chip with low power draw, has a pixel pitch of 6.4 microns and an image array of 3710 x 2434 pixels, there's a monochrome version, and its projected estimated unit cost is $90.

Ninety dollars. As in 75 Euros, 51 British Pounds, 10,400 Yen, 273 Argentinian Pesos, or 0.0939457 ounces of platinum. In case you're wondering, that's cheap. Ahh, progress.

Of course, Neo-Luddite that I am, the thought of the new Cypress sensor makes my mind immediately wander to one of my more absurd but nonetheless dear pipedreams: a digital M.

Or its equivalent: a small, light, responsive point-and-shoot with just such an APS-C CMOS sensor and a small, fast, semi-wide fixed lens. And if you're not a black & white photographer from way back, you're simply not going to understand the fierce and visceral appeal of the monochrome-sensor idea. Don't even try. But when I think of it, I go all wobbly....

Just two more thoughts, because this is speculation and speculation's pointless. Thought one: I really don't see why a classic Meßsucher [rangefinder] wouldn't be an excellent way to focus a digital camera. Thought two: couldn't one devise a non-removable fixed semi-wide-angle lens that has an add-on teleconverter to make it into a short tele? That way you could have your 35mm-equivalent fixed lens and an 85mm-equivalent accessory in your pocket. Maybe I'm way too attached to the memory of wandering city streets with two small lenses in search of pj-style art shots, but that notion has an aura of hope to me.

Posted by: MIKE JOHNSTON

3 Comments:

Blogger jamietie said...

I am thrilled to hear that someone else wants a point and shoot style camera that's small and has a fixed lens. When I look at all the film cameras made with high-quality lenses and then I look at digicams with all their faults, I wonder why this has to be.
I'm keeping my fingers crossed for the Cypress sensor to become a reality

8:13 AM  
Blogger ichi-moto said...

Count me in as well. The little digital Ricoh is a decent enough idea, but still too small a chip.

Olympus seems to be adrift without a compass--maybe it could re-establish the identity the Pen F
gave them. Yeah...swell idea. I'm gonna start saving right now.

6:05 PM  
Blogger Nic said...

Thanks for putting the price in arg pesos ;)

1:08 AM  

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