Friday 24 August 2007

Innumeracy

I've been very interested in the recent flurry of new camera models that have emerged from the PR departments of Canon, Nikon, Olympus, Pentax and others over the past two weeks and I may well post some thoughts of my own on them at some point but I have been very irritated by one particular error that has been repeated by a slew of camera and gadget blogs when reporting on the new Nikon D3.

You can find plenty (140k+) examples with this google query

Taking one example - Camera Labs - they state:
We’ve seen the 3in 922k pixel monitor and it simply looks superb with around four times the detail of 230k pixel models used by Canon and most of the competition. Indeed rather than quote the total number of screen pixels, you can express them as a proper monitor resolution of 640x480 pixels – that’s right, full VGA resolution and it looks great.
WoW! Real VGA! It must be great eh!!!

Well VGA is 640x480 pixels but 640x480 is a lot less than 922k. That would be about 307k pixels in fact as 0.5 seconds with any calculator will tell you even if you can't do it in your head. The 922k pixel display on the D3 and D300 has a resolution that is almost certainly 1280x720 ( 921.6k pixels). If you want to give it a label then that would be called HD 720* if it was on a TV which is a much more desirable label than VGA in any case.

Now don't get me wrong, it is a fantastic screen and the resolution on it is incredible. If this is true then it is a genuine HD wide-screen display and has (for example) 6 times the number of pixels on the over-hyped (and non wide-screen) iPhone's 480x240 display. For those interested in such things this is very close to 500dpi which is incredible as 300dpi is generally taken as the holy grail for display resolutions.

So if the 922k pixels is true then this is an incredible development in terms of display technologies and that is something that the camera\gadget blogosphere should have been making noise about but instead their inability to cope with numbers has let them down.

*The brain donors who flog TV's in the high street in Ireland would probably tell you that was actually "HD Ready" and sure why would you ever want any more than that anyway. That's a rant for another day.

2 comments:

Pat said...

Hmmm, lots of similiar comments flying around on this, - nikon seem to be playing the same "marketing" trick fuji did with their Super CCd sensor - counting the pixels more than one - three times in nikons case ( counting the R,G,B pixels) and referring to is as "resolution" So 640 x 480 3 = 921600...

Joe Mansfield said...

Makes sense - certainly much more plausible than Nikon having found the world's first 3" HD-Ready LCD.

Very stupid thing to do - but I suppose that's why I'm not in marketing.