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Will new digital cameras continue the megapixel war or focus on other features?

Consumer Reports News: July 17, 2009 04:15 PM

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Photo courtesy of Nick Winchester

I was recently reading an article on The Luminous Landscape, a great photography website, titled, "Brick Wall Ahead or Why Moore's Law Does Not Apply to Digital Photography." There were a number of fascinating points in the article, most notably the fact that digital cameras have a limit when it comes to megapixels.

The problem isn't the sensor. It's the glass. Writer Ray Maxwell points out that lenses will at some point reach a limit and that simply adding more pixels to a sensor will not result in more detail or better images. So, while and laptop and desktop computers may continue to follow Moore's Law, cameras with glass lenses will not. And that limitation is why the writer ends the article with "If someone produces a 35mm full frame camera with 100 Megapixels, beware. Given the limitations of the wavelength of light, no lens can live up to that resolution."

For consumers, this means that the new models camera makers will introduce for the holidays this year (yes, it's nearly that time already) will probably exhibit only modest increases in megapixels. Instead, camera makers will push a variety of other features, such as HD video capability, wider wide-angle lenses, and more wireless features. Other enhancements I expect: more cameras with swiveling LCDs, sophisticated smart modes and face-detection type features, and specialized functions like panorama modes.

I also think camera companies need to wake up and realize that people are going to want the graphical interfaces on their cameras, particularly their point-and-shoots, to look like or be as easy to customize as an iPhone. For example, why can't you download apps onto a camera the way you can with an iPhone? (This blog,, not only lists new iPhone apps, but it also presents intriguing projects created with the iPhone.) I'm guessing, and hoping, cameras will soon include such features.

Do you wish your digital camera could run applications like the iPhone does? What other new features would you like to see on a new digital point-and-shoot or SLR?—Terry Sullivan

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