Low light performance, pixel density, zoom and almost all other parameters. keep getting better and cheaper. Are there any development projections into the future, based on past improvements, similar to Moore's Law for PCs (transistor counts)?

  • As with Caleb, I question your assertion that "zoom" is improving at anything like the rate of the other parameters. – Philip Kendall Oct 6 '17 at 19:44
  • Why does the rate matter? Any nonzero rate is still an improvement. – Euphorbium Oct 6 '17 at 19:45
  • 2
    That's just progress. Over time, people figure out how to do things better. From agriculture to zoology, everything improves. But you called out Moore's Law, which isn't just the observation that semiconductors improve, but specifically that the density of components doubles every ~18 months. The remarkable thing about Moore's Law is the rate of improvement, not the fact that some improvement is bound to happen. So if you're looking for a photographic analog of Moore's Law that's not concerned with the rate, you're going to have to explain what you mean. – Caleb Oct 6 '17 at 19:50

No, photography is very different from computing, even though digital cameras are also computers.

In computing the performance limit is there somewhere, but still very far from where are we now. That's why it is (or was) possible to double the computer power every 1.5 years (or so) for many years, effectively making computers thousands times more powerful than their predecessors.

In contrast, photography is about real life photons, not abstract mathematical operations. Ideally we would like to catch and count 100% photons without introducing any artificial noise. And we are about halfway there. We could make image sensors only about twice as much light sensitive and that's all, there are no more photons to catch! This is very unlike computer performance, that appears to be endlessly improving.

(The above applies to imaging sensors, similar things can be said about lenses and optical phenomena like diffraction, that again, unlike computing and Moore's law, limit our progress to small, ever decreasing improvements)

On the other hand, improved computer performance definitely has very positive effect on photography. Future cameras can become "intelligent" devices that recreate the real world scene, instead of just passively recording the 2D projection from the lens. Such methods can produce pictures that are beyond physical limits of any regular camera.

  • So there is a limit for sensitivity. But what about lenses? – Euphorbium Oct 6 '17 at 22:20

Is there an equivalent of Moor's law for photography?

There's not an equivalent law, but the very same Moore's law is responsible for improving digital photography.

Moore's Law is an observation about our ability to pack components onto chips ever more densely. Gordon Moore noticed that number of transistors in a given area on a chip has been doubling roughly every 18-24 months. Being able to pack more components onto a chip means that we can build image sensors with more pixels, that the quality of the pixels improves, that the capacity of memory cards increases, and that the microprocessors in cameras keep getting faster and better.

Is there some development projections into the future, based on past improvements?

According to the linked article, Moore himself has predicted that Moore's law will fail sometime in the next 10 years or so. That doesn't mean that cameras will stop improving, only that the exponential improvement that has affected semiconductors will slow down significantly.

  • Does not explain improvement in lenses. – Euphorbium Oct 6 '17 at 19:00
  • Lenses haven't been improving at anything like the rate that sensors and processors have or the rate that Moore's law predicts, so I'm not sure what you're looking for in that respect. – Caleb Oct 6 '17 at 19:26

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