Sizing up the iPhone 4 for shutterbugs

After Apple announced the hardware specs at WWDC, we saw some readers quickly lament Apple’s decision not to jam in an 8MP or higher sensor that some of the competition is sporting—after all, if 5MP is better than 3.1MP, then 8MP (or even 12MP) is even better, right?

Unfortunately, not all pixels are created equal, and it’s worth considering the impact that more megapixels would have on the iPhone’s design as well as the resulting image quality. For comparison’s sake, OmniVision offers an 8MP sensor in the 1/3.2″ size; since Apple already chose a 1/3.2″ sensor for the iPhone 4, there’s no difference there. However, it would require a larger and/or more expensive lens to resolve enough detail to take advantage of those additional 3 million pixels—not an easy feat since Apple shaved off 24 percent of the size of the iPhone 3GS. Further, an 8MP sensor has 1.4µm pixel pitch, with sensitivity below that of the iPhone 3GS.

Great article about the iPhone 4’s new camera system. It may be nothing spec-head geeks will appreciate, but those of us in the real world like a technical discussion that isn’t based on marketing and sales checklists.

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In-depth analysis of Google’s VP8. One worry is patent infringement.

Finally, the problem of patents appears to be rearing its ugly head again. VP8 is simply way too similar to H.264: a pithy, if slightly inaccurate, description of VP8 would be “H.264 Baseline Profile with a better entropy coder”. Though I am not a lawyer, I simply cannot believe that they will be able to get away with this, especially in today’s overly litigious day and age.  Even VC-1 differed more from H.264 than VP8 does, and even VC-1 didn’t manage to escape the clutches of software patents. Until we get some hard evidence that VP8 is safe, I would be extremely cautious.  Since Google is not indemnifying users of VP8 from patent lawsuits, this is even more of a potential problem.

Emphasis in the original. The article is a geek read if ever there was one, but an interesting read nonetheless.