The emergence of GR-DIGITAL
GR-DIGITAL finally appeared in the shops on October 21 st, 2005. We asked users for their opinions: “Quick to get started, quick to focus: I can take a picture whenever I feel like it”. “Realistic depiction, and very sharp”.
“The camera was only launched a few days ago, so we have not yet received much actual feedback from users, but I can say that we are very excited that the GR1 has re-emerged as a digital camera and is now finally in the shops. We are also a little bit apprehensive about how it will be received by the public,” says lens development team member Ikuya Tsurukawa.
According to Akihiro Yoshida, who worked with the GR Engine image processor development team, “We did everything we could, and the feeling is that we have succeeded in creating unprecedented picture quality.” This extraordinary GR DIGITAL picture quality has been achieved by the GR lens and GR Engine development teams. This can only be achieved through a synergy between a lens which can produce a top quality image, and an engine able to process that level of data.
“In a silver halide film camera, the object onto which the lens projected the image was always the film, and the problem was how to get the camera to collect the light information from the subject and project it onto the film as accurately as possible. With a digital camera, a CCD (light sensitive element) converts the light collected by the lens into an electronic signal, then processes the image, and saves it in the memory. Because the camera is responsible for the whole of this process, high picture quality can only be achieved if there is a true balance between top level lens technology and image processing technology”, Tsurukawa explains.
How to combine high picture quality with compactness
“The type of CCD depends on the development of the lens and the engine. If you use a large CCD, it is able to take in a large amount of light, and this has an impact on the image processing,” says GR Engine development team member Kenji Shiraishi. The larger the CCD and CMOS sensors, the greater the amount of light which can be taken in. This leads to greater sensitivity, and this eliminates the need for signal amplification and also reduces noise. Also, the greater the capacity for signal storage, the wider the dynamic range which can be achieved. However, compactness was also a factor of premium importance to the GR DIGITAL team. “The ideal balance between making a true pocket sized camera and ensuring optimum picture quality was achieved by using a 1/1.8 inch CCD”, Yoshida explains.
“Of course we tried to design the camera using a large CCD”, says GR lens developer Takao Saito. “When trying to achieve high picture quality using traditional methods, we lost out on compactness”. How did the development staff manage to resolve the conflicting demands of compactness and high picture quality?