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Regardless of the wonders of lens design and computer software, if you don't have a decent sensor, you don't have a decent camera. The sensor is the heart of the camera regardless of whether it is Silver Halide Emulsion, CCD or CMOS. It is the sensor that turns the light into some form of permanent storage. It is the sensor that must obey the laws of Physics. And it is the sensor that dictates the resolution of the image.
Resolution is the central issue in camera design, since it is always a trade off between various photographic parameters and the perceived desires of the market. Insufficient resolution and your pictures are pixelated blobs. Excessive resolution and your pictures are noisy and slow with poor dynamic range.
Resolution in digital camera terms means a number of things:
The twin issues of Spatial and Dynamic Resolution are intertwined in a manner that few people understand. Essentially you increase the resolution of one at the expense of the other. Exactly how digital cameras achieve satisfactory results for these 3 metrics is what this section is all about. If you think it is just a matter of having lots of Megapixels and 14 bit dynamic range you don't really have any idea. In the end it is all about the quantum behaviour of light, which sets the unbreakable limits of resolution, which technology can merely react to, and it is there that we must start this analysis of the Physics of Cameras.
Yes, it all begins with Photons!