Hot on the heels of Nokia's 808 PureView, a smartphone with an over-endowed 41 MegaPixel sensor that allows smooth, lossless digital zooming, comes the Sony NEX-EA50EH. It's definitely not a phone, but does share one fascinating feature in common
Sony's NEX-EA50EH has a sensor that is much bigger than normal HD video resolutions. And that means that it can do stuff that looks like it breaks the laws of physics. You can zoom with a prime lens. That's right: you get all the advantages of fixed focal length lenses (better optical performance for example) without the disadvantages (not being able to zoom, for example).
Sony appears almost reluctant to mention this feature, burying it in the Features tab of the camera's product page:
In addition, using fixed focal length lenses users can simulate a zoom effect using the smart digital zoom function, ensuring fast-paced shots are never missed.
Digital zooming is normally frowned-upon because it degrades the picture, but this only happens if you start with an image that is the same resolution as your output. If you start from a much more detailed source and zoom in to your output resolution, as long as the image processing is good, you won't lose any quality.
Sony doesn't say how much you can zoom losslessly but it's probably quite limited. Nevertheless, this is a significant breakthrough for video cameras. We think it's another result of the exponential growth of technology, where we're starting to be able to do things that as recently as yesterday we thought were possible.
It makes you wonder what else is just around the corner!