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12-15-2011, 08:32 AM - 1 Like   #76
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QuoteOriginally posted by philbaum Quote
The biggest reason: Sony would prefer Nikon to not be their sole external buyer because that gives Nikon a bigger leaverage on what they have to pay for their sensors. Having 2 external companies vie for their sensors allow them to pit one company against another for top prices. Its a healthier market for Sony. Would Nikon become so angry at Sony that they would leave Sony sensors because of Pentax? I don't think they will anytime soon. With the Japan tsunami disaster, there is enough problems on Nikon's plate without trying a risky departure from Sony. Besides, Sony sensors have helped Nikon fare quite well versus Canon, i think (don't know for sure)

In a pure capitalistic environment, i'm just saying it makes sense for Sony to sell sensors of any kind to Pentax.
While some of this is true analysis, a major factor in FF sensor availability is the fact that some of the raw design apparently comes from Nikon engineers, not just Sony. This may include some patent and licensing issues shared between the companies. So a purely competitive model does not apply to FF sensors. It does not for MF sensors either. Hasselblad, Mamiya/Phase One, and Pentax all have to custom design aspects of the process for their needs and technical integration. Like Leica with the M9 and lens compatibility (sensor micro-lenses).

It's just not as cut-and-dried as one might think. It's closer to some of the component-sharing in the auto industry where design exclusions are very common in third-party agreements.

Even Canon uses Sony sensors in its P&S line. Different segments have different supply positions. For Sony the issue for FF comes down to:

1) They could not break into the FF market in volume based on price alone. This despite having a considerably larger installed base from their Minolta inheritance than the Pentax legacy.

2) Their need to volume sell and co-engineer with Nikon.

3) The darn price of the FF sensor. At prices like what we see with all FF cameras, the market is limited and very inelastic. Once you start at the sensor you have to include almost all known advanced features to make for a competitive product vis-a-vis Canikon. And that's just to stay abreast on the camera body. Lenses are a whole different issue, especially for Pentax.

I fully expect that Pentax has had FF skunkworks for awhile, and may tease the faithful like they did with the 645D. I just don't see FF any time soon until we see what Nikon prices its new FF series at. If the new models expected veer towards commodity sensor pricing, then we can backtrack on Sony's fab capacity and cost structure. If prices for FF stay in the stratosphere, then Pentax FF is a long way away.

12-15-2011, 08:47 AM   #77
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Since there is no hint that Pentax has ability to build their own sensors, it seems reasonable to assume that they will build a box around some someone else's sensor.
Speculating that it will be a Sony model doesn't take a lot of imagination since they are using their's now. Sheesh, Sony may want the factory space for their new model
and may pinch off productionn of their current models to get the space effectively forcing a change....

were I putting two bodies in the market place, one would be a K5 replacement with the sony sensor of the day, and the other would be a mirror less as much like the K5 replacement as possible. This would position the model with the mirror as a direct upgrade of the mirrorless model. the mirrorless model would not have to be broken in some fashion to protect the upscale model as the differential besides price would not be leaving controls off or using a different/old sensor model, the differential would be a mirror box.
12-15-2011, 10:16 AM   #78
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QuoteOriginally posted by Aristophanes Quote
...

Even Canon uses Sony sensors in its P&S line. Different segments have different supply positions. For Sony the issue for FF comes down to:

1) They could not break into the FF market in volume based on price alone. This despite having a considerably larger installed base from their Minolta inheritance than the Pentax legacy.

2) Their need to volume sell and co-engineer with Nikon.

3) The darn price of the FF sensor. At prices like what we see with all FF cameras, the market is limited and very inelastic. Once you start at the sensor you have to include almost all known advanced features to make for a competitive product vis-a-vis Canikon. And that's just to stay abreast on the camera body. Lenses are a whole different issue, especially for Pentax.

I fully expect that Pentax has had FF skunkworks for awhile, and may tease the faithful like they did with the 645D. I just don't see FF any time soon until we see what Nikon prices its new FF series at. If the new models expected veer towards commodity sensor pricing, then we can backtrack on Sony's fab capacity and cost structure. If prices for FF stay in the stratosphere, then Pentax FF is a long way away.
Thank you for the interesting discussion! That would seem to explain some of the differences between Sony, Nikon and Pentax SLRs containing similar but not identical 16 meg sensors in the last go around.

Also, the degree of co-engineering provided by Nikon probably varies from sensor model to sensor model. For example, Sony has the first 24 mp APS SLR out the door while Nikon and Pentax have yet to join the fray, makes me think that Sony did most of that engineering on their own.

I like your term inelastic when applied to the FF market. Other than the Pentax models, most of the purchase buzz one hears on these forums is about the new Fuji models, the Sony Nex models and then infrequently about the D700. At my photoclub, 2 members have the D700 and another member has the Sony A900 (although what he's excited about now is his new Nex ) Noone seems to write about their D3 purchase. Which gives the impression that the FF market is pretty small - inelastic? Yep.
12-15-2011, 10:23 AM   #79
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QuoteOriginally posted by philbaum Quote
I like your term inelastic when applied to the FF market. Other than the Pentax models, most of the purchase buzz one hears on these forums is about the new Fuji models, the Sony Nex models and then infrequently about the D700. At my photoclub, 2 members have the D700 and another member has the Sony A900 (although what he's excited about now is his new Nex ) Noone seems to write about their D3 purchase. Which gives the impression that the FF market is pretty small - inelastic? Yep.
Maybe the FF owners are out taking pictures as opposed to spending their time on forums

Joking aside it is a small market unit wise. that is part of the reason for higher prices. the highest end models are priced like they are because they know the market to be primarily a limited pro market that doesn't get on the upgrade train every year.
the mid price (sub $3000) market is a lot more lively i think. It's comprised of enthusiasts, pros, and people with money to burn

12-15-2011, 10:39 AM   #80
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Then there is this on Nikon's end to put in the mix:

More bad news: Nikon Switzerland fined $13.25 million for restricting parallel imports | Nikon Rumors
12-15-2011, 11:54 AM   #81
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QuoteOriginally posted by Aristophanes Quote
While some of this is true analysis, a major factor in FF sensor availability is the fact that some of the raw design apparently comes from Nikon engineers, not just Sony. This may include some patent and licensing issues shared between the companies. So a purely competitive model does not apply to FF sensors. It does not for MF sensors either. Hasselblad, Mamiya/Phase One, and Pentax all have to custom design aspects of the process for their needs and technical integration. Like Leica with the M9 and lens compatibility (sensor micro-lenses).

It's just not as cut-and-dried as one might think. It's closer to some of the component-sharing in the auto industry where design exclusions are very common in third-party agreements.

Even Canon uses Sony sensors in its P&S line. Different segments have different supply positions. For Sony the issue for FF comes down to:

1) They could not break into the FF market in volume based on price alone. This despite having a considerably larger installed base from their Minolta inheritance than the Pentax legacy.

2) Their need to volume sell and co-engineer with Nikon.

3) The darn price of the FF sensor. At prices like what we see with all FF cameras, the market is limited and very inelastic. Once you start at the sensor you have to include almost all known advanced features to make for a competitive product vis-a-vis Canikon. And that's just to stay abreast on the camera body. Lenses are a whole different issue, especially for Pentax.

I fully expect that Pentax has had FF skunkworks for awhile, and may tease the faithful like they did with the 645D. I just don't see FF any time soon until we see what Nikon prices its new FF series at. If the new models expected veer towards commodity sensor pricing, then we can backtrack on Sony's fab capacity and cost structure. If prices for FF stay in the stratosphere, then Pentax FF is a long way away.
In other words Ricoh is going to have to buy Kodak Image Sensor Solutions from the equity firm that bought it from Kodak or risk losing their sensor supplier for the 645D.
12-15-2011, 02:47 PM   #82
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QuoteOriginally posted by boriscleto Quote
In other words Ricoh is going to have to buy Kodak Image Sensor Solutions from the equity firm that bought it from Kodak or risk losing their sensor supplier for the 645D.
I don't think Platinum Equity is going to stop selling sensors to existing customer. I also don't believe that the next 645D will have a Kodak CCD. I'm pretty sure it will have a CMOS sensor from a new supplier.

HD video in a MF camera the price of a 645D would be very attractive. Leica has already said the next S2 would have a CMOS sensor and HD video. I can only assume Pentax is going to do something similar.
12-15-2011, 03:22 PM   #83
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QuoteOriginally posted by boriscleto Quote
In other words Ricoh is going to have to buy Kodak Image Sensor Solutions from the equity firm that bought it from Kodak or risk losing their sensor supplier for the 645D.
They probably have a contract concerning with Kodak for delivering the sensor, those are still valid.


QuoteOriginally posted by Winder Quote
Leica has already said the next S2 would have a CMOS sensor and HD video. I can only assume Pentax is going to do something similar.
Leica's are quite differnt then a MF slr so i doubt we will see CMOS in them next year and the upcoming one.
The cost to develop CMOS sensors is higher then CCD so price wise it doesn't make sense and CCD sensor deliver better photo's at lower ISO.

12-15-2011, 04:32 PM   #84
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QuoteOriginally posted by Aristophanes Quote
a major factor in FF sensor availability is the fact that some of the raw design apparently comes from Nikon engineers, not just Sony.
There was a story published by Sony on how they developped their 1st gen. FF sensor. There was no hint whatsoever they needed help from Nikon's side. Of course, Sony wouldn't admit. But Nikon has a track record to obfuscate Sony's role in their sensor business. Over the years, I got a strong feeling that Nikon's influence on Sony's sensor development is marginal and much less than Nikon wants to make us believe.

I was in two teams, one consulting in the specification of a SGS Thomson processor, another in specification of a Motorola processor. The influence of consultation or even cooperation is more on defining what the market will need. The actual work is done by the semiconductor vendor alone. In this sense, I am sure the Sony sensors used by Nikon are 100% Sony. They may sometimes use a special variant. But then the original Sony version would probably be the better overall.

Moreover, there isn't much general raw design possible for a CMOS imaging sensor. It is the process design performance which matters. And the engineering masterpiece to have thousands of AD converters on chip. Nikon cannot have helped in either. I agree on the microlens thing. But this already is packaging know how, not silicon know how.

BTW, there is a way to find out. CMOS engineers publish at leading conferences. I've seen Sony CMOS imaging sensor talks announced in conference schedules. So, is there any work done by Nikon engineers?

Last edited by falconeye; 12-15-2011 at 04:37 PM.
12-15-2011, 05:28 PM   #85
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QuoteOriginally posted by Aristophanes Quote
While some of this is true analysis, a major factor in FF sensor availability is the fact that some of the raw design apparently comes from Nikon engineers, not just Sony.
Sorry, I take issue with the construction "...the fact that ... apparantly...". If something is only "apparent" it is not within the realm of facts.

Unless you have some evidence, all your conclusions you made from your assumption are pure speculation.

Regarding, Nikon, I feel it is pathetic how they are trying to maintain prestige.

The first you'll hear is
"The Nikon XYZ camera uses a Nikon sensor".

When questioned, this is weakened to
"It uses a sensor engineered by Nikon.".

This is then weakened to
"The sensor is designed by Nikon and manufactured by Sony".

Next,
"It is a Sony sensor with input from Nikon.".

In reality, it is probably just
"It is a Sony sensor, ordered by Nikon".

I can imagine that Nikon sometimes asked Sony something along the lines of "You make this sensor with 12-bit ADC; can we get a version that allows us to circumvent your ADC but add a 14-bit off-chip solution? We know it does not make much sense, but it will sound great in marketing (and we'll be able to claim that you manufactured a chip to our specifications)". OK, I probably exaggerated but Nikon should just be proud about their bodies instead of clinging on to straws with sensor engineering claims.

Last edited by Class A; 12-15-2011 at 05:34 PM.
12-15-2011, 07:16 PM   #86
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QuoteOriginally posted by Class A Quote
Sorry, I take issue with the construction "...the fact that ... apparantly...". If something is only "apparent" it is not within the realm of facts.

Unless you have some evidence, all your conclusions you made from your assumption are pure speculation.

Regarding, Nikon, I feel it is pathetic how they are trying to maintain prestige.

The first you'll hear is
"The Nikon XYZ camera uses a Nikon sensor".

When questioned, this is weakened to
"It uses a sensor engineered by Nikon.".

This is then weakened to
"The sensor is designed by Nikon and manufactured by Sony".

Next,
"It is a Sony sensor with input from Nikon.".

In reality, it is probably just
"It is a Sony sensor, ordered by Nikon".

I can imagine that Nikon sometimes asked Sony something along the lines of "You make this sensor with 12-bit ADC; can we get a version that allows us to circumvent your ADC but add a 14-bit off-chip solution? We know it does not make much sense, but it will sound great in marketing (and we'll be able to claim that you manufactured a chip to our specifications)". OK, I probably exaggerated but Nikon should just be proud about their bodies instead of clinging on to straws with sensor engineering claims.
Probably something along those lines.
My company does communication devices, and many big customers simply 'customize' 'their parts' by asking us to slap on a label that has their logo on it.
With that, the same device gets sold for 3-5x the price we sell on the market.

The more cunning ones, asks for various embedded codes for ID that prevent usage on their systems to prevent the open market devices to be used instead or their 'customized' ones.


So its no surprise to me that a Nikon sensor is no more than a Sony sensor that is tweaked and tested to Nikon specification, base on the (ie. Sony ) sensor datasheet.
12-15-2011, 08:14 PM   #87
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QuoteOriginally posted by maxfield_photo Quote
I agree, rich Uncle Ricoh has deep pockets. I wonder what he's getting his new nephew for Christmas?
This Uncle Rico(h)?

12-15-2011, 08:54 PM   #88
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QuoteOriginally posted by apisto Quote
This Uncle Rico(h)?
Haha, well played.
12-16-2011, 04:10 AM   #89
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QuoteOriginally posted by apisto Quote
This Uncle Rico(h)?
At least I don't look that bad. Never did. Never dressed like that. Well, hardly ever... [/me rummages through box of polyester looking for evidence to burn]
--RioRicoh, the user formerly known as Pentaxio Smurf
.
12-16-2011, 06:48 AM   #90
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QuoteOriginally posted by falconeye Quote
There was a story published by Sony on how they developped their 1st gen. FF sensor. There was no hint whatsoever they needed help from Nikon's side. Of course, Sony wouldn't admit. But Nikon has a track record to obfuscate Sony's role in their sensor business. Over the years, I got a strong feeling that Nikon's influence on Sony's sensor development is marginal and much less than Nikon wants to make us believe.

I was in two teams, one consulting in the specification of a SGS Thomson processor, another in specification of a Motorola processor. The influence of consultation or even cooperation is more on defining what the market will need. The actual work is done by the semiconductor vendor alone. In this sense, I am sure the Sony sensors used by Nikon are 100% Sony. They may sometimes use a special variant. But then the original Sony version would probably be the better overall.

Moreover, there isn't much general raw design possible for a CMOS imaging sensor. It is the process design performance which matters. And the engineering masterpiece to have thousands of AD converters on chip. Nikon cannot have helped in either. I agree on the microlens thing. But this already is packaging know how, not silicon know how.

BTW, there is a way to find out. CMOS engineers publish at leading conferences. I've seen Sony CMOS imaging sensor talks announced in conference schedules. So, is there any work done by Nikon engineers?
Much of what Thom Hogan has written points to some deep collaboration between the two companies. This is not unusual when one company (Sony) sell 95% of a specified product (FF sensors) to another (Nikon). Nikon is Sony's FF revenue source. So much so that Sony completely stopped (albeit and admittedly temporarily) its own use of its own FF sensors for the better part of a yearly revenue cycle.

With that much volume and interdependence, and the fact that Nikon FF in particular have redefined the market segment, the common structure for such design and manufacture involves a lot of investment protection, including licensing prerogatives and exclusivity of supply. but I suspect that Sony relies on Nikon imaging feedback to calibrate its product. Nikon has the direct line to a large customer base, especially pros, and lens developers, etc., which Sony does not. It's kind of like "Intel Inside".

From thom Hogan:

Nikon committed to using only Nikon-design sensors. That doesn't mean that the sensors don't have elements from other makers in them or that they stopped using Sony as a supplier, only that Nikon's sensors appear to now be 100% exclusive to Nikon. When you compare a Nikon DX 14mp or 16mp camera to a competitor's, any difference in image quality is now completely engineered by Nikon. The results so far look very promising, so Nikon is on to something.

2011 Predictions by Thom Hogan

And from Nikon:

Nikon | Technology | Nikon FX-format CMOS Sensor

I have no doubt--because it is the norm in multi-tier industrial design--that Nikon's innovations and original design are not found in Sony's FF sensors that may be shopped to other companies like Pentax. Nikon makes Sony a lot of money with most of the retail market risk borne by Nikon alone. Sony will not upset that apple cart, especially when Sony is financially in the red, by turning FF sensor production into a commodity product generically available to all Pentax offering FF could only budge the market by a couple of % at most, whereas Sony upsetting Nikon could lose them 90% of that revenue. Making Nikon a preferred and maybe even exclusive customer, even to the point of dropping your own FF products to see where the retail demand goes, is a business no-brainer for Sony.
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