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08-21-2014, 11:54 AM   #1
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Pentax/Ricoh Sensor

Would it be viable for Pentax/Ricoh to establish or acquire their own sensor manufacturing plant? It seems odd that they have to rely upon companies like Sony who compete with them for camera sales. I do not know much about this topic, but it has intrigued me.

08-21-2014, 12:04 PM   #2
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Wouldn't be even remotely viable. Besides the plant and the experience operating it, they'd also need to buy the technology from someone.
08-21-2014, 12:08 PM   #3
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Why? Let Sony make the investments and take the risks.

Sony buys Nintendo chip factory to increase the CMOS sensor production. | sonyalpharumors

Sony converts factory to make CMOS sensors

Sony invests in image sensor production amid 'selfie' boom | Reuters

The sensor division will likely outlive the camera division.
08-21-2014, 12:24 PM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by SoftwareArtifex Quote
Wouldn't be even remotely viable. Besides the plant and the experience operating it, they'd also need to buy the technology from someone.
Huh? Whatcha wanna bet that Canon's sensor expertise came from their long involvement in making digital copiers. Care to guess who is bigger in digital copiers than Canon?


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08-21-2014, 12:35 PM - 1 Like   #5
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Sony makes the best sensors in the business. Their patented innovations, like putting Analog Digital Converters ON the sensor (at the top of each column of photosites) is the reason for the great IQ and high ISO performance. The most that Sony will do is give themselves a 6 month lead time in the market before they will sell to another manufacturer. That's OK for Pentax though because Sony often shoots themselves in the foot with their weird camera design decisions (I'm looking at YOU translucent mirror that loses 30% of your incoming light) and Pentax has a way of getting IQ out of their cameras that Sony couldn't manage, even if the sensors are identical. There is much more to a camera than the sensor (although that sensor is vitally important). Since Pentax started riding the Sony Sensor horse, things have been pretty peachy for Pentax users. Also new sensors (like computer processors) are the most expensive when they first come out. Once production gets ramped up and inventories start to grow the laws of supply and demand make the prices drop. Pentax takes advantage of that.
08-21-2014, 12:38 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by cheekygeek Quote
Sony makes the best sensors in the business.
Foveon and Fuji might dispute that...
08-21-2014, 12:55 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by luftfluss Quote
Foveon and Fuji might dispute that...
Let them. Neither Sigma nor Fuji sells sensors to anyone else.
08-21-2014, 01:21 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by stevebrot Quote
Huh? Whatcha wanna bet that Canon's sensor expertise came from their long involvement in making digital copiers. Care to guess who is bigger in digital copiers than Canon?
Not so much from the long involvement in making digital copiers than from making digital copier sensors. Ricoh Semiconductor makes a few odds and ends, but nothing optical that I can see. They'd be a few decades behind the curve if they started now.

08-21-2014, 01:45 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by SoftwareArtifex Quote
Not so much from the long involvement in making digital copiers than from making digital copier sensors. Ricoh Semiconductor makes a few odds and ends, but nothing optical that I can see.
Home | RICOH OPTICAL INDUSTRIES CO., LTD.
08-21-2014, 02:44 PM   #10
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Foveon might compete at the lower ISOs but not once you get to 400 or above. No idea about Fuji's X-Trans. People who have the Fujis seem very happy but DXO can't test them for some reason (never cared enough to read up on why).
08-21-2014, 02:45 PM   #11
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Lots of lenses and assemblies there, but we already know they can make those. Nothing that says they do anything in optoelectronics and sensors, though.
08-21-2014, 02:54 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by cheekygeek Quote
Foveon might compete at the lower ISOs but not once you get to 400 or above. No idea about Fuji's X-Trans. People who have the Fujis seem very happy but DXO can't test them for some reason (never cared enough to read up on why).
Foveon seems to handily out-perform Sony sensors (of similar size) at low-ISO. X-Trans have many supporters, too. I think DxO can't accurately test either because of the non-Bayer layout.

Anyway, my point - though not explicitly stated - was simply that Sony sensors are not necessarily the best, that's all.

I've been quite pleased with the Sony sensors in my ILC's over the years, though.
08-21-2014, 03:05 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by Kenntak Quote
Would it be viable for Pentax/Ricoh to establish or acquire their own sensor manufacturing plant? It seems odd that they have to rely upon companies like Sony who compete with them for camera sales. I do not know much about this topic, but it has intrigued me.
Unless they a) have sufficient market share across all segments and have other products that would justify volume in house, or b) they are willing to go after sales to at least one other sensor use (Nikon since canon makes their own) it is not profitable. Consider this, Nikon, don't make their own, canon do because they have other in house sensor users, (scanners copiers fax printers etc) and a well developed industrial. Base
08-21-2014, 03:07 PM   #14
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Long live Sony sensors. Plus in my opinion Pentax has been able to make the most out of them or is it Fuji who makes the engine?
08-22-2014, 11:50 AM   #15
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I consider Pentax/Ricoh to be a camera and optics company vs. an electronics giant like Sony. By not making their own sensors Pentax/Ricoh have the flexibility in choosing the best that's available or partnering with a supplier for a custom made part (or tweak on a currently existing on). If they had their own sensors and if those sensors were out performed by others then they would be trapped. They wouldn't be able to use the better technology because they ought to be using their own.

I will also venture to say that Pentax/Ricoh may not be using an off the shelf version of the Sony sensor. We judge a company's intellectual property based on public documents like patents and papers but there's plenty of trade secrets which we don't know of. I have a feeling that Pentax/Ricoh goes to Sony and says, "We'd like to use your APS sensor, part number 1234, but could you make the following changes? The 'improvements' and changes ... all that intellectual property ... will belong to us. The money we give to you in sales will belong to you." I think that, plus their own image processing algorithms in the firmware make the distinction between them and the various other bodies which use "the same Sony sensor" as we all like to say.

I would rather the company focus on camera system design and lens system design than be bogged down in component level design.
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