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02-20-2019, 05:44 AM - 2 Likes   #1
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About sensors used in Cameras

There was a discussion in another thread about sensors. What is involved in sensors design can be guessed from the article below. Maybe known to most, but nevertheless interesting to read. Differences in sensor design between a MILC and a DSLR (phase detection pixels, microlens design at shorter flange distances etc.) are not discussed here.


Pixels for Geeks: A peek inside Nikon?s super-secret sensor design lab


Last edited by UlrichSchiegg; 02-20-2019 at 09:08 AM.
02-20-2019, 12:16 PM   #2
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Very interesting Ulrich. Thanks for posting!
02-20-2019, 04:03 PM - 2 Likes   #3
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Wow, now we understand why new top of the line camera are not coming every year.
02-20-2019, 04:22 PM   #4
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Thanks for the link, UlrichSchiegg, and it's an interesting article, but the author (who mysteriously thinks modern cameras go for ISO200) is clearly starstruck by his Nikon hosts.

It is known that Sony make that sensor for them, like other companies they just customize it.

Nikon D850 sensor confirmed as Sony-made: Digital Photography Review

02-20-2019, 04:27 PM   #5
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Yes Sony make them but Nikon design the customise sensor, that what this article said. Nothing is said that Nikon make them.
02-20-2019, 04:40 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by bobmaxja Quote
Yes Sony make them but Nikon design the customise sensor, that what this article said. Nothing is said that Nikon make them.
Every company customizes, Bob. Even Olympus and Panasonic historically substituted a Trans for the Bayer filter on what were most likely Sony 16Mp sensors, they didn't make them.

The D850 uses the Sony 42Mp sensor found in Sony's own cameras.

The article's propaganda - paid for by Nikon. The author doesn't mention Sony, and if he did, it was edited out.
02-20-2019, 10:00 PM - 1 Like   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by clackers Quote
It is known that Sony make that sensor for them, like other companies they just customize it.
QuoteOriginally posted by bobmaxja Quote
Yes Sony make them but Nikon design the customise sensor, that what this article said. Nothing is said that Nikon make them.
It's called silicon wafer foundry services with customer owned tooling ( (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Foundry_model). When Nikon design their sensors, the rely of technological choices given by wafer maker, Nikon can't design anything they want, and the wafer maker is aware of the design choices made by Nikon! To me, the best business models are either the one of Pentax or Canon, but the model of Nikon is not so great IMO (still costly, but no privacy).

Last edited by biz-engineer; 02-20-2019 at 10:13 PM.
02-21-2019, 01:42 AM   #8
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Could you indicate what the Pentax model is to your oppinion?

02-21-2019, 02:50 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by UlrichSchiegg Quote
Could you indicate what the Pentax model is to your oppinion?
The assumed Pentax model is to buy sensors off the shelf, eventually order a custom CFA array / mirrorlenses layer to reduce the gap between the sensor and Pentax color style, and specific implementation of the sensor in camera (sensors have controls signals and tolerance for operation range, so that it can operate with hardware parameters chosen by the camera maker, IMO Pentax use a substrate bias in order to increase DR while it may limit on other aspects of sensor operation, it's a guesstimate based on reading about sensor implementations). Using components off the shelf with adaption is a lot cheaper than custom design of the sensor.

Last edited by biz-engineer; 02-21-2019 at 02:55 AM.
02-21-2019, 05:33 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by biz-engineer Quote
The assumed Pentax model is to buy sensors off the shelf, eventually order a custom CFA array / mirrorlenses layer to reduce the gap between the sensor and Pentax color style, and specific implementation of the sensor in camera (sensors have controls signals and tolerance for operation range, so that it can operate with hardware parameters chosen by the camera maker, IMO Pentax use a substrate bias in order to increase DR while it may limit on other aspects of sensor operation, it's a guesstimate based on reading about sensor implementations). Using components off the shelf with adaption is a lot cheaper than custom design of the sensor.
And your source is? Thank You.
02-21-2019, 05:45 AM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by biz-engineer Quote
The assumed Pentax model is to buy sensors off the shelf, eventually order a custom CFA array / mirrorlenses layer to reduce the gap between the sensor and Pentax color style, and specific implementation of the sensor in camera (sensors have controls signals and tolerance for operation range, so that it can operate with hardware parameters chosen by the camera maker, IMO Pentax use a substrate bias in order to increase DR while it may limit on other aspects of sensor operation, it's a guesstimate based on reading about sensor implementations). Using components off the shelf with adaption is a lot cheaper than custom design of the sensor.

So, according to "business model", cheaper = better, right? As a user of Nikon, Pentax & Sony cameras, I care less about which "business model" their sensors are based on. It is more important to me that what they can render.

Last edited by MJL; 02-21-2019 at 06:36 AM.
02-21-2019, 08:14 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by UlrichSchiegg Quote
And your source is? Thank You.
I forgot where I read that, this was when I did some research for the Pentax K1 image performance, and Ricoh wrote some hint in their Pentax K1 special site which combined with prior knowledge led to conclude how they do.

QuoteOriginally posted by MJL Quote
So, according to "business model", cheaper = better, right? As a user of Nikon, Pentax & Sony cameras, I care less about which "business model" their sensors are based on. It is more important to me that what they can render.
Possibly, this post of about Nikon design of their own camera sensors.

Last edited by biz-engineer; 02-21-2019 at 08:28 AM.
02-21-2019, 09:06 AM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by UlrichSchiegg Quote
Could you indicate what the Pentax model is to your oppinion?
They do the same as Nikon, order a customized Sony.

A K-1 is like a value-added Nikon D810.
02-21-2019, 06:22 PM - 1 Like   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by biz-engineer Quote
Ricoh wrote some hint in their Pentax K1 special site which combined with prior knowledge led to conclude how they do
The K-1 Special site did indeed cover this:

QuoteQuote:
“It’s not possible to achieve high sensitivity simply by reducing sensor noise, because the circuit configuration of the substrate to which the sensor is mounted greatly affects the type of generated noise. That’s why we designed an original substrate for the PENTAX K-1 by making the best use of our know-how.”

One of the PENTAX engineers in charge of sensor development held the PENTAX K-1’s image sensor unit in his hand. On the substrate beneath the image sensor, various components were neatly laid out, including the interface used to deliver control signals to the sensor and to send the sensor’s readout signals to the imaging engine. By fine-tuning the substrate’s configuration and optimizing its layout, he succeeded in upgrading the S/N ratio and characteristics of image data."
Challengers | PENTAX K-1 Special site | RICOH IMAGING

Pentax did the same sort of thing with the K-5 sensor, probably others too.
02-21-2019, 10:09 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by rawr Quote
The K-1 Special site did indeed cover this:
Yes, you are right. Thanks for pointing that out.

Last edited by biz-engineer; 02-21-2019 at 10:17 PM.
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