Merrill sensored cameras ARE 30MP luminance equivalents to 30MP cameras!

Started Jan 15, 2013 | Discussions thread
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ilsiu Regular Member • Posts: 399
Re: Not really possible

Kendall Helmstetter Gelner wrote:

Maybe. I'm not against it, I just don't think we'll see it. The constraints I see are:

1) m 4/3 too small a form factor to use existing Merrill sensor or a FF later version. Sure you can mount larger lenses via adaptors but the sensor can only support the size of the smallest lens the mount supports.

2) Building a small DP-sized ILC with a larger custom mount means having to have yet another proprietary mount, and having to decide what lenses to manufacture in that mount. A huge engineering burden anyway.

3) Sales of such a camera cannibalize DP camera sales, and you need a certain level of sales in any given camera model to make up development costs. So now you aren't making money on the DP cameras or your new ILC since you've split sales.

4) Entering a market where competitors are already actively tearing each other to shreds in a frenzied battle with near-zero profit margins seems... unwise.

5) Let's say Sigma did build a m 4/3 Foveon camera with a smaller 10MP sensor (another huge cost BTW to fab such a sensor). Ok, now you are back to the same old argument about other cameras having 15 MagicalPixels while yours has only 10 MaterialPixels. Meanwhile the aformentioned tearing to shreds marketing is still underway from multiple companies. You can't price the camera to recoup sensor fab costs because all the other cameras are cheaper, you can't even make much headway in marketshare selling at a loss because the MP rating is five lower! Who wants to buy anything five lower? Not this market!

I think far more likely is some kind of evolution of the DSLR that will be everything you are asking for (like mirrorless with live view, perhaps a built-in EVF) but not at all compact. To me that seems the most useful (because you can use larger lenses and it could house a true FF sized sensor) and the camera that would have a better chance of success. Then they can also continue to use the SA mount which is already designed and understood, and lets you use a lot of other lenses via common adaptors (since PK mount stuff fits).

The idea of a Sigma m4/3 camera is very intriguing to me.  Per your point #5, if Sigma maintains the same pixel pitch as the current Merrill sensors, then a m4/3 sized Foveon sensor would have ~8 MP.  Going by the popular 2x Bayer equivalent factor is should resolve as well or even better than 16 MP (which is the highest res m4/3 resolution currently available).

There are a couple of factors that would indicate that it may not be too big of a challenge for Sigma to design and produce a m4/3 camera body.  First, Sigma already makes lenses in the m4/3 mount, so they must already have some knowledge of m4/3 camera construction that can be leveraged.  Second, an unheard of Chinese company has announced it will release a m4/3 body under the Kodak brand name; if some no-name Chinese company with unknown experience in camera manufacture can come out with a camera body (which most likely will be crappy), then I would expect Sigma to be able to do the same (except for the crappy part).

The thing that would be most exciting is the lens catalog.  The native m4/3 lens catalog is already pretty impressive; there are some very nice fast primes (17/1.8, 45/1.8, 75/1.8) and also some pro-level zooms (7-14/4, 12-35/2.8, 35-100/2.8) available. And with cheap adapters, any of the old 35mm mount Canon, Nikon, Minolta, Olympus, Pentax lenses can be mounted as well (although functionality is limited to manual focus and stopped down metering).  Another plus is that there are a lot of older lenses that are quite good and inexpensive.

I think your point #4 is a very good reason why we won't see this happening.  To compete in this space, more than top level IQ is needed.  Competitors offer features like in body stabilization, advanced live view, lightning quick CDAF and I don't think Sigma has demonstrated a body with any of those features (please correct me if that's not the case).  And if Sigma can't do this for less than ~$1000 I don't think they'll be competitive.

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