Is FF sensors going to slowly phase out?

Started Apr 11, 2013 | Discussions thread
tomtom50
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Re: Those are APS compacts with slow lenses
In reply to Erik Magnuson, Apr 13, 2013

Erik Magnuson wrote:

forpetessake wrote:

I don't know what information you have found on the web making you saying that,

Everything written about semi-conductor manufacturing.

but what I've seen even from 5 years ago the APS-C sensors were selling in the range of $50-100 pop, and some estimates indicated that FF sensors were 5-10 times more expensive, i.e. comfortably in the range of $250-1000. I've found costs quoted $43 for a 4/3rds sensor, $91 for an APS-C and $650 for a full frame sensor in 2008. I would expect FF sensors to be well under $500 now as the production volumes increased and R&D and equipment costs being amortized. Also margins on FF sensors were historically substantial and will be falling as the case with every other commodity, so there are all reasons to believe that $100 goal will be achieved sooner rather than later.

You have some data, but draw the wrong conclusion  still fooled by Moore's observation thinking. Costs are decreasing, but slowly (i.e. more units means lower per unit for fixed costs, yeilds may increase but you can't increase yield past 100%, etc.)   The final factor you fail to consider is that 24x36mm sensors cannot be made "single shot" as that exceeds the area+resolution of the stepper reticles.   So making 24x36mm sensors requires MORE steps than smaller sensors (increasing time to process a wafer and decreasing yields.)  Here is where experience and technology are increasing yields but again much more slowly than you get with memory/cpu die shrinkage.

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Erik

Erik,

Your argument about Moore's Law not applying well is correct, but the reticle argument cuts the other way. FF sensors do not intrinsically require more steps to make; they are made in more steps because they are made in small quantities and dedicated tooling is not wothwhile for small volumes.

If FF volumes rise dedicated tooling will be developed, FF sensors will be made in fewer steps, design will be amortized over more units, and cost will drop.

Will price ever reach $100? Forever is a long time but it seems unlikely to me as well. The advantages of FF just do not seem that meaningful to the mass market. Only a small percentage photographers will ever understand, much less care about, depth of field. Very high IQ and low light capability can be achieved with 1", m43, and APS-C.

Falk Lumo goes into this really well in http://www.falklumo.com/lumolabs/articles/equivalence/ff.html

He has the following graphic, backed up well by theory:

http://www.falklumo.com/lumolabs/articles/equivalence/ff.html

All said, I can imagine FF costs dropping to $200 - $300 in the next five years if the entry-level FF cameras take off and volumes rise greatly. At that point a FF camera selling for $1000 on discount becomes imaginable.

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