Why does Pentax FF have to truly be FF?

Started May 25, 2012 | Discussions
aekn
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Why does Pentax FF have to truly be FF?
May 25, 2012

With all this speculation about Pentax going FF and whether the gorgeous DA Limiteds will or won't work without vignetting, it made me think there has to be some sort of happy medium that would be acceptable to still use the DA lenses. I find it difficult to believe that Pentax would hold prices high on lenses that will potentially have much less appeal when a FF camera was released.

Could a "compromise" FF camera be in the works, with perhaps a 1.1x or 1.2x crop factor? Or would the proposed FF camera automatically compensate for each lens, cropping as needed?

Just speculation on my part, since everyone else seems to be doing so (as we're all entitled).

jimrpdx
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Re: Why does Pentax FF have to truly be FF?
In reply to aekn, May 25, 2012

Only Canon took that route with 1.3x, and I think they've stopped. I don't know of any sensor manufacturers making a 'tweener size now, and I would not expect this to remain a secret.

My preference would be a square sensor with both portrait and landscape crops available in the camera - so I could shoot without swinging my elbow like a basketball / hockey player just to get a tall image. I think a few square ones are out there somewhere..
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viking79
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Re: Why does Pentax FF have to truly be FF?
In reply to jimrpdx, May 25, 2012

jimrpdx wrote:

Only Canon took that route with 1.3x, and I think they've stopped. I don't know of any sensor manufacturers making a 'tweener size now, and I would not expect this to remain a secret.

My preference would be a square sensor with both portrait and landscape crops available in the camera - so I could shoot without swinging my elbow like a basketball / hockey player just to get a tall image. I think a few square ones are out there somewhere..

I agree, I would like a square crop too, or even circular (maybe polygon) and just set the crop later.

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Raist3d
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Probably not because...
In reply to aekn, May 25, 2012

that means a custom sensor. Custom sensor without much volume = expensive = market fail.

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DChalfy
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Re: Why does Pentax FF have to truly be FF?
In reply to aekn, May 25, 2012

It is my opinion and belief that Pentax should go the FF route. I think it would be a mistake to go with an in between sensor size especially now that the Pentax K5 is a real competitor in the digital arena, to catch up and remain competitive, they have to go with a FF camera and develop, or revamp a lens series to go with it. Anything less is a waste of time, given the speed of technology and competition in digital photography.

With the Nikon D800 on the market with arguably, the best FF sensor available, Pentax needs to rival that level of performance in its FF sensor to get the edge it needs to command serious attention and new customers. I understand your feelings about the great DA lenses and limited edition lenses and the investment in cost, so why not use the Pentax K5 for them? You will love the results.

As for the aspect ratio, I believe leaving it at 3.2 with a high pixel count is the way to go, otherwise it may dissuade potential users that are not used to that format and cropping. Also, the battery grip (I use one w/my K20D) will take care of discomfort in taking verticals. I love mine, and on a more frivolous note, it gives my camera a cool factor look like some of the top of the line models from other manufacturers.

My dream Pentax DSLR would be a FF Foveon sensor (collaborating with Sigma) at 35mp or higher and a larger variety of that great Pentax glass.

These are my opinions on the subject and I welcome all of yours
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Anastigmat
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Re: Why does Pentax FF have to truly be FF?
In reply to aekn, May 25, 2012

Pentax does not make its own sensors. Therefore, it must buy them from someone else, and it is definitely cheaper to buy them off the shelf rather than have them custom made. They can either pay dearly for an oddball 1.1, 1.2 or whatever format sensor, or buy a Sony full frame sensor.

The best bet is that Pentax will either have a full frame based on the same sensor as the Sony FF inside the D800 or it will not produce a full frame at all. Any other possibility is extremely unlikely.

aekn wrote:

With all this speculation about Pentax going FF and whether the gorgeous DA Limiteds will or won't work without vignetting, it made me think there has to be some sort of happy medium that would be acceptable to still use the DA lenses. I find it difficult to believe that Pentax would hold prices high on lenses that will potentially have much less appeal when a FF camera was released.

Could a "compromise" FF camera be in the works, with perhaps a 1.1x or 1.2x crop factor? Or would the proposed FF camera automatically compensate for each lens, cropping as needed?

Just speculation on my part, since everyone else seems to be doing so (as we're all entitled).

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Akhil
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Re: Why does Pentax FF have to truly be FF?
In reply to viking79, May 25, 2012

I often crop to 1:2 ratio. Cant they make sensors that size ?
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altis
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Re: Why does Pentax FF have to truly be FF?
In reply to aekn, May 25, 2012

Why all this lusting after FF?

Could it be just for the caché of owning a FF camera?

Well consider this:
a) it would more expensive than you could afford;

b) Pentax would have the perfect excuse for crippling any lesser cameras to encourage you to afford it.

And whilst I would love a square-format sensor I can't see the economics of it working. Whilst the feature size of chips is getting ever smaller (i.e. more megapixels), chip area still costs money. A square-format sensor would have 1.5 times the area of a normal 3:2 sensor. That's quite a hit in cost just for the convenience of not having to tip your camera. An octagonal sensor would have less area but I don't think the chip makers have the ability to slice up the wafers in anything other than straight lines so there would be no benefit.

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CharlieDIY
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Re: Why does Pentax FF have to truly be FF?
In reply to DChalfy, May 25, 2012

DChalfy wrote:

It is my opinion and belief that Pentax should go the FF route. I think it would be a mistake to go with an in between sensor size especially now that the Pentax K5 is a real competitor in the digital arena, to catch up and remain competitive, they have to go with a FF camera and develop, or revamp a lens series to go with it. Anything less is a waste of time, given the speed of technology and competition in digital photography.

With the Nikon D800 on the market with arguably, the best FF sensor available, Pentax needs to rival that level of performance in its FF sensor to get the edge it needs to command serious attention and new customers. I understand your feelings about the great DA lenses and limited edition lenses and the investment in cost, so why not use the Pentax K5 for them? You will love the results.

As for the aspect ratio, I believe leaving it at 3.2 with a high pixel count is the way to go, otherwise it may dissuade potential users that are not used to that format and cropping. Also, the battery grip (I use one w/my K20D) will take care of discomfort in taking verticals. I love mine, and on a more frivolous note, it gives my camera a cool factor look like some of the top of the line models from other manufacturers.

My dream Pentax DSLR would be a FF Foveon sensor (collaborating with Sigma) at 35mp or higher and a larger variety of that great Pentax glass.

These are my opinions on the subject and I welcome all of yours
--

Except it really doesn't matter: Pentax has said they are not going full frame. They do admit to "thinking" about it. I admit to "thinking" about being under 40 again. It ain't gonna happen in either case. The arguments against Pentax FF have been cogently made in recent threads., but begin with the lack of modern glass and go on from there.

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cmeier
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Re: Why does Pentax FF have to truly be FF?
In reply to aekn, May 25, 2012

aekn wrote:

Could a "compromise" FF camera be in the works, with perhaps a 1.1x or 1.2x crop factor? Or would the proposed FF camera automatically compensate for each lens, cropping as needed?

If anything, when they first decided on crop factor, I think they should have gone with √2, that is, approximately 1.41.

It's close enough to 1.54 or whatever the typical crop factor is, and would make all calculations easier: with such a crop factor, a sensor has half the area of FF, captures half the light (= -1 stop), a 35 lens has the FOV of a 50 on FF, etc.

As others have pointed out it's probably too expensive for Pentax to get a custom-sized run of sensors, though.

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CharlieDIY
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Re: Why does Pentax FF have to truly be FF?
In reply to altis, May 25, 2012

altis wrote:

Why all this lusting after FF?

Could it be just for the caché of owning a FF camera?

Well consider this:
a) it would more expensive than you could afford;

b) Pentax would have the perfect excuse for crippling any lesser cameras to encourage you to afford it.

And whilst I would love a square-format sensor I can't see the economics of it working. Whilst the feature size of chips is getting ever smaller (i.e. more megapixels), chip area still costs money. A square-format sensor would have 1.5 times the area of a normal 3:2 sensor. That's quite a hit in cost just for the convenience of not having to tip your camera. An octagonal sensor would have less area but I don't think the chip makers have the ability to slice up the wafers in anything other than straight lines so there would be no benefit.

I agree, except that I believe the manufacturers could develop the gear to slice, or grow, octagonal wafers, but, sheest, the cost! Higher even than the square sensor, I'd imagine.

I'm not exactly sure what's wrong with APS-C: I sell my editorial photos without a problem using APS-C cameras. I take shots that result in 16x20 prints, or larger, with frequency, and 11x14 crops are easily made--this with a K20D.

I wouldn't buy a full frame camera if it were offered, regardless of the cachet. I like a camera that feels substantial, but FF is a little more substantial feeling than I feel a need for now; glass, glass, glass is expensive. Too, there are already several relatively low cost (3K and down) FF cameras already on the market, with truly extensive lines of lenses. If I need it, it's there, and I wouldn't be sitting around waiting for my 100th birthday in the hopes Pentax, or someone, would make a lens I needed. The lens would already exist, in brand name or third party versions.

I very much doubt that with their volume Pentax could price match the lower priced full frame digital SLRs already on the market, too. Pentax's strength has always been to offer more quality and more features for the same or lower prices, so....

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aekn
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Re: Why does Pentax FF have to truly be FF?
In reply to cmeier, May 25, 2012

I wasn't implying the sensor need be 1.1, 1.2, etc., but that Pentax could use an off-the-shelf Sony full frame sensor and adjust the crop accordingly when using DA lenses to make them viable.

Maybe I'm not understanding how sensor technology works, but if the vignetting is only slight at full frame, a 1.1 or 1.2 crop of a full frame sensor might just be enough.

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Joseph S Wisniewski
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Canon and Leica 1.3x crop sensors...
In reply to jimrpdx, May 25, 2012

jimrpdx wrote:

Only Canon took that route with 1.3x, and I think they've stopped.

You are correct.

I don't know of any sensor manufacturers making a 'tweener size now, and I would not expect this to remain a secret.

Leica M8 and the DMR digital back for R8 and R9.

There is a reason these cameras existed. 1.3x, about 19x28mm, is the biggest chip that can be done in a single shot on common IC "steppers", the machines that put the masks on chips. Every sensor manufacturer on the planet can do that, relatively economically.

To go beyond 1.3x, the IC fab needs to "stitch" sensors, and the technology to do that is complex and expensive. Kodak (sensor business sold to Platinum and now doing business as "Truesense") and Philps (sensor business sold to DALSA, and then to Teledyne) and Atmel (sensor business shut down) could do it at aerospace prices, but those businesses all failed.

Canon, Sony, Fill Factory (sensor business sold to Cypress), and CMOSIS can do it affordably. I think Sony is the only one in that list who'd deal with Pentax.

My preference would be a square sensor with both portrait and landscape crops available in the camera

24mm square is possible, and doable on existing steppers without stitching. It's the largest square sensor you can have without a lens redesign, or going fully mirrorless. Either of those options would kill Pentax.

  • so I could shoot without swinging my elbow like a basketball / hockey player just to get a tall image. I think a few square ones are out there somewhere..

It's a recipe for market failure. Rollei went under, got bought, went under, got bought, and went under again, this time permanently. Blad is doing the same thing. Instamatic vanished overnight when 35mm based P&S cameras hit. The 24mm square Zeiss Ikon failed.

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viking79
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Re: Why does Pentax FF have to truly be FF?
In reply to Akhil, May 25, 2012

Akhil wrote:

I often crop to 1:2 ratio. Cant they make sensors that size ?

That is why I would want a somewhat circular sensor, make the most of the image circle. You could crop any way vertically, horizontal, square, etc and get the most of the area.

Eric
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viking79
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Re: Why does Pentax FF have to truly be FF?
In reply to aekn, May 25, 2012

aekn wrote:

I wasn't implying the sensor need be 1.1, 1.2, etc., but that Pentax could use an off-the-shelf Sony full frame sensor and adjust the crop accordingly when using DA lenses to make them viable.

Maybe I'm not understanding how sensor technology works, but if the vignetting is only slight at full frame, a 1.1 or 1.2 crop of a full frame sensor might just be enough.

I am sure they would do that, allow you to use DA lenses on the full frame with either vignetting or autocropping (this is what Nikon does with their full frame cameras). Canon is the only one that made a unique mount for EF-S lenses (I think they stick into the body further).

However, if you are going to use a full format sensor, you might as well not crop at all and let users crop if they want to use DA lenses.

Eric
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D A LeBlanc
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Re: Why does Pentax FF have to truly be FF?
In reply to CharlieDIY, May 26, 2012

CharlieDIY wrote:

altis wrote:

Why all this lusting after FF?

And whilst I would love a square-format sensor

I'm not exactly sure what's wrong with APS-C:

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Nothing wrong with APS-C, my lust for a FF Pentax is so I can use my Limiteds as they were meant to be used. I much prefer their FOV on my 35mm *ist than my *istD.

My dream DSLR would have a square FF sensor, but that's never going to happen with a Pentax badge on it.

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BobORama
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Re: Why does Pentax FF have to truly be FF?
In reply to aekn, May 26, 2012

An integrated or removable focal reducer would allow FF glass to work on APS-C, and provide all the benefits of FF including the difference in DoF. With modern glasses and coatings, the impact on IQ would be small, And smart software could easily fake the decrease in effective aperture and FL.

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Joseph S Wisniewski
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You nailed it, except...
In reply to BobORama, May 26, 2012

Well, you certainly nailed it, except for one or two minor details...

BobORama wrote:

An integrated or removable focal reducer would allow FF glass to work on APS-C, and provide all the benefits of FF including the difference in DoF.

Removable focal reducers are blocked by a Kodak patent.

Integrated focal reducers do not bring the "difference in DoF" because they have severe aperture limitations. Remember the Nikon/Fujix E2?

With modern glasses and coatings, the impact on IQ would be small, And smart software could easily fake the decrease in effective aperture and FL.

Odd that something that software "could easily fake" has yet to be accomplished.

That's probably because increasing apparent background blur is a "one to many" mapping problem, and is intrinsically not solvable, no matter how "smart" the software is.

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Rod McD
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Re: What about non-Bayer sensors?
In reply to aekn, May 26, 2012

Hi,

Who makes the Fuji non-Bayer sensor? If it is Fuji themselves, as I've understood (but could be wrong), there is the demonstration of the development of a new sensor technology by a company that is not a major in either camera sales or sensor sales relative to Canon, Nikon, Sony, Oly or Panasonic......

I don't know whether any of you have been checking out the Fuji XP1 and its 18mpx non-Bayer APSC sensor. The output appears to be excellent. Fuji claim that it delivers FF IQ. One of my friends agrees with them - argues that his XP1 delivers better images than his 21mpx FF Canon 5D Mk11. There are plenty of Fuji forum posts comparing it with FF Leica images. I think it's still early days for this sensor, but the signs are good. I have no ability to know whether Fuji would ever make their technology available for sale to another company (eg Pentax) but who knows? Maybe it's an avenue to improve IQ within an APSC framework?

On a different subject, and FWIW, I would hate a square sensor. I could never live with a 'Blad. I see the world with two horizontally offset eyes and wouldn't want anything squarer than 645. And the thought of being compelled to shoot square and consider the crop on every shot I took would be an awful addition to downloading.

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Luis Fonseca
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Cypress and CMOSIS sensors, why not?
In reply to Joseph S Wisniewski, May 26, 2012

Joseph S Wisniewski wrote:

Canon, Sony, Fill Factory (sensor business sold to Cypress), and CMOSIS can do it affordably. I think Sony is the only one in that list who'd deal with Pentax.

Cypress and CMOSIS are, according to their own site, hold by investment groups.

Why would they deal with Ricoh/Pentax?

Ricoh is one of the largest copiers manufacturer and they are partially owned by Hitachi (a company that makes Canon look like a small business :-D)

And what about Samsung? Are the ties totally broken?

From a company's point of view, it is not always the best idea to rely on one supplier only for a critical part of the product.

Have fun,
Luis

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