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Canon still pursuing Foveon-style multi-layer sensor design

By dpreview staff on May 23, 2013 at 18:32 GMT

Canon has patented a color-sensitive multi-layered sensor design, showing the company is still pursuing the technology. Like Sigma's Foveon chips, the multi-layered design allows each of the sensor's pixels to capture color information without the need for colored filters. The patent, discovered by the Japanese Engineering Accomplishment blog, suggests a system to promote resonance within the sensor, in an attempt to make the lower layers of the sensor more sensitive.

The Canon patent includes a structure (40) designed to induce resonance within the sensor, in an attempt to boost sensitivity to red light.

Canon already uses a two-layer sensor in the iFCL metering system introduced with the EOS 7D, to make it color aware. At present only Sigma, with its Foveon technology, uses a multi-layer design as its main imaging sensor. The principle is that different colors of light have different energies, allowing them to penetrate to different depths within a sensor. Existing designs have not been able to offer the same degree of light sensitivity as more conventional, filtered sensors - at least partly because the red can be lost in the sensor, rather than being recorded.

Canon's iFCL metering sensor (as first used in the EOS 7D), uses a two-layer design to provide an understanding of the color, as well as the brightness, of a scene.

Although the fine detail is not clear (a combination of being written in repetitive 'patentese' and in Japanese means it doesn't lend itself to precise machine translation), it seems Canon's design uses a physical structure that causes light to resonate within the sensor, increasingly the likelihood of the red light being captured.

Canon is not alone in working on layered sensors - Sony has also published several patents in the area, hoping to avoid the risk of color moire and loss of color resolution that exist in the conventional Bayer design. (from Egami blog)

Comments

Total comments: 165
Hg Wells
By Hg Wells (1 month ago)

I love my DP2 and SD15 Sigma cameras. I'm holding my breath that the replacement for the current SD1 will be something priced within reason. I don't use my Canon equipment anymore except to loan or as a backup. Some of the Sigma lenses are the equal or better of many of Canon's – and I've got quite a number of (pro) Canon lenses. While Sigma is far from perfect yet and, as with any camera system, not every photo is acceptable, some of my best photos have been coming from Sigma equipment. I'm not likely to change from Sigma soon. Sadly, as others have said, the support for its RAW format is horrendous. (Apple, get your act together and support the format.) I've also not always been happy with low light performance – but I see that improving now. One does have to be patient with its idiosyncrasies. But, for me, the rewards when it really nails it, are worth it. I think the change in management there a while back may be helping.

Comment edited 2 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
Erik Ohlson
By Erik Ohlson (2 months ago)

"Foveon" is probably the biggest botched idea of the past decade.
Such a great idea, such a fumbled development. 'Sigh'.

0 upvotes
Scottelly
By Scottelly (2 months ago)

Huh? Where do you get THAT idea? Nothing except the expensive Nikon D800 and even more expensive cameras can compete. (Except now Sony seems to be offering their new A7r, which may be able to compete too.) The DP Merrill cameras are under $1,000 and offer image quality previously available only in DSLR cameras that were $2,000 or more (plus the cost of a lens).

"To get the most from the DP2M will require not just patience (hesitant AF, slow buffer writes, lousy raw software, wobbly screen image, etc) but the willingness to put these aside in exchange for what is delivered – the highest image quality from any camera this side of a 36MP+ DSLR or Medium format camera or back. No mincing words. That's what I see." - http://www.luminous-landscape.com/reviews/cameras/sigma_dp2m_review.shtml

Is this why you say fumbled? (Since nobody else bought the Foveon company, Sigma did. Canon and Nikon should have been frothing at the mouth at the opportunity, but they dropped the ball.)

1 upvote
kay bhee
By kay bhee (6 months ago)

is price the reason they dont buy Foveon chips instead ?
or pride, that they can do better image quality than foveon ?
what is reason they dont buy or use foveon ?
i mean, really, straight to the point ?

0 upvotes
Scottelly
By Scottelly (2 months ago)

Foveon chips are actually cheaper to make. It would have been risky to buy into the Foveon concept, but Canon could have afforded it. Things would be much different if they had. Imagine a special full-frame Canon 1Df with a 90 megapixel (30x3) Foveon sensor? It would be spectacular!

0 upvotes
Denis James Evans
By Denis James Evans (8 months ago)

I'm a physicist. Resonance doesn't sound like a good idea for photography. Highly frequency selective. It was used in early short wave radios but abandoned shortly after - superheterodyne. Maybe they can patent these old ideas for photography! Everything old is new again!

1 upvote
grain_2_pixel
By grain_2_pixel (11 months ago)

Dear Scorpius1,
I disagree... When dpreview.com was fully reviewing -years ago- SD-14, had posted a number of portrait shots (faces), with significant skin details and color fidelity ! Unfortunately, I did not find the 'samples' option today, in order to mention the link... Sorry!

1 upvote
iae aa eia
By iae aa eia (11 months ago)

will this one serve?

http://www.dpreview.com/products/Sigma/slrs/sigma_sd1/sample-photos

0 upvotes
Scorpius1
By Scorpius1 (11 months ago)

Foveon is great for lansacpe and architecture but I think it's a little harsh for portraits and fashion,the skin tones are less appealing than those from a Bayer sensor..

2 upvotes
zodiacfml
By zodiacfml (11 months ago)

it's just the default processing of SPP, or simply the sharpness/clarity/contrast settings.

4 upvotes
yabokkie
By yabokkie (11 months ago)

Foveon is great for nonthing.
it's a negative property that Sigma should sell/write off.

Comment edited 34 seconds after posting
0 upvotes
Chuck Lantz
By Chuck Lantz (11 months ago)

Ha, ha and ha.

0 upvotes
yabokkie
By yabokkie (11 months ago)

> Foveon is great for lansacpe and architecture

stacking the sensors significantly reduces resolution which is a weak point by design, though I agree new SDs can compete against 20+MP APS-C cameras in resolution in good light and that's it.

Comment edited 3 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
audijam
By audijam (8 months ago)

okay yabokkie-san

1 upvote
Scottelly
By Scottelly (2 months ago)

I suspect the new Quattro sensor is going to kick-ass even more than the Merrill sensor. Just as a side note - I have never seen a sharp image from a CFA sensor camera that can compete with the images from the Merrill sensors in noise and sharpness, when the images are shot at ISO 100-800. At ISO 1600 the full-frame CFA sensors start to become truly competitive.

0 upvotes
halc
By halc (11 months ago)

How about single quantum wells that measure the energy of the photon(s), instead of multiple layers.

One day it will be reality: single layer, no diffusion/diffraction loss, no triple sensors, just one sensor type.

0 upvotes
yabokkie
By yabokkie (11 months ago)

the pitches will be at 10nm level, the state of art feature size at the moment.

0 upvotes
Sdaniella
By Sdaniella (11 months ago)

folks have to remember triple layer for triple color capture for imagery has been around as long as the film era (kodachrome involves triple layers too), so it isn't a brilliant step to translate 'triple layer capture' from light sensitive film emulsion to electronic light sensors for 'digital film'. all that's happened is going from analog to digital, nothing more. key is, there are umpteen ways to do it, but only a few will be effective.

sdyue

2 upvotes
zodiacfml
By zodiacfml (11 months ago)

wow. thanks for the reminder but you make it sound that layers of pixel technology is just trying mimic film . a good background for you to read is how the Foveon company started.

0 upvotes
yabokkie
By yabokkie (11 months ago)

> but only a few will be effective.

none at the moment, nor in the near future.

2 upvotes
jaygeephoto
By jaygeephoto (11 months ago)

Makes me wonder what if; Kodak who used to employ the best, brightest and most innovative talent in the world (physicist, chemical engineers, etc.) had been able to shift their focus from conventional silver based imaging to this, what they would have come up with. Corporate hubris and arrogance took them to where they are today. The next sensor breakthrough will most likely be a type of technology that is yet to be discovered - perhaps nanobots doing some sort of atomic level assembly. Who knows. Whatever it is it's not going to come from Asia or Europe.

0 upvotes
intro
By intro (11 months ago)

No, it's gonna come from USA. There will be at least one movie about it, the president will fly a plane and kick a$$. The end. And coming soon.

Good to know Canon is thinking about something in sensor department. Wish them luck.

3 upvotes
Alex Permit
By Alex Permit (11 months ago)

Kodak didn't fail because it missed the digital age. It actually invented the first digital camera in 1975. It brought to market the first professional camera, the DCS-100, in 1991. The QuickTake had an Apple label but were produced by Kodak in 1994. In 2001 Kodak held the No. 2 spot in U.S. digital camera sales, behind Sony. Over the years, Kodak put billions of dollars behind digital imaging. But ultimately hit an obstacle it couldn't overcome. At its core, it wasn't a camera or consumer electronics company. Companies can change what they do, but they rarely can change who the are.

5 upvotes
Dimitris Servis
By Dimitris Servis (11 months ago)

Truth is "it is it's not going to come from Asia or Europe" because, frankly, the US is the best in putting technology in the market. But "the best, brightest and most innovative talent in the world" will come from Asia or Europe :P

0 upvotes
budi0251
By budi0251 (11 months ago)

Speaking about sensor is like being back in the old days when the talks around Ektachrome, Velvia, Illford, Agfa, etc....
Camera bodies didn't really matter, it did when new tech appear, ie. IS, AF, Toughness, Motor, Meter, etc.

Fast forward today, here we are again, talking about the newest, latest, most advanced, brand new tech & ideas.

Comment edited 9 minutes after posting
1 upvote
JJ Rodin
By JJ Rodin (11 months ago)

For a given sensor resolution the Foveon is essentially beyond comparison in IQ, if the sometimes green cast is not present they are the best photos I have ever seen at 100% or less.

Saw a back-to-back of Sigma DP1 M vs 5DIII shot at same time and the sigma beat the 5dIII easily!

The shots are easily used up to 100% and still look fabulous, almost 3D, plus the fixed FL of DP1M was VERY sharp, better than the 'L' lens the lady used for the comparison.

Hi ISO is not great but then I don't use them! Sigma s/w is not great either, but.....

DP1/2/3M are pricey but then so are the RX1, etc large sensor fixed lens very compact cams.

Hope Canon can pull it off, lots of good benefits!

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 2 minutes after posting
8 upvotes
MarkInSF
By MarkInSF (11 months ago)

The potential benefits have been known forever. Foveon is a badly flawed first implementation, impressive mainly because it was developed so quickly into an actual product, if a flawed one.

1 upvote
glacierpete
By glacierpete (11 months ago)

I have a DP2M and this badly flawed first implementation does produce incredible images, perfect for landscape, travel and architecure.
A new sensor technology is long overdue, and I applaud Sigma(Foveon), Canon and Sony(patent) for their innovative work on multi-layered sensor design.

Comment edited 1 minute after posting
3 upvotes
Zig Ermeson
By Zig Ermeson (11 months ago)

I hope Canon will be successful. But I never understood all the bashing Sigma got for their innovative Foveon sensor, despite it's quirks and shortcomings.

4 upvotes
MarkInSF
By MarkInSF (11 months ago)

Sigma only deserves credit for buying it and keeping it alive, not for developing the technology. Maybe a little of the later improvement, but I think most of that predated Sigma's acquisition. If there had been a big company behind it the technology would have either improved a lot more or been abandoned. Only a smaller company like Sigma would just keep turning out a few for a specialty product.

0 upvotes
Jimmy jang Boo
By Jimmy jang Boo (11 months ago)

This is a smart move for Canon. Instead of pussyfooting with old ideas/the inherent limitations of the Bayer filter, it's nice to see that at least Canon and Sigma know that real innovation means forging ahead with new and better ideas.

0 upvotes
ManuelVilardeMacedo
By ManuelVilardeMacedo (11 months ago)

Canon innovating? Now that's what I call a surprise...

4 upvotes
Joseph S Wisniewski
By Joseph S Wisniewski (11 months ago)

Yeah. It's not like they came up with the locally buffered CMOS sensor or anything.

Or the first practical stabilization system.

Or a usable ring ultrasonic motor, as well as the first really usable micromotor AF. (That's a minor innovation. All it did was displace Nikon as the number one camera maker).

Or the first DSLR liveview (on the 20Da).

Or tying with Nikon for the first movie mode.

14 upvotes
Devendra
By Devendra (11 months ago)

"First" locally buffered CMOS sensors? seriously?
"First" DSLR with live view? The award goes to Olympus in E-10
"First" Practical stabilization system? The award goes to Nikon. On a lens with Nikon patent, yeah maybe to Canon
USM motor with tons of jargon tossed in- yeah maybe to canon

To continue with your "or"s
Or focusing on movie/video than still cameras in the last 2-3yrs
Or still using rebranded 5yr old sensors in cosmetic upgraded bodies
Or having ways for its users to justify new camera upgrades are worth while
I suppose.. those take talent.

(Note: I hope they seriously update this foveon tech and come up with a practical solution, but until then aptima or sony or samsung or panasonic or.. scores of others will continue to trounce canon' sensors)

Comment edited 4 minutes after posting
13 upvotes
bronxbombers4
By bronxbombers4 (11 months ago)

@Joseph - I think they only did that for USM. And everything you mention is from the older era not the recent sit back and milk and wait.

1 upvote
JadedGamer
By JadedGamer (11 months ago)

I think the E-10 gets "ignored" as a DSLR because it did not have interchangeable lenses, just the one 35-140 fixed to the body.

0 upvotes
Mahmoud Mousef
By Mahmoud Mousef (11 months ago)

Google CANON ION.
The first camera that made me dream of a world without film.

Canon LIDE
First slim scanners that worked on just a USB cable (great low-power tech).

Canon Bubblejet
Dominated the inkjet printer market for a while; probably still do; though I'd hate to give credit to printer companies for ripping us all off and adding to the monumental amount of e-waste as people opt for new printers rather than fixing up their dried-up printers or paying for overpriced ink...

Regardless, Canon innovates and does it well.

1 upvote
MarkInSF
By MarkInSF (11 months ago)

I don't think Canon ever dominated the inkjet market. They developed the first practical thermal inkjet technology (an idea many had worked on), but HP beat them to market with their own slightly different design and Canon never caught up. Not too long after, Epson developed the superior piezoelectric technology and became the main competitor for HP. Canon has made some very nice printers, but could have dominated.

0 upvotes
Mahmoud Mousef
By Mahmoud Mousef (11 months ago)

I don't know what the market share stats are like but at one stage early after bubblejets were introduced, it seems like all I could see were bubblejets (for several years).

Regardless, I still think they make great printers (and scanners, and cameras...). They were far ahead in scanners for many years, right to the point they started integrating them in printers. They still make separate scanners using LIDE technology.

Comment edited 4 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
JEROME NOLAS
By JEROME NOLAS (11 months ago)

We'll see what Canon can make out of this...

0 upvotes
DVT80111
By DVT80111 (11 months ago)

Whatever, Canon needs to do something different.

0 upvotes
PhotoKhan
By PhotoKhan (11 months ago)

If it can offer any technical advantages without the "guess-what-color-when-and-how" surreal kaleidoscope amusingly offered by Sigma and hilariously ignored by SigmaFovFans, then, yes, let's see it!

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 2 minutes after posting
4 upvotes
cinemascope
By cinemascope (11 months ago)

So lets calculate and make up 2/3 of what colour-when-and-how and then of course just photoshop to make it pleasing again because oh my god bayer is so accurate but I just cant stand it.
Bayer is accurate but what is the point if straight out of camera shots are so dull and flat and lack life? I have both cameras and Foveon may be innacurate but its full of life and it sparkles, all without the Photoshopping crap.

8 upvotes
AlpCns2
By AlpCns2 (11 months ago)

Odd, then, that several of the worlds most respected pros describe the new Foveon sensor results as "spectacular" and even compare it to medium format. I've personally seen similar responses and results. Maybe your experience is with the older designs.

9 upvotes
zodiacfml
By zodiacfml (11 months ago)

@cinemascope
agreed. processing a nicely exposed Foveon RAW file, just takes an increase in saturation and I'm done. with conventional cameras though, i'll just never get what i want since I'm limited to Lightroom and I have no mastery with it.

2 upvotes
AbrasiveReducer
By AbrasiveReducer (11 months ago)

Strip away the arrogance and this is like saying folks like Velvia but that's because they don't know how color is supposed to look.

Comment edited 47 seconds after posting
1 upvote
Kendall Helmstetter Gelner
By Kendall Helmstetter Gelner (11 months ago)

The only time there is a "kaleidoscope" is when you are looking at an image with a lot of colors. The camera tracks colors better than most:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/kigiphoto/8729980521/sizes/o/in/set-72157633459763493/

I've also done a number of model shoots with other photographers, and the Sigma ends up being more accurate than most other cameras in the resulting shots.

2 upvotes
PhotoKhan
By PhotoKhan (11 months ago)

My experience is from seeing some really, REALLY puzzling users samples in the Sigma forum.

It has come to a point where I seriously consider it would be interesting having a scientific study to see if there's any correlation between color blindness and Sigma users (prevalence amongst men is about 8%, women 0,5%).

I do know there are professionals using Sigma cameras. I also do know that are few of them. I especially do not know how troublesome is their workflow, in order to achieve accurate colors.

Saying there's something lacking in Bayer sensors is just a a manifestation of the surreal superiority complex SigFovFans love to pet.

In their quest for intangible "different" qualities they don't even care it doesn't make any sense.

Given the sheer, gigantically overwhelming number of superior, superior output coming out of cameras equipped with those sensors from professionals and amateurs all over the world, it is a bit like saying that pizza lacks savory characteristics.

0 upvotes
bobestremera
By bobestremera (11 months ago)

How will the high ISO performance be on this new style sensor? The DP's are pretty well known for a lot of noise above ISO 400 compared to other modern sensors.

1 upvote
jozhua
By jozhua (11 months ago)

its obvious that there is money to be had with this three layered foveon style sensor and that is why Canon and Sony are pursuing it. that is all. they already have capable cameras with very capable processors and sensors that they can conventionally improve along. time will tell.

1 upvote
zodiacfml
By zodiacfml (11 months ago)

Yes. Current cameras take ISO 3200 images pretty well with plenty of resolution. Only a few would need better than that. Once, the market is saturated with capable cameras. They will then release these layered sensors and market them as revolutionary and a step forward since they will have 100% pixel sharp images.

1 upvote
Kendall Helmstetter Gelner
By Kendall Helmstetter Gelner (11 months ago)

When you actually look at results from other cameras at ISO 3200, most are not very good. The current Merrill sensors still do a good job of capturing detail at ISO 3200, although they have some color noise as in this ISO 3200 shot:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/kigiphoto/8515712883/sizes/o/in/photostream/

If you shoot for B&W the Merrill sensors can be used up to ISO 6400 at times if you have some well-lit subjects.

0 upvotes
l_d_allan
By l_d_allan (11 months ago)

I think I would be more interested in a Canon dslr with:
* a monochrome sensor,
* an accessory RGB color filter pack for color scenery

1 upvote
Hobbit13
By Hobbit13 (11 months ago)

are you serious?

I can't think of a single reason to drive Canon into producing a monochrome-only camera. Only Leica has made such a stupid move.

9 upvotes
jozhua
By jozhua (11 months ago)

yeah it would be baffling if canon does that but i dont think its stupid for leica to do it.

3 upvotes
christiangrunercom
By christiangrunercom (11 months ago)

Monochrome sensors can provide a level of detail unheard of when using bayer layout sensor, because there is no guesswork involved when render the raw.
Phase One also makes monochrome backs. These are used for scientific applications as well as in some rental studios.

6 upvotes
zodiacfml
By zodiacfml (11 months ago)

Conventional sensors are monochromatic. They just add the color filters on top of it.
Foveon/Merrill sensors can be monochromatic with the use of the latest SPP raw editing software. Search/learn about them if you're into BW.

2 upvotes
Joseph S Wisniewski
By Joseph S Wisniewski (11 months ago)

Monochrome sensors are a stopgap. Somewhere up around 200-400mp (and don't say we won't get there, because we've gone up 20x, from 1.7mp on the first DSLR I ever used to 36mp on my D800) you hit a point where a Bayer pattern extracts essentially all the spatial information you're likely to get from the majority of lenses.

4 upvotes
88SAL
By 88SAL (11 months ago)

I want Nikon to do this :-(

1 upvote
groucher
By groucher (11 months ago)

Same here. The Foveon IQ is incredible. Problem is that they would have to licence the technology from Sigma. The Canon solution appears to be a tweak to the Foveon patent but will it be sufficiently different to avoid infringement?

0 upvotes
dpLarry
By dpLarry (11 months ago)

I do too. Nikon buys most of their sensors, from Sony for (APSC) dslrs and make their own high end sensors for their cameras like D3.

0 upvotes
jozhua
By jozhua (11 months ago)

they do? didn't know that they make their own high end sensors. i thought Canon and Nikon are just using other's sensor and stuff.

0 upvotes
yabokkie
By yabokkie (11 months ago)

I don't care Nikon or Canon, neither Nike nor Casio.
I hope the one who make best lenses can have the best sensors, which is Canon, then Nikon, then Sigma.

1 upvote
dpLarry
By dpLarry (11 months ago)

If Canon or Sony produce multi layered sensor it doesn't need to have that many pixels. Since each pixels records 3 colors of information instead of one..

0 upvotes
zodiacfml
By zodiacfml (11 months ago)

agreed.

0 upvotes
chrisnfolsom
By chrisnfolsom (11 months ago)

Yeah, even Sigma triples the actual pixel number by three for each "pixel" for advertising... I would think that this would allow for larger sensor sites, but not sure if the extra "plumbing" in the sensor might limit some of the sensitivity.

What would the ISO increase be for a non-filtered sensor?

0 upvotes
bronxbombers4
By bronxbombers4 (11 months ago)

It does because you lose luminance resolution otherwise. It takes a lot of processing power to drive since you need to collect 3x from each site instead of once. Now that MP counts are starting to get pretty high for APS-C sensors and processor speeds are getting up there it might make sense to think about going there in a few years though. They will be able to drive say 30*3 counts fast enough and that would make quite an APS-C body, 30MP foveon (90 Bayer MP worth of data to read).

2 upvotes
adrian mctiernan
By adrian mctiernan (11 months ago)

I cannot agree with Larry that multi layered sensors don't need to have that many pixels, as the larger the number of pixels, the better the definition, regardless of how many colours in the pixels. Personally, I am hoping for the foveon type sensor with about 500 mpx at a bit bigger than 645 sensor size, and lenses capable of using all that resolution. Nikon and Canon already have lenses so fine at resolution, that you can use them to print circuit boards. what we want is that kind of detail, but not the £250,000 price ticket they have. I want to print 12 foot wide prints at fine detail, so I could view them at book-reading distance, and still marvel at the individual veins on leaves. It is possible to do, but it will probably be a new company, or one which is at the edge now, but willing to go quality instead of mass-production standards.

1 upvote
noisejammer
By noisejammer (10 months ago)

This comment demonstrates a profound ignorance of optics.
Assume a MF frame - 48 mm x 36 mm, then 500 mp implies pixels that are 1.85 microns square. In principle, it is possible to focus light to this degree but making use of the resolution requires a diffraction limited optic that is faster than f/3. If the instrument was misfocused by 5 microns, the resolution would have fallen to 126 microns.

On achievable optics - $15k telescopes can barely achieve 6 micron spot sizes at f/7 over a MF frame; good luck finding a manufacturer.

0 upvotes
dpLarry
By dpLarry (11 months ago)

If Canon or Sony perfect the Foveon multi layered sensor it'll be really something.

1 upvote
CFynn
By CFynn (11 months ago)

If anyone perfects the Foveon sensor it will be really something.

2 upvotes
MarkInSF
By MarkInSF (11 months ago)

Yes, because no one is working on it. Sigma doesn't have the resources and these other layered sensors are not Foveon sensors. A Foveon sensor relies on the silicon substrate to filter light. There are other layered sensors that do not work the same way at all. Some of those ideas predate the Foveon patents, but have yet to be made into practical sensors.

1 upvote
CarVac
By CarVac (11 months ago)

Having full color detail at every pixel would make good video easier to do...

1 upvote
Joseph S Wisniewski
By Joseph S Wisniewski (11 months ago)

Indeed. That's the main reason to do it (something Sigma never cottoned onto. They should have been the first to put liveview and video in a DSLR, instead of ending up the only company that didn't do it. That's part of how they secured their position as dead last in a field of ten camera makers).

5 upvotes
chrisnfolsom
By chrisnfolsom (11 months ago)

There must be some fundamental issues with the process - yeild, calibration or something if after all these years it has not become viable commercially - it can't all just be marketing and market share. Still waiting for the nano-sensors promised 10 years ago ;)

Also, what are the patent issues here - does Foveon own the right to use silicon depth as a filter on all processes - does Canon have to pay them for their commercial sensor?

Comment edited 2 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
robert1955
By robert1955 (11 months ago)

no - Foveon [Sigma] does not 'own' silicon depth, there was prior art before their patents

0 upvotes
zodiacfml
By zodiacfml (11 months ago)

I do hope Canon produce Foveon-like sensors on their cameras. I'm a big fan of previous Foveon sensors but the camera bodies are very bad.
I mean, the Merrill cameras are very high resolution but the usability is a step backward compared to the previous generation due to notorious battery life, slower write speeds, and still no EVF option. The images themselves aren't compelling due to excessive noise reduction and sharpening and I'm referring to low ISO images.

A lot cheaper Olympus E-PM2 or NEX 3n versus DP Merrill's is a no brainer.

1 upvote
Kendall Helmstetter Gelner
By Kendall Helmstetter Gelner (11 months ago)

Noise reduction is controlled in software, and is not excessive by default. Also default sharpening is much less aggressive than it was the first month the DP-2M was out.. a year or more ago now, your information is plainly old.

You are right it's a no-brainer between the E-PM2 or the Nex3n - either of those are a third the camera the DP cameras are. It's like saying you should get a E-PM2 rather than a D800. The DP cameras are simply in a different high class than those two.

To show you what is possible today with the Merrill sensor cameras, I give you Iceland (all images with original sizes to view):

http://www.flickr.com/photos/kigiphoto/sets/72157633459763493/

Comment edited 3 minutes after posting
5 upvotes
Jon Rty
By Jon Rty (11 months ago)

So cameras that are superior in every way outside of resolution are a third of the DPs? The DPs are good cameras, but they're the very definition of niche cameras.

7 upvotes
jozhua
By jozhua (11 months ago)

I would agree with Zodiac that the usability of the cameras is clearly a step back especially when comparing to todays standards but i really can argue with the IQ. its phenomenal and with a bit of work, you can create amazing images.

the only bit that sucks with sigma cameras is their usability. other than that, i love everything the camera produces. Still if Sigma with their foveon wants to compete, they really need to address that usability aspect.

they already nailed the IQ part anyway. Really dont care with high ISO images, just give me speedy operation, good battery life and i'm sold!

0 upvotes
Dougbm_2
By Dougbm_2 (11 months ago)

Make up your mind ! You are a fan of Foveon sensors but the images aren't compelling!! What??

0 upvotes
zodiacfml
By zodiacfml (11 months ago)

@ Dougbm_2 It is because the previous Foveon sensors are low resolution but the DR, noise, and color are the best during their time, that is, if you're content with the resolution. Current generation Foveon/Sigma sensors are 15MP sensors, which I'm not a fan of. Current Sony sensors are nice though, which I think, it's time for me to move on with Bayer/CFA type.

@Kendall thanks for the images, the ice look nice but they are monochromatic where any camera can. Yet, I don't want to base judgement on flickr site which site which add sharpening to the web sized images and more likely, compressed jpegs. Let's just say you value resolution more than I do which I will never understand. What I understand easily though are the price and camera performance of alternatives such as of the E-PM2, and APS-C, AA filterless such as the Nikon Coolpix A and Ricoh GR.

0 upvotes
jozhua
By jozhua (11 months ago)

i find the GR a compelling buy. size alone and the price are good points to start.

0 upvotes
Marcelobtp
By Marcelobtp (11 months ago)

Kendall your photographs are amazing!
You really deserves this camera!
Truly amazing detail by a 15 mpx camera!

0 upvotes
Kendall Helmstetter Gelner
By Kendall Helmstetter Gelner (11 months ago)

@zodiac: Flickr does nothing to the original size JPG images (which there are for every image), and there are lots of images in there which have color.

I don't value resolution per-se; I value consistency in an image. I don't want the apparent sharpness of detail altering just because of the color it may be, which happens all the time in Bayer sensors.

0 upvotes
AngusCNH
By AngusCNH (11 months ago)

Assume the 7D2.... 1DX2 or 5D4 Using this sensor tech, wounder how much will canon sell the camera.... If it's too expensive, then I will give-up to upgrade instead...

0 upvotes
justmeMN
By justmeMN (11 months ago)

It's nice so see that Canon is working on sensor research, but their next sensor upgrade is likely to be something more conventional.

2 upvotes
Dougbm_2
By Dougbm_2 (11 months ago)

They have been lagging behind Nikon - especially in APS-C sensors for some time. They need to make a leap. But we may not see this for a while I suspect.

1 upvote
Midwest
By Midwest (11 months ago)

Is Canon lagging behind sensors Nikon designs, or which Nikon purchases elsewhere?

1 upvote
JadedGamer
By JadedGamer (11 months ago)

Yes, I am also a bit mystified at this "lagging behind Nikon" when Nikon mostly use Sony sensors... or do Nikon do the design and Sony the manufacturing?

Fuji are ahead of either of Canikon with X-Trans design (you can probably also add their EXR layout as another innovation over the traditional Bayer pattern).

0 upvotes
AluKd
By AluKd (11 months ago)

Nikon designs some of their sensors that are then manufactured by Sony (and Toshiba, if the last info I heard is true), and the ones that aren't completely designed by them, are tweaked.

For instance, the whole processing chain, from ADCs to ASSPs, for the D5100/D7000 is Nikon-designed, and that's why, despite using the same sensor, Sony has worse results.

Sensor tech is just a part of the results we see (and I daresay that Canon lags more in the essential non-sensor part than on the sensor itself - the Bayer filters aren't terribly good, their ACDs introduced a lot of patterned noise et cetera).

0 upvotes
Revenant
By Revenant (11 months ago)

The Nikon designed sensors (eg. D3200, D4) are manufactured by Renesas, not Sony or Toshiba.
Nikon also use sensors by Sony (eg. D5100, D7000, D600, D800), Toshiba (D5200, D7100) and Aptina (Nikon 1 cameras), and how much they had to do with the actual design of those sensors, I have no idea.

0 upvotes
rallyfan
By rallyfan (11 months ago)

I wonder what the IP landscape is like right now in, say, the US or EU on layered sensors etc. I don't think Sigma are worth buying as the Foveon path doesn't seem very attractive in any case.

0 upvotes
Timmbits
By Timmbits (11 months ago)

sounds like a solution where the real problem isn't one

0 upvotes
Joseph S Wisniewski
By Joseph S Wisniewski (11 months ago)

Layered sensors solve problems of video scaling: dramatically increasing low light sensitivity and reducing moire. They also provide the same benefits to liveview.

They simplify AA filter design, as they eliminate color moire, which is much more visually distracting than luminance moire.

The Canon design theoretically should improve low light performance a stop over their color.

2 upvotes
yabokkie
By yabokkie (11 months ago)

> to avoid the risk of color moire and loss of color resolution

neither is an issue when pixel is so small and getting smaller, especially when people start to take LPF/AAF out. they just don't care.

the ultimate issue is efficiency.

0 upvotes
Emacs23
By Emacs23 (11 months ago)

The issue is light loss. With multilayer structure we can minimize it.

Comment edited 10 seconds after posting
1 upvote
yabokkie
By yabokkie (11 months ago)

> with multilayer structure we can minimize it.

the reality is no one can do it yet. stacked sensors have a long way to go before they can compete with color filters.

0 upvotes
Kendall Helmstetter Gelner
By Kendall Helmstetter Gelner (11 months ago)

@yab: In what way to they have "a long way to go" to compete?

http://www.flickr.com/photos/kigiphoto/8549937173/sizes/o/in/set-72157632973750707/

The only area where they are somewhat behind is in high ISO support. But even there they are only behind a handful of expensive cameras.

0 upvotes
yabokkie
By yabokkie (11 months ago)

> the only area where they are somewhat behind is in high ISO support.

the largest gap among many others. makers will go stacked sensor quickly if it is good. like CMOS, which is standard now. stacked sensor is no standard, stupid maybe.

0 upvotes
scrup
By scrup (11 months ago)

So the 18 megapickles will stay a little longer. I think I will update my 40d to one of the current offerings. Its probably another 2 years away before we see a completely new sensor from Canon.

3 upvotes
Dougbm_2
By Dougbm_2 (11 months ago)

MMMM..mega pickles!!

5 upvotes
yabokkie
By yabokkie (11 months ago)

a 18M stacked pixels can resolve way more than 18M color filters.

1 upvote
yabokkie
By yabokkie (11 months ago)

a 18M x 3 stacked "pixel" sensor can resolve much less than 54M Bayer's.

0 upvotes
RichRMA
By RichRMA (11 months ago)

I can hardly wait to see the back-peddling by all those Canon and Nikon users who slagged Foveon in the past.

4 upvotes
Juck
By Juck (11 months ago)

You need a hobby mate.

5 upvotes
RichRMA
By RichRMA (11 months ago)

Your posts seem completely reactionary. Try adding something.

0 upvotes
raincoat
By raincoat (11 months ago)

Foveon is crap. That's why nobody uses it. It's not a secret sauce only Sigma has access to. It's a sauce nobody wants on their buns.

Doesn't mean no future multi-layer sensor design will ever be good. Just means Foveon is still crap. That's why it needs research.

2 upvotes
psn
By psn (11 months ago)

@raincoat: I doubt you'd say that if you really know anything about sensors. Sigma's current Foveon sensor is pretty darn good. It's hard to top it if you're into portraiture and landscape photography.

I suggest you look at some images taken with SD-1 or one of the DP Merrill cameras. Open your eyes and you'll see better.

Comment edited 13 seconds after posting
12 upvotes
Dougbm_2
By Dougbm_2 (11 months ago)

@raincoat:Some of my best images were taken with an SD14. I changed to a Canon 5D for the sake of versatility. At low ISOs the Sigma was better.

2 upvotes
Mescalamba
By Mescalamba (11 months ago)

Well Im glad they try. Tho for now I would be happier if they maybe tried to at least match competition. I hope they try to do that too, cause as far as sensors go, Canon is quite a bit "meh" right now.

6 upvotes
Kendall Helmstetter Gelner
By Kendall Helmstetter Gelner (11 months ago)

Competition is always good...

Comment edited 57 seconds after posting
0 upvotes
AbrasiveReducer
By AbrasiveReducer (11 months ago)

I think Canon would be better served by getting their existing sensors up to the Sony level of quality (I am a Canon user so this is not a fan club thing). On the other hand, just because Sigma can't make a less noisy sensor doesn't mean that Canon can't. Even on my little DP1, if you keep the ISO low, the detail captured is amazing.

3 upvotes
armandino
By armandino (11 months ago)

what makes you think these are competing developments?

2 upvotes
unknown member
By (unknown member) (11 months ago)

It's good to see real sensor innovation, rather than the fake filter innovation passed off as a different sensor (I'm look at you Fujifilm).

3 upvotes
marike6
By marike6 (11 months ago)

Sensor design innovation are "real innovations" if new technologies (X-Trans, Foveon) improve performance in some way. And this is true even if laypeople don't happen to think so.

12 upvotes
Jimmy jang Boo
By Jimmy jang Boo (11 months ago)

Fake filter innovation? It's more like trying to perfect the eight track. Yet technology moves forward--albeit very reluctantly. Canon deserves credit for getting on board while everyone else (but Sigma) continues pussyfooting with old ideas.

Comment edited 37 seconds after posting
4 upvotes
Raist3d
By Raist3d (11 months ago)

This may surprise you but the "fake filter innovation" you mention actually does have its benefits.

2 upvotes
chrisnfolsom
By chrisnfolsom (11 months ago)

So you are saying that trying new things is wrong? I believe the Fuji sensors worked pretty well, but just didn't scale to 18mp sensors and if it wasn't for innovators we would still be happy with 6mp - although the pixel race is more hype then quality when applied to compact cameras.

0 upvotes
CFynn
By CFynn (11 months ago)

Weren't Fuji were also working on Foveon-like layered sensors at one time?

0 upvotes
Gary Dean Mercer Clark
By Gary Dean Mercer Clark (11 months ago)

Sony and Canon had the opportunity to buy Foveon when it was for sale. Foveon had spent millions targeting its designs for use in cell phones. Toshiba was one of the cell phone manufacturers interested in this sensor for it's phones but at the last moment pulled out and went with I believe Sony for its camera phones. At the time, Foveon was desperate for more investors seeking financial backing, promising huge returns at the time, discussing its development of the cell phone camera sensor for toshiba. Toshiba went with Sony cell phone sensors instead & Sigma bought Foveon. The rest is history. The current 46 MP (28-30MP bayer) sensor miniaturization effort foveon aimed towards cell phone market has been incorporated into the current foveon APC sized sensor found in the DPM compact and SD1M DSLRs. The image quality and size rivals full frame cameras like the Nikon D800 which amazes me. If you can stand the humor watch this video on youtube.com http://youtu.be/f3VjyHQiqdE

3 upvotes
audijam
By audijam (11 months ago)

trust me...i love SD1M but only at ISO 400 and under....it's practically not anything good if you need speed. i do own couple of sigma glasses and i love to but when it comes to providing services to clients.....SD1M is not considered by me.

1 upvote
Mescalamba
By Mescalamba (11 months ago)

They didnt buy it cause they want different approach. Sigma clearly showed that it doesnt work as intended.

Unless you can live with base ISO camera. Which I can. Just 99% of photographers cant.

2 upvotes
Kendall Helmstetter Gelner
By Kendall Helmstetter Gelner (11 months ago)

The current Sigma cameras are far from a base ISO camera, as this ISO 3200 shot shows:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/kigiphoto/8515712883/

And with current raw processing having a dedicated B&W pipeline, if you like B&W it can do even better as in this ISO 6400 shot:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/kigiphoto/8509990735/

2 upvotes
PK24X36NOW
By PK24X36NOW (11 months ago)

"Rivals full frame cameras like the D800?!" LOL you are a True Believer aren't you! Even at base ISO, the SD1M doesn't begin to approach the D800. Once you go higher than about ISO 200, it can't even keep up with a 2007 vintage D3 with a mere 12MP Bayer sensor.

Look at the Imaging Resource images side by side, no need to take my word for it!

0 upvotes
Gary Dean Mercer Clark
By Gary Dean Mercer Clark (11 months ago)

Imaging Resources? You've got to be kidding me--Right? Dpreview.com's comparison images are better quality and you can download the RAW files and do your own comparison.
You are entitled to your opinion, but since you don't own or shoot with the Sigma SD1M----its like being an expert about a race car without ever having driven one. You just parrot what others say and look at crappy .jpeg images on a low resolution screen at 100 percent and believe that that is what image quality is all about.
Image quality is about how good the image prints out. You can't really truly judge a camera until you've shot a thousand frames or more with it in my humble opinion. Just go to youtube and watch camera shop video titled D800 Vs DP2M which has the same sensor as the SD1M. The video is very honest and telling regarding this technology. Let me put this politely. You are absolutely wrong about your comments regarding the SD1M. :)

Comment edited 1 minute after posting
0 upvotes
PK24X36NOW
By PK24X36NOW (11 months ago)

No, I'm not kidding. I offer you a comparison of two photos of the same thing under the same controlled conditions, and your response is to point me to a camera shop U-Tube video?! LMAO. I'm not "parroting" what anyone says, I have eyes and can make my own judgments. The SD1M will need another 4 million pixels and a sensor more than twice as big before it will have a chance to "rival" a D800's image quality - and then only for "base" ISO.

I've heard the "you can't know if you don't own/use" argument a thousand times. Can I take it you own a D800? I suspect not, and you should therefore be applying the same logic to yourself.

You need to be more cynical about "camera shop" videos. "Camera shops" are trying to sell you something - like that big pile of Sigma cameras they probably have collecting dust. That would motivate the "camera shop" to oversell the alleged image quality of those (unsold) cameras so that they can generate interest and (they hope) sales.

0 upvotes
G G
By G G (11 months ago)

Nice to see that Canon is doing something serious about sensors.
Anything that makes better use of available light is warmly welcome.

2 upvotes
paulbysea
By paulbysea (11 months ago)

Interesting if Canon can get it to work.

0 upvotes
dual12
By dual12 (11 months ago)

No thanks. I don't need this.

0 upvotes
M Jesper
By M Jesper (11 months ago)

If they release this i would forgive them for using that same 18MP sensor in everything since the beginning of time. And it would explain why it took so darn long ...

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 2 minutes after posting
1 upvote
BeanyPic
By BeanyPic (11 months ago)

A 4th generation 18MP sensor is the same as the 1st generation is it? Research before you type in the future...

8 upvotes
M Jesper
By M Jesper (11 months ago)

So they tweaked it 4 times, show me how much of an improvement that has been i dare you. And don't try to pass off jpeg processing as sensor performance. Research before you type in the future huh... (ps. i wasn't picking a fight, the opposite in fact as this is GOOD news, but congratulations on turning it around.)

Comment edited 2 minutes after posting
7 upvotes
random78
By random78 (11 months ago)

Yes the 4th gene 18MP sensor is pretty much the same as the 1st gen. There has not been any noticeable change or improvement in that sensor

5 upvotes
thx1138
By thx1138 (11 months ago)

Canon is definitely workign on bringing their sensor tech up to speed. They are suffering from having such a large 0.5um process whereas Sony is on 0.18um I beleive and others are 0.25um. I expect the 7D II sensor to be entirely new and the precursor of a high MP FF sensor. But so far as has been said, they have been tinkering at the edges. However, the 1D X sensor does show some real improvements and while it can't match Sony for low ISO DR, it's high ISO performance is astounding and it's shadows can be pushed further than 5D III and it has no banding.

2 upvotes
mr.izo
By mr.izo (11 months ago)

canon should just buy sigma (or at least foveon, sigma ideonst making money with it) and thats that..

1 upvote
gulffish
By gulffish (11 months ago)

Too bad, not quite that simple, I would guess Sigma owns the sensor IP but not absolutely positive. Originally, and still is, produced by National Semiconductor which is now part of Texas Instruments. Good idea but many players at the table.

0 upvotes
Joseph S Wisniewski
By Joseph S Wisniewski (11 months ago)

Foveon stopped having National fab their sensors and switched to Dongbu Electronics way back in 2006. (There was all sorts of interesting talk at the time, including allegations of arson and organized crime involvement).

Intel, National, and Dongbu were just people Foveon had fab chips. They don't own the IP any more than print shop owns the rights to the books they print.

4 upvotes
Kendall Helmstetter Gelner
By Kendall Helmstetter Gelner (11 months ago)

How do you know Sigma is not making any money? They have had quite a lot of success with the DP cameras so far (old and new), and the company is private so you have no way of knowing actual sales.

1 upvote
jozhua
By jozhua (11 months ago)

if Sigma is not making money with foveon cameras, why would they release the merrill ones? does not make sense for a company that can lose a lot.

0 upvotes
Gary Dean Mercer Clark
By Gary Dean Mercer Clark (11 months ago)

Organized Crime and arson? Thats a good one Joseph. How do you guys know that Sigma isn't making money with their Sigma foveon sensored cameras? Once again---IT IS A PRIVATELY HELD COMPANY, NOT A PUBLICLY HELD COMPANY. IT DOES NOT DISCLOSE ANY NUMBERS REGARDING HOW MANY UNITS IT SELLS OR LENSES---EVER. You can speculate all you want but guess what? YOU DON'T KNOW JACK! LOL.

1 upvote
semorg
By semorg (11 months ago)

With so much pixel resolution, the question remains if the color layer technology has any future. That said utilizing resonance to detect a color seems superior to foven models as it should have better sensitivity.

3 upvotes
Kendall Helmstetter Gelner
By Kendall Helmstetter Gelner (11 months ago)

I am looking forward to the non-Foveon layered sensor that has better sensitivity than this ISO 6400 DP2M shot...

http://www.flickr.com/photos/kigiphoto/8509990735/sizes/k/

1 upvote
roy5051
By roy5051 (11 months ago)

Will Canon be paying Sigma for licensing the idea?

0 upvotes
Richard Butler
By Richard Butler (11 months ago)

I doubt it. Because:

1) You can't patent ideas, only practical applications of ideas 2) Because this is about something Sigma's sensors don't do - hence the attempt to patent it.

Comment edited 14 minutes after posting
3 upvotes
Joseph S Wisniewski
By Joseph S Wisniewski (11 months ago)

There was a lot of layered sensor art before Foveon. Sigma's patents are all about the diode structure they use in an effort to lower costs, and the use of the penetration depth vs. wavelength of photons in silicon to do the color separation.

Neither of these things turned out that well. A company with more resources, interested in layered sensors, would do something different.

Comment edited 43 seconds after posting
8 upvotes
Kendall Helmstetter Gelner
By Kendall Helmstetter Gelner (11 months ago)

"Neither of these things turned out that well"

http://www.flickr.com/photos/kigiphoto/8729980521/in/set-72157633459763493

http://www.flickr.com/photos/kigiphoto/8420816763/in/set-72157632628303006

Whatever man.

2 upvotes
Joseph S Wisniewski
By Joseph S Wisniewski (11 months ago)

What's the attitude, Kendall?

I mentioned two things, lowering costs and color separation. Cost wasn't just a failure, it may have been "the" failure, the one that sank Foveon. They used to market their sensors very aggressively to the P&S and cell phone markets on purported cost savings that never materialized. That's the main reason they never got appreciable wins in those fields.

Every last Sigma model has launched at a significantly higher price than any color filter array camera in their class. It's not always been as insane as the launch of SD-1 at $10,000, but the Foveon sensors have never been cost competitive.

And the color you tout is achieved at the cost of an insane amount of math and guesswork. You get good results, now, because you've put a lot of effort into getting there. The average photographer wants good color because of the camera he uses, not "in spite of" it.

Foveon has its strengths, but neither cost nor efficient color separation are among them.

5 upvotes
Kendall Helmstetter Gelner
By Kendall Helmstetter Gelner (11 months ago)

I don't think cost was what prevented Foveon from having greater success. From the stories we hear it was a lot more about other sensor makers (*cough* Sony *cough*) making sure Foveon could not sell to any major players. You can't win if the game is rigged. Lucky for all of us Sigma kept Foveon on the board.

1 upvote
Gary Dean Mercer Clark
By Gary Dean Mercer Clark (11 months ago)

Good point. The AVERAGE photographer wants good color out of the camera? All photographers want good colors out of the camera. So you are saying that there isn't an insane amount of heavy guesswork and math going into those bayer mosaic pattern cmos sensors? I can look at color charts at all the testing sites and see that the Sigma has decent color accuracy. So why is it that bayer sensors get a pass all the time and something is inherently wrong with the Foveon sensor? Have you even every shot with a Sigma SD1M DSLR or DPMerrill series compact camera? I'd like to know because you sure have some very strong opinions that it isn't color accurate enough and myself and others that shoot with it---I even use these to photograph works of art for museums and art catalogs and haven't found ANY problems with color accuracy--EVER.

2 upvotes
yabokkie
By yabokkie (11 months ago)

> I don't think cost was what prevented Foveon from having greater success.

definitely not. it's the technical incapability or the marketing of immature technology that prevents Foveon from success.

0 upvotes
carpediem007
By carpediem007 (11 months ago)

Yes please please please... :-)

I could start using all my nice Canon lenses again.
For now I'm 98% Ricoh GXR with "M Mount"...

2 upvotes
BJL
By BJL (11 months ago)

How about calling this technology "X3", which is the jargon adopted as an industry-standard by CIPA? "Foveon" is just one approach to X3, and not the one that Canon is pursuing, and the "X3" tag is also well-known.

Comment edited 4 minutes after posting
1 upvote
EinsteinsGhost
By EinsteinsGhost (11 months ago)

Or, "RS", as in EXMOR-RS? :D

0 upvotes
Richard Butler
By Richard Butler (11 months ago)

That's why we've said 'Foveon-style' - we think it'll be more broadly recognised than 'X3.' We also stick to 'multi-layer' because Canon's existing multi-layered sensor is effectively an X2 design.

@BLJ - Exmor RS is a totally different technology - it's a conventional Bayer sensor with the light sensitive regions stacked on top of the circuitry - this is a sensor that perceives colour based on the depth to which light penetrates.

Comment edited 3 minutes after posting
2 upvotes
Joseph S Wisniewski
By Joseph S Wisniewski (11 months ago)

I wouldn't call it "Foveon style".

Like I mentioned earlier, there was a lot of layered sensor art before Foveon. Sigma's patents are all about the diode structure they use in an effort to lower costs, and the use of the penetration depth vs. wavelength of photons in silicon to do the color separation. Those two things make a sensor "Foveon style". Do it with Fuji's interlayer organics, Nikon's prisms, Canon's dipoles, etc. and you've got something else.

8 upvotes
Joseph S Wisniewski
By Joseph S Wisniewski (11 months ago)

Even Foveon wasn't satisfied with X3. There's a paper by Dick Merril that calculates six layers as being optimal.

At the rate processing power and memory s growing, I can't see this RGB stuff lingering around too much longer in either filter array or layered sensors. Heck, if Sony hadn't poisoned the well by making suck a botch of RGBE, four colors would probably be the standard by now. Fuji was propagating it across their film line before the film industry imploded and all the R&D money dried up.

Comment edited 54 seconds after posting
7 upvotes
streeteyes
By streeteyes (11 months ago)

Sony and now Canon appear to be pursuing this 'multiple' layered approach to sensor design. And every report that talks about it is always saying XXX is working on a Foveon-like sensor, etc. The thing I wonder is how patentable could it be if the concept for the sensor, despite whatever differences it might have is essentially the same 'in principle' as a Foveon. While I'm not sure whether Bayer arrays are any infringement from one designer to the other I would think anyone who attempts this approach would be breeching Foveon's patents similar to Polaroid success suits against Kodak when they came out with their own 'instant' process.

Comment edited 1 minute after posting
0 upvotes
Joseph S Wisniewski
By Joseph S Wisniewski (11 months ago)

If you read Foveon's patents, you'll see that Foveon owns no patents on the "concept for" a layered sensor. Make a sensor with an alternating PNPN junction structure and Sigma will sue the crap out of you. Make a sensor with three organically isolated PN junctions and Fuji will go after you.

3 upvotes
57even
By 57even (11 months ago)

It would be sweetly ironic, would it not, if the ultimate art in digital sensor design actually used ideas from film emulsion technology :-)

0 upvotes
Kendall Helmstetter Gelner
By Kendall Helmstetter Gelner (11 months ago)

You may be able to do multi-layer sensors a different way than Foveon does. But Sigma deserves a ton a credit because they are shipping cameras today. They are improving the sensor design and raw processing software every day. All of these patents we see from Sony and Canon and others flitting by in the spring breeze in the end are just passing seeds of ideas that have not even planted, or simply patents designed to eliminate an avenue Foveon might take to improve. Meanwhile Sigma is manufacturing chips and doing real practical R&D around working systems.

Given how much work a totally new three layer sensor design would take, and how camera companies are struggling how is it realistic to think that any of them have the money to bring these fragments of ideas into a working mass-market sensor?

2 upvotes
Joseph S Wisniewski
By Joseph S Wisniewski (11 months ago)

> It would be sweetly ironic, would it not, if the ultimate art in digital sensor design actually used ideas from film emulsion technology

What's so ironic about that? A Bayer pattern sensor is "film emulsion technology". It uses organic filters, just like current color filter array sensors (and like the human eye). The Canon, Foveon, Nikon, and Sony layered sensors don't use organic filters.

I has different resolution on its different color layers, again just like film or a human eye. Why is that like film? Because the film makers alter grain size and density on each layer to achieve different densities.

And the grains of one color partially block those of another, so you have a color mosaic.

3 upvotes
chrisnfolsom
By chrisnfolsom (11 months ago)

Has the "resonance" technology been used anywhere before? Is that the tech in the current 7D, or is it using the same basic tech as Foveon?

Also, I would think that if the Foveon tech had a future someone would not have picked it up - with TI perhaps now involved - if TI can't make it work no one can.

I would just like to see some tech changes as it has been a density, speed and power creep for years with only really cmos and bsi creating any real process improvements.

Has anyone tried putting a smaller high density non-bayer sensor array on a prism - like the old video cameras and seeing what happens there - is there much light loss through the prism?

0 upvotes
Kendall Helmstetter Gelner
By Kendall Helmstetter Gelner (11 months ago)

@chris: Someone did pick up Foveon - Sigma. Sigma wholly owns Foveon now, there is no TI or National Semiconductor. And apparently it does have a future because Sigma recently introduced a very large resolution jump in the Merrill sensor, and is still developing the sensor and cameras.

0 upvotes
cquarksnow
By cquarksnow (11 months ago)

Is is possible that Canon does this to retain their audience ? For sure they "spilled the beans" and made Foveon much more ubiquitous with the announcement.
If there was a new tax on non-dead subpixels within a photosite, I would pay it until I become color blind or bored by accutance...

Chris

0 upvotes
Total comments: 165