Some info on the 24 MP Nikon - from a Sony engineer

Started Oct 29, 2008 | Discussions thread
Thom Hogan Forum Pro • Posts: 13,660
Re: Two inconsistencies...

sugar wrote:

This policy doesn't make any sense. It would force Nikon to develop a line of sensors (like the D700 sensor), and Sony will lose the only competetive advantage they have (economies of scale thanks to the Nikon volumes). This is a dead-end street...

Absolutely correct. Let's consider just a bit of reality here. Sony Semiconductor's latest results and forecasts for semiconductors, for instance. FY07 = 850b yen, FY08 forecast = 650b yen. That's correct, a 24% decline in sales. So sure, they're really in the mood to lop off even more of their key clients to help protect a product that will sell a hundred thousand units and move their division's results not a blip (less than 1% best case).

Moreover, if Sony forces Nikon to make its own high resolution FX sensor, the APS game is over for Sony Semiconductor. Deploying that same FX technology into APS is a no brainer with little cost to Nikon. With that, there would go most of Sony Semi's APS production, meaning the cost to Sony Imaging for APS sensors would have to go up.

Joseph S Wisniewski wrote:

"They" would get fired for making such a "claim" in a place where it
could be quoted and passed on.

Actually, it's worse than that. If there's actual evidence that such a claim was made and it is false, someone who has official capacity at Sony making it would open Sony up to a nasty lawsuit. Such a claim would almost certainly be held by a court to be malicious, and punitive damages suddenly become possible.

Even if the claim was true, making it in the context of a contact with a potential customer gets a little tricky, legally.

If I heard one of my employees making such a claim (true or not) in that context, I'm not 100% sure I'd fire them (though I'd be tempted to do so on the spot), but I'd be absolutely certain to make sure that there was punishment involved and that the issue and resolution got put into the company personnel records. While that may seem counter to what you think a company should do, the defense is that the company reacted immediately and with severity any time an INDIVIDUAL within the company did something out of line.

that they convinced the sensor
division at Sony (the folks at PhotoPlus were camera designers) NOT
to sell the A900 sensor to anyone, in order to build Sony's camera
market share.

Sony Semiconductors has a multi-decade history of doing exactly the

Yep. And really, am I to believe that one of the A900's designers was at PhotoPlus giving interviews in English to anyone that walked up?

Looking at the results Nikon D300 and Sony A700 deliver from the same
sensor, it's pretty obvious who's getting the preferential treatment
from the sensors group.

I think that's going to far. What I see is that Sony's design team doesn't yet know how to optimize conversion in camera.

Pretty much the only time you ever see Sony products featuring an
exclusive bit of Sony Semiconductor technology is after that tech has
been shopped around to all the other camera companies and rejected.
That's why we end up with Sony "powerhouse" exclusives like the RGBE
sensor on the 828 or the industry shaking R1.

Careful now. The sensor in the R1 was based on a Nikon design, used in the D2x.

This is pretty much true in industries from consumer electronics to
automotive: the relationship between internal customers and internal
suppliers is always tense, at best.

Except at Microsoft ; ) Softies always come first.

Canon's been doing this for years,

Canon doesn't sell sensors outside.

Well, Canon learned the hard way about licensing tech outside with the laser printer.

But Sony's in a difficult position with sensors, having already openly licensed them. For one thing, their business model is now based upon that. This year's capital expenditures (as in new fabs, is 110b yen. You don't need the same capital investment if you're only making things for your own products. Even Fujifilm learned that ; ).

Here's the thing, though: the future of imaging is the sensor. Right now the key volume player is Sony, the second level volume players are Canon, Panasonic, Kodak, Fujifillm, and a handful of others. Nikon has been an opportunistic player. But if you press Nikon, Nikon will become a more major player, and rapidly. This, coupled with Canon's likely eventual switch to their own sensors for compacts could take away 30m units a year from Sony if Sony's not careful.

The problem is that Sony can't have it both ways. Unfortunately, they're trying to and slowly failing. It's not going to happen because in terms of unit volume digital cameras are Sony Consumer Electronics largest volume item, but they really should have taken the "Sony Inside" approach ala Intel. Unfortunately, they got greedy, and that's no longer possible. But the opposite is impossible, too: Sony sensors only in Sony cameras. What I see is that the whole house of cards is starting to wobble.

In what way? Risk the 4 million SLR customer (Nikon)

Actually, I think more would be at risk than SLR sensors. I can think of all kinds of approaches I'd want to investigate if I were Nikon and got a cold shoulder from Sony Semi on anything. Those 8m Coolpix need a juicing, and I think that the Fujifilm sensor looks mighty interesting in that respect. Not that Fujifilm understands what it would take to get someone else to license their sensors (they've tried, but at too high a price too late).

"Both"? Samsung and Panasonic also make DSLR sensors.

So does Kodak and Foveon. So does Nikon ; ). Frankly, anyone with a reasonable sensel can make DX or FX sensors. The question has always been at what price and with what quality? Sony has won on "lower price" and "good quality."

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Thom Hogan
author, Complete Guides to Nikon bodies (19 and counting)

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