Why doesn't Canon...

Started Sep 24, 2012 | Discussions thread
bobn2 Forum Pro • Posts: 51,489
Re: prove me wrong then ;-)

antoineb wrote:


No, fiction.

(1) Nikon are just way too small to be able to spend the huge sums on a sensor fab.

Of course Nikon can afford a sensor fab. The make the equipment that is used in sensor fabs. They undoubtedly have prototype fabrication labs in the company, simply for development of their photolithography equipment. On the other hand, unless you have a large and reliable throughput, owning your own fab is poor business, which is why many semiconductor companies such as AMD, Broadcom, Lattice, Marvell, Nvidia, Qualcomm, Realtek, Xilinx and Zoran, and in the Image sensor companies, Omnivision, Foveon, Fujifilm, CMOSIS are fabless.

On the other hand Sony is much larger and can afford such fabs

Who do they buy the equipment from? Nikon. Even Sony uses external fab for a sizeable proportion of their sensors.

(2) the sensor-making business is, like I said, very capital-intensive.

Not if you take a sensible fabless route. If you do so, small companies can enter this market. For instance, CMOSIS. Actually, using that route it is very capital unintensive. A few tens of thousands of dollars will get you want you need.

And with very few exceptions it is low-margin. As a result it earns a very low economic return.

Why would any rational management team enter this business if not already in it, if other parts of the business show much higher economic return?

Because you assumptions about the core business are plain wrong.

(3) ALL APS-C and full-frame Nikon sensors "happen to" exactly match the specs of Sony sensors.

In the sense that they are all completely different. In the case of the D3, D3s and D4 sensor there are no Sony sensors that are in any way close to the design and specification. In the case of the D3100 and D3200 although the pixel count is very similar the size and physical arrangement and performance of the sensors is quite different.


(1) Nikon DO clearly have a different in-camera image processing when compared to Sony. The best example was the A900 which produced good IQ at low ISO but then suffered, when the Nikon model using the very same sensor produced great IQ.

It wasn't the very same sensor. It was a different Sony sensor - same design and pixel count but including the pixel level improvements Sony made going from the original IMX021 (APS-C) and IMX028 (FF) to the IMX038 sensor used in the D90. The D3X shows precisely the same improvement over the A900 as the D90 did over the D300.

Note that since then Sony have learned a lot, as the NEX-7 shows for example.

(2) However, like I just said, this is most likely NOT on-chip, but in-camera. Doing otherwise would mean that Sony would have to tweak the production of these sensors and have shorter runs to Nikon's tastes - this would kill the economics.

This ignores the fact that these are digital output sensors. There is no 'in camera' tweaking to be done. The limit of analog improvement is better conditioning of the power supplies.

(3) you make fun of a Nikon purportedly getting Sony to print "Nikon" on the sensor board just to please a couple techie sites that take camaras apart.

The point you're missing here, is that when these sites chance on some bigger info, that info gets used by generalist media.

Nikon marketing is clearly working very hard at telling the world that the chips are Nikon's own design - even though if you read carefully you'll note that they are never very clear of definitive on this; and that's before we mention the fact that in the past they claimed "Nikon design" before having to back down when the chips showed a "Sony" label.

It makes perfect sense to me that, given the marketing dollars spent, Nikon would make sure they don't look ridiculous again and thus ask Sony to please print "Nikon" on the sensor boards - the cost of this is very marginal compared to their A&P spend (remember the huge marketing campaigns for the "1" pre-Christmas 2011?)

It isn't on the 'sensor board' - it's on the chip - a chip designed completely differently from the Sony one. So what we are being asked to believe is that Sony completely redesigned the chip and printed 'Nikon' on it just to fool people. Why didn't they do it for the D800, a much higher status sensor? It is a totally absurd proposition, put forward by a few people on this forum because they can't stand the idea that Nikon can design a sensor. Why would they not be able to? They design and make the equipment used to make the sensors and it isn't hard to hire electronic engineers with the expertise needed. The simplest explanation of what is observed is that nikon has a sensor design tea working for it, and this tallies with their patents in the area, which even allow one to find out the names of the team members.

I'm not sure why you'd want to waste the time and effort fabricating such a silly post, and why I'e just wasted the time responding to it.

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