Is there time for an interchangeable sensor DSLR?

Started Oct 19, 2012 | Discussions thread
Joseph S Wisniewski Forum Pro • Posts: 34,136
Digital backs, may not be reading this right...

marcio_napoli wrote:

I understood what you mean, Grevture, but if you say so, doesn't it sound like good business to Nikon after all?

Well, so they could (for example) sell a FF digital back for 1.5k.

Imagine you could buy the D800 for 3k, and a module sporting the same 36mp sensor for 1.5k, ready to use on your F5.

There are two things wrong with that line of reasoning, unfortunately.

First is your price. There's only about $900  worth of "camera" in a D800, the other  $2,100 is the "digital back". Now, digital backs for an existing SLR won't sell in as high quantities as new DSLRs. (I'll get to why in a second) so their prices will be even higher than the $2,100 you'd expect from the difference in the prices of D800 and F100.

Second, you have to differentiate between a digital back for a brand new SLR designed specifically to accept one, and a digital back designed to work with an existing F5.

  • Existing film SLRs can't take FF digital backs. The sensor frame protrudes past the image plane and has to go through the camera's film gate. It's about 8mm bigger than the sensor, so 1.3x crop is the limit for digital backs on existing SLRs, like the Kodak DCS-760 or Leica DMR.
  • Existing film SLRs can't do TTL flash with digital sensors, because the sensors don't reflect like film does. The Nikon F5 that Kodak used for their DCS series was not stock, it was torn down, the shutter curtain repainted to reflect better, and the flash system modified to use a "preflash" that metered off that curtain. This worked horribly.
  • The F5 focusing system is flat-out not up to the demands of a D800 sensor. I tried using an F5 for high resolution film work with Tech Pan film: it was a dismal failure.

Nikon would sell tons of both, I believe.

I did a design study and coordinated the market research for a company designing a pretty cool digital back, and the market research shows that when the credit cards actually hit the table, very few customers won't put up with all the suckage of a back/body combination in order to save a few $ or keep a sentimental "favorite"camera alive a few more years.

And following your logic, they could have tremendous profit doing so.

Believe it or not, DSLRs are basically loss-leaders that get you buying the profitable items, lenses, batteries, vertical grips.

So back to my original question, why is it not commercially doable?

Which? A new SLR built for digital backs, a digital back for F6 (and another for F5, another for F100, etc. etc. etc.), or the OP's concept?

And under the risk of hijacking this thread, I'm gonna explore Silicon Film's concept even furtherGogol

Go for it. I'm a bit of a historian on that scam. And Kirsten Schmidt is an old friend.

The dpReview editor puked again. Nothing good past this point. I'll follow up in another post.

"the unit itself has a built-in capacity for 24 images (64MB) after which time it must be inserted into the E-Box and its contents either transferred to a computer or CompactFlash card.

The second limitation is that the relatively small 1.3 megapixel CMOS sensor uses only about 30% of the center of the frame,  looking through the viewfinder you have a small field of view (marked out by a supplied rub-on transfer) which equates to a 2.58x focal length multi

Lastly it only currently supports certain camera models: Nikon F5, F3, N60/N90 and Canon EOS-1N, EOS-A25."

It's ancient 2002 tech.

I mean, max storage of 24 shots per run? 1.3mp? 2.6x crop?

It's clear why it never went into production. 2002 tech did not allow a proper implementation.

What if you had these 2012 specs:

- internal storage for 2.000 shots.

- 24mp

- FF sensor

- could be used on a variety of popular film cameras (probably we all have some of those in our closets): F100, F5, F6... Leica M6 anyone ? etc

My point is: with the original specs, it was clearly headed downhill right from the start, even in 2002.

The old D100 runs circles around it.

But... what about these very doable 2012 specs?  Seems very easy to sell.

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Marcio Napoli

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Rahon Klavanian 1912-2008. Armenian genocide survivor, amazing cook, scrabble master, and loving grandmother. You will be missed. Ciao! Joseph

 Joseph S Wisniewski's gear list:Joseph S Wisniewski's gear list
Canon EOS 5D Mark II Nikon D90 Nikon D2X Nikon D3 Nikon D100 +43 more
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