Is there time for an interchangeable sensor DSLR?

Started Oct 19, 2012 | Discussions thread
Leif Goodwin Senior Member • Posts: 1,390
Re: Now we are talking!

Grevture wrote:

Theodoros Fotometria wrote:

I suppose that if there was market for a DB to fit any film 35mm camera, and if such back could cost a sensible price, then it wouldn't have to be Nikon to it for the F5, it could be anybody... even Phase one or Sinar or... Kodak... and he wouldn't make it for F5 only, but he would make variations that could apply for any film camera that exists! Now that's good business for Marcio, he can pick a few friends (don't count on me) ...go to the bank with the idea and next day we will be talking with a multimillionaire...

However, since converting an F5 to digital costs more than ...a MFDB! (the reason is that there is no provision for correct fitting, cooling and communicating with the unit as there is with a modern MF camera designed with an MFDB in mind) I suggest to come back to the topic that is "interchangeable sensor"...  and that can only cost some.... hundreds!

Except for the very, very last part about "cost some ... hundreds" ... Now you write things which make sense!

I agree it does not make much sense trying to re-use old 35 mm film cameras for something they were not designed for to begin with (unlike MF cameras who where actually designed for replaceable film backs).


Now imagine this....:

1. You buy your D800 for 2500, it has an interchangeable sensor capability but bares no sensor in it!

2. You have the following choices:

A. 36mpx sensor module for 1000, B. 24mpx sensor module for 800, C.16mpx sensor module for 700, D. A new sensor module from RED for superb 2K video at 1000, E.Another one from Arri for 4K video at 2000, F. Another sensor module from Ilford for 28mpx B&W at 900, G. An IR sensor module from KODAK for 1600, H. A special Astrophotography 26mpx sensor module from Orion for 1200....

.....would you like that?

As I have said before, the idea is nice and intriguing. So like it, yes. But there are some serious caveats which make it very hard to implement:

a) As has been pointed out many times, it would not work just replacing the bare sensor. Several of the more interesting sensor options you bring up would require replacing major parts of the whole interior since the sensor designs are so vastly different. In short you would need to replace a rather substantial "image processing module" with sensor + processor + possibly some other stuff (like external A/D converters and so on).

b) Building a D800 sized camera house where you can replace some internal parts (the image processing module) would require the camera body to be opened up. I mean its not like you will be able to sneak that stuff in and out through the memory card compartment. And building a camera which can be opened up, and still remain reasonably weather sealed and reliable and where you do not end up with  a slightly misaligned sensor ... Would be a whole lot more expensive then 2500 USD. A lot more. Again look at the DMF cameras which have been very prone to failures and disconnects where you have to take them apart and put them together several times to make them work. And this because they are modular in design.

Hey, I've had a revolutionary idea. The sensor and image processing hardware are coupled, so really need to be supplied in one unit. And the shutter and mirror mechanism are coupled to them too, in that sometimes you need a D4 grade unit and sometimes a D3100 grade unit, depending on the processing capability of the electronics. And opening up a camera exposes it to damage, consumer complaints and so on. And then there is the increased cost of seals, etc, as mentioned. So, given that the camera bits are much cheaper than the sensor, why not package the eletronics, sensor, shutter, mirror and viewfinder in one metal box, and have the lens connected by a screw thread, or some form of quick release mechanism? I am going out on a limb here, but it'd work.

I am not saying your idea is bad or attacking you here (just a clarification :)), I am just saying it might not be as easy to make it into a commercially viable product (one that can be sold at a competitive price) as you seem to think.

My suggestion would be slightly different: Nikon has already given a hint by offering two D800 versions (the standard and the E) with slightly different sensor options. Why not take that concept further and offer more options? A bit like they did with the D200/Fuji S5 Pro. Or a bit like Canon does with the 1D X and the 1D C?

Yes, these interchangeable sensor cameras would sell to a small number of users, in my opinion of course. But from what I have seen, IR enabled cameras do not sell many, and Canon seem to have only produced one such camera. The Fuji S5 Pro did not really sell well, despite having some advantages.

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I don't suffer from insanity, I enjoy every moment of it!
By the way, film is not dead.
It just smell funny

Edited to correct typos.

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