nikon D7100 - how will Canon respond?

Started Feb 21, 2013 | Discussions thread
Jimmy K.
Jimmy K. Contributing Member • Posts: 859
Re: Check out Nikon's D7100 sample images

Hi, I work in semiconductor industry for 15+ years and image sensor for the past 4 years.  Although I have not followed any discussion on Canon's new fabs, I do have a general comment.

Traditional semiconductor technology improvement is to shrink the technology nodes, so transistors become smaller, use less power.  And they can cram more transistors into the same chip.  This is the standard improvement for typical logic/memory chips.  Newer fabs are needed with the latest tools to print and etch smaller technology nodes and geometries.

Image sensors "technology" improvement for IQ is not the same as traditional semiconductor technology shrink.  So there is no direct improvement in image sensor IQ just by going to a newer or smaller technology nodes.  Image sensor technology improvements comes from design, engineering of the photo diode, contamination control.   They do have to spend R&D cost to run experiments for engineering learning. Unfortunately this doesn't come from building new fabrication facility.

On a side note: New fab probably has other benefits, such as thruput or cost savings.  And an requirement to go to smaller technology nodes would be for smaller pixels.  This requirement is needed for small sensors (like those used in cell phones, DSC, P&S, etc) so they can squeeze 5, 8, 12, 14 megapixels into a much smaller chip area.   In fact, with everything being equal, going to smaller pixels will result in worst IQ.  But that is nothing new as pixels used in cell phones and P&S cameras are around 5x smaller than pixels used in DSLR.

Also, you are right that BSI can be a improved technology.  But BSI is only used for pixels sizes around 1.4um and below.  So DSLR pixels size of 4 to 6 um are not even close to requiring BSI, which is a cost adder and has additional downside.

In any case, I do hope Canon can match Nikon (wherever their sensors are purchased from).  It is better for the marketplace and for us consumers.

From info that's been floating around on various forums Canon is finally going to start using smaller etchings for their sensors, apparently they haven't changed the fabrication in 10 years and some are amazed that Canon has been able to remain a contender (although certainly falling behind). With the new fabrication we could expect more MP, BSI CMOS designs becoming common place, less noise at high ISO's, on chip NR, etc. Sony and just recently Toshiba have passed up Canon in sensor design, I'd like to see the latter making an effort to even the playing field again.

I've been wondering if the G15 sensor is being made at this new facility. It seems to be almost nocturnal in the way it handles low light.

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