Is there time for an interchangeable sensor DSLR?

Started Oct 19, 2012 | Discussions
Theodoros Fotometria Senior Member • Posts: 2,090
Is there time for an interchangeable sensor DSLR?
2

According to the now 3 years old Nikon patent, the sensor will be at the edge of a small box (much like the screen of a small cell-phone), which will be slotted in position from the left side (as we look at the VF eye-piece) and it will be user interchangeable....

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Tommot1965 Senior Member • Posts: 1,039
Re: Is there time for an interchangeable sensor DSLR?
1

I wish there were..as Id have kept my D300s and popped a new sensor in a magic camera ...too many great pieces of hardware get wasted due to being a little outdated in the sensor area..I wish it were like film and you could upgrade as new advances were made

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OP Theodoros Fotometria Senior Member • Posts: 2,090
Re: Is there time for an interchangeable sensor DSLR?
3

Tommot1965 wrote:

I wish there were..as Id have kept my D300s and popped a new sensor in a magic camera ...too many great pieces of hardware get wasted due to being a little outdated in the sensor area..I wish it were like film and you could upgrade as new advances were made

That's the point... now we are forced to buy the film with the camera.... also, we have to choose a sensor for the major priorities we have and use the same for the lot of our photography... Take B&W for instance, there would be a no Bayern pattern sensor, ...but absence of BP means complete absence of moire too... thus no need for OLP filter either..., hence incredible quality for B&W!

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Jeff Loughlin
Jeff Loughlin Forum Member • Posts: 83
Re: Is there time for an interchangeable sensor DSLR?
4

It's a nice idea, but I doubt we'll ever see such a thing.  The image processing hardware and software are so closely tied to the sensor architecture that a sensor upgrade would need to include all new image processing chips and firmware to go with it - either that, or be such a small incremental upgrade as to not be worth it.  And considering that the sensor represents a large percentage of the manufacturing cost as it is (I don't want to throw out a number, but I'd guess it's more than half the total cost of the camera), and would be even more so with the additional complexity of an interchangeable sensor, that it wouldn't be cost effective anyway.

But I'd love to be proven wrong.

Jeff

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OP Theodoros Fotometria Senior Member • Posts: 2,090
Re: Is there time for an interchangeable sensor DSLR?
1

Jeff Loughlin wrote:

It's a nice idea, but I doubt we'll ever see such a thing.  The image processing hardware and software are so closely tied to the sensor architecture that a sensor upgrade would need to include all new image processing chips and firmware to go with it - either that, or be such a small incremental upgrade as to not be worth it.  And considering that the sensor represents a large percentage of the manufacturing cost as it is (I don't want to throw out a number, but I'd guess it's more than half the total cost of the camera), and would be even more so with the additional complexity of an interchangeable sensor, that it wouldn't be cost effective anyway.

But I'd love to be proven wrong.

Jeff

http://www.pbase.com/jeff_loughlin

You are right as far as next generation sensors are considered Jeff, but what would we care with the level of the existing sensors/processors quality...? I mean you don't expect a D200 vs. D800 IQ difference to appear in the future ...do you? ...I don't anyway! But I do agree with you that they won't do it... (a newcomer to FF may...) not because of cost, the sensor/electronics doesn't cost more than 12% of the total cost of modern DSLRs like the D800 or 5Dmkiii... (this means that we could have interchangeable sensors at the 600-1200 range), but because the sales of the higher end cameras would drop... Another thing is that independent manufacturers could produce "film" like they now produce "battery grips" or lenses and they wouldn't like that either... Kodak and Fuji would like it though.... I feel that the only way they can be forced to proceed is if a maker (Hass?, Leica?, Pentax?, Fuji?, Mamiya/P1?....) will come up with such an alternative.

I hope as well you (and me) both prove ....wrong!

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Zardoz
Zardoz Senior Member • Posts: 1,249
Re: Is there time for an interchangeable sensor DSLR?
4

Hey bro,

You're not free of moiré with non-Bayer (note: not Bayern) pattern sensors. Please learn about the sampling theorem before shooting your mouth off.

Yveske Regular Member • Posts: 130
Re: Is there time for an interchangeable sensor DSLR?
5

How many swap their motherboards of their computer vs. how many buy a new computer?

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OP Theodoros Fotometria Senior Member • Posts: 2,090
Re: Is there time for an interchangeable sensor DSLR?

Yveske wrote:

How many swap their motherboards of their computer vs. how many buy a new computer?

How many have Linux and/or Windows on their Macs before they upgrade their computer?

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kayone Regular Member • Posts: 316
Re: Is there time for an interchangeable sensor DSLR?
1

Theodoros Fotometria wrote:

According to the now 3 years old Nikon patent, the sensor will be at the edge of a small box (much like the screen of a small cell-phone), which will be slotted in position from the left side (as we look at the VF eye-piece) and it will be user interchangeable....

Theodoros
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Does this fall under the 'hopers & dreamers' category?

Tony Beach Forum Pro • Posts: 11,925
Re: Is there time for an interchangeable sensor DSLR?
3

Jeff Loughlin wrote:

It's a nice idea, but I doubt we'll ever see such a thing.  The image processing hardware and software are so closely tied to the sensor architecture that a sensor upgrade would need to include all new image processing chips and firmware to go with it - either that, or be such a small incremental upgrade as to not be worth it.  And considering that the sensor represents a large percentage of the manufacturing cost as it is (I don't want to throw out a number, but I'd guess it's more than half the total cost of the camera), and would be even more so with the additional complexity of an interchangeable sensor, that it wouldn't be cost effective anyway.

But I'd love to be proven wrong.

I don't think its biggest value is price, although there would be some cost saving to buying another sensor instead of an entire new camera.  I think its biggest value would be to be able to carry multiple sensors and use them on one camera -- I would like B&W as well as IR to go with the current 36 MP BFA sensor.  Since we don't get B&W or IR cameras from Nikon, it seems to me that interchangeable sensors would make that more likely.

OP Theodoros Fotometria Senior Member • Posts: 2,090
Re: Is there time for an interchangeable sensor DSLR?

Zardoz wrote:

Hey bro,

You're not free of moiré with non-Bayer (note: not Bayern) pattern sensors. Please learn about the sampling theorem before shooting your mouth off.

Hey Bro,

Are you saying that a non-Bayer with one that bares it sensor, ...are the same prone to moire? ....like you was saying that Adams & Bresson NEVER shot in color....?

There is 20 times less chance for a "true" B&W sensor not to bear moire and since all color MFDBs above 33mpx rarely have it, it makes the possibility of a non BP sensor to present the issue absolutely negligible to an extend that a user can ignore it...

In fact there is less chance for a B&W sensor (of any resolution) to present the issue, ...than a different sensor with BP and as small pixels as you like....,  Buy bro....

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Zardoz
Zardoz Senior Member • Posts: 1,249
Re: Is there time for an interchangeable sensor DSLR?
7

Hey bro,

I know reading comprehension is tough for you, but you said: "absence of BP means complete absence of moire too".  And I pointed out that you're incorrect. Any sampling is subject to moiré given the right conditions.

OP Theodoros Fotometria Senior Member • Posts: 2,090
Re: Is there time for an interchangeable sensor DSLR?

Tony Beach wrote:

Jeff Loughlin wrote:

It's a nice idea, but I doubt we'll ever see such a thing.  The image processing hardware and software are so closely tied to the sensor architecture that a sensor upgrade would need to include all new image processing chips and firmware to go with it - either that, or be such a small incremental upgrade as to not be worth it.  And considering that the sensor represents a large percentage of the manufacturing cost as it is (I don't want to throw out a number, but I'd guess it's more than half the total cost of the camera), and would be even more so with the additional complexity of an interchangeable sensor, that it wouldn't be cost effective anyway.

But I'd love to be proven wrong.

I don't think its biggest value is price, although there would be some cost saving to buying another sensor instead of an entire new camera.  I think its biggest value would be to be able to carry multiple sensors and use them on one camera -- I would like B&W as well as IR to go with the current 36 MP BFA sensor.  Since we don't get B&W or IR cameras from Nikon, it seems to me that interchangeable sensors would make that more likely.


Additionally there are purposes like file size, LL performance, no OLP filter, video performance (that's a major one)... and countless more that the advantage would be priceless....

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AlephNull Senior Member • Posts: 1,629
Re: Is there time for an interchangeable sensor DSLR?
2

Theodoros Fotometria wrote:

According to the now 3 years old Nikon patent, the sensor will be at the edge of a small box (much like the screen of a small cell-phone), which will be slotted in position from the left side (as we look at the VF eye-piece) and it will be user interchangeable....

The big problem is that the sensor must be positioned very accurately in relation to the lens mount - it must be at exactly the right distance, and exactly perpendicular to the lens axis.

Any interchangeable system is going to have some slop in it (or you couldn't interchange the units!).

That's why the only interchangeable system I know of so far (the Ricoh) integrates the sensor and lens mount into a single unit, and replaces both at the same time.

My guess is that someone in Nikon had a cute idea and patented it, then someone else in Nikon crushed the idea with reality  Or maybe they patented it to distract their competition

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AlephNull Senior Member • Posts: 1,629
Re: Is there time for an interchangeable sensor DSLR?
3

Theodoros Fotometria wrote:

Zardoz wrote:

Hey bro,

You're not free of moiré with non-Bayer (note: not Bayern) pattern sensors. Please learn about the sampling theorem before shooting your mouth off.

Hey Bro,

Are you saying that a non-Bayer with one that bares it sensor, ...are the same prone to moire? ....like you was saying thatAdams & Bresson NEVER shot incolor....?

There is 20 times less chance for a "true" B&W sensor not to bear moire and since all color MFDBs above 33mpx rarely have it, it makes the possibility of a non BP sensor to present the issue absolutely negligible to an extend that a user can ignore it...

In fact there is less chance for a B&W sensor (of any resolution) to present the issue, ...than a different sensor with BP and as small pixels as you like....,  Buy bro....

You CAN get moire on a non-Bayer sensor - moire is an artefact of using discrete pixels, and every digital sensor uses discrete pixels. Yes, it's aggravated by the Bayer pattern (because the green pixels are only half the grid, and red and blue are only a quarter), but you can get moire even on a monochrome sensor.  Entertainingly, you can even get "false colour moire" on a monochrome sensor

Do you have a source for your claim that there's "20 times less chance"? I'd expect the difference in occurrence of visible moire to be proportional to the fineness of the pixel grid.

By the way: I think you mean "Bye", not "Buy", although a case can be made for either

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OP Theodoros Fotometria Senior Member • Posts: 2,090
Re: Is there time for an interchangeable sensor DSLR?

AlephNull wrote:

Theodoros Fotometria wrote:

According to the now 3 years old Nikon patent, the sensor will be at the edge of a small box (much like the screen of a small cell-phone), which will be slotted in position from the left side (as we look at the VF eye-piece) and it will be user interchangeable....

The big problem is that the sensor must be positioned very accurately in relation to the lens mount - it must be at exactly the right distance, and exactly perpendicular to the lens axis.

Any interchangeable system is going to have some slop in it (or you couldn't interchange the units!).

That's why the only interchangeable system I know of so far (the Ricoh) integrates the sensor and lens mount into a single unit, and replaces both at the same time.

My guess is that someone in Nikon had a cute idea and patented it, then someone else in Nikon crushed the idea with reality  Or maybe they patented it to distract their competition

Could be..., but the Ricoh system is old and not cost efficient, while the Nikon patent can be applied cost efficiently especially to the higher market of DSLRs. OTOH the technical matters that you (correctly) mention, are not difficult to deal with... but I would prefer this thread to stay with our photographic needs than to turn into a "technical experts" conversation... but again that's up to people...

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Leif Goodwin Senior Member • Posts: 1,390
Re: Is there time for an interchangeable sensor DSLR?
1

This is reminiscent of Thom Hogan's modular camera obsession. As pointed out above, the machining needs to be precise to allow the sensor to be accurately positioned. And that would greatly increase the cost of the camera, as you have to build a rugged precisely made frame into which you slot the sensor. The sensor also has to be in a frame, to provide strength, and to allow it to mate accurately with the slot. Both are expensive to make, and increase the size of the camera. In addition, the sensor is intimately tied to the image processing chip. So, as well as the sensor frame, and the sensor slot, you have to design a sensor interface, which allows the signals to go from the sensor to the image processor. That further increases cost. You will always be tied to the same image processor too, so if you want to use a sensor with twice the pixel count, you will be limited to the throughput dictated by the current processor. And you will have to upgrade the firmware. Alternatively, you only have one piece of firmware, and then that constrains what you can do. If you want several sets of firmware installed at once, for several sensors, you need more intenal memory, further increasing cost.

In my opinion this just does not fly. It is too niche, and not suitable for a mainstream product.

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OP Theodoros Fotometria Senior Member • Posts: 2,090
Re: Is there time for an interchangeable sensor DSLR?

AlephNull wrote:

Theodoros Fotometria wrote:

Zardoz wrote:

Hey bro,

You're not free of moiré with non-Bayer (note: not Bayern) pattern sensors. Please learn about the sampling theorem before shooting your mouth off.

Hey Bro,

Are you saying that a non-Bayer with one that bares it sensor, ...are the same prone to moire? ....like you was saying thatAdams & Bresson NEVER shot incolor....?

There is 20 times less chance for a "true" B&W sensor not to bear moire and since all color MFDBs above 33mpx rarely have it, it makes the possibility of a non BP sensor to present the issue absolutely negligible to an extend that a user can ignore it...

In fact there is less chance for a B&W sensor (of any resolution) to present the issue, ...than a different sensor with BP and as small pixels as you like....,  Buy bro....

You CAN get moire on a non-Bayer sensor - moire is an artefact of using discrete pixels, and every digital sensor uses discrete pixels. Yes, it's aggravated by the Bayer pattern (because the green pixels are only half the grid, and red and blue are only a quarter), but you can get moire even on a monochrome sensor.  Entertainingly, you can even get "false colour moire" on a monochrome sensor

Do you have a source for your claim that there's "20 times less chance"? I'd expect the difference in occurrence of visible moire to be proportional to the fineness of the pixel grid.

By the way: I think you mean "Bye", not "Buy", although a case can be made for either

I know....

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OP Theodoros Fotometria Senior Member • Posts: 2,090
Re: Is there time for an interchangeable sensor DSLR?

Leif Goodwin wrote:

This is reminiscent of Thom Hogan's modular camera obsession. As pointed out above, the machining needs to be precise to allow the sensor to be accurately positioned. And that would greatly increase the cost of the camera, as you have to build a rugged precisely made frame into which you slot the sensor. The sensor also has to be in a frame, to provide strength, and to allow it to mate accurately with the slot. Both are expensive to make, and increase the size of the camera. In addition, the sensor is intimately tied to the image processing chip. So, as well as the sensor frame, and the sensor slot, you have to design a sensor interface, which allows the signals to go from the sensor to the image processor. That further increases cost. You will always be tied to the same image processor too, so if you want to use a sensor with twice the pixel count, you will be limited to the throughput dictated by the current processor. And you will have to upgrade the firmware. Alternatively, you only have one piece of firmware, and then that constrains what you can do. If you want several sets of firmware installed at once, for several sensors, you need more intenal memory, further increasing cost.

In my opinion this just does not fly. It is too niche, and not suitable for a mainstream product.

The mechanical issues are not so difficult to resolve Leif... not with current tech anyway, there is a limitation with the electronics that the camera bares as far as future speed and processing speed is concerned, but I am sure the D800 (for example) buffer, memory and processing would be up to its limits with only the current sensor that the camera bares and that could satisfy many users for many years to come.... (after all it's been proved that modern cameras can serve for at least four years). It's the flexibility and available solutions that would balance the drawbacks... Possibly in the future, somebody could buy a replacement (upgraded) body and keep many of his sensors, while at the same time keep his old body as a back up and use it with speed/processing limitations with future sensors... That's great ...no?

Theodoros
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Astrophotographer 10 Forum Pro • Posts: 12,867
Re: Is there time for an interchangeable sensor DSLR?
1

It would be a great concept if the technical challenges could be overcome.

Orthogonality is one of the points correctly mentioned. Possibly some external adjusting screws so self levelling fine adjustment could be done in the field. Some astro cameras have a separate mounting plate with 3 or 4 adjustment screws to gain orthogonality (squareness).

As chips get larger orthogonality demands increase by the square. That is a chip that is twice the size of APS would requite at least 4X more accurate squareness.

I see this all the time in telescope astrophotography where the current larger chipped cameras use Kodak KAF16803 chip which is about 38.6mm x 37.76mm. Slight tilts show up easily in star images where stars in corners will appear elongated on one side of an image or corner than the others. Flex in the system can be hard to track down so any mounting system needs to be precise, rigid and repeatable. And as I mention perhaps fine adjustment screws whilst not a good thing to need may be worthwhile. Or some cleverly engineered self levelling system.

But imagine - they could have a whole new division marketing various sensors just like we do now with lenses.

All it would take is a really powerful processor in the camera to take care of the various setups and be somewhat future proof for at least a while anyway.

Greg

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