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Author Topic: Sony sensor list updated  (Read 671 times)

BJL

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Sony sensor list updated
« on: October 21, 2018, 02:19:30 PM »

Sony Semiconductor just updated its camera sensor list:
https://www.sony-semicon.co.jp/products_en/IS/sensor2/products/

Probably everything there is already in an announced product, but there is a curious gap: the new 3.76 micron photosite is used in everything from a 26MP 24x16 sensor (Fujifilm X-T3) to the 100MP 44x33 and 150MP 54x40 — but not one at 36x24, which would be about 61MP. Instead 35mm format gets a higher frame rate model at 24MP.

Any conjectures about what this says about the intentions of the camera makers who work with Sony Semi for sensors? (I am fairly sure that Sony Semi chooses its design directions partly on input from major customers, rather than just throwing out designs and hoping for customers.)
« Last Edit: October 21, 2018, 02:23:26 PM by BJL »
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BJL

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Re: Sony sensor list updated
« Reply #1 on: October 21, 2018, 06:06:17 PM »

I just realised that the older 50MP 44x33 and 100MP 54x40 sensors are no longer listed. So, are they discontinued with Fujifilm and Hasselblad just using up existing stocks, or is Sony Semiconductor just not seeking new customers for those “obsolescent” sensors?
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Dan Wells

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Re: Sony sensor list updated
« Reply #2 on: October 27, 2018, 07:29:58 PM »

I wonder if it's because there's little benefit (the ~46 MP sensor Sony makes for Nikon, and the Sony for Sony ~43 MP sensor, are already relatively close to that density). Of course, the new 26 MP sensor is even closer in resolution to the various iterations of the 24 MP sensor (the MF versions are in entirely new resolution territory).

My best guess is that Sony was adding BSI (back-side illumination) to the 24 MP sensor (the 26 MP is the only "24 MP class" APS-C sensor that is BSI), and, for whatever manufacturing reason, shrank the pixel pitch slightly (leading to a small increase in resolution).  The 24 MP sensor shows up in quite a few cameras more or less "off the shelf", and in a lot of Fujis with an unusual color filter, and this looks like Sony moving that market to a new BSI version of that sensor that happens to have a bit more resolution (which was almost certainly not the point - the refreshed design was). As we see new "24 MP" APS-C cameras from Sony, Nikon, Fuji and smaller players, I'm guessing they'll all be 26 MP now.

The low-volume MF sensors are almost certainly derivatives of the smaller sensor (the thought process goes something like "time for a new MF sensor - what's our best current layout, we'll just do a big one"). Since the ~43 MP and ~46 MP sensors were already BSI and otherwise quite current, there was no reason to do a new version of those sensors. It wouldn't be hard to do a 24x36mm version at all, but there was no logical camera to put it in - the only Sony-sensored high-MP camera of thew last few months is the Z7, and that more or less shares a sensor with the D850, probably by design. The high pixel count full-frame sensors are mostly somewhat custom (they share a basic design, but they aren't right out of the catalog the way the APS-C sensors or even the 24 MP full-frame ones are - the 36 MP generation were, but the 40+ MP BSI sensors aren't). Nikon probably didn't want to redesign the Nikon-designed parts of the sensor and imaging pipeline (they like to have a bunch of cameras with closely related sensors, so the Z7/D850 combo is appealing to them) - they were already plenty busy with the body and lenses! Sony was just as happy not to have Nikon releasing something with a resolution advantage that sounds bigger than it is.

The A7rIII and D850 are both quite new, with fresh BSI sensors of essentially the same technology as the new 3.76 micron sensors on a slightly larger pixel pitch. I'd strongly suspect that when either gets updated or replaced (or when we see an A9r or D6x (or a D5x, but if there was to be one, it should have appeared), the obvious 61 MP sensor will turn up (assuming there isn't a newer variant of Sony sensor tech before the emergence of such a camera). My first guess would be an A7r mkIV, since that appears to be on a faster cycle than the D850. Sony could, oddly, even sell the 61 MP sensor to a smaller maker before ever using it themselves or getting it to Nikon. It's such an easy design that, if Pentax or someone wanted it, it's worth Sony's while to do a short run of them (it's surely more sensors than Fuji/Hasselblad demand for the 100 MP, and a couple orders of magnitude more than Phase One will buy of the 150 MP sensor).
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davidgp

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Re: Sony sensor list updated
« Reply #3 on: October 28, 2018, 04:04:37 AM »


The A7rIII and D850 are both quite new...

A7r III sensor is the same as the A7r II, just updated LSI processor... so it is already an 3 years old design... not something that I will call it quite new...


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davidgp

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Re: Sony sensor list updated
« Reply #4 on: October 28, 2018, 04:07:26 AM »

I just realised that the older 50MP 44x33 and 100MP 54x40 sensors are no longer listed. So, are they discontinued with Fujifilm and Hasselblad just using up existing stocks, or is Sony Semiconductor just not seeking new customers for those “obsolescent” sensors?

I assume that Hasselblad and Phase One have already enough stock of those sensors... usually they are produced in batches...

My theory here is Sony is not listing then because nobody is ordering them... only the new versions...

I assume Hasselblad will release updated versions of they cameras next year


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mcbroomf

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Re: Sony sensor list updated
« Reply #5 on: October 28, 2018, 01:23:21 PM »

Well Fuji have just released a new body with the 50mp sensor.  Also I think Pentax still use the 36mp FF sensor.  I am a bit puzzled by the tables.
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BJL

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Sony sensor list updated: current camera models using "delisted" sensors
« Reply #6 on: October 30, 2018, 06:45:40 PM »

Well Fuji have just released a new body with the 50mp sensor.  Also I think Pentax still use the 36mp FF sensor.  I am a bit puzzled by the tables.
Yes, my second post was about that little mystery, though I overlooked the 36MP 35mm format sensor in the Ricoh-Pentax K-1 Mark II.

At one extreme it could just be a lag due to batch production: the last batches of the sensors have been run, but some are still available somewhere along the line. For example, Ricoh-Pentax might just have not yet sold out of its last batch of the K-1 Mk II, or worse yet it did not sell enough of the original K-1 to use up all the 36MP sensors it had bought, so upgraded to Mk II in other ways, to improve sales.

At the other extreme it could be the Sony is still making sensors to fill current orders (e.g. for the Fujiflm GFX 50R and Hasselblad X1D), but is not seeking or taking new orders, because its wants to wind down that production line soon.


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Dan Wells

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Re: Sony sensor list updated
« Reply #7 on: October 31, 2018, 05:24:24 PM »

I don't know for sure, but I suspect that the smaller manufacturers buy sensors in a particular batch volume (which almost certainly varies with sensor size), and keep making cameras until they run out of sensors, leaving some for repair purposes. Fuji was releasing cameras based on the old 16 MP D7000 (and everything else, but the D7000 was both the launch camera and one of the best-known to use that sensor) sensor for years... Of course, that could have been because Fuji had a long run of color filters for that sensor...

At this point, Fuji is almost certainly the (or one of the) critical customers on APS-C sensors, because they make the highest-end APS-C cameras around (other than the comparable, but slightly orphaned, D500) - Fuji now probably dictates what sensors they buy, at least in APS-C (they probably still buy standard sensors in MF).

My suspicion about the K1 is that Pentax wasn't offered the Sony-only 42.4 MP BSI sensor, and took the D800/D810 sensor as a catalog part. Nikon, a year later, offered enough more volume that Sony let them do a semi-custom sensor for the D850 and the Z7 (they were apparently offered the 42.4 MP part, and opted to do something a bit different).

I'd guess that the ~61 MP sensor will surface as a catalog part at some point, probably first in a Sony camera, and then in a Nikon, a Pentax or both. It's possible that Nikon uses a custom version with slightly different features or pixel count.

As far as I can tell, all MF sensors are catalog parts - is their primary volume even conventional cameras? I wouldn't be surprised if aerial cameras (used by everyone from real estate companies to spies) plus high-end document and artifact imaging (libraries and museums) and whatever other uses there are add up to more volume than cameras in the sense of "something with a shutter button and a viewfinder mounted on the body". Fuji probably bought 10,000 of the 50 MP sensors (or some such number) to get a good deal on them, and have enough for two bodies...

Dan
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davidgp

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Re: Sony sensor list updated
« Reply #8 on: October 31, 2018, 07:00:28 PM »


At this point, Fuji is almost certainly the (or one of the) critical customers on APS-C sensors, because they make the highest-end APS-C cameras around (other than the comparable, but slightly orphaned, D500) - Fuji now probably dictates what sensors they buy, at least in APS-C (they probably still buy standard sensors in MF)

I don’t think Fuji buys that many mendium format sensors that justifies for them to have a custom design. The sensors that they use... design costs are paid between Phase One Hasselblad and Fuji... much cheaper... production costs are the same.

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My suspicion about the K1 is that Pentax wasn't offered the Sony-only 42.4 MP BSI sensor, and took the D800/D810 sensor as a catalog part. Nikon, a year later, offered enough more volume that Sony let them do a semi-custom sensor for the D850 and the Z7 (they were apparently offered the 42.4 MP part, and opted to do something a bit different).

Sony Imaging already said their 42 MPx sensor together with the low light sensor of A7s are custom designs for them... Sony semiconductors probably can not sell them... like they can not sell 45 MPx Nikon sensor design to other companies... Sony Imaging and Nikon internally developed those sensors and then ordered them to Sony Semiconductor.

Pentax probably does not have the resources necessary to invest in custom designs.

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I'd guess that the ~61 MP sensor will surface as a catalog part at some point, probably first in a Sony camera, and then in a Nikon, a Pentax or both. It's possible that Nikon uses a custom version with slightly different features or pixel count.

Doubt it... Sony semiconductors already has the technology to make them... since it is just scale up the smaller sensors (all sensors are made in the same line independent of the size). It will be for Nikon or Sony Imaging to custom design the sensor, that takes money. For the moment I see that Sony Imaging is increasing sales of high end models in the last period... so I suppose they are not in a hurry to release anything. I think Nikon didn’t release yet their numbers for this period... but they just introduced two cameras... I don’t expect them to release anything else any time soon.

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As far as I can tell, all MF sensors are catalog parts - is their primary volume even conventional cameras? I wouldn't be surprised if aerial cameras (used by everyone from real estate companies to spies) plus high-end document and artifact imaging (libraries and museums) and whatever other uses there are add up to more volume than cameras in the sense of "something with a shutter button and a viewfinder mounted on the body". Fuji probably bought 10,000 of the 50 MP sensors (or some such number) to get a good deal on them, and have enough for two bodies...

MF sensors started more or less the same way last years. Phase One gets them first and them the rest. Probably Phase One is paying more for the exclusivity... those designs looks like they are shared between Phase One, Fuji, Hasselblad and Pentax (well... if they update their old 645 system).



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Dan Wells

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Re: Sony sensor list updated
« Reply #9 on: November 01, 2018, 12:42:18 AM »

I've definitely heard that Nikon was offered the A7rII/A7rIII sensor (or a close relative - it wouldn't have needed the on-sensor PDAF points) for the D850, and opted for the semi-custom sensor instead. I am not sure what the differences are, apart from a trivial amount of resolution.

I agree with you about MF sensors - as far as I can tell, they're all (at least fundamentally) the same. I'd assume Sony Semiconductor pays for the design (just scaling up another sensor) and then charges everybody a premium to cover it, no?

Phase is using different sensors from everyone else, because they're a different size. Phase probably gets hit with an extra premium, because they are most of the market for the largest sensors. Fuji, Pentax and most of Hasselblad's business are 33x44 mm sensors, while Phase just announced that they're doing only 52x40 mm "full frame 645" from now on. Hasselblad has one back that uses the 52x40mm 100MP sensor, available in single-shot and multi-shot options, but their (relatively) big seller is the X1D mirrorless, which is 33x44mm (and less than 1/4 the price of the H6D-100). At least at B&H (convenient online sales ranking, although they're not a Phase dealer), the H6D ranks 8th among medium format cameras, below not only multiple 33x44mm  X1D and Fuji kits, but also the Pentax, which you never hear of. It's probably safe to assume that, exclusive of Phase, the market is over 90% 33x44, likely 95% (if the top 8 cameras/kits all sold the same, the H6D would have 12%, and I'm guessing that the GFX and X1D both outsell the H6D by huge margins). I don't know how Phase sales compare to the 33x44mm market...

What's your guess on the fate of the easy to design 61MP 24x36mm sensor? Will it never show up, and the next step in 24x36mm will happen at thenext step down in pixel pitch? Will it be a catalog sensor that shows up first in some relatively low-volume camera? You're right that both Nikon and Sony have relatively new cameras (in Nikon's case, one relatively new and one very new) that use the mid-40 MP sensors - neither one is due for an upgrade for a year or more. Would Nikon and Sony really let Pentax or someone put out a camera with a headline spec that beat theirs? If it never shows up, and the next 24x36mm resolution bump is with the next generation, one thing to consider is that it'll be getting close to Micro 43 pixel pitches, and Micro 43 sensors currently underperform the best APS-C and 24x36mm sensors by quite a bit on a per-pixel basis...

 
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davidgp

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Re: Sony sensor list updated
« Reply #10 on: November 01, 2018, 03:45:26 AM »

I've definitely heard that Nikon was offered the A7rII/A7rIII sensor (or a close relative - it wouldn't have needed the on-sensor PDAF points) for the D850, and opted for the semi-custom sensor instead. I am not sure what the differences are, apart from a trivial amount of resolution.

Now that you mention it, I think I also remember it... I tried to look for the interview where I read it, I cannot find it, but I'm quite sure you are right... my mistake.

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I agree with you about MF sensors - as far as I can tell, they're all (at least fundamentally) the same. I'd assume Sony Semiconductor pays for the design (just scaling up another sensor) and then charges everybody a premium to cover it, no?

Phase is using different sensors from everyone else, because they're a different size. Phase probably gets hit with an extra premium, because they are most of the market for the largest sensors. Fuji, Pentax and most of Hasselblad's business are 33x44 mm sensors, while Phase just announced that they're doing only 52x40 mm "full frame 645" from now on. Hasselblad has one back that uses the 52x40mm 100MP sensor, available in single-shot and multi-shot options, but their (relatively) big seller is the X1D mirrorless, which is 33x44mm (and less than 1/4 the price of the H6D-100). At least at B&H (convenient online sales ranking, although they're not a Phase dealer), the H6D ranks 8th among medium format cameras, below not only multiple 33x44mm  X1D and Fuji kits, but also the Pentax, which you never hear of. It's probably safe to assume that, exclusive of Phase, the market is over 90% 33x44, likely 95% (if the top 8 cameras/kits all sold the same, the H6D would have 12%, and I'm guessing that the GFX and X1D both outsell the H6D by huge margins). I don't know how Phase sales compare to the 33x44mm market...

H6D sensor has the same size has Phase One ones 53x40mm, you can see the specs here:

IQ3 Series: https://captureintegration.com/phase-one/#1000
H6D: https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/1244709-REG/hasselblad_h_3013742_h6d_100c_medium_format_dslr.html

When Phase One released their first full-frame Medium Format sensor in CMOS made by Sony, they said they had the exclusivity for some months, Hasselblad released their H6D series some months after. The same thing will happen probably with the new 150MPx sensor.

Anyway, all manufacturers can still adapt the design, something that it is clearly doing Phase One, with their thricromatic series, with custom RGB filter array or their monochrome series.


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What's your guess on the fate of the easy to design 61MP 24x36mm sensor? Will it never show up, and the next step in 24x36mm will happen at thenext step down in pixel pitch? Will it be a catalog sensor that shows up first in some relatively low-volume camera? You're right that both Nikon and Sony have relatively new cameras (in Nikon's case, one relatively new and one very new) that use the mid-40 MP sensors - neither one is due for an upgrade for a year or more. Would Nikon and Sony really let Pentax or someone put out a camera with a headline spec that beat theirs? If it never shows up, and the next 24x36mm resolution bump is with the next generation, one thing to consider is that it'll be getting close to Micro 43 pixel pitches, and Micro 43 sensors currently underperform the best APS-C and 24x36mm sensors by quite a bit on a per-pixel basis...

It will show up... not sure if it is going to be a catalog sensor, but I don't think this is a problem for companies like Nikon, that they are already ordering custom designs like the 45 MPx sensor. Panasonic looks like they are also doing a custom design, not sure if with Sony, maybe not, with the 47Mpx sensor. Not sure if Pentax can afford this... but they look a bit lost in the market right now anyway... Why is it not now in the market? I can think of several reasons... the speed readout of the pixels it is not yet where Sony Imaging wants... trying to create a stacked version of it in such bigger scale...  they maybe are not in a hurry and they are waiting to compensate A7r III design before releasing a new one, as you mentions... but Sony being Sony, I will not be surprised if by the end of 2019, two years after the release of the A7r III they release a new A7r series camera... but I think they will have to release first their new A7s III camera to recover the video crown.

BJL

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Sony sensor list updated: the missing 35mm format w/3.76 micron pixels
« Reply #11 on: November 04, 2018, 12:52:06 PM »

On the missing 61MP sensor in 36x24mm format — what one would get by using the same 3.76 micron pixel pitch as in the new 26MP 24x16mm, 100MP 44x33mm and 150MP 54x41mm sensors— my guess is that it is not coming soon. That might seem strange, but I am looking at the trends:

  • 36x24 format has almost never offered pixels as small as in the current highest resolution 24x16 format sensors. I think this is because the trade-offs of higher sensor resolution against lower frame-rate, higher fabrication cost, worse per-pixel measures of DR and noise, and the sharpness limitations of lenses (zooms in particular) have favored a balance giving both more and bigger photosites in 36x24 than in 24x16.
  • The larger-than-36x24 "Medium" formats have instead quite often matched the pixel size of the smaller 36x24 format (though never before matching 24x16 format). I think because "MF" puts far more emphasis on distinguishing itself by resolution, and far less on frame rate or cost (of sensors or lenses) and less on high ISO noise.
  • Sony Imaging and Nikon have both quite recently released new "top resolution" cameras in 36x24, in particular the Z7 with an apparently new 46MP sensor — it would be strange to do that if a next-generation 61MP sensor were coming soon.
So my speculation is that the MF makers have been asking Sony to put its new smallest photosites in the latest 44x33 and 54x41 sensors, while Sony Imaging and Nikon are striking a different balance in planning their 36x24 format offerings.


On the other hand, this list from Sony Semiconductor clearly has many gaps, like all the custom sensors at 42, 45 and 46 MP sold only to Sony Imaging or Nikon.
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Dan Wells

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Re: Sony sensor list updated
« Reply #12 on: November 04, 2018, 02:13:48 PM »

The ~46 MP sensor in the Z7 seems to be a very close relative of the ~46 MP sensor in the D850 (the Z7 version has on-sensor PDAF, but it's unclear if there are any other differences...
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BJL

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Re: Sony sensor list updated
« Reply #13 on: November 05, 2018, 03:58:23 PM »

The ~46 MP sensor in the Z7 seems to be a very close relative of the ~46 MP sensor in the D850 (the Z7 version has on-sensor PDAF, but it's unclear if there are any other differences...
Ah, it seems you are right: the exact same 8256x5504 pixel count has been rounded differently to 46 or 47 MP.
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