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Author Topic: What origin is Nikon's D4 sensor? Not a Sony?  (Read 6858 times)

fotometria gr

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What origin is Nikon's D4 sensor? Not a Sony?
« on: February 05, 2012, 07:06:40 am »

I seem to not be able to find any info in the web on the origin of Nikon's D4 sensor. There is plenty on the rumored 36mpx for the D800, that it is a Sony originated one as all the recent Nikons, but none what so ever for D4. Anybody has info that cares to share? Have they started a new "relationship" with a new "partner"? It would be interesting to know..., it will help to understand where the future development of DSLRs is directed. Regards, Theodoros.
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BernardLanguillier

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Re: What origin is Nikon's D4 sensor? Not a Sony?
« Reply #1 on: February 05, 2012, 07:30:05 am »

The D3/D3s were already Nikon designs. The company manufacturing them was rumored to be Renesas, not sure whether it is the same for the D4.

Cheers,
Bernard

uaiomex

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Re: What origin is Nikon's D4 sensor? Not a Sony?
« Reply #2 on: February 05, 2012, 12:08:46 pm »

I thought they were Nikon designs but actually manufactured at a Sony plant.
Eduardo

The D3/D3s were already Nikon designs. The company manufacturing them was rumored to be Renesas, not sure whether it is the same for the D4.

Cheers,
Bernard

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BernardLanguillier

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Re: What origin is Nikon's D4 sensor? Not a Sony?
« Reply #3 on: February 05, 2012, 03:37:09 pm »

I thought they were Nikon designs but actually manufactured at a Sony plant.

Nope. Not that it really matters as a photographer though.

I couldn't care less if Nikon were to use Canon, Apple of Samsung sensors as long as the photographic outcome matches my need as a user of the Nikon system.

There are many urban myth running wild about the availability of sensor in the context of deeply misunderstood corporate relationships. I hear people say that Nikon might be at risk using Sony sensors in some of their cameras because Sony semi-conductor might want to stop providing them with sensors.

Utterly ridiculous really. Nikon has been by very far the largest customer of Sony semi-conductor sensor division for 10 years, accounting for probably as much as 90% of their large sensors revenue. It is no exaggeration to say that the R&D of the Sony sensors was funded by Nikon. It is still the case today by the way, Sony's cameras alone would be very far from generating enough business to justify the R&D expenditures.

Those are long term win-win relationships but Nikon was smart enough not to lock themselves into a relationship with only one provider of sensors which enables them to deliver better stuff for more niche applications like the D3/D3s/D4.

I have personally never quite understood why Canon was apparently un-willing to look at other sensor providers for the DSLR division although they are using Sony sensors for their compact cameras. Their own sensors are OK but they have been behind the curve for a number of years now and that is bound to cost them some business at some point in time.

Cheers,
Bernard
« Last Edit: February 05, 2012, 03:46:27 pm by BernardLanguillier »
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BJL

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D4 sensor: Nikon design; fabricator unknown, not very important
« Reply #4 on: February 05, 2012, 08:35:04 pm »

I agree with Bernard that we should not worry to much about origins so long as we like the results. But if we do care, the question of who designed a sensor is far more interesting than which company "printed" the resulting designs onto silicon, because there are numerous IC fabrication companies that can handle this job just fine. There is a myth that since Nikon has no fab. of its own, the job must be done by Sony, but this is unlikely, as Sony is not one of the numerous companies routinely in the business of doing out-sourced IC device fab.

So all I care about is that the D4 uses a Nikon sensor design, like most of Nikon's recent high-end SLRs.
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uaiomex

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Re: What origin is Nikon's D4 sensor? Not a Sony?
« Reply #5 on: February 06, 2012, 11:38:03 am »

I didn't quite understood. Are latest Nikon dslr sensors manufactured by Nikon?
This doesn't mean I worry about sensor origin, but it's nice to know.  Actually I'm a Canon user.  :)
Eduardo
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Ellis Vener

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Re: What origin is Nikon's D4 sensor? Not a Sony?
« Reply #6 on: February 06, 2012, 11:49:48 am »

The name on the front of the chip fabrication factory matters no more than the name of the company that makes the bricks, steel or glass used in a building designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, Richard Meier or Renzo Piano.

Nikon's engineers design the chip. I don't doubt they find a company that can fabricate the CMOS to their specifications and that there is likely some collaboration between the design and fabrication engineering teams.
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BernardLanguillier

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Re: What origin is Nikon's D4 sensor? Not a Sony?
« Reply #7 on: February 06, 2012, 05:32:35 pm »

I didn't quite understood. Are latest Nikon dslr sensors manufactured by Nikon?
This doesn't mean I worry about sensor origin, but it's nice to know.  Actually I'm a Canon user.  :)

No, Nikon doesn't manufacture any sensors themselves but they design some of them.

This isn't very different from Apple having the iPhone, iPad,... manufactured by Foxconn in China.

Choosing the right sourcing strategy has been proven to be the #1 succes factor for consumer electronic companies. That is the readon why Mr Cook is the CEO if Apple and worth 500 m$ in stock options. There is no universal truth and things can change quickly but it seems that sticking at any price to an in-house design/production approach is rarely the right decision.

Cheers,
Bernard
« Last Edit: February 06, 2012, 06:52:19 pm by BernardLanguillier »
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eronald

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Re: What origin is Nikon's D4 sensor? Not a Sony?
« Reply #8 on: February 06, 2012, 07:10:43 pm »



I have personally never quite understood why Canon was apparently un-willing to look at other sensor providers for the DSLR division although they are using Sony sensors for their compact cameras. Their own sensors are OK but they have been behind the curve for a number of years now and that is bound to cost them some business at some point in time.

Cheers,
Bernard

Canon are masters or the CMOS process, vertically integrated, and use tuned fabs. I think even expose the masks with their own devices.

This allows them an incredible flexibility at design time.

- They know the process parameters perfectly and can simulate  with huge precision.

-They can make a test batch whenever they need it, so their camera design teams won't get bottlenecked by missing parts.

I think that Sony must have been allowing Nikon unprecedented access to teir proprietary fab data of late. Sony-Nikon is more of a symbiosis than a supplier relationship.

Edmund
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BernardLanguillier

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Re: What origin is Nikon's D4 sensor? Not a Sony?
« Reply #9 on: February 06, 2012, 07:19:52 pm »


Canon are masters or the CMOS process, vertically integrated, and use tuned fabs. I think even expose the masks with their own devices.

This allows them an incredible flexibility at design time.

- They know the process parameters perfectly and can simulate  with huge precision.

-They can make a test batch whenever they need it, so their camera design teams won't get bottlenecked by missing parts.

All that is great and I understand the theoretical value... but it doesn't seem to fully deliver the expected results compared to the competition.

I am not sure that in-house integration is the main factor in designing and manufacturing the best performing sensors. It is very possible to work extremely closely with external suppliers also.

In the end the strategic choices in terms of product priorities, willigness to invest and talent of the engineers are key.

Cheers,
Bernard
« Last Edit: February 06, 2012, 08:04:39 pm by BernardLanguillier »
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PierreVandevenne

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Re: What origin is Nikon's D4 sensor? Not a Sony?
« Reply #10 on: February 07, 2012, 08:08:15 am »

The keys to Sony sensor performance are lower read noise (most visible) and per pixel calibration, which started years ago in surveillance cameras and the large array of small sensors they were shipping for webcams, etc... While I haven't researched the patent /patent cross licensing issues. It's quite clear that Sony and Nikon are clearly together on this and I am under the impression that Canon faces a tough battle on that front: how to achieve the same results without running afoul of your competitor's patents. It's also one of the things that Kodak did poorly, among so many other things. After having a dominant position in the CCD sensor market, it seems they sat on their laurels and their offering appeared to be to some extent, and relatively speaking, stuck in time. Canon is indeed a leader in lithography processes, but there's no big gains to be made on that front since going forever after smaller pixels has clear drawbacks (as opposed to the processor world where shrinking while it is possible leads to clear benefits)
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Pingang

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Re: What origin is Nikon's D4 sensor? Not a Sony?
« Reply #11 on: February 11, 2012, 05:23:24 am »

It really does not matter photographically and not mattered to many people but it does matter to Nikon to keep their lip tight on this.

Pingang
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