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Author Topic: A true 6x7 CMOS low light sensor camera, can it exist?  (Read 13708 times)
rcdurston
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« on: August 20, 2012, 03:29:57 AM »
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Alright, I'm just a photographer, I'm not a pixel peeper or techie so don't jump down my throat for my simple minded question.

If Canon/Nikon can make low light cameras and sensors (or be it Sony's), why can they (any manufacturer) not make a medium format version that is a full frame sensor?
This is what I'm thinking; a low light CMOS, 6x7 sensor that is around 20-40mp for under $20k, live view would be nice but it doesn't have to do video.
My logic is that if Canon/Nikon can build a body with all the extra goodies in it (mount, titanium body, extra electronics etc etc), for under $5k why can they not simply cut a larger sensor out of the original wafer and throw it in a digital back for $20k?
Why are we locked into this 36x48 format or even 40x54?

thanks
be gentle please
R
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torger
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« Reply #1 on: August 20, 2012, 06:25:19 AM »
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Costs increase exponentially with larger chip sizes. I'm no expert on chip making, but my understanding is that you would need more or less custom-made machinery to make that large chips which would cost many many millions of dollars before even coming as far as to make the first chip. It is hard to make large chips. CMOS are much more complicated to make than CCDs so it becomes even more expensive. Probably not impossible, but there is no business case. The product would simply be too expensive.
« Last Edit: August 20, 2012, 06:29:14 AM by torger » Logged
rcdurston
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« Reply #2 on: August 20, 2012, 06:30:47 AM »
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the other option is to stitch 4 regular colour matched CMOS sensors
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hjulenissen
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« Reply #3 on: August 20, 2012, 07:01:38 AM »
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An even cheaper (startup-cost-wise) option is to use a single, smaller sensor (line-sensor or rectangular) and sweep it across the image circle using a motor or manually (shift-lense).

It seems that the mechanisms that made largish-sensor film photography rewarding (technically and economically) plays out different in the digital age.

-h
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yaya
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« Reply #4 on: August 20, 2012, 08:55:03 AM »
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the other option is to stitch 4 regular colour matched CMOS sensors

Not possible with today's technology, at least not if you want to achieve a photographically acceptable result...
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Petrus
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« Reply #5 on: August 20, 2012, 09:06:35 AM »
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Too many things to make it commercially viable:

- FF 35 sensor is fairly easy to make, but still more costly than smaller ones. One thing going for it is a big market which seems to be even growing with new Nikon and Canon FF/FX models like D4, D800 1DX
- making a sensor 4 times larger is not just 4 times more expensive, but X times more expensive, as the number of failed samples versus good ones grows exponentially
- as the big sensor would be X times more expensive, and the large camera body with all the now required goodies would be Y times more expensive than a D800, the end result would be Z times more expensive.
- Hardly anybody would want to buy a camera which is Z times more expensive than D800, which would bring the manufacturing costs up by factor of W

Thus the camera would cost X*Y*W times more than D800 with no real gain in quality, and no camera maker is stupid enough to invest money in a project like that. There are customers who are willing to pay anything for a large, sensitive sensors, but they are few and probably already have them, but do not publish graphs and sample pictures here or anywhere... 
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theguywitha645d
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« Reply #6 on: August 20, 2012, 09:29:15 AM »
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...for under $5k why can they not simply cut a larger sensor out of the original wafer and throw it in a digital back for $20k?

So you have one component that costs $5K. And you think the final back will simply be 4X the price of that one piece and still lead to profit for the company? What about paying the employees? Not just the engineers, but all the other folks that are need to produce a product. Then there is packaging, storage, distribution. We have not even come to the back design and the components need to make the rest of the back. And at $20k, you have a small market. I suppose you want lenses for these as well.

I understand the desire for certain fantasy cameras. But the reality of production usually makes it impossible.
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Doug Peterson
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« Reply #7 on: August 20, 2012, 09:44:23 AM »
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Market would be limited by:
- lack of any 6x7 autofocus lenses
- slow capture rate reading off a sensor of that size
- high cost due to sensor size economics (as explained in this thread)

As for low-light... if you're shooting in low light then the advantages of f/1-f/2 lenses, image stabilization, and small mirror/shutter systems are a big advantage.

The mirrors and focal plane shutters of 6x7 cameras are not going to allow for slow shutter speeds hand held. So you'd need leaf shutter lenses and a bit of a delay between mirror and leaf shutter firing.

Let me ask the more relevant question. Have you personally shot for an extended period of time with a FF 645 sensor (e.g. IQ160, Credo 60) and a fast lens? What is it you find lacking? I'd be shocked if the answer was image quality, resolution, or the ability to limit DOF. If the answer is high ISO performance then the answer is not to go bigger.
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FredBGG
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« Reply #8 on: August 20, 2012, 12:13:45 PM »
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Let me ask the more relevant question. Have you personally shot for an extended period of time with a FF 645 sensor (e.g. IQ160, Credo 60) and a fast lens? What is it you find lacking? I'd be shocked if the answer was image quality, resolution, or the ability to limit DOF. If the answer is high ISO performance then the answer is not to go bigger.

What's missing....
Well the look of a 6x7 lens compared to a sub 645 lens.
Many keep on going on about how different MFD is, but with the high megapixel count and faster lenses with 35mm DSLR top of the line cameras the difference in look between a MFD camera and a D800 for example really isn't there anymore. On top of that dynamic range is higher with the latest DSLRs.
Vendors claim MF had shallower depth of field, but that's not true if you compare an 85mm 1.4

Back in the film days the difference was more significant as the difference in film grain was significant, but even them pros favored 6x7 MF cameras if they were looking for the cleanest negatives in MF.

I think the OP's questions are legitimate, Probably like many others he sees the difference between MFD and the latest and greatest DSLR cameras to not be worth the extra money and system limitations.

http://www.circleofconfusion.ie/d800e-vs-phase-one-iq180/

Quote
What is it you find lacking?

Image wise ... the look of 6x7 of 6x8. Full range of tilt shift lenses... like pro cameras used to be in 4x5 and up until the Fuji gx680 came along.
Many talk about being more in control with MFD..... yea right without that tilt and shift on all lenses... something that was and should be a staple of pro photographers.

Now some reasons why Nikon or Canon won't make a 6x7 sensor.
1st it is more profitable for Canon and Nikon to concentrate on their 35mm systems and invest heavily there.
The cameras are already very very high quality so they have to invest heavily to compete and inovate.
2nd Nikon, Canon and even Carl Zeiss have preferred to diversify rather than work in the fading MFD sector.
3rd Not enough people want 6x7 with digital. The look they are after is a combination of larger format and film.
4th Pan and stitch systems like the giga pan produce large format looks creating virtual 8x10 digital sensors
for static subjects.

Why Phase One or Hasselblad are not or most likely are not developing a 6x7 sensor... or new 6x7 system.
Neither company make or can make sensors.
Their suppliers are mainly invested in military and scientific fields..... those fields could not give a damn
about the aesthetic look of larger image circles.
Enthusiast are less likely to buy big cameras... by this I mean the guy who buys a Ferrari and a red Hasselblad to go with it.
A 645 camera is still a reasonable size for an enthusiast to drag around.
Enthusiast with deep pockets are a significant part of MF sales.
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rcdurston
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« Reply #9 on: August 20, 2012, 12:19:10 PM »
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Market would be limited by:
- lack of any 6x7 autofocus lenses
- slow capture rate reading off a sensor of that size
- high cost due to sensor size economics (as explained in this thread)

As for low-light... if you're shooting in low light then the advantages of f/1-f/2 lenses, image stabilization, and small mirror/shutter systems are a big advantage.

The mirrors and focal plane shutters of 6x7 cameras are not going to allow for slow shutter speeds hand held. So you'd need leaf shutter lenses and a bit of a delay between mirror and leaf shutter firing.

Let me ask the more relevant question. Have you personally shot for an extended period of time with a FF 645 sensor (e.g. IQ160, Credo 60) and a fast lens? What is it you find lacking? I'd be shocked if the answer was image quality, resolution, or the ability to limit DOF. If the answer is high ISO performance then the answer is not to go bigger.

Hi Doug
-I don't really care about 67 AF as I rarely use it now on a Canon and don't have it on any of my MF or LF cameras.
-capture rate again, wouldn't it be just twice as long as the existing sensors now that are half the size?
-as far as a the economics go, yes there might be some but it would be a limited camera and priced as so.
Remember I'm not looking for some crazy spec on the sensor, just what already exists for low light and not even any where near the resolution of 4x the 35mm sensor (21mpx4=84mp=too large of files to edit in reality)
I shoot mostly Canon digital but find myself shooting more and more 6x7 film again and scanning for the dof and image quality.
Yes, I'm putting myself out there on this and all you pixel peeps will start taking your shots but if you have ever shot 6x6, 6x7, 6x8 etc you will know/see the difference.
Doug if I had the money for an IQ160 or Credo and a fast lens, I probably still wouldn't be happy with the dof since it is still just over half the size of 6x7.

I guess what I'm really getting at is,why after all the years of digital have they not gone back to a standard film size for medium format and now created multiple size for digital.
I don't need the MP, I need the sensor size bigger.

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theguywitha645d
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« Reply #10 on: August 20, 2012, 12:32:28 PM »
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I guess what I'm really getting at is,why after all the years of digital have they not gone back to a standard film size for medium format and now created multiple size for digital.
I don't need the MP, I need the sensor size bigger.



Cost. That is the reason. Creating a larger sensor is not as easy as creating a larger film.
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theguywitha645d
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« Reply #11 on: August 20, 2012, 12:36:42 PM »
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Remember I'm not looking for some crazy spec on the sensor, just what already exists for low light and not even any where near the resolution of 4x the 35mm sensor (21mpx4=84mp=too large of files to edit in reality)

A 6x7 sensor is a crazy spec--the pixel resolution is secondary.
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rcdurston
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« Reply #12 on: August 20, 2012, 12:38:45 PM »
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A 6x7 sensor is a crazy spec--the pixel resolution is secondary.
Exactly
give me a five year old sensor technology with relatively low MP but in a larger size
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jsch
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« Reply #13 on: August 20, 2012, 12:43:34 PM »
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Hi,

what we need is a good film scanner (from 35 mm to 8x10") which is fast, runs under recent software and is affordable. The solution is not the Hasselblad/Imacon offering or the Epson V750. Both have their good sides but also their downsides. Something like an Creo Eversmart with recent technology, better software and cheaper would be fine.

Best,
Johannes
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Doug Peterson
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« Reply #14 on: August 20, 2012, 01:43:51 PM »
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-I don't really care about 67 AF as I rarely use it now on a Canon and don't have it on any of my MF or LF cameras.

I'm with you. But the market for manual-focus-only is simply much smaller than auto-focus. Smaller market = higher required markups, due to less economy of scale.

-capture rate again, wouldn't it be just twice as long as the existing sensors now that are half the size?

Would depend on the design/resolution. It wouldn't necessarily be that much of a speed hit. Actually come to think of it I don't think this would be a major issue.

-as far as a the economics go, yes there might be some but it would be a limited camera and priced as so.

This sort of reminds me of an art director who expects a minimilist-style image will be drastically less expensive/time-consuming to produce than an ornate style. This simply isn't the case. Even eliminating all bells and whistles any new digital back requires tremendous R+D. With a market even smaller than the general medium format market the cost-per-back of that R+D would be very very high.

As reference there was one commercial attempt at a 6x6 back. The "BigShot" - it was very expensive and a pretty big flop.

Remember I'm not looking for some crazy spec on the [6x7] sensor, just what already exists for low light

In a very fundamental way, based on the way sensors are designed and fabricated the size itself is a crazy spec. Not impossible. But as pointed out, very difficult to see where the economies of the product would work.

21mpx4=84mp=too large of files to edit in reality

As a side note I edit 80mp raw files on a regular basis on a 4 year old laptop, alongside 16-22mp dSLR files; it's really not much slower. In the case that I don't need the resolution for the particular case I process e.g. a 50% resolution TIFF which keeps the retouching workflow snappy. When I need the resolution the 16 bit TIFF is a rather hefty file to retouch, but by definition it's worth it (if it wasn't worth it for a particular job I simply process a smaller TIFF from the full sized raw).

Until you've got a few hundred 80mp raw files on your computer I can completely understand where you'd think they would be insanely huge in practice. That's simply not the way Capture One works. Editing 80mp raw files is simply not 4 times harder/time-consuming than editing 20mp raw files.

I shoot mostly Canon digital but find myself shooting more and more 6x7 film again and scanning for the dof and image quality.
Yes, I'm putting myself out there on this and all you pixel peeps will start taking your shots but if you have ever shot 6x6, 6x7, 6x8 etc you will know/see the difference.
Doug if I had the money for an IQ160 or Credo and a fast lens, I probably still wouldn't be happy with the dof since it is still just over half the size of 6x7.

I don't think I'd count as one of those pixel peepers. I have great respect for the non measurable characteristics of cameras/lenses like the look and feel of the image, the color rending (sometimes accurate and pleasing color are diametrically opposed), and the balance of the body, ergonomics of shooting, and other non tangible/provable things about a camera system that increase the feeling of that camera functioning as an extension of your will rather than an obstacle to it.

From your writing it's not 100% clear to me if you've ever done any major shooting with 645 MFD, but it sounds like you have not. If not I'd really encourage you to try a kit like a P65+ with the Phase 150/2.8, or Hassy 100/2.2 or Hassy FE 110/2 before you assume that nothing smaller than 6x7 would make you happy. You know what they say about assumptions :-). You have your choice of 15mp, 20mp, 60mp, and 80mp 645 sensors*  A Phase One 150/2.8 lens and a P65+ or IQ160/180 produces aesthetically beautiful narrow-DOF rendering with great IQ characteristics.

Of course you may try it and not find what you want. But you threw out a price of $20k for your imagined 6x7 back and I can tell you there are some great kits at that price already. They are not 6x7, but instead of assuming a specific numerical technical spec (6.0 cm by 7.0 cm) is what you need to achieve your vision I'd suggest stating your goals (e.g. beautiful look, shallow DOF, good transitions in and out of the plane of focus, clean rendering) and see if something will achieve that within your budget.

And re: the low-light element the P65+ looks very good at ISO1600 in sensor+ mode (IMO of course - I'd be happy to send you an example raw for you evaluate for your own needs/standards). Since you said resolution is not that important to you I think that would be a great option for you.

Unless of course this is an armchair discussion and you have no real intention/interest in such a camera beyond ideal conversation Tongue.

*The 15mp and 20mp refer to Sensor+ with an IQ160/P65+ or IQ180 respectively
« Last Edit: August 20, 2012, 02:00:42 PM by Doug Peterson » Logged

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« Reply #15 on: August 20, 2012, 02:01:39 PM »
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Following Doug's suggestions I think that it is also worth trying one of the large-ish sensor backs on your 6x7 (assuming it's an RZ or an RB which can take a DB). You might find that it is actually closer to what you get from 6x7 film then you think or hear on the web...

There are thousands of e.g. RZ shooters out there who have started with a tiny 24x36 sensor 10-11 years ago and gradually grew up to a not-so-tiny 645 sensor...most of them have long forgotten about film and film workflow...
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rcdurston
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« Reply #16 on: August 20, 2012, 02:05:10 PM »
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No Doug, its not just "idle".
 I am interested in MFD but now with the D800 out ( I know, I know, its not MFD and is only close in file size), I'm just thinking as to why there isn't anything really groundbreaking out of the MFD arena. The most obvious to me would be a much larger sensor.
I guess I'll just keep scanning my RZ stuff when I need to for work and shoot my Canons for everything else.

Thanks to everyone for the input.

R
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Petrus
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« Reply #17 on: August 20, 2012, 02:44:48 PM »
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No Doug, its not just "idle".
 I am interested in MFD but now with the D800 out ( I know, I know, its not MFD and is only close in file size),

D800 with fast f:1.4 to f:2 primes produces practically the same files that MF backs with f:2.8 and f:4 lenses do, with better DR and high ISO performance
to boot. The problem is that D800 is small, cheap, fast and has too many convenient features.

Get a D800 and use it only on manual exposure, single shot, manual focus. Be happy. Use the saved 20k$ on shooting trips to exotic places, exotic models, exotic whatever...
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FredBGG
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« Reply #18 on: August 20, 2012, 02:45:53 PM »
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I guess I'll just keep scanning my RZ stuff when I need to for work and shoot my Canons for everything else.

R

Smart choice.
As an ex MFD owner and user IMHO a photographer is more creatively "empowered" with a combination of
large MF film and high end 35mm DSLR. You get two very different looks. With a High end DSLR and a MF digital you pretty much get a very similar look
with MFD having a very slight sharpness edge when printing very large and observing the prints very closely.


I think it is safe to say that Canon will be coming out with a higher MP count camera quite soon bringing Canon upto the MP count of the D800 or higher.
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FredBGG
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« Reply #19 on: August 20, 2012, 02:48:36 PM »
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D800 with fast f:1.4 to f:2 primes produces practically the same files that MF backs with f:2.8 and f:4 lenses do, with better DR and high ISO performance
to boot. The problem is that D800 is small, cheap, fast and has too many convenient features.

Get a D800 and use it only on manual exposure, single shot, manual focus. Be happy. Use the saved 20k$ on shooting trips to exotic places, exotic models, exotic whatever...

+1
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