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Author Topic: What's holding back Japan?  (Read 8626 times)
BernardLanguillier
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« on: November 18, 2005, 04:19:45 AM »
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Extrapolating the level of performance of current APS or 35 mm FF sensors, it would appear that Canon, Fuji and Nikon/Sony have the technology today to produce 40 MP medium format sensors with great DR and excellent noise levels up to 1600 ISO.

This would put them 2 or 3 stops ahead of the newly released Kodak and Dalsa chips.

Anyone having a clue why they are not entering this market?

Regards,
Bernard
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michael
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« Reply #1 on: November 18, 2005, 06:44:33 AM »
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Japan?

I didn't know they made sensors.

Canon, Sony and Matsushita do, and for them the answer is simply that of limited market size.

Three years ago Fuji announced and showed samples of a 22MP MF back, but it never made it to market. This is just too specialized a market segment for the big Japanese sensor makers.

Kodak and Dalsa specialize in these chips, making them for military, scientific and industrial applications. The small market size is also what makes them so expensive.

Don't look to Japanese companies for large OEM sensors. It's not going to happen. Mamiya going with Dalsa is just one indicator (if their ZD products ever actually make it to market).

Michael
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BernardLanguillier
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« Reply #2 on: November 18, 2005, 10:13:26 AM »
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Japan?

I didn't know they made sensors.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=51597\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

OK, I should have written "what is holding back Japanese sensor manufacturers", but I am sure that got the meaning, didn't you?

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Canon, Sony and Matsushita do, and for them the answer is simply that of limited market size.

Three years ago Fuji announced and showed samples of a 22MP MF back, but it never made it to market. This is just too specialized a market segment for the big Japanese sensor makers.

Kodak and Dalsa specialize in these chips, making them for military, scientific and industrial applications. The small market size is also what makes them so expensive.

Don't look to Japanese companies for large OEM sensors. It's not going to happen. Mamiya going with Dalsa is just one indicator (if their ZD products ever actually make it to market).

Michael
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=51597\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

If Kodak and Dalsa make money in that segment, I am not sure to understand why other companies that would seemingly be able to offer very competitve products would not be able to make some there.

The Fuji back did actually make it to the Japanese market (it is still available for sales by the way), but only for the Fuji GX680III. They never marketed the Hassy H1 version of that back.

Regards,
Bernard
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BJL
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« Reply #3 on: November 20, 2005, 06:56:57 PM »
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If Kodak and Dalsa make money in that segment, I am not sure to understand why other companies that would seemingly be able to offer very competitve products would not be able to make some there.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=51624\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]
Canon, Nikon, Konica-Minolta, Olympus etc. do not make medium format either (Canon used to long, long ago and Pentax still does, just barely).  For companies like these, it is sometimes better to leave profitable but small niche markets to smaller specialist companies, if the niche would only ever be a very small part of their total business.

It is also conceivable that scaling up to very large sensor sizes takes a lot of special technological experience that Kodak and Dalsa (formely part of Phillips) have acquired over many years, and that catching up is not as easy as you think.


P. S. What makes you think that it be so easy to get more DR than Kodak and Dalsa MF sensors achieve? Reviews I have read, including at this site, suggest that Kodak and Dalsa medium format sensors lead the pack for DR. This should not be confused with low noise at high ISO! For one thing, all medium format sensors so far lack microlenses, the addition of which would add about one stop of sensitivity. (The forthcoming Kodak 31MP 33x44mm sensor will have microlenses.)

P. P. S. Some have dared to suggest that Nikon etc. choose to forego the 35mm format DSLR niche for similar reasons of inadequate market size!
« Last Edit: November 20, 2005, 07:49:43 PM by BJL » Logged
Anon E. Mouse
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« Reply #4 on: November 20, 2005, 08:24:15 PM »
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If Kodak and Dalsa make money in that segment, I am not sure to understand why other companies that would seemingly be able to offer very competitve products would not be able to make some there.

How much money do they make? It is a very small market. There really is no incentive for the Japanese camera manufacturers to enter it. The market may already be saturated and not enough profit for large-scale manufacturing.

And as pointed out, Canon, Nikon, Konica Minolta, and Olympus don't make medium-format cameras. I doubt they ever will (again). Whether Pentax enters the market would depend if it could be done economically. Mamiya would indicate it is not a viable choice at this time.

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Extrapolating the level of performance of current APS or 35 mm FF sensors, it would appear that Canon, Fuji and Nikon/Sony have the technology today to produce 40 MP medium format sensors with great DR and excellent noise levels up to 1600 ISO.

Perhaps the problem is more complex than simple extrpolation. Certainly Kodak does not find it easy.
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BernardLanguillier
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« Reply #5 on: November 21, 2005, 06:58:01 AM »
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Perhaps the problem is more complex than simple extrpolation. Certainly Kodak does not find it easy.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=51829\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

You migth be right, but I cannot figure out why. Any hints?

The Kodak CCD sensor used in the Leica DMR does indeed seem to have great DR, even if its high iso noise doesn't seem to be on par with the Japanese sensors.

There is no doubt that Kodak does have the technology, I just cannot figure out why they seem to be unable to produce large sensors whose noise level is as low as the noise level of smaller sensors having smaller photosites.

- Would the theory "larger photosites" -> "less high iso noise" turn out not to be true?
- would the increase of photosites have a negative impact on noise?

Regards,
Bernard
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BernardLanguillier
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« Reply #6 on: November 21, 2005, 07:07:34 AM »
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Dalsa MF sensors achieve? Reviews I have read, including at this site, suggest that Kodak and Dalsa medium format sensors lead the pack for DR. This should not be confused with low noise at high ISO! For one thing, all medium format sensors so far lack microlenses, the addition of which would add about one stop of sensitivity. (The forthcoming Kodak 31MP 33x44mm sensor will have microlenses.)

[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=51823\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

You are right, I should have written high iso noise where they lead. Backs do indeed appear to have a significantly larger DR, although little actual data is available on this.

But anyway, isn't it widely believed that there is a strong link between large DR and low noise levels? DR for a digital device is essentially defined by the level of noise in the shadows, isn't it?

The lack of micro-lenses does indeed probably contribute do the lower sensitivity of backs. I didn't know it was as much as one stop. Interesting point.

Regards,
Bernard
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BJL
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« Reply #7 on: November 21, 2005, 01:10:52 PM »
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You migth be right, but I cannot figure out why. Any hints?

The Kodak CCD sensor used in the Leica DMR does indeed seem to have great DR, even if its high iso noise doesn't seem to be on par with the Japanese sensors.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=51853\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

I am glad to here that about the Leica back: on paper, the new Kodak MF sensors have the same pixel pitch yet almost one more stop of DR and modestly improved noise levels.

Naively, the larger electron well size of FFT CCDs compared to CMOS (at equal pixel spacing) gives both more dark noise (counted in electrons) and more well capacity (again in electrons), leading to
1. lower usable minimum Exposure Index ("ISO") due to extra highlight headroom
2. better S/N and DR at minimum EI, due to that minimum being lower
3. higher dark noise when compared at equal EI.

Conceivably, the major customers for the big Kodak and Dalsa sensors care more about resolution and DR at low to moderate Exposure Index than about noise at high EI. In particular, I think of MF as oriented to controlled light, with flash, studio light, tripods and such; not so much for snapping action in low light without flash. And perhaps the same when MF means Manual Focus, as with the Leica R back!


I am fairly sure it is a matter of FFT CCD vs CMOS, not USA and Canada (Dalsa) vs Japan.
« Last Edit: November 21, 2005, 01:11:45 PM by BJL » Logged
BJL
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« Reply #8 on: November 21, 2005, 03:25:39 PM »
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But anyway, isn't it widely believed that there is a strong link between large DR and low noise levels?
Yes: widely but somewhat inaccurately believed, because it ignores the role of highlight headroom in DR. Probably accurate enough when comparing sensors of similar types, like the interline CCD's dominant in digicams, but dangerous when comparing very different sensor types.
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DR for a digital device is essentially defined by the level of noise in the shadows, isn't it?
Only if you compare with images "exposed to the right" to make full use of a sensor's highlight headroom: DR is range from the shadow floor all the way to the limit of blown highlights. Comparing shadow noise in images exposed normally for the midtones misses part of the DR story. Also, comparing normal JPEG conversions misses it entirely, because those JPEG's limit highlights to about 2 1/2 stops above the mid-tones regardless of the sensor's headroom.

The Kodak DSLR's with those very unusual FillFactory sensors were an extreme example of worse than average shadow noise, but excellent highlight headroom (even better than FFT CCD!?) giving very low minimum usable EI (ISO 40?) and good DR at that low EI. That extra DR is extractable from RAW files but missing from normal JPEG output.
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The lack of micro-lenses does indeed probably contribute do the lower sensitivity of backs. I didn't know it was as much as one stop.
East to check: compare the Quantum Efficiency on the spec. sheets for the new Kodak MF back sensors with 6.8 micron pixel spacing, at
http://www.kodak.com/global/en/digital/ccd...d=0.1.4.8&lc=en
KAF-31600 is the 31MP one with microlenses: green QE 43%
KAF-39000 is the 39MP one without: green QE 23%.
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