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Discussion in 'Open Gear Talk' started by Pelao, Sep 26, 2012.
Apparently they will take a 10% share.
Hope it brings stability.
At least Oly will have access to Sony sensors. Maybe this will spur some innovation on the part of Panasonic.
It may already be too late. There are speculations from credible sources (see the thread on Amin's mu-43 forums) that the GH3 uses a Sony sensor (possibly a variation of the E-M5's). I don't think there's any proof as of yet, but if it's true this leaves Canon, Samsung, and possibly Aptina(?) as the only competition (unless I'm forgetting someone).
Well there are the guys who make the Leica sensors (though they aren't exactly mass market) and there is Fuji.
But yes, it would appear Sony will be in a position to drive direction. I wonder what this means for innovation?
And the Foveon sensor. The only really different sensor.
It's always difficult to know exactly which company make each sensor, they don't communicate much on this for obvious reasons. But I personaly think that Fuji's sensors are really Sony's (albeit with their own tweaks, EXR processors, and maybe more). The X100 sensor would be mostly the same as the one in the D90 (with better processing, and some noise reduction directly in the RAW files), and the X-pro1/X-E1 would be mostly the same as the one in the NEX-5N (without the AA filter, and other modifications). Again, I have no proof, but I think it stands to reason : before the X100, Fuji had been out of the market for years in the "serious" cameras segment, I think it would take a lot of money, work and time in R&D to get to the level where they can produce the kind of sensors they have today. It seems to make a lot more sense to just buy the sensors from Sony and add their own expertise in image processing.
I also have my doubts about those guys who come out of nowhere to make the Leica M sensor. Why would Leica buy their sensor from an unknown company? How did they acquire the technology to compete with a giant in electronics? Leica used to buy their sensors from Kodak, a huge company, and Sony is becoming the new Kodak. It would be logical to buy the M sensors from them. And it's a 24MP full frame sensor...announced at the exact same time as all the other cameras that use the Sony 24MP full frame sensor.
Now with Aptina, I'm not even sure what is their part in designing their sensors. I think when the Nikon D3100 came out, its 14MP APS-C sensor was supposed to be a Nikon/Aptina sensor..but it gives the same IQ as the Sony 14MP sensor you can find in the original NEX-3 and NEX-5 cameras from Sony. The D5100/D7000 sensor is obviously the same Sony 16MP that you can find in Pentax cameras, as well as in the NEX-C3/NEX-5N, and I think Fuji's, all with some specific tweaks obvisouly, but there isn't that much difference between all those cams. Aptina probably plays a part in the final sensor manufacturing, but I doubt it's a large part.
Anyway, all of this is pure speculation, but my personal opinion is that Sony already owns the market. The only companies that I think are truly independant in the sensor department are Samsung and Canon (and Panasonic, at least until the GH3). The others probably all share the same technology.
EDIT: Just saw Andrew's message. Yes, I forgot about Sigma. Foveon is a unique design.
Regarding Amin's speculations about the GH3 sensor: On the m4/3rd site he wrote, "The first clue to this question is that by most accounts, it's not a multi-aspect sensor. If Panasonic were making this sensor, it seems likely that they would make it multi-aspect like the GH1 and GH2, so non-multi-aspect suggests the possibility that the sensor was made by someone else." But I have seen specs for the GH3 on the internet that now claim the sensor is multi-aspect (here for example: GH3 "new 16MP multi-aspect ratio sensor": Micro Four Thirds Talk Forum: Digital Photography Review.) But other online sites are denying this. Does anyone know for sure? Does it matter much?
CMOSIS have been around for a few years, and the founders have been in imagining for a very long time.
You may well be right about Fuji. I just don't know. They have been making sensors for a while, and claim they R&D on the X-Trans goes back 5-6 years. There is an interesting Fuji interview on Imaging Resource that's worth reading:
The 10% stake in Olympus is to help keep it afloat, but the specific business venture Sony is said to be interested in medical systems.
Sony set for $642 million investment in Olympus: sources | Reuters
I'd imagine the very last thing Sony is interested in is the Olympus camera unit. Oly might be interested in Sony tech, but they can get that any old day of the week via a simple mechanism -- it's called a Purchase Order.
I don't think that it is a make or break feature, and Panasonic is as far as I know the only manufacturer to have used it, but it did actually make it worthwhile to adjust the aspect ratio in-camera to suit the scene since it was no longer just a crop. I remember a particularly rabid Panasonic fan on mu-43 reviewed the GH2 and E-M5 sensors as being equally good because they considered the multi-aspect sensor of equal value to the E-M5's DR and noise advantages. I wouldn't value it anywhere near that highly, but it would still be an unfortunate to see it disappear.
My understanding is also that Fuji uses Sony sensors (of course, with their own innovation on the other bits in the image path).
So, if it is true that Panasonic is shifting to Sony as well, that just leaves Canon, Aptina and CMOSIS producing sensors? What happened to the guys that bought Kodak's sensor tech? Not a lot of choice in the market, especially, since I am guessing that Canon isn't all that interested in selling their own sensors?
Oh well, at least the Sony sensors are great!
I'd be a bit worried at this point of the game if I were anyone BUT Sony. Why should Sony give other makers sensors as good as the ones in their own cameras? Or why should they cheaper than Canon, Aptina or CMOSIS?
In the end, it doesn't matter much to me. I'm quite satisfied with images coming from 3year old cameras.
As expected, though the big bucks are in medical imaging and related fields, there will be a conscious effort to work together on the camera business. Interesting times.
This latest press release does expand on what they'd stated earlier. I'm glad to see the inclusion of the camera units working together, whatever that might mean.
Olympus getting (smaller) Sony sensors, Sony getting Olympus lens technology?