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Rumor: Aptina developing a new full frame CMOS sensor for Nikon

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The Italian website marsicalive.it published an article about Aptina Imaging - a company that produces sensors for digital cameras. Aptina confirmed the development of a new CMOS full frame sensor for DSLR cameras and "according to some unconfirmed rumors", this sensor is designed specifically for Nikon:

Google translation

I was told that this is going to be the first full frame sensor produced by Aptina.Could this be the sensor for the rumored Nikon D600?

FYI: the sensor inside the Nikon V1 mirrorless camera is produced by Aptina.

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  • Nick s

    Lame! Let’s see the details!

    • http://mikeandfrida.blogspot.com mike

      If it leads to cheaper full frame cameras we can buy for wedding photography, we’re all in.

      • PHOTOwebbz

        you can buy a D700/D3 for like $1800 right now. as long as new product comes out you can always get a fantastic camera for “cheap”

        • http://mikeandfrida.blogspot.com mike

          Yup, we bought one for that price a few weeks ago. We’re about to buy a second for that price…but if these new cameras keep driving prices down, it’ll be good for everyone.

    • http://mikeandfrida.blogspot.com mike

      They’ll come out in time. We’ve all got to be patient.

  • djm

    Have a look at Aptina’s DSLR solutions page – the camera there sure looks like a pro-level Nikon body…

    • http://snailartphotography.daportfolio.com/ benjamin

      looks like a cross btwn a d300 and d200.. the buttons on the left look d200, but the AF mode selector is def d300.. unless its the D400 ^^

      • LesM

        As far as I can see, it’s a D200 – even the AF mode selector.

      • Your Nipple

        It’s definitely a D200.
        Compare the pictures
        D200: http://farm1.static.flickr.com/160/357334893_1eb383b268.jpg
        Aptina: http://www.aptina.com/solutions/DSLR_marquee.jpg
        But thats odd that they are displaying a camera with a sensor made by Sony.

        • tengris

          It’ even more odd, that they are “one of the world’s leading suppliers of CMOS imaging solutions”, but the D200 had a CCD sensor.

          Reminds me of the Samyang website. Long before the 85mm f/1.4 came out as the first lens with dedicated Nikon mount, they had a closeup of a genuine Nikon AI lens on their site to promote their T2 adapted toy lenses.

          Good webdesign is mostly knowing where you can steal good images that perfectly fit your message. If you come out second best, you can still hope that nobody will notice it.

    • Banned

      BS, they are developing a sensor not the whole camera.

  • Ralph

    Has it actually been confirmed that the D800 has a Sony sensor?

    • Michael

      Only Sony sensors have such low read noise, so I can confidently say, the D800′s sensor is 99.9% from Sony.

      • Mock Kenwell

        Where is the other .1% from?

        • martian

          0.1% that it may be an alien design.

          • Axel

            To find out where it really came from, you need to read the book “The Day After Roswell” by Philip Corso.

    • Jabs

      @Ralph

      Look here for Sensor data.

      http://www.sensorgen.info

  • Just trolling

    I wonder if and how much better this will be compared to the Sony made sensors.

    • Roger

      Who said anything about it being better than Sony?

      • Hunt

        Who said anything about it not being better than Sony? But for though why would they go with another producer if it’s not going to be better in same way or form?

        • ShooterMcGavin

          “Better” for Nikon’s business case for the D600 is probably a sensor that allows them to value engineer the body to a price point set by the market. I bet it has nothing to do with it being a camera of uncompromising performance.

  • bp

    And then those stupid Canoners:
    “booo Nikon’s using sensors from other company!! sucks! Canon wins, Canon produces their own sensors!”

    • Mike

      I would not boast too much about Canon. I hear Canon, has a problem with light leakage with EOS 5D Mark III.

      • http://mikeandfrida.blogspot.com mike

        I believe he was making fun of Canon users who implied Nikon was inferior due to their use of Sony-made sensors.

        • Jake

          actually, most of current Nikon bodies do not use Sony sensor.
          the D3200 sensor is not Sony, the D4 sensor is not Sony made one either.
          I heard the D800 one is also not Sony , is Renasus,which is also a Mitsubishi group company as with Nikon itself.
          so, I am very glad Aptina making a series of good CMOS chips for Nikon, the Nikon V1 also has an Aptina sensor.

          • Davo

            Actually the D3200, D5100, D7000, D800, D300s, D3x are all almost certainly Sony derivatives. Only the D4 and Nikon CX aren’t.

            • D400

              D3100 and D4 are not. Sony have yet to give us an FX 36mp camera, and if they don’t, then the d800 sensor is not sony either.

            • Michael

              The D3100, D5100, D7000, D800 and D3x are from Sony.

            • David

              The 36mp sensor is definitely Sony.

              There have been rumors of a 36mp Sony camera for longer than the d800 was rumoured. They’re just slow to deliver. Apparently the new Sony FF will be 24mp, and next year they will release a 36mp one.

            • Davo

              Ooops.. typo. I meant D3100 being Sony.
              Jury’s still out on the D3200. I would’ve guessed its the same as the NEX-7/A77 sensor but it appears it might not be.

            • Davo

              Oops.. wrong again. I’m confusing myself dammit. Perhaps I should just leave the D3100/D3200 out of it :P

          • http://www.bythom.com Thom Hogan

            There are plenty of clues in the sensors themselves. The current belief is:

            Not Sony: Aptina, D3100, D3200, D3, D3s, D700, D4
            Sony: D5100, D7000, D300s, D3x

            I leave the D800 off those lists at the moment because while it is clear that characteristics of the sensor are EXMOR, it’s not clear that Sony made it yet. I’d have to disassemble one of my D800s to determine the fab, and I’m not yet willing to do that in my testing.

            It appears that Nikon has moved from using “best sensor” to using “best sensor technologies.” This is a subtle shift, but it means that they appear to be applying certain technologies (e.g. on-photosite ADC) from one source to sensors made on other fabs and designed differently. There are at least a dozen key technologies associated with how a photosite performs, so there are lots of permutations and combinations that can be obtained by using “best sensor technologies.”

            • Jabs

              @Thom Hogan

              Add this website to your arsenal.

              http://www.sensorgen.info

            • Tim

              Thom, do you have any thoughts on the possibility of a $1,500 full frame?

            • Horshack

              Thom, I’d guess that it’s less about technology and more about cost. Aptina is likely willing to accept a lower margin on their design to “win the socket”.

            • KnightPhoto

              The D3200 is not Sony? That would be big news and promising for the D400 ;-)

          • timon

            Nikon told us:
            “自社新開発のニコンDXフォーマットCMOSセンサーを搭載” in d3200 webpage.
            http://www.nikon-image.com/products/camera/slr/digital/d3200/features01.htm

            http://dc.watch.impress.co.jp/img/dcw/docs/527/569/html/016.jpg.html

            We know that the d3100 sensor developed by Nikon. However, I did not know d3200 sensor, Nikon now says the d3200 sensor developed by Nikon.

            another, Sony is developing the hybrid organic sensor, a newly patent published in Mar 8, 2012.
            http://egami.blog.so-net.ne.jp/2012-04-11

    • Bret M

      Didn’t a few of those earlier digital canon SLR’s use sensors from Panasonic? I’m pretty sure about that.

      But yeah, who cares who makes the sensors.. however in all honesty, if Sony makes such good sensors, then why do all of their SLR’s have such terrible noise and noise reduction?

      • Jake

        yeah, they did , Canon sensor division was founded by EX-Pana-Toshiba engineers.

      • WoutK89

        Sony made, doesn’t mean it is Sony designed. Sony produces the sensors, but it is still Nikon design specifications.

        • Sky

          It’s made to Nikon specs in a way that Nikon told where the plugs are suppose to be and what voltage should it work with. Nikon doesn’t have any semiconductors division and knows crap about it. They are good in signal processing though, and that’s a thing that makes a huge difference.

      • Sky

        Sony cameras ain’t that bad :) They are better than Canon (besides the full frame ofq) although not as good as Nikon or newest Pentax cameras made on Sony sensors (which beat crap out of Nikon made on same sensor).

        • Mock Kenwell

          Pics or it didn’t happen.

      • Jabs

        All of Sony cameras have 12bit output except the A900 which has 14bit output.

        http://www.sensorgen.info

        Nikon has better infrastructure or pipeline after the sensor plus a better .jpeg engine.

        Expeed 3 is digital while others are still analog and so far Nikon runs over all of them in image quality.

        Look at these D800 images from Fred Miranda’s Blog.

        http://www.fredmiranda.com/forum/topic/1108889

    • M!

      boo on those idiots. even in cars, sometimes the best car manufacturers don’t build their own engine. McLaren F1, Pagani Zonda. they don’t make them and have them make to their specifications.

      • Mike

        Indeed. Boeing and Airbus don’t make their own engines either. They leave that to Rolls Royce or Pratt & Witney.

        In the film days, Fuji, Kodak, Agfa et al., made ‘sensors’ for Canon and Nikon alike. Those names have changed to Sony & Aptina for Nikon. Big deal!

        • BartyL

          +1

    • Alwyn

      So if I produce my own ball of $#!te would it be better than the ball of $#!te another manufacturer produces for me? Please man! This Canon Nikon fight is so immature. I’ve shot with both the Canon 60d and the Nikon D90 and neither can claim to be better. Both have their ups and downs. I did however prefer Nikon’s actual after sales service as opposed to Canon’s non existent and highly arrogant attitude.

  • Michael

    No matter what, I think that Nikon made a mistake on D4′s sensor. It had too high read noise.

    • Ralph

      The D4 doesnt have enough pixels, weighs too much and has a silly second mem card type. The D800 just has a silly second mem type. Thats why the D4 costs so much – it has 3 problems to the D800s one.

      • preston

        Is a “silly” mem card type anything but regular CF to you?

  • http://www.jpgmag.com/people/markwjr Mark

    Wow. How insensitive of you.

  • http://www.DaltonPhoto.com Rick

    I photograph weddings, seniors, family portraits, and commercial work. Really, I just don’t have much need for ISO 102,000 or a 36 MB camera. Though I love shooting with the Nikon DSLR’s, and the video fun of the D7000, I’m not even sure if I want all the video capabilities that seem to loaded in the recent crop of cameras.

    Newspaper/magazine photojournalists want high frame rate, great at high ISO’s, built like a tank, and with video capabilities. They have the D4.

    Commercial folks, and high end portrait photographers don’t need the high ISO’s. High quality large files are what we want. We have the D800 for that. We can live without the video capabilities, thank you.

    Wedding photographers want high ISO capabilities, decent quality, decent build, and a chip with decent dynamic range and frame rate. And, at a price that we can purchase several of them. Currently we have to make due. We want a D4 without all the bells and whistles, and at half the price. Personally I don’t care if it’s FX or DX.

    Maybe one of these Aptina chips in a D400 or D600 will fit the bill.

    • Joseph

      Uh, why don’t you buy some D700′s?

      Actually, unless you’re a weekend warrior doing a wedding every couple of weekends, a pair of D4′s should be payed off in a month. Photo gear is pretty cheap all things considered!

    • trialcritic

      People assume that the video capabilities increase the cost of D800. It reduces it as it is not expensive to add it and increases the number of buyers. Simple economics of demand and supply. A lot of videographers want to use the D800, some people feel that atleast 30% of the buyers will be videographers.

      • Sky

        That might be true for Canon 5D MkIII. Certainly not D800. It’s video is way below standards of Canon or heck: even Sony APS-C cameras.

        • trialcritic

          Not true. Wonder where you got your information. The video shootouts for the D800 has it on level with the Canon.

          • Video/photo guy

            Actually the d800 having 4:2:2 8 bit uncompressed output make it a very good option for videographers.

            As a videographer AND a photographer i just have to laugh at video naysayers. A lot of us have been waiting for a Nikon fx cam that shoots 1080 25/30p. I know I have.

            I’ve used the d800 on two video jobS already (using flaat settings – google it) and it’s excellent. Also according to tests the d800 has a sharper image than the 5Diii. Which is a good thing.

        • Canon troll alert

          You have no idea what you are talking about.

          How much does Canon pay you?

      • Mock Kenwell

        +200. And some of us need the video. The only issues with video are when it interferes with your shooting process, as in the odd placement of the mode button on the current D800.

  • gt

    After shooting with DX for years and finally trying the Nikon Full Frame cameras, I noticed 3 things (aside from less noise at high ISOs)

    1. More detail is retained, images look sharper
    2. Color accuracy is retained at higher ISOs
    3. The transitions from highlight to shadow seem smoother and less “digital” — that’s the best way I can put it.

    Full frame is definitely the way of the future. If sensor size does all that, I’m starting to understand why Zack Arias and David Hobby have moved to medium format.

    • Michael

      Sensor size is not the real determining factor of image quality, system is.
      Read this josephjamesphotography.com/equivalence/

    • WSY

      “Full frame is definitely the way of the future.”

      Full frame size was always the way – 35mm film WAS full frame. But just to cut cost they introduced DX sensors.

  • brian

    Maybe this is to develop a full frame sensor with on sensor CDAF like the 1 series has. Perhaps to keep the technology away from competitors (ie Sony)?

    • WoutK89

      Well, if this technology is patented, it doesn’t matter where it is produced.

      • BornOptimist

        It is patented. Nikon own at least 20 patents on this technology, but so does Canon and also Sony own some.
        Nikon filed a patent in Europe in December 2008, and for those who understand Japanese (I don’t), this link discusses patents from Japan:
        http://patent.astamuse.com/ja/published/JP/No/2010129783
        I’m sure there are US patents as well for this technology.

  • Andrew

    Some have argued that the cost of a full frame sensor is $500, and that is why they doubt that Nikon can release a camera such as the rumored D600 for the low price of $1,500. Maybe the D600 is using the Aptina full frame sensor, and at a low cost of $200 per sensor.

    • Tim

      Andrew, you sound like you might have some inside info. If so, spill the beans! :)

      • WoutK89

        He is just guessing, like anyone else here.

      • jorg

        Sooner or later also FF-sensors will be produced for less money. Look at that insane D800 sensor, nobody thought this would work yet it did. Next station: cheap FF-sensors.

        • BornOptimist

          The problem here is that the size of the sensor is fixed. The main reason for reducing cost is normally shrinkage of each die, so they get more candidates from each wafer. A camera sensor has no cost advantage by reducing the size, so here it is manufacturing technology that must reduce complexity and/or reduce labor cost. One way could be a stepper which can expose a larger area. Today Nikon sensor are developed with multiple exposures. AFAIK, Canon has an old stepper that can cover a FF sensor area. Whether they use it or not, I don’t know.

          • http://www.amanochocolate.com Art

            Yes. This is correct. I have a friend who is a chip designer. He and I had a discussion in regards to the floods in Thailand and my comment was that I was amazed they could get things at the Sony plant going as fast as they did because the chip lines were not an “off-the-shelf” item. He said that actually they were and that the real technology that differentiates one company from another is how the chip is made and that these chip lines have enough parameters that you can spend literally lifetimes coming up with new ways to make your chips. He said that in general they all cost the same to produce (not counting R&D budgets) with the exception of the Foveon sensor. There he said it is incredibly difficult to make and there should not be any expectation that the cost will ever come down significantly and that a FF Foveon is a pipe dream unless you have an unlimited budget.

  • Jason

    Aptina for D600, or to back-fill D800?

    If its for D800 – it better be extremely good quality, ‘coz am waiting for extremely long time.

  • The Man from Mandrem

    Did Aptina make the sensor for the D5100 or did Sony?

    • jake

      it is a Sony sensor.

  • Donji Hogfan

    How about:
    2.7*2.7*10MP = 73MP !!!

    • Davo

      D4x?

      • Ben

        Yes the d4x should be a place nikon can push the MP to the max. But it will be a year before that comes out.

  • Tim

    Sensor for the new $1,500 full frame?!

    • WoutK89

      “Could this be the sensor for the rumored Nikon D600?”

      Admin already made this assumption, how wonderful of you to repeat this.

    • http://tumbleweed-092.livejournal.com Slow Gin

      Why not? Several years ago Sony released near-cheapskate FF camera for $2000. I think, reducing costs to $1500 is possible task.

      • Sky

        Yep. Especially if you’d get rid of expensive components, like huge pentaprism OVF or magnesium alloy body, and replace that with plastic + pentamirror 95% VF. Should be enough to get it down to 1500$

      • Mock Kenwell

        Because Sony tanked their prices (operated at a loss) in order to try to garner market share from Canon and Nikon. It didn’t work. Goliath lost.

        • Sky

          Rather David.
          Sony isn’t Goliath in DSLR world in any way.

  • lorenzo

    on the Aptina page a sample picture says:

    Aptina’s new APS-C format, 16MP CMOS image sensor

    If it is for the D600 will it be a 16 Mpix FX entry level?

    • jake

      I thought that 16.4mp on Aptina site was the D4 sensor.

    • WoutK89

      APS-C format

      Reading is an art, you don’t master. APS-C is DX.

      • Sky

        Rather: DX is APS-C. DX is just nikon marketing name for APS-C sensor format.

    • JED

      That Aptina 16MP APS-C sensor was announced way back before the D7000 was released. It has never been used in a mainstream camera – theory is they wanted it to be in the D7000 but Nikon decided to use the Sony sensor instead. Aptina went on to make the Nikon 1 sensor.

      • glen

        so my bet be D400 DX with 16MP will come out…..

        • GeoffK

          If the D400 is only 16MP I will be disappointed. 18ish range is more to my liking. I’ll end up with a D800 if the D400 is only 16

          • Allen Wicks

            The real-world difference between 16 MP pix and 18 MP pix is negligible. Other camera design parameters are far more relevant.

            • GeoffK

              It’s a mental thing. I am not going to pay for only 4 more MP, but i’ll pay for 6+.

          • Ben

            17MP is too low, 19MP is too high. if it is not 18.33 MP then i will cry and switch from pancakes to waffles for breakfast.

            That’s right i will switch to waffles.

            Now stop complaining and trust that nikon will come out with great cameras. Nikon has been hitting home runs for the last few years.

      • Andrew

        Nikon is very clever, they are making these sensor manufacturers compete against each other while helping to fund their research and development. This brings down cost and increases innovation.

  • Philospher

    How about a wild theory here – a new mirrorless full frame body at the bottom end?

    • NoFunBen

      nikon could make an f-mount mirrorless in FX. some day it will happen.

      • Frank

        +1!

      • Julian

        Unless Nikon do what Pentax have done with the k-01 with the huge distance between the mount and the sensor I doubt we’ll see an f mount mirror less

        • Ben

          the key is Pentax has already done this, so it would not be hard to do. I could see Nikon doing this too. Would be good for video. If nikon adds everything from the V1 it would have some great uses. But as a still image camera user i think i would stick with a dslr. This would be good for many other people.

    • John

      Yep – that’s the ticket. Good bye OVF. Not sure it will be in the entry level, but it would certainly help reduce the body size and weight. Mirror, shutter, and OVF assemblies are expensive – replace them all with electronics.

      The sensor and the EVF would have to be good – really good to stick into even an entry level DSLR.

      • BartyL

        Yes, it will have to be better than the one in the V1, by some margin.

    • Andrew

      The introduction of the Nikon 1 unleashed a ton of innovation within Nikon’s development team. These innovations will surely spillover to their DSLR line.

  • http://none ChriSin

    For anyone interested in the spec sheet for the APS-C Alpina sensor:

    http://www.aptina.com/assets/downloadDocument.do?id=688

    Interesting that dynamic range is not yet released

    It does do 1080P 30 – not bad. 2×2 pixel binning – hmmm….

    10.3 fps – nice!

    FF version sounds enticing

  • NoFunBen

    the nikon 1 does not need focus adjustment with the sensor doing the job of focus too. if nikon uses the main sensor for focus readings it should have more precise focus.

    • JED

      Care to explain your logic?

      • BornOptimist

        By reading from the image sensor correct focus is easy to determine, because when that image is in focus it is correctly focused. By using the focus sensors, the image is correctly focused on the focus sensors, but not necessarily on the image sensor, due to possible misalignment and manufacturing toleranses between the focus sensors and image sensor.

        It should have been “easy” to make an automatic microadjustment by just keeping the camera still, and let the software detect differences between image sensor focusing and focus sensor focusing. Why haven’t they done it?

        • Ben

          that’s a great idea. you could compare the two data sets, image sensor and focus sensor to get an automatic adjustment.

          must be waiting for the d900 to add that ;)

  • HDR

    No surprise at all. Only Nikon knows how to make FF economically!

    • Sky

      I thought that Nikon is actually the last company which knows how to make anything economically. Nikon is high quality stuff… at least: was till they started releasing plastic crap cameras withouth build-in motors which are priced like well-build cameras from a competition solely because of nikon mark on the body.

  • http://blog.nauphotos.com Nau

    was told by my dealer that nikon stopped shipping D800 for no official reason
    they were not be able to get any details on anything since mid last week

    my guess was on batteries however he said they are still getting d800E

  • sonorman

    This is great news! Aptina is also the developer (and manufacturer?) of the Nikon 1 sensor. If they are developing a full frame SLR sensor this also means, there is a chance to get their amazing on-chip phase detection AF into a SLR.

    The image quality of the Nikon 1 is amazing and I can imagine how good a full frame equivalent would be. Even more with further developed technology.

    • Anonymous

      EVIL FX soon !

    • Sam

      EVIL FX, maybe, but I’d imagine the intent is an FX sensor with V1-besting follow-focus that will put everything from every manufacturer to date to complete and total shame.

      If this is what they’re up to, it will be a game-changer for sports photography, and videography as well.

      I’d look to see some new lens designs and focus motor developments/patents as well, if this is the case.

      It would drive lens sales as well as bodies – a great move for business, for sure.

  • TheInconvenientRuth

    Wow… Paid Canon trolls are getting ever more desperate…

  • Anonymous Maximus

    Maybe the D600 sensor will be from this manufacturer but not Sony. Who knows. All we have is a rumor.

    The compact FX walkaround zooms to be coming along with D600 are more of an interest than the body itself, imo.

  • Alfredo

    The exact translation from italian is that “when asked, Aptina did not confirm (nor denied) that the client of their new 35mm BFI sensors is Nikon”…

  • jerome

    The Italian article was published in June 2011, so it is almost a year old. That full frame sensor might very well be the one in the D4 or even in the D800.

    • Michael

      Most likely D4.

    • Dimitrii1130

      GREAT!

      hopefully it is D4′s sensor.

      i want sony’s 24mp sensor in d600^^

  • Ren Mockwell

    And this is the 2nd reason why you won’t get a photokina pass :0) too much BS and few news. You see the other problem you have is most other rumor websites have a face to make responsible for inaccurate information.

    Peter you could spice things a bit here with more reviews, more news and a face to relate to the website you know, oh and less BS too :0)

    • Mock Kenwell

      You’re right. Other rumor web sites are so much more “put together.” And accurate. Are you out of your mind? Shut your pie hole. This isn’t CNN, it’s a rumor site.

      • Men Kockwell

        Well since we’re all doing it, why not me?

  • Mock Kenwell

    Wow. Why did you capitalize Young and Boys? Horrible grammar.

    • WoutK89

      young isn’t capitalized ;)

  • Eric

    The nikon V 1 has an Aptina sensor and of it’s competitors it has one of the worst image qualities so I am not convinced this is a good thing.

  • http://www.luxmariaj.ro Fotograf nunta Iasi

    They’ll come out in time…

  • T.I.M

    This is true,
    I called them, the new sensor (for the D600) is already in production.

    It will ship to Nikon’s factory in 2013 and Nikon will announce the D600 in 2014, who will be available for pre-orders on 2015.

    The first delivery for NPS members is planned in 2016, we expect the D600 on Ebay for $4000 by the end of 2017.

    “regular” nikon customers can expect to receive the D600 in 2018 (if there is no tsunami or batteries production delay)
    :)

    • Hunf

      I almost thought you was for real too

    • vertigo

      If there is another tsunami, it will instead be available in 2024.

  • Dimitrii1130

    http://www.dpreview.com/previews/nikond3200/6

    compared to A77 or nex-7 .. d3200′s raw looks so much better.
    nikon kicked sony’s ass with their own sensor…

    • Sky

      You checked base ISO? Yea, from ISO400+ the 3200 is much better, but below Sony got noticeably more details and by far better colors.

      • Dimitrii1130

        yeah, they are not really sharp.. don’t know why. looks a little bit out of focus..
        and sony’s colors are great.

  • Banned

    Who is Peter anyway?

    • Peter

      Dunno, I have an alibi. I swear!

  • Fui

    the “news” in from june 2011!

  • Iron Oak

    1. I do NOT want a plastic bodied FX camera
    2. When can we get an accurate ETA of the D600. It would be nice to think we might see it before the Olympics, but doubtful. I’m in the market for a new camera, I was leaning towards the D800 but the rumored specs of this camera suit my needs better.

  • Vin

    Time is money in the fab sensor industry. When you want to make a chip that is pushing the limits of technology, & the parameters of what it can do, it takes test batches of wafers. If you make a 16mp D4 FX sensor it will not be the same as another 16mp FF sensor because of the limitations of the parameters that are set into the fab tools. Thinner layers of gold, silver, ect.., all very expensive metals. Yes that actual cost of making them is all about the same. But that can flux, form week to week also, its not always the same amount. The real cost is in the batch runs that are smaller. The tools will sit and wait because they need to be set, say. FX, wafers X, but then they sit idle waiting for them. And if they sit to long, they need to re- prep, again. So more time. More money, they could have ran. 50, of Y wafer that would have been $2000 each, but instead the tools wait for FX, wafer that is worth $10,000 for 1, but they sat waiting longer at one step. So now they charge more. This is over simplified. But that is why you see Nikon maybe going to multiple high tech fabs that are at the top of there game. Asking can you make say 5000 FX, 36mp sensors, hoping that they can get them, then ordering the same from another fab. Then pray they will all get made and delivered to Japan 6 months before D4 and D800 production. Well what if they were not? Due to what ever reason? Cost goes up. When the fab could have just been making cheaper FF Y and been making money. The other side is eventually no one wants Y anymore. So the Fabs have to balance to try making some X. & Y and try new W, also. These are half billion dollar buildings that can’t just make FX Nikon sensor they need to making and producing multiple recipes all at once 24/7.

    • Vin

      The issue of developing sensors and the amount of cameras, could be with contract length of contract number of sensors over time. If Nikon plans to make 2,000,000 cameras over 2-4 years. Sure it would be nice if they had all the parts up front for all the cameras to be put together. But that is not how it always works.

      The recipes for a given sensor are closely guarded. Even if it is made in a Sony fab, it does not mean Sony may have any rights to it. Or even know how it is made. The way the engineers customize and hide there secrets is as much insider info as it is personal. Not to say someone could not try to duplicate it, or come close.  There is a special way all the parts come together,. Nikon might pick Sony for long term projects, or after they have something really refined from other private parties. Then tuen it over to them for production, it should not be viewed as less or not as good, it might even be a more solid product. after all the real development.

      • Sky

        You do realize that it’s the other way around? Sony is one behind R&D while Nikon just takes stuff from factories feeding Sony Semiconductors with money. They made more income in 2011 than entire professional solutions division while investing huge pile of cash in R&D – guess where it goes? Into inventing new ways of delivering sensors to Nikon, cause Nikon is the one with all the tech? You’ve got to be kidding me.

        • Vin

          tell me more, …..I worked in a fab for 2 years and I find the whole thing very interesting. I worked with Nikon tools, checked work and evaluate films for etching,.. where do you get your information.
          I do not think that Nikon is doing all the R&D from that end. but I am sure they do have an interest in it.

    • Andrew

      Trying to piece together your thought on the issue, though this subject is a little esoteric to me, I think it makes sense as you explained that Nikon would hedge their bet and contract out the development of their full frame sensors to two different manufacturers. Where the yield might be constrained and the specs higher, they might target these sensors to their higher end cameras such as the D800 where they can charge more money.

      I think the Nikon advantage is that regardless of what they get in terms of sensor design, technology, and capability, their image processing technology as encapsulated within the Expeed 3 image processor allows them to render cleaner images than anyone else in the industry, regardless of the constraints. Since it is evident that Aptina is making the lower cost full frame sensor, it will be interesting the see by how much they have driven down the cost of full frame sensor production. The little I have read on them (Aptina) from the technical specs released on the Nikon 1 sensors, they seem to have developed some interesting technologies that might subvert conventional wisdom that full frame sensors have to be inherently expensive. Welcome the $1,500 D600 camera, without doubt this so called rumored full frame sensor from Aptina is not a rumor, it is a fact! It exists, and will soon be released in the Nikon D600 camera.

      • Andrew

        correction… Since it is evident that Aptina is making the lower cost full frame sensor, it will be interesting “to” see by how much they have driven down the cost of full frame sensor production.

  • Eric

    If it is the Expeed 3 processor that is largely responsible for the image quality then what is the issue with the Nikon V1? The Nikon V1 has an Aptina sensor and the Expeed 3 processor. In the below example clearly Sony’s Nex camera produces a better image at higher ISOs. Why produce a D600 that is noisy at high ISOs? Who is going to buy it?

    http://www.cameralabs.com/reviews/Nikon_1_V1/noise_vs_Sony_NEX_5N_vs_Panasonic_GX1.shtml

    • rkas

      … the 1 sensor is smaller, thats why.

    • Vin

      yes agree, & that is where Aptina, started to specialize in, we will see if the can pull off larger FF

  • Vin

    I am a little more interested in why Nikon is working with Aptina now, and not Sony as much.? follow Aptina, and where they came from, Micron.. and where is Aptina’s money from now? it is true, go where the money is that where the best fab’s are. Micron, from Intel… to Say that Nikon does not know about Semi. may not Have a Fab that has NIKON on the wall out side, .
    I am often walking and writing on my phone,
    sorry

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