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The sensor inside the D3200 is made by Nikon

Chipworks teared down a Nikon D3200 DSLR camera and found that the 24MP sensor inside is made by Nikon.

The sensors of the Nikon D3, D3s, D700 and D3100 are also all made by Nikon. The sensor of the D7000 is made by Sony.

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  • http://dundermifflin.com dwight shrute

    Interesting. What will the D600 sensor be? Not that it matters to me though.

    • http://500px.com/coogie Arie

      False, it matters to you.

      • http://dundermifflin.com dwight shrute

        It actually doesn’t because Nikon is a great brand no matter what. My D90’s sensor is made by Sony and it has served me well for years now.

        • http://500px.com/coogie Arie

          False. Japan is known for the Japanese Black Bear. Taiwan is known for Formosan black bear. It’s common knowledge that Japanese Black Bears are the best bears in Asia. Also, beets. You’re no Dwight Shrute!

          Seriously though, I love my D90 too. I’d prefer Nikon made all their sensors but Nikon has yet to make a poor product…well, maybe the D40x.

          • james

            Hey, I used to own a d40x. Nothing wrong with it.

            • Global

              Nothing wrong with it. But the D40 was better, imo. The D60 wasn’t much better. Hopefully D3200 is the best yet — but it doesn’t really make sense if Nikon is going to keep jacking up the price of its entry-level cam (real wages are stagnant or going negative). Nikon needs to create a less expensive camera, not a more expensive camera. If anything is wrong with this series, its that the price goes up when wages do not. I’m not suggesting that Nikon be generous. Simply, if they want to grow their user base, they need to keep prices entry level and lower if possible when wages go backwards.

          • Sky

            D3000?
            The uber-downgrade camera?
            D3100 would qualify for that too I guess.
            Same line as the D40x.

            • http://flickr.com/photos/chicagrafo Chicagrafo

              I had a D3000, always thought it was a poor body

            • iamlucky13

              The D3100 introduced a new sensor that performed notably better than the D3000’s sensor, which to the best of my knowledge, was basically the same sensor also used in the D40x and D60. The D3100 is worth distinguishing separately from the 3 cameras that came before it.

          • silmasan

            False. The best bears in Asia are the giant panda bears. Because they eat bamboos.

            • yogibear

              except that panda bears aren’t bears

            • Jane

              The giant panda is now conclusively assigned to the bear family: species ailuropoda melanoleuca, genus ailuropoda, family ursidae.

              Long-term studies have shown, that it is the second most AF-friendly animal, beaten only by the zebra, and moreover, it has been scientifically proven that it is the cutest animal ever.

            • silmasan

              yogibear is false, wikipedia is right and Jane is cute.

            • David Attenbourgh

              I’m sorry Jane,
              Actually years of intense research have proven that the cutest animal is surely the Koala (Phascolarctos cinereus). Also as it eats eucalyptus it rarely suffers from colds and definitely does not have halitosis (unlike the Giant panda I might add).

            • R!

              The best Asian beers are from Japan!!!!
              I like Asahi and Saporo they are dry and refreshing as coors!!!

            • Not So

              Not so. Beer is much more refreshing compared to your average Japanese bear. Also they have sharp nails and snore a lot.

            • Beer Expert

              Actually Asahi and Saporo are brewed in China using a Japanese recipe. Japan does not have the fab for beer production and it is a well known fact that yeast does not grow in Japan. That’s why they also do not make bread.

            • Me

              Coors? Really? That isn’t beer. Trying drinking something with real flavour, not just canned monkey piss.

            • preston

              I know the silver bullet is bottled in the Rocky Mountain highs, but now that raises the question – is their monkey piss from the Japanese macaque or the cheaper knockoff, the Chinese rhesus macaque?

            • BigDrinker

              In the United States, our Sapporo and Ashai are brewed in Canada by Molson. They’re both abominable. I’d rather drink bear piss—black or panda—either would taste much, much better.

            • R!

              Actually, my favorite beer is the redish Irish Kilkenys brewed wit real foam and great with a lil bushmills drop in It enjoy !!!!!

            • don

              @David Attenbourgh – Koalas are cute until you learn that Koala babies eat their mom’s feces (necessary to obtain the bacteria used to later digest poisonous eucalyptus leaves).

              Cute? Yeah, very.

          • http://www.StevenGeorges.com Steven Georges

            Sorry Arie,

            The worst sensor (biggest mistake ever) made by Nikon was the D2h.
            . . . with an improved LB Cast sensor (but far, far behind sensors included in Nikon consumer cameras made years earlier) put in the D2hs.

          • http://dundermifflin.com dwight shrute

            You’re the only person that has gotten the reference to The Office.

            • silmasan

              twss

            • Mock Kenwell

              Bears, beets, Battlestar Galactica. But the idiotic comments following make me really wonder what nut jobs read this site.

  • meovo

    Sensor of the D800?

    • meovo

      … and D4?

      • St.

        I think Sony makes great sensors in terms of dynamic range, etc. Speaking about low-light performance and noise – it’s a different story. I had D7000 and I have D800 now and NEX-7. All of them are great speaking about colors and dynamic range, but they are noisy and hte low-light performance is not quite there yet. Look at D3s and D700 – amazing cameras with amazing sensors, coming from Nikon! If D600 is made by Nikon, I’ll sell my D800 and get D600. Seriously.
        Something else about the Sony sensors – the hot pixels, when doing long exposures. That problem was very prominent in D7000. I had hot pixels even in normal shooting times like 1/80sec at ISO100.
        I still haven’t tried D800 with very long exposures, but I’m planing a night cityscape shooting very soon – we’ll see.

        • Calibrator

          > Something else about the Sony sensors – the hot pixels, when doing long exposures. That problem was very prominent in D7000. I had hot pixels even in normal shooting times like 1/80sec at ISO100.

          It may have been prominent with *your* D7000. It certainly isn’t a general D7000 problem and especially not a problem with mine.
          Neither with photos nor with video, although there initially *was*a hotpixel problem with video but it was fixed with a firmware update.

      • Jason

        Chipworks does not have a D4 or D800 shipped yet… so they can tear down and look inside : )

        • PHB

          What a strange story.

          We know that ALL Nikon DSLR sensors have been fabricated by Sony since they went CMOS. So Sony made them all.

          All that is been measured by chipworks is whether the chip has a Nikon or Sony credit on the die. Which is going to depend on whether there was a new mask set cut or not and if so which masks.

          Give that a mask set costs a six figure sum to make, expect Nikon to avoid doing that if at all possible.

          The D7000 came out when Sony had just developed a new process. So it is not so surprising that Nikon would use the Sony sensor, that minimizes cost while Sony is debugging the process. It makes a lot more sense to innovate after the process is debugged.

          That the D3200 is a Nikon sensor, could well be significant though. That is the smallest pixel size we have seen to date on a DSLR.

          24mp Dx would be well over 50 MP if an FX sensor was made at that density. 50 mp is a key resolution for the art magazine trade. A D4x at that resolution sometime in 2013 would mean Nikon dominated Canon completely (and render the Hassleblads irrelevant for most)

          • http://www.seanmolin.com Sean Molin

            Uh, the D700 and D3 use a Nikon-fabbed CMOS sensor.

            • Silicon Smith

              Nikon doesn’t have an own fab, can we get over with the “made by Nikon” sensors, if the Nikon name appears on the sensor the only thing different is it’s a NIKON SPECED SENSOR, but still made by Sony or someone else who really have an own fab.

            • Lousafer

              Silicon Smith is correct, if Nikon doesn’t have their own fab. I deal with these types of sensors in my work. However, a designer can take their design to any applicable fab and have the part made. So Nikon could take their design to a Sony Fab, or numerous others, to have their part made. If they do, its not a Sony sensor, it was just made in their fab. Also, Nikon could use a Sony sensor, but have their name placed on it simply by changing one mask layer. We do this all the time. So all these assumptions are really a waste of time. Unless you know who designed it, who did the research to come up with the design, you don’t know who owns it.

            • http://www.seanmolin.com Sean Molin

              You two are correct. I misspoke what I meant in meaning “nikon designed”, not “nikon fabbed.”

              So PHB cannot make a claim to knowing Sony has fabbed them all.

            • Richard

              @Silicon Smith,

              That is exactly what I was thinking. As a Nikon spec’d sensor, Nikon is at liberty to shop around for fab services. Thought I don’t know what the exact arrangement was with Sony on the Sony spec’d sensors, it probably was agreed that Sony would fab the sensors both because they wanted the fab business and they did not want their IP falling into the hands of potential competitors.

              Having their own sensor design should allow Nikon to hunt for greater yields on the FX sensors in particular. Perhaps that is what is behind the D600 price point. Perhaps it may involve usable, but not up to D4 performance spec sensors. We’ll see.

              Cheers

          • Julian

            Sorry – but I just don’t see that a 50MP Nikon will impact the Hasselblad market at all. The D800 is already pushing the resolving ability of the 35mm (FX) lenses -shooting with my D800 with my 14-24 f/2.8 – the lens performs best at f2.8 – and after that the performance tails off – this is probably the sharpest Nikon lens having a job performing with a 36MP sensor. You want more MP – then medium format is the way to go – the bigger lenses can handle the resolution.

    • Sure

      By Canon, of course.

      • heatdriv3

        well canon make shit sensors…thats why not even 1 of them made it to the top 10 sensor list in dx0…lol

        • sreeji

          you must have a sony DSLR, anyway the ISO performance of 5D Mark 3 and D700 is actually BETTER than D800, dxomark says a different story.

          • heatdriv3

            have u heard of down-sampling image resolution b4 making the ISO comparison bro?

            • Sky

              FYI: DxO scores are made on down-sampled images to roughly 5MPx print-size.

            • Kerry33

              Another story of downsapling again?

              Many forgot that when u downsampling the image from the camera that u so proud of its high mp = u will lose the ‘freedom’ of cropping.

              So, whats the point of downsampling my D800 image toD700 size just to match the iso performance = but then do another cropping and lose all the details?

              We shoot in a real world. And sometimes or even many times we do lots of cropping especially in wildlife n sports. What’s there details left from those glorious 36mp if u have to downsample and crop some more?

            • Collins

              @Kerry33

              Why would you Crop after Downsampling ???

              Wouldn’t you crop first (if you need to) then Downsample???

              Cause you’re right… there is no point if that’s what you’re doing.

          • babola

            Haha…funny guy!

        • Alwyn

          Always read and respected DP review and have read other reviews and checked DXO mark on countless occasions. I bought a D90 because at the time it was within budget and there was more favorable feedback from owners than with the Canon 50d (the other camera I looked at). So yesterday I get my hands on a 50d and out of curiosity I tested it out in the real world. Well, I shall never believe a word I read on DP review ever again. According to them the 50d and D90 are equal in IQ. Fk yeah!

          • preston

            Ok. . . . so which is better?

          • Arjan

            So, was the 50d better than the D90?

      • Luke

        +1, a printer sensor, niiice!

    • Funduro

      Don’t worry someone will soon tear down a D800/D4 and get that info. Unfortunately those DSLR’s are in high demand so no one wants to sacrifice theirs.

    • R!

      I’m waitin on the D900 and the D5 I’m 37 years old,I ll be 40 at the time : a good age to deserve a pro full frame body ,I’m not to hurry to spend more than 5000$ in photo equipment yet !!!!!!!!!

  • wublili

    It’s actually fabricated by Nikon ? I thought they don’t have resources for that ?

    Would make more sense if it’s just another design by Nikon but fabricated elsewhere (propably not Sony since it differs from Sony’s 24MP sensor).

    • Sky

      Nope, Nikon doesn’t have a resources to manufacture sensors nor design a sensor from ground-up. They also don’t design from ground up and manufacture LCD screens, video processors & encoders, etc. etc.
      Don’t be naive.
      Even Canon doesn’t design or manufacture every single element in their DSLRs while they obviously have far more resources and knowledge of sensor design.
      What makes Nikons capture great pictures is amazing signal processing – and I don’t know why the heck anyone of you people would care about who designed or manufactured sensor! Go out and take photos better.

      • Remedy

        Mate seriously stop it with that idiotic claim repeated by every second douche on the internet. Out of fking nowhere comes Aptina and makes sesnors, but no Nikon can’t even design them. Even I – a single person – have resources to design a sensor. That’s where my education comes handy. But no, a giant japanesse company with decades of experience in photo market has no resources to design a chip. How idiotic is that? Seriously?

        Maybe AMD also doesn’t have resources? So now what, AMD does not make CPUs and GPUs? Maybe they should brand it Global Foundries on the chip?
        You people need to get Your noses out of Your asses and look around a bit using Your brains at the very same time.

        • Sky

          Yea, I’d love to see the pictures from that “your designed sensor” Making a sensor is an easy thing. Making a good sensor is a though one. Making a sensor that by some chance happen to match characteristics of other Sony sensors is miracle. Producing a sensors withouth factory is another miracle. All of it somehow claimed to be truth.

          And I have no idea why you compare this situation to Aptina – they are known manufacturer of, for example, Nikon 1 series sensors. No doubts on that. But noone reasonable claims that they are making D800 sensor.

          using Your brains at the very same time” – sounds like a good plan mate – use it!

          • http://http//www.sensorgen.info Bob Newman

            It’s always silly being dismissive if you don’t know what yoyu are talking about. you cite Aptina, but Aptina is a fabless company. They use foundry services for fabrication just like Omnivision, Foveon and, for part of their production, Sony. There is no doubt that Nikon has an internal sensor design team. If you track the patent applications, you can even discover the names of the staff members involved. This sensor shows that Nikon’s team is as capable as Sony’s, and so far as on-chip subsytems such as ADC is concerned, are ahead of Canon, Panasonic and Samsung.

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

              +1

            • Gimme D600

              +1

            • http://www.thejordancollective.com CaryTheLabelGuy [NR]

              Pretty much, exactly what I was thinking. Just because you don’t fab in-house, doesn’t mean you cannot design a competent sensor. As was stated above, most of the players use foundry services at some-point in the process. This is not un-common in the chip fab industry – it is actually a smarter way of operating IMHO. You aren’t chained-down to an in-house fab that cost your company billions in capitol just to get up-and-running and likely a billion more each time you need to upgrade the foundry to utilize new tech.

              This is where Canon got it WRONG and it shows in every sensor produced by them. They’re still using tech from 2009! How many times are they going to hock the same 18MP APS-C sensor (that was first announced in early 2009)? It is basically in every single APS-C body they make today. The 18MP APS-C sensor was terrible when it was first announced and it is REALLY showing its age at this point, but Canon keeps using it and refuses to innovate. Look at what happened with the 5DIII? Meanwhile, the other imaging companies that aren’t stuck with in-house fabs, are making HUGE strides, with Nikon and Sony WAY ahead of the pack. You do the math.

              Nikon is really flexing its muscles right now and making Canon look silly.

              BUT, by-no-means do I wish Canon to fail. I’m actually quite sad about they’re current position. I’ve never been a Canon fan (for obvious reasons), but competition is good for all of us. Luckily, Nikon is getting the competition they need from the other players in the game. Meanwhile, Canon is sitting like a lame-duck.

            • http://www.seanmolin.com Sean Molin

              @Cary

              But if you ask any Canon users, they’ll think Canon is still rocking it like “they always have.” I mean the “new MkIII” is amazing.

              And OHHH… the 1D X… that is nowhere to be seen.

              Yeah, amazing if you’re a long-time Canon user I guess.

            • Richard

              Interestingly, Canon have lagged behind Nikon in changes to the lower levels of the sensor chip, the name of which escapes me at the moment. Those layers supposedly have something to do with the low light/high ISO performance of the sensor. And yes, signal processing is a factor is overall performance, but the better the signal going in the better the result coming out.

              I like the idea of Nikon being able to shop around for fab services.

          • Adam Maas

            Nonetheless, Remedy is actually correct. Nikon does do in-house sensor design, including sensors purely built on Nikon-developed technology (the LBCAST sensors in the D2H/D2Hs) and has done so for more than a decade.

            What Nikon does not do is fabricate sensors (unlike Sony, Canon or Samsung). They use a 3rd party fab for their sensor production.

            Nikon also uses Sony and Aptina sensors and the occasional co-designed sensor (the D2X sensor was a partnership between Sony and Nikon when both were just getting started with large CMOS sensors).

            As to the D800 sensor, it’s most likely a Sony sensor, since Sony is known to have a 36MP FF sensor. It likely has Nikon-requested customizations though.

            • http://erphotoreview.com viking79

              Should I even point out that the only good thing about the JFET D2H sensor was the frame rate? It was really bad in terms of noise.

              Eric

      • GrumpyDiver

        Nikon has had a sensor design team for years. They do not have a fab so it is not possible for them to make the chip.

        If you look at it, there are actually very few companies that do make chips (i.e. run fabs). Intel does, but AMD, nVidia and a host of others do not. They design in-house and contract out the manufacturing. Sort of like glass. Nikon and Canon make at least some of their own glass, while everyone else contracts it out. Zeiss owns Schott (and has done so for decades), so you could say they make some of their own glass too.

        Nikon does not build the FM-10 camera, Cosina does (in fact the camera is based on the Cosina CT-1). They also manufacture the small camera Zeiss lenses (but Zeiss designs these).

        Welcome to the world of manufacturing; it really doesn’t matter who makes these things; it’s all about design, specs and quality…

        At a high level, I don’t care

        • Me

          Every comments section on NR always ends up in animal abuse…you all beat the same dead horse repeatedly.

          • GrumpyDiver

            And this dead horse deserves a beating. The initial posting is wrong and this should be noted.

    • Alex

      The steppers/equipments used by Omnivision, Sony and Aptina to produce imaging sensors are probably supplied/made by Nikon..

  • macswiss

    Just the fact that on the sensor the branded name is nikon doesn’t necessarily mean nikon has builded the sensor… probably is still a Sony sensor…

    • Bare

      It’s Nikon intelectual property because of Nikon markings. So it’s a Nikon design for sure but we don’t know who fabricated sensor.

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

        Not exactly clear.

        Think of it like a magazine. Nikon is the publisher in this instance. Did they acquire pictures and text from somewhere else and then put it into a form that suited them? Not only possible, but somewhat likely.

        Sensors are starting to be a complex web of technologies. There’s the photo diode, the sensel, the ADC, the support circuitry (dump, etc.), and more. One gets the impression that Nikon hasn’t dabbled much with the photo diode and maybe even the sensel, but has with the ADC and support circuitry. The question is who is driving whom and licensing what to whom. It’s been my speculation that the original on-board ADC design being used was Nikon’s, even though it appeared in a Sony sensor first. I can’t verify it, but from the patent unwinding it seems that this might be the case. Thus, one could see a lot of cross licensing happening (“I’ll swap you an ADC for a sensel”).

        Thus, it’s Nikon’s intellectual property in the sense that it’s a collection of things that only they could put together. Some of the things may actually be Nikon owned, some may be licensed from others.

        FWIW, I believe this strategy is what allowed Nikon to catch and pass Canon in sensors. Canon seems more do-it-yourself oriented in sensors, at least in the DSLR line.

        • Douglas Adams

          Big Tom has spoken…

        • http://www.sensorgen.info/ Bob Newman

          I’d be pretty sure that this ADC is not the same design as the Sony sensors. The EXMOR chips all look alike (which was how I first diagnosed that this was not a Sony sensor) with the characteristic column ADC circuitry top and bottom of the sensor and also common peripheral circuitry round the edges. This looks nothing like that. It seems to have the ADC circuitry positioned at one end (which maybe means the ‘columns’ are horizontal, which happens on several Canon sensors). The D4 sensor also has on chip ADC. I think it would be a big ask for Nikon to have developed the on chip ADC from scratch, it requires completely different, mixed signal capability to the design of the pixel array. So, the most likely is that they have bought that IP in. As to the source, there are lots of companies offering ADC blocks that would be suitable (for radio chips, which unsurprisingly are big business) but my first port of call would be Aptina. Aptina is Eric Fossum’s old company, Photobit, and have control over all his patents and there are in there some interesting ADC configurations that would give the performance we see without an ADC in every column. I don’t believe this is an entirely Aptina production, otherwise we would see ‘Aptina’ on the die, like the N1. Also, I can’t see the point of Nikon having its own sensor capacity unless it is completely independent of Sony. If they want Sony sensors, they would just buy them since Sony can make superb sensors. Clearly they want to be at least dual sourced, and there is no point of you are dual sourced tying the second source to the IP of the first – if you did that you might as well just go to dual manufacturing of the same part.

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

            By “same ADC” as in the Sony I actually meant the ADC block (to use your words), not how information is transferred to it. Moreover, I’m not sure that your assertion that Nikon didn’t develop the ADC block in question. Exactly where and how it developed is a question that both Sony and Nikon deflect, which seems strange. The Aptina ADC looks a bit different in results to me than the EXMOR and whatever the D3200 is using, which look very similar.

            I don’t believe the D3200 sensor is Aptina fabbed. It appears to be a different packaging and marking, which usually is a good indicator of fab.

            I’m not sure what you mean by “I can’t see the point of Nikon having its own sensor capacity unless it is completely independent of Sony.” Nikon’s sensor design R&D goes back into the 80’s and has been what I’d call coopetitive with other sensor makers, particularly Sony, but more recently Aptina. Nikon executives said early on in the DSLR era that they would pursue “the best sensor possible” for every camera design, and not be beholden to one. That’s actually proved out in practice. Even though the D2h sensor was quite good at many things, LBCAST didn’t live on (the biggest problem with the D2h sensors was the filtration, which had considerable near IR pollution into the sensor, not the sensor itself; oh, and the fact it was only 4mp ;~).

            So I would argue that Nikon doesn’t want to be “dual sourced,” they want to be “best sourced.” The Thailand floods (and to a smaller degree the Japan quake) did call into question whether you wanted to be tied to one fab. I’m sure that will have sourcing ramifications down the road.

            • http://www.sensorgen.info/ Bob Newman

              The Exmor sensors have an ‘ADC block’ for every column, actually a latch and comparator. The comparators are fed from a ramp generator, which is a DAC operating from a counter. When the ramp and column line are the same voltage the comparator clocks the latch, which latches the counter output. If you look at the Exmor chips you can pretty much see that circuitry, and it isn’t on the D3200 chip. If the D3200 used the Sony ADC it would be laid out in the characteristic Exmor way, and I wouldn’t have spotted that it wasn’t a Sony. So, I’m pretty sure that the D3200 does not use the Sony ‘ADC block’. I suspect that the D3200 has a conventional ADC but in lots of channels, just not as many as the thousands of effective channels that the Exmor gives.
              Sure, this sensor is not Aptina fabbed – it can’t be, Aptina doesn’t have a fab – they use their ex parent Micron and other foundries.
              The point about Nikon’s sensor capability being separate from Sony’s is simply what would be the business case for having it at all if it wasn’t? Sure, you cold have a team of sensor consultants advising suppliers, but what is the point of going all the way to design and develop functionally different sensors unless you take it the rest of the way, and produce them independently? Especially when they are going to the trouble of designing a sensor virtually identical in spec to one Sony already has, which they have done with both the D3100 and D3200 – I really can’t see why they’d do that unless they really want to be dual sourced or maybe, ultimately, single sourced. If this new sensor goes in the D5200 and D7100, Sony won’t have a foothold in Nikon’s DX lineup.

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

              Thanks for the clarifications. (We also need another word for “produced by a third party using fourth party facilities” I think. As in the Nikon 1 sensor: Nikon design, at least partially, Aptina managed and produced, fabbed where? That’s why I use the shortcut Aptina-fabbed. I don’t know what word we use for that situation.)

              Your question is a good one, but it’s common in tech to have resources assigned like that. Why would Apple have a CPU team, for instance? I can cite plenty of similar cases: when a part becomes commodity like there is actually a big advantage to being capable of doing your own work in either the adjacent or sometimes overlapping space.

              But in Nikon’s case, they’re an optical company at heart, and optics are involved in so many ways in sensors (both production and performance of) that it was very natural for them to get involved early and stay involved. Their approach to RGB photosites is optically based, for instance.

              I can only recount a conversation I had with Nikon execs around the time of the D2h introduction: the gist of it was a repeat of their “best sensor for product” statement. In short, they weren’t committed to doing full sensor solutions themselves, but they also hoped that their technology would drive sensors forward. In that vein they let their sensor teams propose sensors against solutions from outside, may the best solution win.

              I need to have that same conversation with those execs again and see if anything has changed in the ensuing years. But if I had to guess, Nikon is slowly moving towards doing it themselves, and gaining confidence with each iteration. At this point I would not be at all surprised if the next DX cameras are Nikon sensors, not Sony. In fact, I’d be surprised if it were the other way around. The price pressures mean squeezing costs everywhere, and the fact that we’ve seen this switch at the lowest cost Nikon DSLR would indicate to me that there must be a cost advantage involved. It’s a very expensive part to pay extra for ;~).

        • Richard

          Agreed, Thom, but once Nikon have combined all the ingredients, the resulting design should be their IP and the company should be at liberty to fab it where they may, assuming there was not a restriction on where it could be fab’d as a part of the cross licensing agreement.

          Nikon have worked over the Sony designed sensors in the past to achieve a better result than the corresponding Sony sensor which was installed in Sony’s own cameras.

          Besides the technical and legal aspects of the sensor being marked “Nikon”, I should imagine that the company never really liked a Nikon camera with someone else’s name on the heart of it.

          Of course Nikon wants to be “best sourced” as you put it, but I would think that Nikon would also be interested in multiple sourcing the production of parts in general, not just sensors, so that the company has options in the event of some unforeseen occurrence. If Nikon want to grow market share, and what company wouldn’t, they need the ability to produce more product and more product requires more component parts.

          I remain surprised that Nikon have not at least begun plans to open a plant, at least an assembly plant, somewhere in the Americas. Quite a few companies are doing so. There are a number of collateral benefits to doing so.

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

            Agreed with the first part.

            Not sure about the second sourcing part. Who in the industry has second sources for their sensors other than perhaps Nikon? And what advantage would having a second source provide? Second sourcing has downsides, too.

            As for building cameras in the Americas, maybe the Nikon 1 could be, but there’s far too much hand work in all the others. Both Thailand and China have been more aligned with the dollar (though this is slowly changing) than other currencies, too, so plants there have protected them a bit from currency fluctuations. Canada has had a bigger currency fluctuation, which would scare them. Haven’t looked at Mexico and Brazil lately, so can’t speak to that.

            But it isn’t just building in the Americas. We’re seeing a different mix of cameras bought in Asia than we are in the US. This is very akin to the different mix of autos in Europe/Asia versus America in the late 20th century. I’d say you want a design group in the US, maybe another in Europe. Either that or you have to reinvent cameras in a way where the entire world wants the same thing ;~).

  • Jason

    Do you think it possible that the companies are learning, and that Nikon paid Sony to stamp the sensors Nikon??

    • http://jamesmcdonnell.net James

      I Think You’re on the money there! Nikon Have enough money to stamp the sensors, I would say Sony makes the sensor and Nikon tweak (As they do with all the sensors) it and with that are able to Rebrand it, Same as the Apple A4, it is stamped with the apple logo etc but deep down inside there are chips made by Sharp, Samsung and PowerVR.

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

        No, your “made by” is not right here. The Apple A4 chip is manufactured by Samsung. The core CPU stuff is licensed from ARM. But Apple bought and internalized several key companies that were in the business of tweaking and augmenting ARM. Thus, an A4 chip is uniquely Apple. Samsung makes for themselves something similar (ARM licensed cores), but it’s not the same.

        Apple is unique in that it controls both the software and hardware platforms for its products. Thus, it has the ability to tweak the A4 in ways that may optimize performance for their software. Samsung is using Android, which they don’t control, and it’s a little more dangerous for them to tweak to specific software aspects, as those aspects might change (indeed, that’s exactly what’s happened with Android since the beginning, though it’s settled down now).

        The parallel is EXPEED. Nikon controls what the imaging ASIC needs and can tune a sensor to the ASIC if it so desires (which I’m sure it does).

        “Make” is a term now that means “manufacture,” not “design.” We have very few companies left that do both under that term (Intel comes to mind, but I’m not sure Sony Semiconductor would).

  • Ray

    I think I’d need a bit more evidence than that.

    If it said “King Kong” on there, would that be conclusing proof that giant apes make Nikon’s sensors for them?

    • Ray

      Conclusing? Bad swype, that’s not even a word.

    • Dimitrii1130

      for sure.. if it said “king kong”, he produced it with his own fingers ;)

    • Sky

      This.
      Isn’t it obvious anyway that if Sony makes sensor towards Nikon specification – it has a “Nikon” text on it?
      Eh… people… see what they want to see.
      Soon you’ll tell me that Nikon mines magnesium for camera bodies on it’s own! LOL

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

        In one sense you’re correct. But the implication in your comment goes further than reality, I believe.

        The fact that Chipworks decided to do a full analysis of this sensor would tend to indicate to me that it is not the same as the Sony sensor in more ways than just whose name is on it. Indeed, even casual observation can tell you that, as the external packaging and pin locations are different. Chipworks generally wouldn’t be selling US$5500 substrate analysis unless something WERE different at low levels. (I can’t say for sure, as I don’t have US$11000 to buy both the Sony and Nikon sensor substrate packages from them, but again, it seems unlikely that they’d publish separate packages unless there were differences.)

        The comparison to Apple’s A4 processor makes a lot of sense to me: some licensed technologies, lots of proprietary tweaking, fab at the cheapest provider with adequate volume and quality.

        • ThomHoganIsATosser

          You are some serious tosser. Do you also speak Klingon?

          • Patrick

            Go away.

          • preston

            Thom may speak Klingon (thanks for not dumbing this stuff down Thom – lots of us appreciate it!) but you apparently only speak Douchebag. Tosser? Really? wtf does that even mean???

            • Edubya

              “Tosser” is a British insult. I think the commenter is resentful that he doesn’t understand Thom’s analysis.

        • Jason

          @Thom

          Thank you! Very nice and clear explanation about collaboration in sensors. Ignore the idiot responses.

  • Shooter

    Some of you are patially right. I think that ADMIN sould define what “made by” means. I work at a microchip manufacturing company and it works very similarly. We have the resource to R&D, design, manufacture and assemble our stuff but we outsource our mass manufacturing to an external company who is better equiped for large scale manufacturing. It’s OUR name\stamp that is on the microchip not the manufacturer. Nikon probably “designed” the chip by Sone probably “manufactured” it. Just because it has a Nikon stamp on it mean nothing.

    • Sky

      I wouldn’t bet that it’s “designed” by Nikon either. It shares characteristics of Sony sensors, so most likely – it is just made to fit Nikon specs like the voltage, contacts, etc. And that part Nikon might “design”.

      • http://www.sensorgen.org/ Bob Newman

        Which characteristics does it share with any Sony sensor? It looks completely different from any Exmor ever made, the pixels are a different size and the chip is a different size to the Sony 24MP sensor. So, which characteristics, exactly, are you talking about.
        Do you really think that it is likely that Sony would design two completely different sensors to the same spec? Do you think it likely that they would take in foundry work when they are already putting out a considerable proportion of their own fabrication to foundries?

        • Richard

          Bob, I think Sony intend to take in a lot of fab work for other people. They have publicly stated that they intend to very aggressively grow their fab capability (and business) in the next few years.

          Cheers

          • http://www.sensorgen.info/ Bob Newman

            Hi Richard,

            I have never seen an announcement that Sony intends going into the foundry business, in fact it would be strange when they put a higher proportion of their own production out to foundries this year than they did last. Sony is expanding production capacity for its own sensors, given its stated aim of being number one in every sector. It has only recently moved into the camera phone market, and partially it is that volume that will need to increase fab capacity. Remember also that Sony is moving into so radical technologies such as BSI and dual layer (which is also BSI). The dual layer takes twice as much fab capacity per sensor as does the single layer. I doubt very much that Nikon can do that, and when DSLR pixel densities go sub-micron they will still need to be talking to Sony, unless a BSI dual layer foundry industry has arisen by then.

            • Richard

              Hi Bob,

              I tried to look up the article I remembered about Sony taking in outside work, but have not found it. (?) As I recall it, the article was one of the first after the Sony announcement of their strategic plans to aggressively increase sensor production capacity and market share over the next few years rather than the recent announcement about the specifics. (Last year sometime.) Perhaps there was a misunderstanding of how the increased capacity was to be utilized. In any event, based upon the current news, it does not appear that Sony will be taking in outside work. Thanks for clearing that up.

              There are more than a few articles now about Sony spending nearly $1 Billion (including government subsidies of an undisclosed amount) to increase imaging sensor production capacity. Specifically mentioned were imaging sensors for cell phones and tablets and multi-layer imaging sensors. One article even stated that Sony expect to produce 60,000 wafers (of unspecified size) per month by the end of Sept 2013. http://hdr360pro.com/

              While looking this up I stumbled across an article that had some interesting figures comparing wafer success rates, cycle times, and capacity utilization. It seems to pose as many questions as answers. http://www.electroiq.com/articles/sst/print/volume-50/issue-4/departments/fab-management/using-wafer-success-rate-metrics-for-analyzing-cycle-time.html

              Cheers

      • http://http//www.sensorgen.info/ Bob Newman

        and BTW, your idea that the specification for a sensor consists of the ‘voltages’ and ‘contacts’ reveals that you know almost nothing about this topic. Bluffing is one thing, but dissing people who clearly know a lot more than you is another entirely.

      • Remedy

        If You would invest at least some BASIC amount of time in some research You’d find out that Nikon collaborated heavily with Sony in the sensor division. Even more, it’s actually safe to say that Sony learned a LOT from Nikon and I wouldn’t be surprised if many so called Sony sensors were designed thanks to Nikon. Seriously, read more about Nikon-Sony alliance in the sensor division.

    • Nikonnut

      “Just because it has a Nikon stamp on it mean nothing.”

      I beg to differ. Because it has a Nikon stamp on it, you most probably wont find the exact same sensor in any other camera including sony’s products, which means everything.

  • Aldo

    Nikon D3100 sensor is made by Aptina, the imaging division of Micron in California. With the same manufacturer, they can maintain the same pin-out and the same timings for the d3200, It’s a serious advantage to lower design costs !!

  • nuno santacana

    I want my name in the sensor. That would be a way to recover cameras from thieves…

    • DX2FX

      How ?

    • Douglas Adams

      Man, that was funny! Thanks, I needed that! :)

  • rhlpetrus

    As I posted here when DxO Mark had their test and wrongly attributed it to Sony.

    • Sky

      You suggest that DxO Labs, only people who mathematically analyse sensors more deeply then anyone on a market are clueless, while “Nikon” text on sensor says everything about it’s true designer and manufacturer?

      What a…..

      • Sky

        …beautiful day.
        :P

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

        Yet you assume that something labeled Exmor is all Sony. Your argument cuts both ways.

        Let’s dial things back to the late 1990’s: Sony Semiconductor didn’t want to make an APS sensor. Nikon essentially forced the question. As one of Sony Semis biggest customers (and suppliers) Nikon’s sensor R&D (which dated back into the 80’s) had a number of things up their sleeve that they essentially talked Sony into producing for the D1 series.

        It’s entirely unclear how much of the APS sensor tech we associate with Sony is Sony native. I found it interesting that both Nikon and Sony went very quiet on the publishing front with information about sensors post the 6mp version. Prior to that, both were very active at symposiums and in releasing technical information about the underpinnings. Then, almost simultaneously, nothing but some basic data sheets (and only from Sony). I’ve long suspected a collaboration agreement of some sort, where things have been cross licensed between the two. Both have a common goal of unseating Canon, after all.

        So, I don’t read much into DXO’s results. There very well could be the same photo diode and ADC circuit in both sensors, just as there is basically the same ARM processor in most mobile sensors. There’s still plenty of ways to distinguish between them. I don’t see the same video results from the two, for example, which tells me that information is being driven from the sensors differently.

        • Richard

          Thom,

          What have you heard about the Sony 300mm fab that either has recently been placed in service or is about to be placed in service?

          It seems to me that moving to a 300mm wafer is an important factor in moving to higher volume FX production. The other thing I continue to wonder about is the ability of the stepper to image an FX (or even larger) sensor mask in a single pass. Canon presumably have been using the steppers they sell which are capable of doing so.

          Could it be that Nikon have begun marking the sensors “Nikon” both as a matter of pride and so that it will not be apparent where they were fabricated? If, as many people believe, Nikon have been constrained in the number of FX bodies they could produce by the number of FX sensors they could get their hands on it would not be beyond the realm of imagination for the company to have challenged Sony to meet certain production quotas and also have been freed to have additional work done elsewhere.

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

            Don’t know a lot about the fab shuffle at the moment. It’s been two years since I’ve been over there and talked directly to those who know, and the quake may have changed a lot of plans about where to do what. It’s on a long list of questions to ask at Photokina if I find some of my sources there.

            I think it’s clear that yields on FX must have improved, and one clear thing that could have changed is the single pass versus multiple pass thing. We have rumors of both Nikon and Canon coming out with lower priced FX cameras in the coming year, and I don’t think either company wants to push their margins down, so something changed.

            Frankly, I don’t understand Nikon’s quiet in terms of marketing the sensor lately. They’ve really only made a big deal on sensor twice: D2h and D3. One failure, one success, but both only at the high end. I suspect that there are two worries: (1) they worry that production details about sensors aren’t something that’s worth a consumer-level sell message; in other words, megapixel count and maybe dynamic range are worth marketing messages, but “Designed by Nikon in Tokyo” is not; and (2) they use a mix of sensors, so right now they could only put that message on half their cameras, which would make people wonder about the other half (thus you’d have to have a similar “Designed for Nikon by Sony in Tokyo” message).

            Nonetheless, the old “we pick the best sensors” message is being born out. On virtually every camera they make from the Nikon 1 to the D4 they can point to being at the top of the heap in terms of the ways you generally measure sensor performance (e.g. DxO).

            • http://www.sensorgen.info/ Bob Newman

              On the ‘FX sensor yields have improved’, I have a theory that what we are seeing is companies making use of fabs with too large geometry for the larger markets. With phonecams heading to micron scale pixels and APS-C to three microns or so, sub 100nm processes are needed to get decent performance, so how do companies that have invested in fab make a turn on the old 180nm+ lines. I think the answer is turning out out be full frame. There is still a premium, and cameras like the D600 allow useful revenue from those older fabs. This is perhaps why Canon, which is rather fab locked has stuck on 22MP for its FF sensors. So, what might be happening is just a surplus of fab in 180nm+ which is driving prices down, rather than an increase in yields.

  • Eiaculeitor

    Folks, this thing is simpler than it looks! Nikon designed the sensor and paid Sony (or Aptina! who knows!) to produce it for them, which is cheaper than buying a Sony sensor with 100% Sony design. The intellectual property of this sensor itself remains of Nikon.

  • Iron Oak

    Do people really care this much? Or are you guys just bored and need something to argue over? So friggen nit picky, in the grand scheme of things if the camera allows you to take great photos then it has served its purpose. Does anything else really matter?

    • Gimme D600

      Are you new or something? Photography rumour, blogs and review sites aren’t about photography. They are there for people who don’t take pictures but want to write and endless train of BS regarding cameras to hide the fact that they can’t take a single picture worth a single dime :)

      • Edubya

        Yes, that’s probably true for a good many commenters in forums (yeah, fora) all over the web. But I would like to point out that here you’ll notice several commenters who use their real names, write extensively about camera tech, and include links to their impressive portfolios.

  • Steve

    I’m certain Ken Rockwell “designed” it after he returned from his alien abduction. So really, it was aliens all along. And it is part of “their” great plan to stop people pointing their cameras at the sky and start pointing their cameras at other cameras so we all take photos of components and spend our time on forums discussing it. While secretly, they invade….

    • AM

      By any chance, are you related to Giorgio Tsoukalos?

      • Steve

        .. hehe .. too many V re-runs ?

        But honestly, the way people get so frothy over brands I can envision a small war being brand motivated. It’s very old, very fast.

        Now, when are we going to start arguing over who makes the glass ?

      • Scott M

        That guy has some serious hair. He gives Fro a run for his money. That said, I like Ancient Aliens TV show.

  • Mike

    You guys are cute. So let me understand…. Apple deigns their computers, phones, tablets in California. Their screens are made by Samsung, cameras by someone else, assembled in China by Foxxcon, and sum of its parts is unquestioned as an Apple product. Yet a Nikon designed, Sony built sensor is what you’re hung up about? No one ever says “it’s an Apple tablet BUT they didn’t actually make it.”. Apple designed the guts and case and then farmed out the manufacturing part because it made more sense to let someone with manufacturing expertise and facilities do it. So, what is the big deal with Nikon sensors ‘made’ by Sony? Does it take away from Apple that Samsung makes their displays, when Samsung also makes Android products and TV’s and computers? So why the hate that Nikon does indeed hire Sony to fabricate the sensors they (Nikon) designed?

    For a time Volvo’s V8 was made by Yamaha. Mini (British brand) is owned by BMW. (Deutche). And Mini’s underpinnings are shared by BMW 1 series. Porsche has 51% stock of VW Ag. And no one cares!

    • LP

      Thanks Mike for some highly needed sense.

    • Mark V

      +1

      I have a D7000 and I think the sensor works well. The manufacturer of the sensor interests me a little just to know (because I’m kinda geeky and like to know about who does the fabwork), but at the end of the day, it’s about the experience taking photos: the handling of the camera, to the output that comes from it. As you essentially pointed out, companies sell experiences of products that are a combination of its components and how individuals interact with those products. I like my Nikon experience very well indeed and I would bet most folks here would agree.

      And my wife is very happy that she can say she owns a BMW… technically. The Mini is really fun to drive.

    • http://http//www.sensorgen.info/ Bob Newman

      No, Volvo’s V8 was never made by Yamaha. If was made by Ford, since they are part of Ford’s Premier Automotive Group, with Jaguar and Land Rover. All shared the V8, which was substantively a ford design, but Ford broght in Yamaha to designe and develop the top end of the engine, the valve train, combustion chambers, etc. It makes sense, since Ford only had experience of low efficiency American V8’s, which means they new everything required for the botton end, but not for the top end, so they bought in the expertise.
      You mention the Mini. Its engine is a Peugeot.

      • Dave

        The Prince engine in the MINI is also a BMW – see its never that simple,: co-design, co-manufacture…

    • http://www.seanmolin.com Sean Molin

      One of the greatest sports cars of all time, the McLaren F1… has a 100% BMW engine.

      …and a Kenwood audio system.

    • Nikonnut

      +1

    • Richard

      Mike,

      I have to “disagree” with you about the Mini owners. They are glad of BMW’s technology which was incorporated into the car. It became a much more reliable, sophisticated, and enjoyable car because of what BMW brought to the table.

      +1 to the rest as hardly any major product consists of all parts manufactured by the company which sells it. Just look at the suppliers of parts to the auto manufacturers and one will quickly realize this. Just taking Honda as an example, any given model will typically have air conditioning compressors manufactured by not one, but two different companies. They are manufactured to Honda specifications, but they are not made by Honda.

      In the electronics business, hardly anyone manufactures the parts that go into their products. Samsung may be the major exception in this regard, but even they utilize parts manufactured by others.

      Cheers

  • Q

    Make sense. Nikon just have to make there own sensors if they want to be a major player. This competition is very good for the consumers! Im still waiting for the open source camera that will take the market to a new level. I guess a DSLR with android and open access to the hardware will be the next big thing.

    • babola

      You’ll be waiting for a long time…VERY long time.

      • Q

        Well, it dont have to be a nikon. Sony is using android a lot. A pocket camera with android might happen in 1-2 year, maybe even a mirror less system. If not Sony I guess Samsung will take that lead.

  • ericnl

    I’d choose the D5100 sensor over the D3200 sensor any day…
    who made/designed that one?

    • Dimitrii1130

      this is d7000’s sensor –>sony.

  • Big J

    Well in my opinion, as long as Nikon & Sony hang out from time to time and make good sensors (or other stuff) which leads to even better ones and better quality cameras. Then no complaints on my part. Sony to me has potential and I think working alongside with Nikon can bear some good fruits in this market.

  • T.I.M

    D800 in stock again at Nikon store (you will have to pay taxes in some states, surch on their website)
    :)

    • silmasan

      i hate it when people tell me to surch on a website :p

      • T.I.M

        The Nikon store will make you pay taxes if you order from:
        California, Colorado, Connecticut, Washington D.C., Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Massachusetts, Maryland, Minnesota, Mississippi, North Carolina, New York, Tennessee, Texas, Utah and Washington

        • silmasan

          Merci mon bro, I was just goofing around :)

    • Me

      Surch? Probably an iPhone user…ohh that mighty auto-correct keeps people from actually have to know how to spell words…thanks NR for not having auto-correct, oh wait it underlines the misspelled words. It tells me I spelled Surch incorrectly, but how?? I sounded it out. I.D.I.O.T

      • silmasan

        Hmm? There are people from various backgrounds who post here regularly. Sometimes it can be funny and worth a little nudging (provided it’s not taken seriously), but it doesn’t warrant such a tone as yours.

        • Me

          My shot was at Apple…not this fella…no harm meant despite the tone.

      • RW

        When you make fun of another poster’s spelling, it would be nice if you could at least exhibit proper grammar:

        “Surch? Probably an iPhone user…ohh that mighty auto-correct keeps people from actually have to know how to spell words”

        Try: actually having to know how to spell words.

    • Suede

      Seems to be a big shortage in many countries though. I asked a local dealer in sweden and the expected at least 2 month wait for non NPS members.

  • ZinZun

    yey….who cares?
    As long as my camera is Nikon, I don’t care, Sony is tweaking their sensors made for Nikon according to Nikon specs requirements anyway…

  • CamaMan

    Lol! I bet what they did was change the contract with Sony so that every sensor tweaked by Nikon can have Nikon brand on it.

    I guess they saw people were taking them appart and spitting on Nikon, and decided to camouflage it better.
    It only took them 4years to notice the bad press on the internet!

    Nion get to the innovating table, fire some lawyers and some of the marketing PR staff

  • http://rkstephensphotography.smugmug.com Randy Stephens

    I really enjoy reading threads like this as I try to get a better technical understanding of all things camera related in my elderly mind. The bottom line to me is that I currently own 12 Nikon digital camera, 9 SLR’s, and find that they always improve camera performance with each generation they offer. The D800E and D4 are truly amazing in what they offer and are bettered by no one. I look forward to the D400 and what amazing capabilities it offers to this old photographer.

    • jason

      Sell them old camera… unless you want to start a museum

  • http://mojeSwietokrzyskie.pl michal

    great news! :-)

    • Jönam

      Yes? What?

      Your pet golden fish give HIV test possible?

      Is no good news I’m thinking yes?

  • T.I.M

    If you do macro (specially insects) get the D800
    D800e have many moiré issues with bugs paterns.

  • Jönam

    This rope is crocus song me.

    What talking about suzy? Justin Beiber must be revolution in his grave.

    Please makes the cents!

    • gecko

      Whatever you’re smoking currently – stop.

    • BartyL

      Whatever you’re smoking currently – please vacuum-seal two or three kilograms of it and send it to me.

  • Pablo Ricasso

    I’ll bet there will be a lot of cameras with 24 mp sensors coming soon. They’ll be more common than the old d70/digital rebel stuff. At that point we will probably lose the anxiety that we have been having over the file size of the D800…

  • Wataru

    Let me suggest not to read to much deep significance into this. Our company has HUGE resources, but although we design and build imaging sensors for industrial and scientific cameras, the fab is done elsewhere. Sometimes our fab would give us lots of design input. It doesn’t matter to the end user if our company name was on the sensor or if we had our fab (a large Japanese company you might know) put their name on the sensor: it was our camera and you couldn’t get it anywhere else. If you think there is some deep significance in Sony’s name or Nikon’s name being on a sensor, you aren’t thinking like a camera company thinks.

    • http://StevenGeorges.com Steven Georges

      Well said.

    • Richard

      Yes, and sometimes the recommendation is based upon experience that they have had which saves you the time, trouble and expense of rediscovering what they already know.

  • tjf

    I wonder how many have to pay Sony for the inscription?

  • EnPassant

    Whoever made the sensor in Nikon D3200 the DxOMark rating is such close to the sensor in Sony NEX-7 that one suspect they both share a lot of the same technology. Compare that to the huge gap to Canon EOS 60D: http://www.dxomark.com/index.php/Cameras/Compare-Camera-Sensors/Compare-cameras-side-by-side/(appareil1)/801%7C0/(brand)/Nikon/(appareil2)/736%7C0/(brand2)/Sony/(appareil3)/663%7C0/(brand3)/Canon

    Canon can’t blame their result on less MP as the score for the 16 MP Nikon D5100 is also very close to D3200 and NEX-7: http://www.dxomark.com/index.php/Cameras/Compare-Camera-Sensors/Compare-cameras-side-by-side/(appareil1)/698%7C0/(brand)/Nikon

    Although the sensors in D3200 and NEX-7 may be manufactured by different fabrication plants with slightly different design the fact that they reach very similar results when comparing not only the 24 MP but also the 16 MP sensors can’t be just a coincidence.

    • SNRatio

      It’s surely not a coincidence, but as you say, they may still be manufactured by different plants – there are fundamental similarities in the basic design, indicating some kind of common manufacture/cooperation/licensing. We don’t really know about this, but if you think strategically about it, an alliance between Nikon and Sony (and possibly Pentax) to counteract Canon’s dominance could make some sense. Nikon has seemingly become very “fab-agnostic”, they are very conscious about getting access to the best technology, and probably don’t care if they have to give away some of their own inventions to ensure this.

      This way, they also reduce their dependence upon certain vendors, and they have a lot to bring to the table when contracting sensor fabrication.

  • Joe

    The origins of a sensor are an interesting side note, nothing more. The only people who get worked up over this sort of stuff are the mine-is-better-than-yours-therefore-I-am-superior-to-you fanboys. I could care less who made the sensor in my camera. I only care how it performs.

    • T.I.M

      For many years I was using Fuji & Kodak films, never Nikon films !
      :o

      • Big J

        Ahhh…. Fuji film, that brings back good memories :D

  • Jabs

    Old but useful information.

    See – http://www.sensorgen.info/

  • explorer76

    Look at the DxoMarl results for D3200 and NEX-7 – they are basically identical. I don’t buy that Nikon and Sony independently designed two sensors which end up performing identically. Plus what motivation Nikon has to design this sensor themselves when Sony already has it. D700, D3, D3s were a different story because in those Nikon came up with a unique sensor which was different from what Sony had to offer. It makes no sense here to spend so much on R&D to some up with a sensor which they could already get from Sony. It is most likely that it is a Sony sensor with Nikon “customizations” and thats why it says “nikon” on it.

    Also another way to recognize the Sony sensors is to look at the dynamic range graph. Only in Sony sensors the DR graphs remains linear right down to the base ISO. For all other sensors including those from Canon and those in Nikon D3s, D700 etc, the DR curve becomes flat when it gets closer to base ISO. To understand what I am saying look at the following comparison between NEX-7, D3200 and D3s and go to the DR graph in measurements tab:

    http://www.dxomark.com/index.php/Cameras/Compare-Camera-Sensors/Compare-cameras-side-by-side/(appareil1)/801|0/(brand)/Nikon/(appareil2)/736|0/(brand2)/Sony/(appareil3)/441|0/(brand3)/Nikon

    • http://www.sensorgen.info/ Bob Newman

      The DxO results are similar, not identical. In particular, if you extract the QE and read noise, you find that the Nikon has slightly lower high ISO read noise, and slightly higher low ISO – i.e., it isn’t quite as ‘ISOless’, and a slightly lower QE than the Sony. The specs of the sensors are not identical. The Nikon is smaller and has slightly smaller pixels. If you look at pictures of the chips, they are quite different, with the Sony chip looking just like every Exmor chip has ever looked and the Nikon looking very different. Now, Chipworks says the Nikon says Nikon on the die. Those are clear evidence that these are different chips. So, it appears that two different chips with very similar performance have indeed been designed. The one has to wonder whether they are different because the same design team decided to take two very different shots at the same end result, or because two teams designed them, essentially to the same brief. As for motivation, I’d have though it clear that sensor multi sourcing is working very, very well indeed for Nikon. The benefits are obvious.

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

        What Bob said.

        If two cars go zero to 60 in the same time does that mean they have the same engine?

      • Jones

        Hysterical defence based on assumptions, the type you berate posters for on the m43 forum when “discussing” the e m5 sensor manufacturer.

        • http://www.sensorgen.info/ Bob Newman

          Not hysterical at all, just laying ot the facts of the matter.
          When chipworks tears down an EM-5 and does or does not find ‘Panasonic’ on the sensor die, then you might have a case.

      • Richard

        “The one has to wonder whether they are different because the same design team decided to take two very different shots at the same end result….”

        That is an interesting though, indeed. It would be as if they came to a fork in the road and decided to go both ways to see what lay beyond.

        “When you come to a fork in the road, take it!” The Yogi.

  • DW

    Its obvious that the sensors share the same technology.. (Nex-7 and D3200) If you look at the graphs at dxomark. And who cares..? Great that Nikon using Sony sensors.. (with their own design tweaks). Because they are for the moment the best at the market.

    • http://www.sensorgen.info/ Bob Newman

      It’s obvious when you look at chip photos that these two sensors are very different technology.

  • Sbugs

    About an hour ago I noticed that Pictureline.com was showing the D4 in stock. I didn’t believe it, so I called and they had 4 in stock. I ordered one, so now they have 3 left. I spoke to Katy at 1-800-748-8200. My D4 arrives on Tuesday after waiting since I placed my Adorama order on January 6th. Katy confirmed the XQD card is still included. I just checked a few mins ago and the site still shows D4 in stock. Good luck.

  • http://poloslides.smugmug.com William Jones

    Just an interesting point to make. An FX sensor is approximately 2.4 times the size of a DX sensor. Therefore, since the D3200 is a 24.2 MP camera, times 2.4, equals 58.08 MP. Wonder what model of camera that will be!

  • SiliconVoid

    lol.. That is just the moniker Sony stencils on the pcb’s used to make the sensor.

    Seriously though, having Nikon on it doesn’t mean jack. You can open up half the Dell computers on the planet and see {Dell} stamped on the motherboard – but Dell does not manufacturer computer components in any way/shape/form.

  • TheInconvenientRuth

    Ok, here’s a less goaty view:

    My son works in a plant that manufactures exhaust systems for many different car companies. It does not design anything except the fabrication methods. The top 10% yield of any batch goes to the actual car company . The rest of the production that is still within tolerances gets an identical muffler fitted but without the car brand logo embossed on it. These systems then go to repair shops such as KwikFit.
    A similar thing probably happens in sensor production too?

  • The Man from Mandrem

    The comments about Chipworks not publishing a report if there’s nothing new I don’t buy. I think they will make a report for anything they can sell, since someone will buy it.

    Out of curiosity, the design rules and layout should tell you who made it, right? Each foundry will have their own specific integration flows that you can look for commonality with.

    To me it doesn’t matter who makes the sensor so long as the image it takes is amazing. Nikon’s already got it’s name on the camera body. It stands behind everything inside.

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

      You have to think about who Chipworks is selling those reports to. If they started selling different reports on the same sensor, they wouldn’t have any customers left in a very brief amount of time. It’s competitors buying these reports: they want to know what makes their competitor’s products tick and see if they can learn anything useful from it. Beyond that, they probably want to check to see if their patents are being trampled ;~).

      Anyone with eyes can see that the Nikon D3200 sensor isn’t the same sensor as in the NEX-7 and other cameras, so it’s not surprising that Chipworks did a teardown. It has a completely different pin arrangement, the imaging area is different, and when you do the calculations you immediately learn that the photosite (and thus probably sensel) has to be a different size.

      > the design rules and layout should tell you who made it, right?

      To a large degree, yes. You might even be able to make an intelligent guess about licensed IP with the Chipworks information, too.

  • T.I.M

    I’ll get my D800 Tuesday !
    :o
    It’s still in stock at Nikon Sore

  • Geoff_K

    I dont care who makes the sensor as long as it works well. Nice to hear the D800’s are starting to trickle in. I am leaning D800E and hope by the time I decide they will have some in stock. I’m holding out for the D400 as I like the reach I get with my lenses and want faster FPS than the D800 has.

    I will admit I will peek at the D600 photos when they are out. That ~$1k difference in price could offset part of my next lens.

  • Luxottica

    These comments remind me of how a while back some of my friends argued over which sunglasses are better…. :)

    Do you prefer the “quality” of Ray-Ban to Oakley? Do you think Bulgari is better than Dolce & Gabbana, or Salvatore Ferragamo is better than Prada, how about Burberry, Chanel, Polo Ralph Lauren, Paul Smith, Stella McCartney, Tiffany, Versace, Vogue, Persol, Miu Miu, Tory Burch and Donna Karan?
    If you saw BBC’s Secrets of The Superbrands you know…

    Obviously I’m not saying all cameras/sensors/lenses….
    …but Nikon was hopping on one leg with it’s 12mp sensors and no new cameras on the horizon for years.. ppl were justifying 12mp like crazy, now they must have 36 :), Canon was doing the same with their crappy AFs… now they have a decent AF but a so-so sensor in the mk3, Nikon has a new camera but it has shortcomings too, I shot with Canon, Nikon… none is better than the other one… and one thing to remember one or two good parts doesn’t make a camera good. If the whole package doesn’t fit…..

    • Edubya

      I don’t buy your comparison. Crappy plastic sunglasses distinguished only by the label vs highly complex image sensors designed by teams of engineers and fabricated in billion dollar factories. I understand that good photographers can produce art with any camera. That doesn’t make a discussion of the underlying technology invalid.

    • Edubya

      And if your understanding of camera technology leads you to the conclusion that Nikon was “hopping on one leg” with the D3s and D700 because those bodies had 12mp sensors, I think you should re-evaluate where you spend your time on the web.

  • silmasan

    To ADMIN, if you read this:

    Nikon told by court to allow comfort women photo exhibition — After sudden cancellation, Japanese court tells camera company to use original venue

    http://www.sportsshooter.com/message_display.html?tid=36104

    So now Nikon has _enough_ reason not to “succumb to political pressures” and to proceed with their original intention on Ahn Se-hong’s venue.

  • mikils

    <<Chipworks teared down a Nikon D3200 DSLR camera and found that the 24MP sensor inside is made by Nikon.>>

    Shouldn’t be Chipworks tore down and so on? Otherwise we could als say that Chipworks finded that the sensor was made by Nikon!

    Just pointing out some amusing factoids….

  • silmasan

    …and it shall come to pass, that Chipworks teareth down a Nikon D3200 DSLR camera and findeth that surely bindeth–“Behold! The 24MP sensor inside is maketh by none greater than Nikon himself!” …

    • Richard

      Verily!

      :-)

  • Pablo Ricasso

    Hmm… Me guesseth the chip works nevermore.

  • T.I.M

    @ Nikon D3200

    Are you kidding ?????
    You sell it $180 more than Adorama !!!
    (for the exact same thing)
    :(

  • jerakin

    Why do people think Canon has more resources than Nikon? Nikon is part of Mitsubishi industries, one of the largest manufacturing conglomerates in the world. Do Canon make jet planes?

  • Richard

    While I’m delighted to learn that Nikon are making more of their high end sensors, I’m a little concerned about how Chipworks discovered this! The past of “tear” is emphatically not, even in US-English “teared”, but “tore”. Probably safer to use an easier verb like “dismantle” or “strip”!

    • Richard

      One might even say destructive analysis.

  • Big John

    Man, your comments on Nikon rumors concerning your Nikon/Sony sensor is so funny to read for a Canon guy like me! I really appreciate Canon in this point: I know that my Sensor is purely Canon made. Hugh, you think the last sentence is unnecessary? You are perfectly right then, it is! Why don’t you guys just enjoy shooting pictures and taking videos with your certainly wonderful and capable cams? Can you see it in your wonderful pictures you get (not ironically meant!!!) if its from a Sony or Nikon produced sensor? Is it any better when it is from Sony or Nikon? I would not care as long as my results are solid! So what is all this fuss about? Could anyone please explain this to a silly little Canon boy like me ;-)? Thank you!

    Cheers

    • silmasan

      It’s called “pastime”.
      Synonyms: amusement – recreation – entertainment – diversion – fun

      And don’t worry, we’re all so otherworldly intelligent here that it only takes seconds of skimming and typing to fill up a page. So we have the other tens of thousands to do other things as well.

      “purely Canon made”… smh :P

  • I need a new DSLr

    Please tell me the D600 is coming out soon, like within a couple of weeks

    I need a DSLR whatever it may be. D800 or D600 or D400 or whatever

    Please!

  • Jason

    Glad you speaked about what you finded out and tolded it to us in gooder English. Wth? What kind of faith am I supposed to put into a Nikon rumor when it sounds like a four-year-old wrote the post?

    • Mark V

      @Jason – Regarding faith: Look at Admin’s track record. The trend is clear.

      I see the grammar trolls are getting feisty around here. Need some more D600 or D400 rumors for people to focus on rather than grammar.

      • mikils

        Grammar troll, no less! Relax , man. I haven’t see yet a post telling me: -what you said is wrong- If you think that berating is the way, just go on.

        And I never doubted of NR utility and its contents.

        • Mark V

          @mikils – True, you did essentially say it was just an observation, which is basically what mine is as well. I don’t think berating is the way, else I probably would have posted something along the lines of “Wow, these grammar trolls sure are smart..” What I am pointing out is that if people are focusing on grammar as something to move the conversation forward, then we probably need something else to talk about.

          Also, please note the comment about faith in NR is directed specifically at Jason, the person I replied to. I did not consider you as part of this comment, as I did not have any idea as your particular faith in NR previous to this post I am replying to.

    • eggzz

      Jason, you are a twat to write an embarrassing post like that.

      NR have been spot on most of the rumours posted here, and your grammar skills doesn’t seem to be in a league that would justify such a load of BS from your hand.

      And just because you are a Canon-user, (sorry for you loss of IQ) you don’t have to ruin everybody elses day ;)

      just go home and feel bad about your gear!

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