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Surprise: the sensor inside the Nikon D5200 is made by Toshiba

Nikon D5200 sensor made by Toshiba (3)

Nikon D5200 sensor made by Toshiba

Nikon D5200 sensor made by Toshiba (2)

The sensor inside the Nikon D5200 camera is made by Toshiba. This is what Chipworks discovered after they took apart the D5200:

In our recent technology blog entry on full-frame format image sensors, we speculated on the possibility of new entrants in the FF CIS space.  What we didn’t expect was a new entrant into the APS-C game with Toshiba winning the primary CIS socket in the Nikon D5200.

FYI: the sensor inside the D3200 is made by Nikon.

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  • D600 Owner

    Wow, I can’t wait to see how it stands up against the Sony-made sensor in the D5100/D7000 and the Nikon-made sensor in the D3200.

    • Rebel

      sensor on D3200 is made by Sony

      • fusebox
      • http://nikonrumors.com/ Nikon Rumors

        See the link in the post – it’s made by Nikon.

        • Rebel

          ops, you’re right

          why Nikon did not produce sensors (if D3200 it is made by Nikon) and use Sony and now Toshba sensors?

        • Rebel

          mmm ”The Nikon D3200’s great strength lies in its Sony CMOS sensor, starting
          with a record dynamic range that surpassed 13EV at 100 ISO, making the
          D3200 of great interest for landscape photography.”

          http://www.dxomark.com/index.php/Publications/DxOMark-Reviews/Nikon-D3200-Review/Sensor-performance

          • iamlucky13

            Electronics manufacturing is fairly complicated business. Frequently parts are spec’d or even designed by one company, but fabricated by another.

            It seems possible the sensor was designed by Nikon, but fabricated by Sony. It is also possible that DxOmark has incorrect information.

            It doesn’t matter much one way or the other. It’s interesting trivia, but what matters is the performance.

            • Mick

              iamlucky has it exactly right. You have many fabless ic makers who have their chips manufactured at different fabs.
              Also, don’t forget that Nikon is a major supplier into most major IC makers. I.e. there areery close ties and the interests are mutual. Nikon is giving business to its customers.

          • jake

            dont trust DXO crap, I am sure they dont even know what they are typing about it. after all they are a tiny French company that cannot compete well against Adobe or Capture One.

        • Spy Black

          I don’t think Nikon has a fab plant to do so. They are probably DESIGNED by Nikon, but built by a third-party.

    • KnightPhoto

      Well this is completely unexpected – I wonder what’s going on and why?

      From time to time, instead of Renesas, Toshiba has been guessed as the fabricator of the D3/D700/D3S sensors, but I never heard much belief for that particular theory over the years.

      The strange thing is where would Toshiba get this fab capability out of the blue, or did they take over Renesas? Hard to keep track ;-)

      • http://nikonrumors.com/ Nikon Rumors

        Maybe Sony cut off the sensor supply for Nikon?

        • KnightPhoto

          Good question Admin ;-) I must say this is strange, and we’ve never had a reason to doubt ChipWorks before this.

          BTW, keep up the great work, you provide a real service to the Nikon community!

          • Hmmmm

            I don’t think that SONY has the kind of volume in Camera sensors that would allow it to cut off a main customer like Nikon. Even though some of their products directly compete, SONY has more to be gained right now by the success of Nikon than by any particular loss (especially at this low-end, where reputation & reliability are not as key as at the high-end). Furthermore, SONY is only an “average” top-level manufacturer these days. Nothing against them, I like a lot of their stuff and like what they are doing with cameras too. But other manufacturers have as good of quality control at the top-levels. I’m a bit more surprised that the Korean manufacturers aren’t really making plays here — I guess SONY learned from Samsung’s lesson and is pushing much harder — but not to digress, certainly Toshiba and other Japanese companies are well up to SONY standards in QC and design. And considering the design intelligence that comes directly from Nikon’s experience with multiple-manufacturers, its really about QC, tolerances and paying for patent licenses. After all, Nikon has had “Nikon sensors” in the past, so Toshiba mustve had something interesting to offer.

        • thomasverbeke

          maybe sony can’t deliver the number of sensors nikon is asking of them; don’t forget the D600 sensor is also made by sony; so is the D7000; D5100, D3200. Maybe the introduction of the D600 sensor was proving to much for sony.

          • test

            Well,
            do you guys remember the flood in Thailand and the tsunami in Japan. All the camera producers were hit, but Sony in a more bizarre way than any other. They just had their high capacity sensor fab ready for action for production of the market leadning exmore sensors for their cameras. Suddenly, after the disasters, they didnt have a single operational plant to make any cameras for their aps-c nor fullframe sensors.

            Nikon propobly got the deal of the century for buying all that production capacity, especially since Canon has this policy of producing all their sensors in their own fabs and couldnt offer a competing bid.

            Since then times have changed and everybody is back on normal production. Ofcourse Sony has to provide their own camera division before selling out capacity to Nikon. Ofcourse Sony is in a far better position to negotiate for a higher price and ofcourse Nikon isnt overly enthusiastic in providing business the one of the runners up in their market unless the profit mostly ends up in Nikon’s pockets.

        • marokero

          Nikon & Sony = Apple & Samsung? I see some similarities, albeit Sony seems more respectful of Nikon patents and designs.

          • Khedr

            Apple products have Sony’s sensors!!

            • marokero

              I meant Nikon outsources to Sony in a similar manner that Apple does/did/will never again outsource to Samsung. Doesn’t matter if it’s imaging sensors, SoC, PoP, electronic components, batteries, etc.

        • Spy Black

          I don’t think so much cut off as perhaps could not promise a production run. Nikon is smart not to put all their eggs in one basket, although I do wish they would invest in a fab plant, that would be the only time I would want to see them putting all their (sensor) eggs in one basket. :-)

      • jake

        I persnally still believe the D3s sensor was a Toshiba sensor and the d4 sensor might also be a Toshiba CMOS..

  • texasjoe

    Have there been any by Toshiba before?

    • http://nikonrumors.com/ Nikon Rumors

      Not that I know of.

      • jake

        the D3S sensor not a Toshiba?

    • marokero

      My father used to have a Toshiba PDR-M4 back in the days:

      http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/PDRM4/M4A.HTM

      It’s possible Toshiba used their own components to make this camera, not sure. But the use of that smartmedia memory card was such a poor choice, even for the time I think.

  • NakedLens

    Personally, I’m more surprised that there’s an actual prism in it instead of a mirror.

    • herman

      well it’s an SLR… how do you reflect light into the viewfinder without a prism?

      • fusebox

        With a mirror like in most of all the entry level DSLRs…

        • MJr

          Actually in addition to the main reflex mirror, it’s 3 mirrors that together form a prism shape. A hollow one. :)

          • fusebox

            Well usually we call it a pentamirror. A lot easier to say than “3 mirrors that together form a prism shape. A hollow one” ;)

      • John
    • fusebox

      That dosen’t look like a prism to me?

    • Steven Bodo

      those are the mirrors shaped like the top part of a prism

      • MJr

        those are in there, but can only see the plastic shell.

  • bubba

    “teared down…?”

  • khaled tolba

    You would think that the economies of scale would favor sourcing out the manufacturing of all these 24 MP APS-C sensors into one company and let factory automation bring the price down to a few pennies/sensor rather than farming out every sensor to a different maker. If there are two cameras that deserve the same identical sensor, then it’s the D3200 and D5200, now there will be another sensor for the D7200 and a fourth one for the D400, and all are 24 MP APS-C. Unless Nikon is experimenting with different manufacturing processes.

    • EnPassant

      Actually the D3X00 and D5X00 series cameras NEVER used the same sensor! Using different sensors always was a way of differing these models!
      We don’t know how many MP sensors of future cameras will have.
      Also I assume sensors are made in batches rather than a continuous production with no definte end. Therefore making more sensors than the maximal number in a batch will not be cheaper than a single batch.

    • Scott Medling

      On one hand, fewer companies may result in more economies of scale. But on the other hand, the economic dangers of depending on 1 company (i.e. Sony) for all your sensors is probably suicidal. Thus, it makes the most sense to depend on 2 companies for the vast majority of your sensors, so that you can play them off each other and yet still get some pretty good economies of scale.

    • RBR

      There may be a problem with production capacity. Sony is expanding their capacity, but I don’t know that they are at the point of being able to produce a great many more sensors at the present time.

      There is also the matter of the risks of having all your production sourced to one company. If things go wrong…you are going to have a very bad year.

      Even Apple are avoiding sole source procurements, apart from wanting to distance themselves from Samsung.

      • Captain Megaton

        This, and semiconductor fabrication in Japan is gradually being consolidated and opened up. Toshiba had the capacity, Sony likely did not. Since Nikon owns the IP, they can shop it out to whichever fab they want.

    • d5200.org

      I think you are right, but only if Nikon want to produce the same camera on different levels and in different price ranges. However, if you as a company want to ensure that you have the best possible sensor available to you, then it might be worth spreading your interests as widely as possible.

  • `/1nc3nt

    this is a useless debate.
    sensors are the so called photon collector which will be transformed into electrical signals.
    technically whether it’s sony, nikon, aptina, toshiba or whatsoever it still doesn’t say what kind of output you will see. and it’s right that sensors are made according to camera manufacturer’s spec.

    and yes, accident happens like in leica M8, M9 where sensors are failed to capture signals perfectly.

    • Elfx

      indeed, but the problem is sensor manufacturers define dignity for some ‘photographers’ e.g. when one shoot Nikon but apparently his sensor is made by non-Nikon then he would feel despicable and get mocked by Canon (or any other) where their sensors are presumably made by the brand themselves ;)

      “Because image quality is definitely nothing when your camera’s sensor is made by other manufacturer.”

      • jake

        but at least one thing we are sure about is Toshiba is a better sensor manufacture than Sony was for Nikon.

        • creustzfeld jakob

          fanboy?

          • dgm

            Don’t think do, I read it as a simple joke, you know, second degree and all that

      • al kickurass

        u sound ridiculous..who cares what camera u use.its the final image thats important!!

      • Erik

        Well, we can make the comparison to the Fruitstore from the West Coast in US ( Apple).

        Do they have their own Fab for the Processors etc?

        Nope, they are a socalled fabless ( Semiconductor) company. ( They produce their own designs at Samsung).

        In fact almost all Semiconductor companies are running fabless, exceptions are to my knowledge mainly Intel & Samsung.

      • http://www.bobcooleyphoto.com/ bob cooley

        Yeah, but those aren’t photographers, they are gearheads.

        Photographers care about creating images, not about who makes the tech (as long as the tool helps the photographer make great images).

        I’ve shot Nikon most of my nearly 30 year career, its where my biggest is in glass and system accessories; but I’ve also owned/shot Hasselblad, Fujica, Mamiya, Polaroid, Linhof, Cambo, and have even owned a few Canons over the years.

        They have all made great images for me. I care a lot less about the brand of hammer and screwdriver I use, and more about the house I’m building…

        • Stanley

          Yes it is the tool in the hand of the craftsmen but if the tool is defective then the craftsmen-s work sucks because the tool is defective. Like the focus issues with the D800. The days of film are long gone-by-by-by and with the digital age comes tools that can make or break you because we have to rely more on our tools doing its part too. Could you get a “J” assignment using a d1 vs someone using a d4? Used to be film cameras were all pretty much the same. Some had better quality glass then others but that was it. The film and processing and printing sometimes made a difference too. But a real shooter could do the voodoo they did so well and make purity pictures using a coke-can-camera! like this one http://www.ebay.com/itm/Vintage-35mm-Cola-Coke-Can-Camera-/261153335898?pt=US_Vintage_Cameras&hash=item3ccdf3aa5a It isn’t that simple anymore. I’ll refer back to the d800 debacle. And how old is your laptop?

          • http://www.bobcooleyphoto.com/ bob cooley

            Not really sure what you are all bent out of shape about.

            My point is that if the Toshiba sensor is a quality sensor, then it doesn’t really matter if it isn’t made by Nikon. Many of the sensors in Nikon cameras are made by other manufacturers. My reply to Elfx was making the point that it’s silly to worry about the ‘prestige’ of only shooting with a sensor made by Nikon. Nikon may design or spec out the sensor, but its often made by other companies.

            Bottom line, there was never an argument stating that the ‘tool’ (sensor) was defective. Your reply is a non-sequitur…

            • Elfx

              btw It’s a normal thing in a comment for some people to only detect the pattern of certain keywords (“image”, “sensor”, “brand”, “camera”, “result”, “good photo”, etc) without further reading and immediately react this common “boohoo camera is not important, it’s the skill, blah blah” so I forgive them.

              Thanks for pointing out that it’s the reality that few certain people really care about who makes the sensor, instead of the picture; yet they think they’re photographers.

      • Elfx

        if you don’t agree, it’s okay, that means you’re real photographers not ‘photographers’ a.k.a. fanboys.

        It’s a fact that my statement is true for some people (fanboys). Just saying, in case anybody here don’t get my point.

    • thomasverbeke

      but the quality of you’re AD conversion certainly depends on the quality of your sensor..so it’s very important…

  • rico

    as long as they are not made by insigna

  • luxicraft

    Well, this could explain the slow rollout of this body. If Toshiba is ramping up production of sensors, they could be going at a more cautious pace to watch their QC more closely. And, I would bet this was all carefully orchestrated.

    Also, it’s not like Sony is doing very well as a company right now. Nikon would be foolish not to “grow” more vendors to source sensors from — especially companies who are not competing with them.

    Sony is a ruthless competitor on top of it. I’ve been amazed that Nikon ever depended on them.

    • jake

      I think you are wrong because Toshiba is a bigger name than Sony in sensor business and Toshiba has already made some photographic sensors as well such as the one used in the Fuji X-E1 and the Nokia phones.

  • icantbelieveitsnotchicken

    So is it “made” by toshiba but designed by Sony. Or is it completely designed and made by toshiba?

    • KnightPhoto

      Even the Sony stuff is designed by Nikon. Can’t be a Toshiba design, especially since Thom indicated the D5200 sensor performs very much like the D3200 sensor at the pixel level. Interesting…

      • Steven Bodo

        what the hell is Thom?

        • thomasverbeke

          thom hogan look it up google

    • luxicraft

      Probably designed by Nikon and made by Toshiba. No?

    • jake

      no, not Sony designed it , I am sure Toshiba is a better sensor designer than Sony ever was.

  • OMR

    Surprise: Dell sell LapTops with Intel chips…. c’mon. It is normal in technology.

  • js200022

    Hmm.. the D5200 body looks a lot like the D600 body. I hope the new D400/D9000 won’t have the same plastic body.

    • thomasverbeke

      the D5200 looks just like the D5100 does…nothing like the D600 (I own both)

      • js200022

        This is the D600 teardown, both cameras don’t have metal body.

        http://nikonrumors.com/2012/11/08/nikon-d600-teardown.aspx/

        • thomasverbeke

          the metal is on the outside; have you seen a D700 teardown or a D800; it will look just the same. Or do you actually believe there there is nothing but metal inside a “pro” camera :)

        • thomasverbeke

          http://www.btobey.com/news/images/nikon-d800-frame.jpg here picture of D800 with so called pro build: clearly only the top is providing the weather sealing which just like in the D600 is on the outside; the internal frame is also of metal but I don’t see why this is an advantage; I think a lot of this “pro build quality” is good marketing but nonsense from a technical standpoint. It’s not the metal that makes the sealing; it’s the manuf. process…

  • jake

    great news for us Nikon shooters.

    I believe Toshiba sensors are much better than comparable Sony sensors(I dont think Sony sensors are as good as their hype).

    • James

      Have you seen the DxO results?????

  • Eric Calabos

    Something that even Thom wouldnt expect
    Chipwork says Toshiba used Cu for wiring … Does it mean there will be more dark current noise or hot pixels?
    DxO, we are all waiting for you :-)

    • Mistral75

      Cu instead of Al means less heat dissipation, so it’s an advantage.

      • Spy Black

        Why would you consider less heat dissipation an advantage?

  • xb897

    1. Doesn’t toshiba belong to the same group with canon?

    2.Does TD1 mean toshiba, because I can’t see toshiba written anywhere.

  • ctown

    What do you do with an old chip foundry, one that cannot produce the small features of modern microprocessors and other “nano-sized” circuits? You try to get business making optical sensors, which have relatively large features. There is an old IBM fab near me, once state-of-the-art, now making sensors on contract to others.

  • j v

    Interesting… Maybe it is my ignorance, but I did not know Toshiba was a player in the photo sensor market (at least in anything above mobile phones).

    While of course it does not really matter how produces the sensor, as long as the quality is there, it is interesting to see Nikon not being too stuck with a single manufacturer. I wonder if the D5200 was perhaps a “test case” to evaluate Toshiba for use in other cameras…?

  • Duh….

    Surprise… No one cares…

  • Vancity

    Apparently I found this http://optics.org/news/2/2/25

  • Vancity

    http://optics.org/news/2/2/25 I guess its still Sony

  • Mark

    Don’t buy. Toshiba are the ones who sold our submarine propeller design technology to the Russians during the Cold War.

    • marokero

      The US’ own Walker spy ring provided a lot more US Navy secrets to the Soviets before this ever happened. Should we boycott American products?

      Nikon & Canon used to make optics for WW II Japan, do you still buy their stuff?

      BMW and Siemens used slave labor from concentration camps during WW II. IBM provided punch cards for use in concentration camps. Ford and GM’s German subsidiaries retooled to make war machines for the Nazis. Should we boycott them all?

      • Mark

        Is that your best defense of Toshiba’s comparatively RECENT activities, at which time they were presumably not in a state of war against us?

        • marokero

          I’m not apologizing for what Toshiba did then, nor what that unbalanced individual (who worked for Toshiba) did more recently. But to say not to buy a D5200 solely because the image sensor is made by Toshiba is not that helpful.

      • PeacefulCanon

        Nikon made targeting optics for the bombers which attacked Pearl Harbor. Not Canon. Canon was a consumer company & never made any products that ended up in anything but cameras or medical equipment.

        In fact, Nikon didn’t even manufacture cameras until after WW2. Canon was making them in the 30s as Leica rip-offs. & they used Nikon lenses (because they didn’t even make lenses).

        Canon’s first lens was for a movie camera (worlds first movie camera zoom lens) in either 1958 or ’59. Their first consumer lens wasn’t until ’71. WW2 ended in 1945.

        So unless Japanese soldiers were throwing camera bodies out of planes, Canon had nothing to do w/ anything military in WW2.

  • solarsky87

    According to Chipworks (http://image-sensors-world.blogspot.de/2013/01/toshiba-enters-dslr-market.html) the Nikon D3200-sensor (as well as the D5200-sensor) is designed by Nikon but the former produced by Renesas. The D5200-sensor, though is, as mentioned in that article, made by Toshiba. It will be interesting to see their respective performance.

  • 103David

    Jeez, I remember when you could only get these in chrome, or black…

  • ed617

    The sensor is fantastic – almost no alaising or moiré – and at 24MP, clarity that exceeds Canon’s 7D, T4I, T3i, etc

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