The Nikon D5 and D500 sensors are both made by Sony

Nikon D5 CMOS sensor made by Sony

Nikon D5 CMOS sensor made by Sony

Nikon D5 CMOS sensor unit

Nikon D5 CMOS sensor unit

TechInsights (previously known as Chipworks) published their reports on the sensors inside the Nikon D5 and D500 DSLR cameras - both sensors are made by Sony:

For a detailed list of Nikon DSLR cameras and their sensor manufacturer/designer, see this post.

This entry was posted in Nikon D5, Nikon D500 and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. Trackbacks are closed, but you can post a comment.
  • Carlo

    Developed and manufactured by Sony or just manufactured ?

    • Andrew

      So much for Sony not selling its sensors to competitors. And besides, Nikon puts a lot of custom design into its sensors (as reported by its sensor patents). One would assume that there is no way of telling whether the sensors are 100% Sony designed except through some internal leaks. But it is likely that Nikon uses Sony’s base technology (which includes design) and makes their patented design modifications in certain areas to meet their specification.

      • Daniel

        They are 100% designed by Nikon, manufactured by Sony.

        • BlueBomberTurbo

          Source? For two cameras essentially performing the same task at 2 price ranges, the sensors couldn’t be more different. The D500’s sensor acts exactly like the Sony A6300/A6500 sensor, except at crazy high ISO. The D5’s sensor, however, is very Canonesque, giving up all low ISO DR for a hair better high ISO.

          • Daniel

            Source? A Sony engineer that was just here on Kauai (where I live). He went on one of my wife’s food tours. I help her guide them on occasion. The guy and I struck up a conversation. He’s been a Sony engineer for about 12 years. Has worked on the Nikon sensors, but changed departments about 18 months ago.

            And as to your comments, you forgot to take into account that the D500 sensor is a crop chip while the D5 is full frame. That alone makes for a price difference. The dynamic range of the chips is quite different.

            • Zainb

              You met Sony engineer? Lol. Liar. But even if true, anecdotal stories are not evidence. The sensors are made and designed by Sony. Nikon is just a customer that buys them.

            • Daniel

              lol, since your existence in the universe (or not) means nothing to me, call me what you will. I know the conversation I had with this guy. And not the only Sony engineer I’ve met either. I’ve known quite a few over the years from various departments in Sony, though mostly from the video side. But by your comment, I’m guessing you are a big Sony fanboy, so nothing anyone says will make you know what actually goes on.

    • Thom Hogan

      “Developed” is becoming more and more difficult to assess. Sony themselves have been licensing IP from others and incorporating it into their sensors.

      Think of building a new sensor a bit like choosing a meal from a menu that only lists separate items. We have things happening at the photosite, above the photosite, below the photosite, outside the photosite at the edge of the sensor, and much more. Even the photosite itself seems to have configurability in some sensors.

  • Does this mean that Nikon video quality is the same as Sony?

    • Thom Hogan

      Probably not. The D500 seems to have different row/column access on video.

      • What kind of consequence does that leave, worse rolling shutter?

        • BlueBomberTurbo

          More noise, less detail, and a larger chance of moire.

  • CaMeRa QuEsT

    The D500 sensor has a normal Sony sensor model number, so it’s probably a Sony “customer order” part, whereas the D5’s has a very “special” sensor model number, so it’s probably a Nikon design sent out to be fabbed by Toshiba before it was acquired by Sony. In any case, this proves that Nikon is now 100% dependant on Sony Semi’s whims.

    • El Aura

      It’s not exactly rocket science for Nikon to take their sensor design to another fab and Sony Semi knows this. Note that while Sony (and Canon) produce almost all of large-ish image sensors (m43 and up), 60% of all image sensors still come from companies other than Sony (https://www.dpreview.com/articles/7228456320/sony-has-40-percent-share-of-image-sensor-market).

    • Thom Hogan

      With the Toshiba number on the D5 part I’m coming to a different conclusion: the fabs are locking in the part number, probably due to the way they’re applied somewhere in the process. Renasys allowed Nikon to put a Nikon part number on the D3/D4 chips. But all the Toshiba fabbed parts, including Nikon-only designs, have Toshiba part numbers.

      I suspect this is the same silly thing that keeps us with seven digit camera serial numbers, two of the digits being a regional coding: that’s the way the machines were designed ;~). No one is going to spend the money to fix or replace them.

  • no, those reports are real – look at the date they were published

    • animalsbybarry

      Now that Sony says they do sell thier best sensors to others maybe we will see the rumored 70-80 mp FF sensor on a new Nikon camera ( preferably a mirrorless one)

      • I have not seen any reliable rumors about a 70-80MP sensor coming anytime soon.

        • animalsbybarry

          Rumors are a Sony mirrorless A7Siii with low res sensor coming soon , and another high res with 70-80 mp sensor coming later.
          I am extrapolating that if Sony is building the sensor and they are selling thier best sensors to Nikon, that Nikon should also have a 70-80 mp camera in the works

          This is my guess based on the logic I have described, rather than an actual credible rumor

          • I will repeat my comment again: I have not seen any reliable rumors about a 70-80MP sensor coming anytime soon.

        • Allan

          If a rumor is reliable, does it cease being a rumor?

  • Shutterbug

    This was already common knowledge, no?

    • Now we have an official confirmation.

      • spam

        Again

  • CaMeRa QuEsT

    At least it’s not the same sensor as the one inside the Canon 1D-X MKII:

    http://www.techinsights.com/reports-and-subscriptions/open-market-reports/Report-Profile/?ReportKey=DEF-1606-801

    • BlueBomberTurbo

      The 1DX II sensor actually performs better than the D5’s, except at very high ISO. Even then, it’s only around 1/3 – 1/2 stop cleaner. Within the margin of error​.

      • CaMeRa QuEsT

        And the 1D-X MKII can shoot 4K@60fps while also being Dual Pixel CMOS, so it’s actually almost double the MPs. Canon has finally beaten a comparable Nikon sensor, pixel by pixel.

  • Edison Firme

    Nikon D4s, made by Nikon, no wonder I love it so much

    • All Nikon DSLRS sensors are made by sony …. some of them like the D4s are designed by Nikon and made by Sony … Nikon doesn’t have the tools to make sensors !

      • Edison Firme
      • Edison Firme

        In that case, I’m pretty sure Nikon doesn’t have the tools to make the paint, the rubber. I’m pretty sure they don’t have a mining division to dig the metals out of the earth. Nikon D4s is pure Nikon to me !!!

      • El Aura

        Apart from the fact that Nikon makes the tools that others use to make sensors, the D4s was sold while the fab currently making the D5 sensor was still owned by Toshiba.

      • Thom Hogan

        Actually, Nikon makes the tools that make sensors (as does Canon). Unlike Canon, however, Nikon appears to never have dedicated one of those tools they make to their own camera group ;~). Canon did, but it’s a billions of dollars investment to do so, and has to be redone from time to time.

  • Aldo

    Now we know why the D5 sucks at ISO 100… D4s ftw.

    • Eledeuh

      That’s ridiculous, it has to do with the way it was optimized, not with the maker. The D810 sensor is produced Sony too.

      • Aldo

        You are right… it doesn’t suck. It’s just not as good.

        • Eledeuh

          Depends on what you’re looking. You don’t buy a D5 for its ISO100, you buy it for high ISO performance and speed.

          • Aldo

            How about a d4s… what do I buy that one for? cuz it is excellent at base iso and high ISO

            • Eledeuh

              But less so than the D5, that’s all there is to it. From there you just can’t honestly say it’s “better”, it may be better for your specific use, which may not be in line with what Nikon envisions for this line of cameras.

            • Aldo

              The d4s is better at base ISO… the d5 is not as good. That’s what I said.

            • Sawyerspadre

              And they are two grand less expensive on the used market, than a D5;-)

          • NicP

            Are you serious? No I dont want to believe you are. Please dont be.
            It was a joke. Lets make your post and mine a bit “lighter”, lets laugh, it was just a joke in the end.

          • Michael Laing

            I can’t quite agree with you. Yes, most people do buy it for its high ISO performance and speed but for some the speed is much more important than the high ISO and unfortunately the D5 is a bit of a stinker at low ISO.

            • Eledeuh

              I know *some* people seek both speed and low-ish ISO, but let’s be honest here: the D5 catches-up with the D4S around ISO 800, by ISO ~320-ish it’s already pretty close ; all in all, the D5 DR is significantly worse “only” below ISO 320.

              Now, considering the main target for those cameras (action shooters, typically sports and wildlife, anything where action can happen quick, light can be very sparse, and where the photographer has absolutely no control over the lighting), are they more likely to shoot above ISO 400, or below ?
              Nikon seems to think they spend more time above, and optimized the camera this way. It doesn’t mean the camera can’t handle anything at lower ISO, it’s just not the GOTO camera for it, and it’s fine, there are other options anyway.

              Hopefully the next iteration will handle low ISO better, but in the meantime just put yourself in their shoes, and think of their varied customers and their varied reasons for buying such and such camera, it’s not too hard to imagine how the D5 came to be as it is.

            • NicP

              You continue this, so it wasnt a joke.
              Well sports shooters for day/sunny sports or wedding photogs should keep their D4s’s or jump ship, great logic. Maybe its the logic of Nikon in the end, no doubt for their sales against their rival.

            • KnightPhoto

              My D4 rarely went below ISO 400 or 800. But it paid for itself at ISO 8000.

            • NicP

              Maybe you dont live in a very sunny country, or you dont shoot swimming, golf, beach volley, or day events, riots/protests, weddings etc etc etc… where one moment you shoot in bright sun and the other in complete shadow and you need the maximum in robustness dynamic range speed and high ISO capabilities.

              Maybe Nikon will come up in the future with such camera (again) as a revolution, once they forgot how its done within 2-3 years.

            • KnightPhoto

              I guess I always had the D800E if I needed the extreme DR for bright scenes to complement my D4. i do agree, if it is possible to have a single sensor in next generation do both then yeah. But I am not opposed to the D5 sensor being tuned for the high-end of ISOs. A D750 or D810 to go with it solves the other problem for now, and let’s see what the D820 can do. Personally I am really rooting for a choice of D820X and D820H this generation.

        • ben132401

          aldo.. why do you have to be such a pussy? the d500 is optimized to perform at higher iso’s, according to dxomark it has less noise and more dynamic range than the d7200 above iso 400 which is perfect for this camera. who buys a d500 to use it at base iso?

          • Aldo

            Why can’t you have some decency? We aren’t even commenting on the d500… Vulgarity and stupidity seem to always come together.

            • ben132401

              mate, seems like you really gotta suck on your daily pole, go do it and chill! pussy.

            • I delete few of his posts and I about to ban him.

            • Ok, he is gone, and so are all of his comments. This kind of language will not be tolerated here.

    • Andrew

      Aldo, your urban vocabulary is quite diverse. Every time you use a word with an acronym (such as ftw), I have to look it up 😉

      • Aldo

        I used to play a game called world of warcraft… I think I picked it up there.

  • Spy Black

    At this point, who else could possibly make the sensor?

    • Samsung ????

      • Andrew

        No way. Nikon would outsource to a Japanese company as a matter of preference. Sure Sony is a competitor but they are also strong partners. Samsung is a fierce competitor to Nikon and Sony in anyway they can. Samsung is operating like an entire nation spanning many different industrial sectors.

      • Sawyerspadre

        Also, while highly improbable, Canon produces sensors.

  • Ken

    I thought the D5 booklet mentioned D5 uses an in-house developed sensor?

  • MB

    Nikon does develop sensors in house (to some degree), but they outsource manufacturing, just as for example Aptina used to do …
    The difference was that sensors manufactured by Renesas were branded as Nikon, and those made by Toshiba and Sony as Toshiba or Sony …
    Now that Sony acquired both Renesas and Toshiba sensor plants everything is branded Sony of course …

    • Thom Hogan

      Nope. Sensors coming off the old Toshiba fab still seem to have Toshiba part numbers on them.

      • MB

        Older sensors designed before acquisition do … why waste time on changing that … I doubt any new product will bare Toshiba name …

        • Thom Hogan

          It’s the way the part name is etched into the silicon I’m talking about. That’s where ChipWorks gets their part numbers from.

          • MB

            I know …

  • Max

    Is Toshiba owned by Sony?

  • Daniel

    This is actually old info. Known this for years. Sensors are designed by Nikon, manufactured by Sony

    • spam

      It’s been known for years that Nikon claim to design some of their sensors and then someone else – often Sony – manufacture them.

      However, Nikon (like everyone without their own production facilities) is restricted by the technology used by the company that actually make the sensor. And they most likely don’t start from scratch, but modify or rather specify some modifications to a existing design.

      And that’s not a bad thing IMO. Why do everything yourself when you can modify or tweak a sensor that’s already 95% or 99% there?

    • animalsbybarry
    • Thom Hogan

      No, it’s actually a bit odd, this information. In the past, Nikon has used a Nikon part number on the big, fast FX sensor. Suddenly we’ve got a Toshiba part number. But then, we had a Toshiba part number on the old DX sensors that Nikon did, too. It seems a little unclear as to how part numbers are actually getting assigned by Nikon, or if they have to differ to the fab because of a fab limitation.

      • Hans

        Actually there is nothing odd about this practice of having different part numbers between Nikon and its manufacturers or suppliers.
        Here is how it works:
        Nikon can be the designer of their own sensors with the application of cross licensing that they have with other companies.
        They will issue an internal Nikon part number to their design so that they can track and control them internally.
        After the completion of their design, they can bring it to any manufacturer or supplier to help them to fabricate them.
        Once the manufacturer or supplier receives them, they will issue their own part number and generate a cross referencing chart so both companies can track them.
        For a major manufacturer and supplier, they have their own internal control in place, such as part numbers, module numbers, and kit numbers that their systems uses. Such as those used in their computers. It will be a mess if they use all kinds of part numbers from their clients and will definitely fail their ISO 9000 certifications if they can’t control them well enough.
        So, you see by having a part number from a particular company doesn’t mean that the particular company actually owns the design. Therefore the list generated by Techlnsights might not be accurate unless they get those information directly from the respective companies.
        By just looking at the pattern, process or part numbers does not give us a clue about the cross licensing involved or the actual company that owns the design.

  • Eric Calabros

    Well, we didn’t expect to see names like Samsung, Onsemi, or CMOSIS

    • This NR post is a lie, the D500 CMOS is actually a Vidicon, and it’s made by Hyundai with parts and sub assemblies outsourced to Buick.

  • Sawyerspadre

    I find this discussion very interesting:
    1). It seems that many think it’s not a possibility that Nikon and the Sony sensor division work closely on the design and fab, which would allow Nikon to say they “designed” the sensor
    2). It is entirely possible that Nikon has their own design and that it may be fabbed by Sony, and a NDA and Intellectual Property “firewall” can be put in place to keep it proprietary to Nikon.
    3). It is entirely posssible that the interview of a few weeks ago, of the Sony executive was a bad translation.

    If you are the head of Sonys camera business, it is in your best interest to have the market think that only you can get the best stuff from your sister-company.

    If, on the other hand, you run the sensor division, it is in your interest to keep your customers happy, and Nikon is likely buying more sensors from Sony Semi than Sony Camera buys. It’s also likely Nikon is paying a higher average price, as they sell a larger number of full frame sensors, with special sauce that Sony can charge them extra for.

    It’s business. It amazes me at the level of emotion that shows up on this forum. I am quite sure that Sony wants to continue to sell lots of sensors to Nikon. I would imagine that both Nikon and Sony want to say they have special sauce in their sensors, exclusive to each.

  • TwoStrayCats

    This would be a great day for Nikon to announce the D5x – and then withdraw it.

    • Unfortunately, that will probably all happen on April 2nd.

  • T.I.M

    My D7200 also have a Sony sensor, I know because it can take videos.

    • BlueBomberTurbo

      D7100 had a Toshiba (before Sony’s acquisition)) sensor that was terrible, but could take videos, too..

      • T.I.M

        I was just joking, for old people like me Sony=video

  • CaMeRa QuEsT

    Here is Sony Semi’s list of their current “generic” sensor offerings which are available for sale to all comers:

    http://www.sony-semicon.co.jp/products_en/IS/sensor2/products/index.html

    Those sensor part numbers that are not listed should be “customer” chips, like in the case of the D500’s IMX321.

    You can clearly see that the 12MP sensor on the A7S/A7SII, the 42MP sensor on the A7RII/A99II and the 20MP sensor on the RX100V are all missing from the list. These are the sensors that the Sony executive in that recent Imaging Resource interview in Thailand is talking about that are exclusive to Sony Digital Imaging. You can also see that the 24MP sensor in the A7/A7II/A99/D600/D610/D750 and the 36MP sensor in the A7R/D800/D810 are both present in that list.

    You can conclude from all this info that Nikon won’t be able to get their hands on those 3 sensors mentioned above because those are Sony Digital Imaging’s customer sensors arranged in synergy with Sony Semiconductor. In all probability Nikon is going to custom order their D810 replacement’s sensor.

    Now as to why the D5’s sensor, being mfg. by Toshiba (now Sony), does not have as wide a DR as previous Toshiba sensors in the D5200/D7100/D7200 and Fuji’s X10/X20/X30 at base ISO, the reason must be because of the multiple gain steps Nikon ordered in (I count 6 steps) compared to the fewer gain steps on Toshiba’s previous sensors, also the circuity needed to move out those big pixels for 4K@30fps must affect DR in this particular design.

  • Sonys naming conventions seem odd to me, the IMX320 is a tiny selfie camera for the Galaxy S8, and the IMX321 is a high end DX DSLR, and the IMX330 is the main camera on the S8.
    Is it in any kind of order?

    • Max

      I wonder how the s8 sensor performs vs iphone 7+

    • The Rebrand Nation

      Galaxy s8’s main camera sensor is imx333

  • Edison Firme

    Nikon needs to make a custom shop that will let customers choose the body, sensor, and processor. Guitar makers have custom shops, why can’t camera makers?

    • spam

      It would be extremely expensive to integrate a random combination of sensors, processors and camera bodies.

      Much cheaper to standardize on some combinations (models). Get two or more cameras if one body can’t handle all your tasks.

      I’m sure some high end customers (think NASA, the military etc) can order customized models, but it’s way to expensive for individual customers.

  • Sony awesome tech! I love it.

  • The Rebrand Nation

    Sony’s sensor naming is illogic , IMX333 is galaxy s8’s main camera and imx 321 for 2000 $ high-end camera

    • CERO

      unless they are just numerical for “versions” and they are named in succession.

  • Pardal Linho

    Where is this news or a surprise??? As if all Nikon dont have Sony sensors for the past 10 thousand million years already..

  • bgbs

    The question is, are the D5 and D500 sensors made on Sony’s new fab, or the old fab?

  • Long Lane

    Nikon is toasted. If they can’t secure a multi-year contract with Sony, it will be the end of meaningful digital Nikon. Canon made the right move to put plenty of resources into developing their own sensors. Time to dust off my F3 again…

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