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The Truth about Nikon Sensors (finally) ... for All the S...
  
 
JohnK007
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p.1 #1 · p.1 #1 · The Truth about Nikon Sensors (finally) ... for All the Sony Fanboys ...


Not sure if any of you have read the latest DP Review article, but here it is:

https://www.dpreview.com/articles/9600049212/sony-vision-over-profit

It directly debunks most of the hype espoused by Sony zealots.

In the end, the belief system of the ardent Sony fanboy is wrong on every count:

  1. Nikon designs Nikon sensors (not Sony);
  2. Sony offers foundry service to Nikon, not technology;
  3. Sony views Nikon (and others) as valuable customers, not competition;
  4. The D850 was not only a Nikon design (not a Sony design); it was also built by the Israeli company TowerJazz.

Even if the D850 sensor were built by Sony, Nikon's technology = Nikon's technology, it's not Sony's (this is why God created patents ).

But TowerJazz produced the D850's sensor (they also produce Leica sensors).

Some relevant quotes:


DP Review:
There are interesting implications of this wall between Sony Semiconductor and Sony DI: it means that newer, better technologies than those available in Sony’s own cameras may appear in any other manufacturer's camera, despite using a 'Sony' sensor.

Sony:
Indeed, we’ve actually seen multiple examples of this: ISO 64 on the D810 and 16-bit analog-to-digital conversion on the Hasselblad X1D to name just two.


DP Review:
Could this threaten the growth of Sony's own camera division?

Sony:
Our focus is to increase the overall market. (Paraphrasing slightly) Please think about vision. Our company has a vision, which is much more important than profit alone. Of course, if we cut our supply of sensors to other OEMs our camera market share might increase. But this is not our vision. Our vision is to grow the entire imaging market, and Sony alone cannot make every [imaging] product. While every manufacturer wants to be number one, no single company can make every product - even within a single sector.


DP Review:
It is clear that Sony believes that competition is healthy, and that if Sony sensors help make better products, be it in a Sony device or other OEM device, the consumer wins. And ultimately, that is the purpose of the company.

Sony:
Our company has a vision, which is more important than profit alone.


DP Review:
It's possible that the worst of the camera market collapse is over, but we do wonder whether Sony’s strategy might change if the market continues to shrink. Would the huge current investment in ILCs still pay off? Would sales of class-leading sensors to other OEMs still make sense?

Sony:
Yes.


In the end, the takeaway is this:

  1. Nikon designs its own sensors, and Sony manufactures them;
  2. Nikon's best sensor to date, the class-leading D850 sensor, was designed by Nikon, and built by (if reports are true) TowerJazz;
  3. Sony's best sensors are not necessarily as good as the competition [they are obligated to mind the patent restrains of customers (e.g., Nikon) who create better sensors than they do];
  4. Sony has a great, contributing attitude to ALL camera manufacturers.

So, yes, Sony is "in it to win it" ... as well they should be ... but they are also 1) humble enough to concede better technologies, 2) helpful enough to provide foundry resources to any customers, and therefore 3) truly great ambassadors for everyone.

Hats-off to all.

Edited on Sep 13, 2017 at 02:04 AM · View previous versions



Sep 13, 2017 at 01:48 AM
Alexluu627
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p.1 #2 · p.1 #2 · The Truth about Nikon Sensors (finally) ... for All the Sony Fanboys ...


As a proud owner of both Sony and Nikon...

They both suck!



Sep 13, 2017 at 01:51 AM
Ziffl3
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p.1 #3 · p.1 #3 · The Truth about Nikon Sensors (finally) ... for All the Sony Fanboys ...


That is some good ole marketing fluff for sure.

Competition is fierce across the pond. You always put on a good face to the public eye.
But then you get back inside the company wall and bring in the engineering staff .... it is not pretty.


What is really interesting at least to me.... is how the little piece of land ... namely Israel has its fingers in so much high tech.


-Mark





Sep 13, 2017 at 02:04 AM
arbitrage
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p.1 #4 · p.1 #4 · The Truth about Nikon Sensors (finally) ... for All the Sony Fanboys ...


Canon sensors for the win!!! Who cares about inferior Nikon and Sony sensors....that 6D2 sensor is all we will ever need......


Sep 13, 2017 at 02:19 AM
low325
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p.1 #5 · p.1 #5 · The Truth about Nikon Sensors (finally) ... for All the Sony Fanboys ...


Tower jazz. They supposedly built the sensor in my Leica Q. Nice read. Go D850!!


Sep 13, 2017 at 02:48 AM
JohnK007
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p.1 #6 · p.1 #6 · The Truth about Nikon Sensors (finally) ... for All the Sony Fanboys ...


arbitrage wrote:
Canon sensors for the win!!! Who cares about inferior Nikon and Sony sensors....that 6D2 sensor is all we will ever need......


Loyal to the bitter end, Geoff, hats off to you as well



Sep 13, 2017 at 02:57 AM
JohnK007
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p.1 #7 · p.1 #7 · The Truth about Nikon Sensors (finally) ... for All the Sony Fanboys ...


low325 wrote:
Tower jazz. They supposedly built the sensor in my Leica Q. Nice read. Go D850!!


In all seriousness, this may explain why almost everyone who views the D850 files notices the superior colors to virtually all predecessors.



Sep 13, 2017 at 02:58 AM
Desmolicious
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p.1 #8 · p.1 #8 · The Truth about Nikon Sensors (finally) ... for All the Sony Fanboys ...


Wait, so does Sony or Nikon make Portra 400?


Sep 13, 2017 at 03:12 AM
Oscarsmadness
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p.1 #9 · p.1 #9 · The Truth about Nikon Sensors (finally) ... for All the Sony Fanboys ...


Desmolicious wrote:
Wait, so does Sony or Nikon make Portra 400?


I wonder!!!!!



Sep 13, 2017 at 06:16 AM
Arka
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p.1 #10 · p.1 #10 · The Truth about Nikon Sensors (finally) ... for All the Sony Fanboys ...


What may not be obvious here is the extent to which Sony and Nikon cross-license their intellectual property. I surmise that many hundreds of Sony patents may be implicated in Nikon's D850 sensors (and likely vice versa, though Nikon's patent portfolio is smaller than Sony's).

I've seen a number of large companies developing other types of ICs do this. They appear to be (and actually are) engaged in independent innovative activity, but much of that innovation improves upon or incorporates approaches covered by an adversary's patents. For a variety of business reasons, companies will cross-license these "patent thickets" to each other, in essence declaring an IP enforcement cease fire in exchange for access to each other's technology (be it design or fabrication). I remember one case I was involved with that concerned a dispute over a cross license to over 5,000 patents on each side.

That said, I hardly think it matters all that much to us as end users. We are fortunate to be the beneficiary of fabulous technology (of which the D850 is a terrific example). I can't wait to get mine, and use it alongside my A9.

Edited on Sep 13, 2017 at 07:38 AM · View previous versions



Sep 13, 2017 at 07:36 AM
 

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ytwong
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p.1 #11 · p.1 #11 · The Truth about Nikon Sensors (finally) ... for All the Sony Fanboys ...


"design" is a vague term.

How many sensor related patent does Nikon have? Certainly not enough cover the D850 sensor. I won't be surprised to see more non-Nikon patents involved (Sony and Aptina have a patent deal, not sure if that expired yet, and they have a lot of sensor related patents).

As a Nikon AND Sony owner, the last thing I want to see is one single sensor manufacturer dominated the market by a large margin.



Sep 13, 2017 at 07:37 AM
joefoo
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p.1 #12 · p.1 #12 · The Truth about Nikon Sensors (finally) ... for All the Sony Fanboys ...


Ken says Towerjazz made the D850 sensor. Ken also said he was 99% certain the D850 had a hybrid viewfinder. Ken's a special guy.

The people who actually run the fab and make the sensors have to do the lion's share of the actual engineering and design work. They have to come up with new processes and test them before they can offer them to customers. Nikon's sensor design team undoubtedly have some input, but where exactly the dividing line is between "Nikon's tech" and "FoundryCo X's tech" (not to mention licensed tech from other companies) is not something we will ever know.



Sep 13, 2017 at 10:08 AM
shoot3r
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p.1 #13 · p.1 #13 · The Truth about Nikon Sensors (finally) ... for All the Sony Fanboys ...


ytwong wrote:
"design" is a vague term.

How many sensor related patent does Nikon have? Certainly not enough cover the D850 sensor. I won't be surprised to see more non-Nikon patents involved (Sony and Aptina have a patent deal, not sure if that expired yet, and they have a lot of sensor related patents).

As a Nikon AND Sony owner, the last thing I want to see is one single sensor manufacturer dominated the market by a large margin.


True. This reminds me of Steinway's Boston line of pianos. They are "designed" by Steinway, which of course means that they can charge an arm and a leg for them. In reality, they are built by Kawai in Kawai's factories.

Also, the iPhones are "designed" in Cali, but (probably) made for pennies on the dollar over in China.

A lot of this is likely just typical marketing BS. In the end, I don't really care who makes the sensor, as long as it performs.



Sep 13, 2017 at 05:22 PM
CanadaMark
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p.1 #14 · p.1 #14 · The Truth about Nikon Sensors (finally) ... for All the Sony Fanboys ...


One thing I notice in general (not referring to anyone here specifically either) is that a lot of people don't seem to understand distinction between Sony Imaging and Sony Semiconductor, which are two entirely independent companies. Some poorly translated comments made by Sony Imaging a year or two ago regarding Sony keeping the best sensors for themselves has been the source of even more confusion.


Sep 13, 2017 at 05:50 PM
cambyses
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p.1 #15 · p.1 #15 · The Truth about Nikon Sensors (finally) ... for All the Sony Fanboys ...


joefoo wrote:
Ken says Towerjazz made the D850 sensor. Ken also said he was 99% certain the D850 had a hybrid viewfinder. Ken's a special guy.

The people who actually run the fab and make the sensors have to do the lion's share of the actual engineering and design work. They have to come up with new processes and test them before they can offer them to customers. Nikon's sensor design team undoubtedly have some input, but where exactly the dividing line is between "Nikon's tech" and "FoundryCo X's tech" (not to mention licensed tech from other companies) is not something we will
...Show more

Well, the dividing line is actually fairly established in the fabless semiconductor industry. Sensors, like any other IC, go through front-end design (i.e., system and architecture design, RTL design, etc.), back-end design (physical synthesis, place & route, DFT, etc.), and tape out to the foundry. It is true that process development by the foundry is critical in enabling the technology but no one would ever call an IC by a fabless semiconductor company to be Foundry X's technology! To give you examples, Qualcomm and Broadcom are two of the largest fabless IC companies. You would never call a QCOM cellular modem chip, or a BRCM's BT/WiFi chip to be, say, TSMC's technology, or UMC or SMIC's technology (TSMC, UMC, and SMIC are a few big foundries used by QCOM and BRCM). Similarly Samsung foundry is used for some of Apple's Ax processors. No one would ever call those processors to be Samsung technology even though Samsung foundry is where those processors are actually fabricated and their process technology has certainly played a critical role. It is true that the process for an imaging sensor is more of a specialized process, compared to, say, a standard CMOS process, but still the technology behind a particular sensor would be attributed mostly to the front-end designers and not so much to the designers of the foundry process.

Now, I obviously don't know the details of the working relationship between Nikon and Sony on these sensors. Specifically, I don't know if Sony has just provided the process technology and the foundry services, or if Sony has also been involved in any of the front-end or back-end design. If Sony has not had any involvement in the front-end design of the sensor, it would be safe to call it Nikon technology as anyone in the industry would.


Edited on Sep 14, 2017 at 06:21 PM · View previous versions



Sep 13, 2017 at 07:04 PM
shoot3r
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p.1 #16 · p.1 #16 · The Truth about Nikon Sensors (finally) ... for All the Sony Fanboys ...


Here's another article on it:
http://www.funtechtalk.com/makes-image-sensor-nikon-d850-camera-not-sony/

It's pretty funny how Nikon was saying they designed the sensor in-house all along, but who really knows what that means. If I call up Glock and say, hey, I want a pistol that weighs 10 oz, hold 10 rounds and fits in my pocket, and they actually come up with it, does that mean I designed it?

Anyway, if these sensors are OK for Leica, I'm sure they're good enough for our "cheap" Nikons



Sep 13, 2017 at 07:33 PM
ilkka_nissila
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p.1 #17 · p.1 #17 · The Truth about Nikon Sensors (finally) ... for All the Sony Fanboys ...


Leica doesn't have Nikon D850's base ISO DR. No one does. And it doesn't seem to matter whoever fabs Nikon sensors. Toshiba (D7200), Sony (D810), unknown fab (D850). Class leading base ISO image quality often results in Nikon's collaboration with their partners. What's new in the D850 is that there is high speed together with excellent base ISO DR and resolution. How hard is it to see that what is common in these components is not the fab but Nikon and the results?

I guess when the reviews and measurements are very favorable to Nikon a campaign to discredit the company starts. Anything is attempted to bring them down when facts can not. People write blogs and vlogs about what the authors have no no real information about and then others (?) who also don't know anything quote them as if they were facts. I found it amazing and even sad when some extremely rarely exhibited shaded flare from AF sensor was made to be some big problem in the D750, when the top of the line model of the market leader had a worse case of the same phenomena and it took the market by storm and no one complained about blocked flare. But a Nikon consumer full frame camera who had received overwhelmingly favorable reviews from e.g. dpreview just HAD to be brought down whatever the artificial "problem" that could be found by torture testing. Now it seems to be that in the excellent D850 the credit is given to another company no one know who it is. It couldn't possibly be Nikon who is responsible for the design and performance, can it.

I'm glad to see some at least write only what they know about, but they seem to be in the minority. It is quite scary when fiction masquaraded as fact is dominant in discussions.

How about each of us writing only what we know in our next posts.



Sep 13, 2017 at 08:42 PM
Pavel
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p.1 #18 · p.1 #18 · The Truth about Nikon Sensors (finally) ... for All the Sony Fanboys ...


arbitrage wrote:
Canon sensors for the win!!! Who cares about inferior Nikon and Sony sensors....that 6D2 sensor is all we will ever need......


you should stop drinking cheap gin. I know it dulls the pain but this disconnected from reality - don't do it. Just don't do it. See how it's ruining your life?



Sep 13, 2017 at 09:31 PM
curious80
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p.1 #19 · p.1 #19 · The Truth about Nikon Sensors (finally) ... for All the Sony Fanboys ...


JohnK007 wrote:
Not sure if any of you have read the latest DP Review article, but here it is:

https://www.dpreview.com/articles/9600049212/sony-vision-over-profit

It directly debunks most of the hype espoused by Sony zealots.

In the end, the belief system of the ardent Sony fanboy is wrong on every count:

  1. Nikon designs Nikon sensors (not Sony);
  2. Sony offers foundry service to Nikon, not technology;
  3. Sony views Nikon (and others) as valuable customers, not competition;
  4. The D850 was not only a Nikon design (not a Sony design); it was also built by the Israeli company TowerJazz.

Even if the D850 sensor were built by Sony, Nikon's technology = Nikon's technology, it's not Sony's (this
...Show more

Its not quite how you are describing it. What the article is suggesting is that Sony allows manufacturers to build on top of Sony designs and enhance them with their own requirements / modifications. Here is part of what the article says:

"any manufacturer can approach Sony Semiconductor and ask for their own design requirements, often building on Sony’s own sensor advancements that are made public (take full-frame BSI-CMOS or dual-gain for example, two technologies found in the Nikon D850)"

So what the the article is suggesting is that the sensors like Nikon D810 and Nikon D850 build on top of underlying Sony technology but then adds some customizations from Nikon (such as the ISO 64 mode).

In general it has been known that Nikon almost always has extracted more out of Sony sensors than Sony does itself. For that matter Pentax also extracts more out of Sony sensors than Sony.



Sep 13, 2017 at 09:32 PM
JohnK007
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p.1 #20 · p.1 #20 · The Truth about Nikon Sensors (finally) ... for All the Sony Fanboys ...


curious80 wrote:
Its not quite how you are describing it. What the article is suggesting is that Sony allows manufacturers to build on top of Sony designs and enhance them with their own requirements / modifications. Here is part of what the article says:

"any manufacturer can approach Sony Semiconductor and ask for their own design requirements, ***often*** building on Sony’s own sensor advancements that are made public (take full-frame BSI-CMOS or dual-gain for example, two technologies found in the Nikon D850)."

So what the the article is suggesting is that the sensors like Nikon D810 and Nikon D850 build on top of underlying
...Show more


Back-atcha: it's not exactly how you describe it.

Note the word "often" in your reference citation. Often does not mean 'always,' but sometimes.

This means it can go either way: some sensors are designed entirely of the customer's specs, other's build upon some of Sony's existing specs.

At this point, it is unclear exactly which it is, although Nikon directly said they designed their own sensor for the D850.

And, if indeed TowerJazz fabbed it, then the D850 sensor has nothing to do with Sony.



curious80 wrote:
In general it has been known that Nikon almost always has extracted more out of Sony sensors than Sony does itself. For that matter Pentax also extracts more out of Sony sensors than Sony.


I believe what you're saying is true for the D810: Nikon extracted more out of the Sony sensor than Sony did. That still is Nikon technology. That still is a Nikon patent, that only Nikon can use, and that (even now) no one has surpassed.

However, the Nikon D850 sensor is entirely different from the D810 sensor; it's an utterly different animal with utterly different technology.

I'm sure more information will be developed over time, but 1) the existing consensus is Nikon designed this sensor with its own engineers, and 2) it appears it has nothing whatsoever to do with Sony sensors at all, if it was fabbed at TowerJazz.

Time will tell.



Sep 13, 2017 at 09:51 PM
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