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Death of Small Sensors

Discussion in 'General Equipment Chat & Advice' started by ianwaite, Feb 9, 2013.

  1. ianwaite

    ianwaite Well-Known Member

    Hi all, it seems to me that with the move towards entry level Full Frame DSLR from the main manufacturers that this will cause a reduction in price of the sensor, making it viable in all DSLR cameras and possible in some bridge and CSC products, if not most. So I would like to propose a theory that non full frame sensors will be almost extinct apart from in compacts. This inevitably would raise the quality of photography drastically for most amateur photographers. IMHO good riddance to overcrowded 4/3, APS-C and other small sensors with their noise issues and higher ISO requirements. Please discuss!

  2. thornrider

    thornrider In the Stop Bath

    Not only that - the need to replace all DX format lenses would give a much needed lift to the photographic industry and assist economic recovery in China, Thailand, and Japan. Furthermore time spent debating small sensor versus correctly sized full frame sensors could be devoted to the championing of more polycarbonate use in the hobby.
  3. ianwaite

    ianwaite Well-Known Member

    You could be right, usage of carbon fibre could also be of use in higher end bodies for strength and durability purposes replacing metals and reducing weight.
  4. beejaybee

    beejaybee Marvin

    I doubt it. The issue here is that photography is splitting into two very distinct camps, one where image quality is important, one where convenience overrides everything else. The division here is polarization into full frame + for quality and thumbnail - for convenience. Given that most people only display their images on low resolution screens, the sub-thumbnail sized sensors in compacts, phone cams etc. are probably good enough for 99% of the market.

    As the market penetration of good quality cameras declines (a good indication of this being the collapse of the specialist camera retail outlet chains) the volume of high quality kit manufactured and sold will continue to reduce and each article will therefore need to be priced to recover a larger proportion of the development cost. I can see decent quality DSLR body prices rising to £5K+ as the volume crashes & the market for "entry level" models is steadily undermined ... if you don't believe me just look at the price of supertele lenses, which always have sold in small quantities to highly specialist users.
  5. downfader

    downfader Well-Known Member

    I think we will see a third type of sensor emerge instead. Not CMOS, not CCD but with the benefits of both camps. I dont think it will be between full-frame and DX/APS-C any more than it has been in the past 2 years. Both have their uses and have improved somewhat over 2-3 camera generations.

    Full-frame is still being marketed as a premium or luxury device mostly for professionals and serious amateurs with some money.
  6. P_Stoddart

    P_Stoddart Well-Known Member

    If that was the case then the Nikon 1 or the Canon EOS M would not exist surely?

    They must have done some market analysis before designing the products?

    Nikon have even opted for a smaller sensor CSC. Below 4/3.

    I reckon it is a question of working backwards. If you can produce the art that pleases the viewer using a small sensor camera, why make a rod for your own back carrying alot of kit to support a FF camera.

    small sensor are key to CSC which is the consumer market therefore here to stay.

    APS in dSLR that is for the junk yard.

    If there is a D400 it will be the last DX Nikon I have read by alot of Nikon users.

    Over the last few years all the negative about small sensor have been removed, low light performance has gone up, technology has helped with DOF effect. CADF has been improved or phase has been built in. That surely will continue.

    Problem with FF dSLR even the new ones they are still too heavy. Canon 6D is 770g.

    Also if I am correct you need alot more power for a FF sensor because of the size of the chip. This leaves less for CPU performance etc.
  7. Roy5051

    Roy5051 Well-Known Member

    As DSLRs were before the advent of the Canon 300D?

    APS-C DSLRs were a means to get DSLR cameras to the masses, and make them spend lots of money on APS-C compatible lenses. Their time is limited, IMHO, until the full frame sensor is cheap enough to produce; then, the consumer will have to buy lots MORE new lenses to suit the "new" format. The camera manufacturers are not mugs, are they?
  8. PeteRob

    PeteRob Well-Known Member

    I think that there still must be technical difficulties with mass production. I'd like to get back to medium format in a non-film way but the price to go bigger than 35 mm is too much.

    The companies are also still recouping horrendous losses from the earthquake in japan and the floods in thailand - one reason I think why prices hiked so much last year.
  9. downfader

    downfader Well-Known Member

    True, but until FF is seen as something more universal by the camera companies and photographers themselves then this will continue.
  10. Zou

    Zou Well-Known Member

    Meh, I'll still be shooting 5x4 for fun. I agree that the price will come down but the history of photography has had just one constant trend: downsizing. Some will accept the compromise of bulk to gain IQ, but for most the smaller formats are more than enough, and any economies of scale will proportionately benefit them too.

    We ignore, of course, the inevitability of manufacturers forcing all sorts of unwanted new tech on us to justify maintaining high prices. They aint charities after all.
  11. Zou

    Zou Well-Known Member

    Not necessarily. They have poor form of giving the consumer what he really wants and nothing more. Perhaps it is the users who lap it all up who are the mugs...
  12. Learning

    Learning Ethelred the Ill-Named

    I intend to return to DX provided Nikon provide sensible means to do so. Full frame lenses are simply too heavy and bulky. My foray into FX has its rewards but portability is not one of them. Be careful for what you lust.
  13. P_Stoddart

    P_Stoddart Well-Known Member

    This is the balancing act that makers are trying to figure out.

    Just enough performance to keep APs happy but small enough to appeal to occasional shooters who want a certain level of quality.

    Film could not do this. 35mm was the limit. Any smaller film size just killed quality at higher ISO.

    Sensors are not the same. APS has shown that. MFT has shown that as well. Many stock libraries happy to accept MFT images.

    As I pointed out in another thread the newest MFT sensor noise levels are hitting the ceiling which was APS dSLR 5/6 years ago. Lenses have improved also.

    What might be the case is silly sensors like 1/2.33" and 1/2.3" or even 1/1.7". :)

    The lighter your kit the further you can walk and explore a scene for shooting or if you into extreme sports like climbing etc it's a great help to get the weight down of kit.
  14. thornrider

    thornrider In the Stop Bath

    Interesting comment. I have both FX and DX Nikon lenses and can discern no difference in weight or size - other than in the case of DX wide angle zooms which are far bigger and heavier than their FX equivalents.
  15. jocky

    jocky Well-Known Member

    I think that the main point of Price needs to be mentioned.

    I have a tight budget for photography and I own a FUJI HS-20 and it suits me well. I cannot afford any better kit and I acknowledge the shortfall in capability when it is compared to more expensive kit.

    The technical capabilities of more expensive cameras are interesting but meaningless to me as I will only ever buy bridge cameras to cover everything I need at a level I can live with. If the future holds a bridge camera with a full frame sensor at a price I can live with then I would get that but if it was out of my price range then I will simply not buy it.

    The trend to create very expensive compacts will only exaggerate the profit margin required from high end equipment. Watch out for the new versions of established high end cameras with the next must have feature at a huge price hike.
  16. ianwaite

    ianwaite Well-Known Member

    I appreciate your point, cost is an important factor on many peoples minds. My point is if Full Frame sensors prices reduce to the manufacturers due to mass production, then there is no reason why a Bridge or CSC with FF could be £400 or less. This would allow people on a budget t achieve much better results and develop their skills better.

  17. beejaybee

    beejaybee Marvin

    I very much doubt it ... the point is that you require very high quality lenses to deliver a high resolution, high dynamic range, low noise image for a full frame sensor to capture; if the sensor gets cheap then we're simply going to go back to the glory days of the film SLR when the cost was dominated by that of the lens ... software is no substitute for native imaging capability. At the budget end of the market you're getting a cheap camera because it comes with a not very good lens attached ... there's very little difference in accepting even a marginal price increase, together with a more significant increase in bulk and weight, when the lens is going to limit what you can achieve to levels which are easily attainable with an APS-C or Four Thirds format sensor.

    Fact of the matter is, doubling the size of the sensor will always result in more than doubling the cost of the sensor chip because there will be far more rejects with the larger area of silicon used. Reject rates for full frame sensors are well in excess of 99% even for "consumer quality" devices & this is not likely to change ... it was this which led the drive to sub-full-frame sensors, not compactness or weight, and is still a major factor in the use of sub-thumbnail sized sensors in cheap compacts, phone cams & other consumer devices.

    Professional / research quality sensors (with more linearity and less dead / stuck pixel sensors) are still very expensive even in small sizes ... and small sensors are often adequate, especially when the pixel count is kept reasonably small so that pixel pitch is a reasonably large multiple of the wavelength (a necessary condition for reduction of quantum effects).

    It's the larger pixel pitch which makes larger sensors perform better, not the increased pixel count ... the extra area just makes the job of the lens harder.
  18. ianwaite

    ianwaite Well-Known Member

    Totally agree, the problem we hear regularly on the forums is most people think more mega pixels = more quality and it is actually the other way round. I think putting 20mp on a 4/3rds or APS-C is too much! let alone when you hear stupid comments like 30mp on small sensors is coming.
  19. thornrider

    thornrider In the Stop Bath

    There would be a chain reaction here. As people see how superior full frame is then the price of secondhand small sensor DSLR's would reduce to a level low enough for people to buy them instead of compacts - thus bringing more people into the hobby.
  20. LargeFormat

    LargeFormat Well-Known Member

    I suggested something similar here about four years ago. I was shot down in flames by the arguement that the yield of full frame sensors was so low they could never be generally affordable. Never under estimate the march of progress.

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