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Old December 6th, 2009, 12:37 PM   #1
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Why are only Sony using 1/2" sensors?

I was trying to explain to a friend about the relative merits of the "affordable" pro range of camcorders when he asked: "Why is only Sony using the larger sensors?"

I didn't have an answer but speculated that Panasonic didn't want to undermine their more expensive cameras, though as he pointed out, the same would normally apply to Sony.

So why did JVC not include larger sensors, given that they do not have an expensive camera range to undermine?

I drew a blank here too, though there is much to admire about these JVC cameras.

What many of us are wondering is what Canon are going to come up with in the spring?

But either way - in the notoriously Sonycentric UK at least - the EX1/3 seems to be king, particularly since the former is almost half the price of the 1/3 sensored HPX301, and Panasonic's 171 looks a little dated already.

From what i can gather, this is largely due to the bigger chips in the Sony.

So why haven't the other "big 3" companies followed suit?
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Old December 6th, 2009, 02:32 PM   #2
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Very good question. My first thought would be that Sony is the only company which dosn't have an array of interchangable lenses to take account for when making a new camera in the prosumer market. But then neither does panasonic.

Another theory could be that the other companies didnt feel that developing a new sensor with only a minor size increase, would not be enough bang for the buck. For all that we know Canon and JVC could be making 2/3" or even 35mm sensors as we speak. Anything less would be pointless in 2010.

In any case, big companies with a long history move like turtles. They brag about being top of the hill with new innovations, but in reality they are sleeping on the job. Success does that to you, far to often.

I shoke my head in despair when the canon 5DII was announced. "we had no idea that a 35mm sensor with the ability to shoot video would be something people wanted" thats between the lines what the Canon rep. said after it's release... All I was thinking... Yeah go figure, are you blind!
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Old December 6th, 2009, 02:44 PM   #3
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It really comes down to marketing. What do the marketing folks think will sell?

For the longest time, everybody drew a line at professional being 2/3". Any thing less was prosumer or consumer.

I guess the start was the vx1000 being the first 'consumer' camera that made real headway into the professional world. Hi-8 had promise but never really delivered in quite the same way.

A decade or two later, Sony decided there was a market for a mid-range camera with 1/2" chips. It could be that the other companies are correct and there is only room for one line of such cameras. I wouldn't be too surprised in Panny and JVC did NOT follow suit.

I think the still camera revolution truly caught everyone off guard--"well, this is the way we've always done it."

Me, I'd love to see a two or three chip, large sensor, true video camera. Two chips would be an interesting way to keep the cost down.
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Old December 7th, 2009, 11:08 AM   #4
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Like a lot of things there trade offs, the larger the sensor the larger the lenses. Some people want large zoom ranges (x14 to x20) and on the other hand they don't want a large camera. A x 20 FF35 zoom lens would be pretty large unless you want to have it having a limited max aperture plus horrendous aperture ramping.

It really depends on what you want to use the camera for and there is no catch all size that will suit everyone. However, I suspect the larger the camera sensor the smaller the market it will be targeted at. To an extent the video aspect of the 35mm DSLR cameras is being subsidized by the much larger stills market.

Once the demand for video quality by the video market goes beyond the needs of the stills market that additional manufacturing cost will be added to meet the more specialised market.

Basically 1/2" is a sweet spot camera size wise.
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Old December 7th, 2009, 11:34 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brian Drysdale View Post
Basically 1/2" is a sweet spot camera size wise.
Well,

The 5D and 7D seem to manage that 35mm sensor size ok. Yes they overheat, but look at the tiny box the sensor is in. Put that same sensor in something like an EX1 with the ventilation area, and the overheating problems go away. And now you've got no mirror in the way so PL mount glass becomes realistic. Sony already has an HDMI and SDI port on the EX1R. I still think they are best positioned to offer this. They are the only ones with background in large sensor digital cinema... and the only ones with that market to protect.

Canon is asleep at the wheel. Honestly. Or at least they have been. If they produce a camera with the 5D or 7D sensor in a body the size of the EX1 with interchangeable glass, the indie market will beat a path to their door.
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Old December 7th, 2009, 12:55 PM   #6
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Yes, but the size of the rig increases once you start putting the bog standard zoom that nearly every video camera uses.

Canon could produce a camera the same size as the RED Scarlet, which is the roughly the size you mention. I imagine they could introduce some cost saving like not having a metal body, however, RED sell direct and don't have dealers adding their percentage etc. Whether the stills market would pay for processing power that most don't need in order to reduce the unit manufacturing costs is another question.

The chances are that such a camera wouldn't cost less than an EX1/3 and these HD DSLRs are at least half the price of one of those (if not even lower). It really depends how large the indie market for large sensor cameras actually is. I suppose the nearest marker is the people who use 35mm adapters on a HDV prosumer camera and I expect that kit cost would be the aimed price point. Although, that would cut out a lot of the people currently using the stills cameras from affording them.
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Old December 7th, 2009, 01:34 PM   #7
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The full body 35mm sensor is a TOTALLY different market. And the measuring of the current 35mm adapter market is not a good measure.

I guarantee you if you asked owners of the EX1/EX3/HPX170 if they would have spent $8k on their current camera but with interchangable lenses and a 35mm sensor, along with everything else their camera comes with, you'd get a resounding yes.

The market is there, and has been for quite some time. I certainly wouldn't want to go through the hassle of a 35mm adapter, but if I could've gotten the same 35mm setup without an adapter, I'd have been all over it.

And to be perfectly honest, by the time you outfit the 5D/7D with a real monitor, a mattebox, follow focus, and real glass, it's not much smaller or lighter than an EX1.
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Old December 7th, 2009, 01:40 PM   #8
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the 35mm adapter market was pretty large.. so I agree that a camera like that would reach that demographic.
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Old December 7th, 2009, 01:52 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by Perrone Ford View Post
The full body 35mm sensor is a TOTALLY different market. And the measuring of the current 35mm adapter market is not a good measure.
Why so? These are the people who actually want 35mm DOF in their productions, many others don't require that or to whom a shallow DOF is a disadvantage due to the increased number of soft shots.
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Old December 7th, 2009, 01:57 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by Brian Drysdale View Post
Why so? These are the people who actually want 35mm DOF in their productions, many others don't require that or to whom a shallow DOF is a disadvantage due to the increased number of soft shots.
I don't think it's a good measure because it leave out:

1. People who rented these packages when they had need for 35mm look.

2. Leaves out people who didn't want the hassles of the packages

3. Leaves out people who wanted the 35mm look, but didn't or couldn't set up a rig the size needed to shoot this way. Hard to be stealthy with 2ft of rails and gear hanging on your shoulder.

4. Leaves out people who went for 1/2" or 2/3" as a compromise situation.

So as a portion of the market, those who purchased 35mm adapters is certainly viable, but it's very incomplete.
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Old December 7th, 2009, 02:39 PM   #11
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It's still a good model because if people don't need 35mm image size most of the time why should they buy a 35mm only camera? They could rent one just as they rented the adapter. You can crop like on a RED, but I suspect you're talking about a camera which will have a higher price point.

1/2" & 2/3" isn't a compromise choice, it's very much a working standard for an industry.

The stealthy approach was one that the 1/3" cameras have been using for years, so there's nothing really new in that. Unfortunately, once you rig mics etc on board even a DSLR gets large.

Shooting 35mm adds hassles over the smaller sensor cameras because changing lenses or physically larger zooms compared to the smaller cameras, which are often self contained shooting packages.
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Old December 7th, 2009, 03:14 PM   #12
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What would a 20x F/2.8 constant aperture zoom lens cost for a FF DSLR body?

I figure it will cost a lot and will be bulky and heavy.

So for documentary filmmaking or news gathering, the 35mm might not be practical at all. I would like a 28mm - 280mm F/2.8 at minimum.

Once the sensors improve and gather more light, you might get away with a F/4.0.
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Old December 7th, 2009, 03:54 PM   #13
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Here's an Angenieux motion picture zoom

THALES ANGENIEUX cinema/digital cinema > 35 mm > optimo 24 - 290

The 10 to 1 zooms tend to be around T4
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Old December 8th, 2009, 04:59 AM   #14
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Although, perhaps for the type of 35mm sensor camera being discussed a Birger mount, which is available for the RED One (no longer acceptable for RED warranty I gather), or similar would be the best thing rather than the full traditional motion picture set up. These allow control of the functions on the modern DSLR lenses. However, this would be a more specialized camera than the stills camera with a video option.
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Old December 8th, 2009, 05:59 AM   #15
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It's called trickle down technology. The 5 and 7D were next in the stills line and the EX1/3 etc. were the next in the vid cam line.

Intercompany, the different development and marketing camps don't talk to each other.
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