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Silicon Imaging SI-2K
2/3" 1080p IT-integrated 10-bit digital cinema w/direct-to-disk recording.

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Old December 7th, 2007, 08:59 PM   #16
Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: Virginia Beach, VA
Posts: 1,095
Yes, but you can have the sumix mounted to a custom made box with a computer inside and record the same quality of footage as the SI2K
While this hasn't been discussed much, the SI-2K is actually quite a bit more than simply wiring up a CMOS sensor to run at a certain clock and then recording whatever comes out the other side direct-to-disk. There is quite a large imaging pipeline to perfect the image quality from these sensors that we have developed over the course of the past two years, optimzed to achieve very high-end image quaility that has been honed with lots of user feedback and a lot of in-house proprietary development. This is not to say that others cannot accomplish the same task, or as a put-down to other manufacturers who I'm sure are working very hard to make their products a success, but suffice to say there has been a lot of development effort poured into this product at the hardware and imaging pipeline level.

Also keep in mind that just because two cameras might have the same sensor does not mean they will have the same image quality across the entire spectrum of scenarios that typify the cinematography experience. To get that last 10-15% of performance can require months, and months, and months of work, and re-working of back-end algorithms, methodologies, and workflows. So what you're paying for in the SI-2K is us having gone over the image with a fine-tooth comb and eeked out every little drop of performance we can get from our sensor. I have found the Altasens senors to be a superb platform to start from for achieving the goal of a top-quality digital cinema camera, but the sensors are only the start. Lots of man-years have gone into the camera product that you see, both on the imaging aspect side, and other portions of design that all come together to make a single "camera".

Now I don't want this to sound like a "we're better than everyone else" thread, because that's not what I'm saying, and I think it would be a dis-service to the other members of this community who are working very hard on their own designs. The point I'm trying to make is that we feel the pricing for the SI-2K is valid based on the investment that we have made in the product, both at the imaging end, recording technology, mechanicals, optical precision and accuracy, and other aspects of a camera that need to be in-place in order to have what we deem to be a professional product that meets our users goals for a digital cinema camera.
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Old December 9th, 2007, 02:07 AM   #17
Join Date: Nov 2005
Location: Sydney Australia
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Lots of food for thought there. I can see why most of the R&D dollars are spent on the smaller sensors. The cost of fabricating chips seem closely related to die size and the smaller chips in smaller cameras are where the high volume / high profits lie. What I'm uncertain about is why quantum efficiency is dropping with sensor size. With photosite size maybe but then again going from a 1/3" SD imager to a HD imager to retain the same photosite size you need a 2/3" sensor size. You've only got to look at the difference between say the PD170 and the Z1 to see this effect.
The other issue that you've rightly touched on is the availability of suitable lenses. I don't see any 1/3" cameras with T1.3 lenses however that might be a catch 22 issue. No one makes fast HD lenses for 1/3" cameras because none have interchangeable lenses and those that currently buy such cameras would baulk at the price of such lenses.
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Old December 9th, 2007, 06:31 AM   #18
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Join Date: Nov 2007
Location: Athens Greece
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Sony just released some new 1/3" sensors that are have about 4 times higher sensitivity than the sensors on a PD170. Those are actually the faster sensors on the entire sony line, including 1/2" and 2/3" interlaced used in eng cameras! We will never see those in video cameras though, because affordable cameras (<$15,000) will soon be cmos only and HD has become the norm.

Non 3ccd primes can be built quite cheaply. 1/3" has quality issues but 2/3" and 1" are great. About 300 dollars will give you a very nice metal construction and modern glass, low distortion, multicoating and good aberation correction with fully manual focus and iris without steps. The cost issues start when it has to be 3ccd, it needs to have motors or a zoom ratio. That takes a $300 prime to $5,000 easily while reducing its optical performance.

There are good sensors with large pixels, but the cost gets out of hand. In these designs you can't afford to spend more than $5,000 to get the sensor to a working camera block including development, and that does not leave many options. The sensor itself has to be cheaper than about $1,000 or $1,500, capable of video rates and smaller than super35 size. With that kind of money you can get 1 or 1.2" Kodak CCDs or CMOS of larger size which is cheaper to manufacture. But nothing exotic.
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