August 27, 2014, 11:28:52 AM

Author Topic: Can Canon deliver a FF sensor that is class leading?  (Read 8388 times)

dilbert

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Can Canon deliver a FF sensor that is class leading?
« on: May 15, 2014, 11:02:45 AM »
Whilst we're going to have to wait a month to find out what the distortion is like on the 16-35/f4L, the MTF graphs and samples tend to suggest it is going to be a class leading lens. And how long have we had to wait for it?!

And if Canon can do that, can it finally deliver a FF sensor that is also class leading? By class leading, I'm referring to noise control and DR that is close to linear right through the ISO range and that matches or exceeds that of Sony sensors.

What's important about it being linear? At the moment Canon sensors have a DR function that is flat in the low ISO range as opposed to Sony's which is linear: below ISO 200 (or is it 400?) there is very little gain in DR from Canon sensors whereas Sony's deliver substantial gains the lower the ISO goes. I suspect that prior to Sony's sensors coming out, people thought that the "flat area" at the start of Canon's graphs looked good because there was no degradation. What people didn't realise is that there shouldn't be any flat spots, rather the DR (colour, noise, etc) response of the sensor should be close to having a linear relationship with ISO.

AcutancePhotography

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Re: Can Canon deliver a FF sensor that is class leading?
« Reply #1 on: May 15, 2014, 12:18:38 PM »
There are actually three questions

1.  Can Canon deliver this sensor
2.  Should Canon deliver this sensor
3.  Will Canon deliver this sensor

Only the first question has anything to do with the technology.  Unfortunately, the second question is the limiting factor.  Canon may be technologically capable of delivering this sensor, but it the marketing/production/sales numbers don't add up, all the technology won't matter.

Assuming that the first two questions are yes, the third question may dictate that they will do this in 2-3/3-5 years from now. 

I think gone are the days when cameras were limited by technical capability.  It is all about the business case.  And that's a good thing.
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neuroanatomist

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Re: Can Canon deliver a FF sensor that is class leading?
« Reply #2 on: May 15, 2014, 12:37:08 PM »
And if Canon can do that, can it finally deliver a FF sensor that is also class leading? By class leading, I'm referring to noise control and DR that is close to linear right through the ISO range and that matches or exceeds that of Sony sensors.

Canon's signal:noise is linear through the range, and the 1D X and 6D have S:N that is better than the top Sony sensors throughout the range (Nikon's D4s sensor is equivalent to the Canon sensors, also beating Sony). 

So, your definition of 'class leading' has now been reduced to 'having the best low ISO DR', and this thread is just more trollish DRool...
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dilbert

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Re: Can Canon deliver a FF sensor that is class leading?
« Reply #3 on: May 15, 2014, 12:43:53 PM »
And if Canon can do that, can it finally deliver a FF sensor that is also class leading? By class leading, I'm referring to noise control and DR that is close to linear right through the ISO range and that matches or exceeds that of Sony sensors.

Canon's signal:noise is linear through the range, and the 1D X and 6D have S:N that is better than the top Sony sensors throughout the range (Nikon's D4s sensor is equivalent to the Canon sensors, also beating Sony). 

So, your definition of 'class leading' has now been reduced to 'having the best low ISO DR', and this thread is just more trollish DRool...

Thanks for taking the bait!

Marsu42

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Re: Can Canon deliver a FF sensor that is class leading?
« Reply #4 on: May 16, 2014, 06:10:22 AM »
And if Canon can do that, can it finally deliver a FF sensor that is also class leading? By class leading, I'm referring to noise control and DR

Canon already has a class-leading sensor, it's in the 6d: nearly zero (esp. vertical) banding (better than 1dx @iso100) means almost the full theoretical dr is actually usable. It has good dr @base iso (boosted +1/3ev by ML and =15ev with dual_iso) and superior dynamic range at high iso: http://sensorgen.info/CanonEOS_6D.html

Ivan Muller

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Re: Can Canon deliver a FF sensor that is class leading?
« Reply #5 on: May 26, 2014, 11:04:48 AM »
And if Canon can do that, can it finally deliver a FF sensor that is also class leading? By class leading, I'm referring to noise control and DR

Canon already has a class-leading sensor, it's in the 6d: nearly zero (esp. vertical) banding (better than 1dx @iso100) means almost the full theoretical dr is actually usable. It has good dr @base iso (boosted +1/3ev by ML and =15ev with dual_iso) and superior dynamic range at high iso: http://sensorgen.info/CanonEOS_6D.html

I have the 6d and its really a fantastic sensor! BUT I would love to also have a D800E type Canon, for those times I print huge and where the 6D just cannot resolve all the detail as I would like.

But why doesn't Canon just use the Sony 36mp sensor??? It is obviously better than anything Canon has...they use or used to use Sony sensors for their small compacts so why not for their full frame bodies? Will the shame of admitting that Sony is ahead in the technology race be just too much too bear? Personally I wouldn't care what sensor they used so long as its can compete with the D800 and Sony 7's...

Marsu42

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Re: Can Canon deliver a FF sensor that is class leading?
« Reply #6 on: May 26, 2014, 11:18:53 AM »
I have the 6d and its really a fantastic sensor! BUT I would love to also have a D800E type Canon, for those times I print huge and where the 6D just cannot resolve all the detail as I would like.

True enough, and no doubt Canon will release a high mp camera sooner or later - it's no wizardry, their crop sensors already have higher per-area resolution so they'd only need to copy that process to full frame...

... Problem is: only few lenses are able to resolve this esp. on ff to the borders, so for my current 17-40L + 70-300L setup 20mp is quite enough or I'd be capturing more high-res blur and handling 50mb+ raw files :-p

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Re: Can Canon deliver a FF sensor that is class leading?
« Reply #7 on: May 30, 2014, 11:46:49 AM »
To be truly class leading you need to be better than everything else out there.  When you look at how far behind canon is with DR and even noise to a lesser extent I would be satisfied with just catching the competition instead of leapfrogging it.

Hmmm  A Dual pixel 25-30mp sensor that has similar DR and Hi-ISO noise to Sony/Nikon, that would be awesome!

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Re: Can Canon deliver a FF sensor that is class leading?
« Reply #8 on: May 30, 2014, 02:53:45 PM »
... Problem is: only few lenses are able to resolve this esp. on ff to the borders, so for my current 17-40L + 70-300L setup 20mp is quite enough or I'd be capturing more high-res blur and handling 50mb+ raw files :-p

Only few, ok, lets start off with the Pancake, tack sharp wide open. The 70-200f4 (non IS), plenty sharp at most focal lengths, stop down and it's brilliant. Any other 70-200, they only get better.
Any Canon 24-70 is tack sharp at f5.6.
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Don Haines

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Re: Can Canon deliver a FF sensor that is class leading?
« Reply #9 on: May 30, 2014, 03:46:44 PM »
Class leading for what?

Everything is a mixture of inter-related tradeoffs... nothing can or will do everything better than the rest.
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sdsr

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Re: Can Canon deliver a FF sensor that is class leading?
« Reply #10 on: May 30, 2014, 03:59:19 PM »
I have the 6d and its really a fantastic sensor! BUT I would love to also have a D800E type Canon, for those times I print huge and where the 6D just cannot resolve all the detail as I would like.

True enough, and no doubt Canon will release a high mp camera sooner or later - it's no wizardry, their crop sensors already have higher per-area resolution so they'd only need to copy that process to full frame...

... Problem is: only few lenses are able to resolve this esp. on ff to the borders, so for my current 17-40L + 70-300L setup 20mp is quite enough or I'd be capturing more high-res blur and handling 50mb+ raw files :-p

For your raw files be >50mb, the Canon sensor you're imagining would have to be considerably higher resolution than what's in a Sony A7r or Nikon D800.  The raw files my A7r makes are c. 35mb, while the raw files from the D800e I once rented are c. 38mb.

As for how many lenses can keep up in terms of resolution, are you sure?  The Canon EF lenses I've attached to my Sony A7r can all create images that look amazing when viewed at 100%; and the same is true of images I've made from some older manual lenses, including most recently an inexpensive Vivitar 55mm macro lens (at non-macro distances, what's more).  It's true that you can see differences among lenses in terms of resolution on 36mp FF sensors, but (1) you can on Canon's 23mp sensors too and (2) it doesn't matter - the results still look impressive either way.  This frequently stated complaint/worry/concern (or whatever it is) strikes me as overrated.

None of which is a comment on the quality of Canon sensors, by the way - the high ISO performance of my 6D never stops impressing me.

StudentOfLight

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Re: Can Canon deliver a FF sensor that is class leading?
« Reply #11 on: June 03, 2014, 12:46:54 PM »
The size of a RAW file will also depend on the ISO you are shooting at. I might be wrong, but think manufacturers normally quote the file size a 18% grey target shot at maximum native ISO. The upper limit for Nikon's 36MP 14 bit uncompressed RAW is 74.4MB. (see link: http://imaging.nikon.com/lineup/dslr/d800/features04.htm)

You might have been shooting a compressed 14bit RAW when you used the D800 and then file sizes will vary depending on subject matter but generally be significantly smaller.
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mackguyver

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Re: Can Canon deliver a FF sensor that is class leading?
« Reply #12 on: June 03, 2014, 01:01:34 PM »
And if Canon can do that, can it finally deliver a FF sensor that is also class leading?
No. I finally looked at DxO's results and I realize that all of my photos are inferior and I must sell all of my subpar Canon gear because DR and sensors are all that matters.  Not.

You guys really need to get out and shoot more.  If you can't get good results out of Canon's current DSLRs, you're doing it wrong.  The best sensor and all the DR in the world won't make anyone a better photographer. 
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jrista

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Re: Can Canon deliver a FF sensor that is class leading?
« Reply #13 on: June 03, 2014, 03:00:51 PM »
And if Canon can do that, can it finally deliver a FF sensor that is also class leading? By class leading, I'm referring to noise control and DR

Canon already has a class-leading sensor, it's in the 6d: nearly zero (esp. vertical) banding (better than 1dx @iso100) means almost the full theoretical dr is actually usable. It has good dr @base iso (boosted +1/3ev by ML and =15ev with dual_iso) and superior dynamic range at high iso: http://sensorgen.info/CanonEOS_6D.html

This is not true. The 6D does NOT have the "full theoretical DR", not even close. The 6D has the same problem as every other Canon camera: A flattened DR curve at low ISO. Canon's DR tops out at around 12 stops of DR. Their sensors are more than capable of more than that, according to Roger Clark the sensor itself is actually probably capable of a little over 15 stops of DR natively (in analog space, before digitization), however the ADC bit depth limits it to 14, and downstream electronics (namely the ADC) introduce so much noise that it flattens the curve, rather than leaving it in it's linear state. It doesn't matter if the 6D ISO 100 noise doesn't have banding...the problem is that it still has a ton of noise. It has 26.8e- worth of read noise, which while less than the 1DX's 38.2e-, it also has a lower FWC, so it's dynamic range is roughly the same.

The problem isn't the sensor. Canon's sensors are very good. Canon's problem is their high frequency off-die ADC units housed in the DIGIC chips. They are just plain noisy.

Roger Clark has evaluated a lot of Canon sensors. His work finds the lowest noise level in the sensor itself, which would be intrinsic sensor noise, devoid of actual read noise. That's dark current noise in the sensor, along with whatever noise the per-pixel amplifiers might introduce. In Canon sensors, that noise level is around 2e-. In the case of the 6D, the sensor's analog dynamic range would be 20log(76606/2) dB, or 91.65 dB, which in terms of stops is 15.27. In the case of the 1D X, which also has ~2e- intrinsic sensor noise, the maximum possible dynamic range would be 93.1 dB or 15.52 stops. These levels aren't realizable due to the amount of read noise at ISO 100. If Canon can get their read noise under control, and get their ISO 100 noise levels down to 3-4e-, their dynamic range would be ~14-14.5 stops. Throw in a little bit of quantization error and PRNU and a 14-bit ADC, and Canon's DR jumps up to the level of Sony Exmors. Throw in a 16-bit ADC, and Canon should be able to achieve 14.5 stops of DR pretty easily. If they can lower their read noise levels even more, they could achieve well more than 15 stops of DR.

Their SENSORS are capable. The rest of their electronics are not. Canon's biggest problem is their approach of offloading the ADC into the DIGIC chip, and running them at very high frequency. Plus, their use of a downstream secondary amplifier doesn't help, but that only kicks in at higher ISO as far as I am aware.
« Last Edit: June 03, 2014, 03:16:40 PM by jrista »
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Marsu42

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Re: Can Canon deliver a FF sensor that is class leading?
« Reply #14 on: June 03, 2014, 03:48:03 PM »
almost the full theoretical dr is actually usable
This is not true. The 6D does NOT have the "full theoretical DR", not even close.

Talking of correct quoting :-) ... but thanks for the explanation anyway, always great to read your in-depth posts. You did mis-understand me in this case though: the "usable dynamic range" was related to pattern noise, not to the theoretical limits of a Canon sensor if you glue it inside a Nikon camera body.

however the ADC bit depth limits it to 14, and downstream electronics (namely the ADC) introduce so much noise that it flattens the curve, rather than leaving it in it's linear state.

If you're interested in how the Magic Lantern people to improve the adc chain, see their forum (I posted the link above)

It doesn't matter if the 6D ISO 100 noise doesn't have banding...the problem is that it still has a ton of noise.

Noise doesn't worry me that much as the 5d3/1dx/6d manage to make it look like film nose, so that elevates it way above my 60d (and as far as I see 5d2) concerning "destructive noise". My eye is not a technical instrument to measure snr.

Throw in a 16-bit ADC, and Canon should be able to achieve 14.5 stops of DR pretty easily. If they can lower their read noise levels even more, they could achieve well more than 15 stops of DR.

Absolutely, I don't argue with the Nikon vs. Canon figures - however, using Magic Lantern's dual_iso module I can get nearly this amount of dynamic right now (with some postprocessing hassle, a minor loss of resolution in tricky situations, and non-reliable auto wb atm)... so for simple /me this is what counts:

  • more dynamic range at high iso than Nikon (ML mini_iso)
  • 14+ stops of dynamic range at low iso (ML dual_iso)
  • very low banding (6d)
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