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Author Topic: Should/can Canon keep making its own sensors?  (Read 16814 times)

ScottyP

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Should/can Canon keep making its own sensors?
« on: July 16, 2012, 03:22:39 PM »
I see Nikon using Sony sensors, and Sony itself is using its new sensors in its new well-received bodies, and I read people discussing how the Canon sensors seem to be falling behind. 

I wonder if Canon will reach a kind of "Apple Moment", like when Apple quit spending its R&D money trying to beat Intel on a component (CPU's) and started just using Intel chips like everyone else.  They freed up the resources and focus to start beating the competition by doing what they did best, which was making superior products, innovating and making customers happier with them than with the competition.  And now Apple went from almost disappearing to being bigger than ExxonMobil?

Canon makes better lenses than Nikon, and could focus on staying ahead on that.  They could/should take a page from the perfectionist Steve Jobs, and focus on addressing all the 1000 little niggling customer gripes and wishes about cameras, and making Canons just work better and smoother than Nikon (or Sony).  Outclass the competition by thinking of everything, and including it; and by not withholding simple little crap in hardware and firmware that they could instead make standard in all their cameras for very little cost.  Little stuff like firmware improvements (auto ISO), or simple features like AFMA, or including more external controls, or simpler cleaner menus.     

I think I am right on the little user-experience enhancements as a powerful & underutilized competitive opportunity.  I may be foolishly throwing the baby out with the bathwater here on the sensor question; I don't know.  I do wonder if the current "sensor gap" will or can continue.  If things are no better, or worse, in a year or two maybe that is something they should think about?
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Should/can Canon keep making its own sensors?
« on: July 16, 2012, 03:22:39 PM »

neuroanatomist

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Re: Should/can Canon keep making its own sensors?
« Reply #1 on: July 16, 2012, 03:32:54 PM »
I wonder if Canon will reach a kind of "Apple Moment", like when Apple quit spending its R&D money trying to beat Intel on a component (CPU's) and started just using Intel chips like everyone else.

When did Apple have that "Apple Moment"?  Before they bought CPUs from Intel, they bought them from IBM (the PowerPC series), and before that, they bought CPUs from Motorola (the 68xxx series). 
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Mt Spokane Photography

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Re: Should/can Canon keep making its own sensors?
« Reply #2 on: July 16, 2012, 04:45:11 PM »
I see Nikon using Sony sensors, and Sony itself is using its new sensors in its new well-received bodies, and I read people discussing how the Canon sensors seem to be falling behind. 

First you need to get your facts straight.
1. Canon uses sensors from Sony, and they make sensors as well
 
2.  Nikon designs and subcontracts sensors (not by Sony).  They also buy sensors from Sony.
 
Should Canon and Nikon stop making  sensors and eliminate all competition that Sony has and remove any reason for improving products?
 
I believe competition is good.

marekjoz

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Re: Should/can Canon keep making its own sensors?
« Reply #3 on: July 16, 2012, 05:14:03 PM »
There was a poll made by me three months ago, asking: "What will be next Canon move in the area of their sensor department?". If nothing changed in people's perception, then almost nobody here things, that Canon should take sensors from Sony. There were 156 votes submitted (117 members voted) and only 2 votes went for answer "They will try to get next sensors from Sony as Nikon did".
Poll and replies can be found here: http://www.canonrumors.com/forum/index.php?topic=5907.0
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aznable

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Re: Should/can Canon keep making its own sensors?
« Reply #4 on: July 16, 2012, 05:56:50 PM »
so sony and nikon 7 years ago would stop making sensor and buy them from canon? lol...

apple moment? do you think canon is lagging behing nikon and sony in marketing?
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ScottyP

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Re: Should/can Canon keep making its own sensors?
« Reply #5 on: July 16, 2012, 06:24:32 PM »
I see Nikon using Sony sensors, and Sony itself is using its new sensors in its new well-received bodies, and I read people discussing how the Canon sensors seem to be falling behind. 

First you need to get your facts straight.
1. Canon uses sensors from Sony, and they make sensors as well
 
2.  Nikon designs and subcontracts sensors (not by Sony).  They also buy sensors from Sony.
 
Should Canon and Nikon stop making  sensors and eliminate all competition that Sony has and remove any reason for improving products?
 
I believe competition is good.

I agree that competition is good, and I'd much rather Canon fired back at Nikon/Sony with a new killer sensor.  If Sony or anyone else had a near monopoly on DSLR or high-end sensors that would create stagnation in design and probably an increase in prices.  I just was wondering if Canon is going to be able to dig out of the hole, real or percieved, in which it is sitting sensor-wise.  I was just wondering if this killer sensor is likely to come, or if Canon will step back from the sensor production.
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pdirestajr

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Re: Should/can Canon keep making its own sensors?
« Reply #6 on: July 16, 2012, 06:32:56 PM »
What is wrong with Canon's sensors? To be honest, I never really think about the sensors in my digital cameras anymore- they are all good. I care more about the user experience of the camera, and to me, Canon cameras feel better. Nikons have a ton of weird buttons & dials and other things I don't care for. Oh & I like Canon glass.

But I do love my Nikon F3 and AI-s primes!
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Re: Should/can Canon keep making its own sensors?
« Reply #6 on: July 16, 2012, 06:32:56 PM »

elflord

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Re: Should/can Canon keep making its own sensors?
« Reply #7 on: July 16, 2012, 07:23:38 PM »
I see Nikon using Sony sensors, and Sony itself is using its new sensors in its new well-received bodies, and I read people discussing how the Canon sensors seem to be falling behind. 

I wonder if Canon will reach a kind of "Apple Moment", like when Apple quit spending its R&D money trying to beat Intel on a component (CPU's) and started just using Intel chips like everyone else. 

As was pointed out earlier, Apple never built their own chips. Also, Intel aren't the only company who manufactures x86 chips.

Apple made a number of smart business decisions and released several very successful products (imac, ipod, OS X) after Jobs took the helm in 98 (and well before they adopted the intel architecture in 2005)

One of the problems with having Canon drop sensors is that most of the companies who build sensors are either their competition, or companies who would like to become their competition.

Quote
Canon makes better lenses than Nikon, and could focus on staying ahead on that.  They could/should take a page from the perfectionist Steve Jobs, and focus on addressing all the 1000 little niggling customer gripes and wishes about cameras, and making Canons just work better and smoother than Nikon (or Sony).  Outclass the competition by thinking of everything, and including it; and by not withholding simple little crap in hardware and firmware that they could instead make standard in all their cameras for very little cost. 

Providing nicer products is always a worthy goal, but the Apple way is not to push high end functionality down to low end models so that users of said low end models may aspire to have high end functionality made available at the low end price. Rather it would be to simplify and clean their product lineup by simply eliminating those "tweener" product lines so that these users are left to choose between (for example) the Rebel and the 5D.

Another lesson from Apple, by the way, is that they have never been leaders from a pure price to performance standpoint. Instead, they always lived or died by the idea that users would pay a premium (in some cases a fairly hefty premium) for a well crafted product.

Canon have an analogous though not identical approach -- their plan is essentially to build a compelling system. A good system is not just about sensor performance. It is a comprehensive product line, which includes professional grade support, bodies, lenses, and even printers. The only other manufacturer who can play in the same ballpark at present is Nikon. 
« Last Edit: July 16, 2012, 07:25:34 PM by elflord »

marekjoz

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Re: Should/can Canon keep making its own sensors?
« Reply #8 on: July 16, 2012, 08:40:39 PM »
Droping sensor production and, what's more important R&D may be a risky business in some time. Sony makes it's own line of cameras. What if in some time Nikon won't be able to afford higher price set by Sony? Who knows? Maybe it's better solid and less risky, than groundbreaking but with unsure future? Example with Apple is quite good: they had to rewrite "some" code when they decided to go Intel and drop Motorola. They successed, but such a transition is as expensive as risky.
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kbmelb

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Re: Should/can Canon keep making its own sensors?
« Reply #9 on: July 16, 2012, 08:47:54 PM »
What is wrong with Canon's sensors? To be honest, I never really think about the sensors in my digital cameras anymore- they are all good. I care more about the user experience of the camera, and to me, Canon cameras feel better. Nikons have a ton of weird buttons & dials and other things I don't care for. Oh & I like Canon glass.


Right! No one but pixel peeping tech sites/guys are complaining about the 5D3 sensor. Most photo mags are loving the 5D3 more than the D800.
« Last Edit: July 16, 2012, 09:06:13 PM by kbmelb »

RLPhoto

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Re: Should/can Canon keep making its own sensors?
« Reply #10 on: July 16, 2012, 08:58:52 PM »
Sure, why not? 8)

Drizzt321

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Re: Should/can Canon keep making its own sensors?
« Reply #11 on: July 16, 2012, 09:38:05 PM »
What is wrong with Canon's sensors? To be honest, I never really think about the sensors in my digital cameras anymore- they are all good. I care more about the user experience of the camera, and to me, Canon cameras feel better. Nikons have a ton of weird buttons & dials and other things I don't care for. Oh & I like Canon glass.


Right! No one but pixel peeping tech sites/guys are complaining about the 5D3 sensor. Most photo mags are loving the 5D3 more than the D800.

Personally I wouldn't mind if they improved the DR somewhat, at least at low ISO. What I've seen on most detailed review sites shows Canon trailing, although at higher ISOs it's a wash or Canon is a bit better.

Also I wouldn't mind if they improved on the High ISO banding even more, as in making further efforts to reduce/remove that effect from their sensor/read-out designs.

That being said, I don't really see Canon not doing the R&D and production of their own sensors. It gives them too great an edge and control over their product lines and where they want to go in the arena. Since they can control their entire ecosystem, they can optimize or simply provide more direction to the entire systems as a whole.
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Ellen Schmidtee

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Re: Should/can Canon keep making its own sensors?
« Reply #12 on: July 17, 2012, 06:06:24 AM »
As noted above, Apple never developed CPUs, it just switched CPU manufacturors.

As time progressed, it became harder & harder to design & manufacture competitive CPUs in commercial quantities, which led to a reduced competition. I'd rather this wouldn't repeat itself in the camera sensors market.

E.g. in the 80s most PCs had different processors, in the 90s every workstation manufacturor made it's own processor and slapped Unix on top of it, nowadays wintel rules both markets. My impression is that the lack of competition isn't doing anything food for the customers.

There are new developments in digital camera technology, such as Sigma Foveon sensors & light field cameras, and competition is good for that. Companies have a hard time being leading in electronics and optics and ergonomics and ..., but bottom line we - the customers - stand to benefit even if the camera brand we use is losing on one of those fronts.
« Last Edit: July 17, 2012, 07:30:07 AM by Ellen Schmidtee »

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Re: Should/can Canon keep making its own sensors?
« Reply #12 on: July 17, 2012, 06:06:24 AM »

psolberg

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Re: Should/can Canon keep making its own sensors?
« Reply #13 on: July 17, 2012, 07:02:45 AM »
I think so. Canon just has some competition now after a decade where they kept their position by mere inertia. This is good. Sony + Nikon now command a larger marketshare combined than canon, which is a strange position for canon to be in. But ultimately one that should yield better products.

Bennymiata

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Re: Should/can Canon keep making its own sensors?
« Reply #14 on: July 17, 2012, 07:29:04 AM »
Many Japanese companies truely believe that anything that is absolutely required for their products MUST either be made in-house, or made by a company that they own a large share of.

Take Toyota for example, they make their own shock absorbers, even the transmissions they use in their cars are mainly made by Jatco, of which Toyota have a large shareholding.
Same with Canon.
I believe they want to have not only ultimate control over the required sensor in the DSLR's, but also the secrecy that is only available if done in-house.
Japanese manufacturers are always worried about their new ideas getting out, and also the position they may be in if their supplier goes broke and can't supply them the neccessary components which could lead them to the position of not being able to do business.
Making their own sensors gives Canon ultimate control, and I doubt they would like to give that away.Nikon are a relatively small company in comparison to Canon, and therefore don't have the resources or money to make their own sensors, and for Nikon, it is far easier to get Sony or some other manufacturer to do it for them.
Don't forget that Canon's sensor business is not just for cameras, but for photocopiers and other electronic equipment that uses light sensors so they have a far greater use for various sensors than Nikon do.

It is also a sense of pride that Canon have that they make their own sensors.

Right now, Some of the Sony sensors MAY be superior to some of Canon's sensors, especially in purely technical terms, but the Canon sensors are still pretty good and in the real world, some of them are just superb.
Canon is a marketing lead company, and if they see their sales dwindling because someone else's sensor is creaming them in SALES, not just specs, THEN they will come up with an even better sensor.
At this time, Canon is still outselling Nikon and Sony overall in DSLR sales, so they must be doing something right.

A good camera is far more than just a sensor and in the side by side tests of the D800 -V- the 5D3, most of the testers say they can see little difference between them as far as picture quality goes, but most of them prefer to use the Canon rather than the Nikon for their everyday and professional use.

I guess it's a bit like choosing what car to buy and basing your decison purely on what its 0-60mph time is.
Just because one car does it 1/10th of a second faster does not make it a better car, as their are lots of variables in picking one make from another, like ride confort, handling, economy and so on - just like in cameras we also choose the lens system, lens cost and quality and the feel and ergonomics of the unit itself, and these can be more important than just the technical specs, especially when the end results are very similar.

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Re: Should/can Canon keep making its own sensors?
« Reply #14 on: July 17, 2012, 07:29:04 AM »