Quick look at throughput over last 14 years and predicting that a big change is coming

Does Canon's relative throughput trend affect you?


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tiggy@mac.com

Pentax K-1000
Jan 20, 2014
482
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In 14 years, from the launch of the 1D-S Mark II, Canon's flagship full frame megapixels has gone up only 25 percent, from about 16mp to about 20mp with the 1DX2. Viewfinder frame rate increased from 4.5 fps to 14 fps. Total throughput (using framerate x megapixels) increased from 72mp/sec to 280mp/sec; about a factor of four over 14 years. That's an annual compound throughput increase rate of 10.2 percent.

Current throughput deficit: Sony A9 has 1.7 times the throughput; A7R3 has 1.5 times the throughput; Nikon D850 has 1.2 times; and the Nikon Z7 has 1.5 times.

The introduction of the R mount appears to have exacerbated this, siphoning off processor resources for various functions, giving the R camera 3.1 times worse throughput (assuming you want autofocus between shots for moving targets) than the Canon 1DX2. That means the Nikon Z7 has about 4.5 times the throughput of the R. The Nikon Z7 has 4 times the throughput, perhaps the most comparable camera to the Canon R in other areas.

This will matter to some people, and not matter to others. The Seattle DPReview crowd taking urban shots at their leisure will be less affected by that difference. The action/wildlife pros would be most affected. Interestingly, the latter is Canon's most loyal market right now, and the former appears to be their least loyal.

Something is going to change. My hope is that it's a big leap in throughput from Canon, and not a repositioning to less of an action profile. Including a poll to see if others are thinking about this.
 
Mar 14, 2012
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Funny you didn't compare the D5 (20.8 MP at 12 frames/sec) with the 1DX2 (20 MP at 14 frames/sec) with full metering and autofocus through the viewfinder.

I remember reading somewhere that the R does require a lot more computation power for AF (8 fps non-tracking and 5 fps tracking), but why aren't you comparing the Z6 to the R instead of the Z7 (Z6 and R are more similar in price)? The Z6 has 12 FPS (limited to 12-bit RAW and no AE), 9 FPS (14-bit RAW but no AE), 5.5 FPS with AE. So with AE and 14-bit RAW, you have 5.5 fps at 24.5 MP = 135 MP/sec for Z6 and 152 MP/sec for EOS R.
 

Don Haines

Beware of cats with laser eyes!
Jun 4, 2012
8,084
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Have you considered that the R is not the equivalent of a 1DX2?

You are comparing a three processor camera to a single processor camera.

You are comparing a camera limited by the speed of the mirror assembly to one that is not.

BTW, Olympus is at 20.4 Mpixels and a burst of 60FPS. :)
 
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docsmith

EOS 6D MK II
Sep 17, 2010
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On "throughput"...I would also look at the file size of higher ISO images. It is only at base ISO that MB~MP. For example, the 1DX II's file size at ISO 100 is 24.6 MB and 44.7 at ISO 409,600 according to TDP. I am going to assume that 14 fps only extends to the "native" ISO of 51200 with a file size of 36.3. 14 x 36.3 = 508.2 MB/sec.
 

tiggy@mac.com

Pentax K-1000
Jan 20, 2014
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Don, I wasn't trying to equate the R with the 1dx2. The 280 mp/sec that the 1dx2 puts out requires three processors, and the R has one, so there's that. Mirrorless - due to power constraints - will likely continue to have one processor. Maybe two with a much larger form factor and different battery? I don't think anyone points to the R as the ultimate in Canon throughput capacity. It does rival my trusty SL1, though. Not sure which is more powerful throwing bits onto a card; could go either way. Point is, there are quantifiable differences in throughput capabilities that have now grown to be stark. I believe this is somewhat temporary, in that Canon will likely be able to make greater throughput improvements, as rivals face diminishing rates of return for technologies they've already implemented.

Back when I saw people complain about the anemic FPS at the 5D4 launch, many thought that this was "nerfing" to protect the 1D series. In retrospect, it appears, it was that the 5D4 had one fewer Digics in it, and the capacity wasn't there to be had. At the time, I don't think any of us saw this as a hardware limit, but it appears to have been one. Hopefully, they've been spending the last 3 years developing several strategies to push more through the straw.

Doc, you make a great point about high iso file size and how it affects throughput requirements. I'm not sure that differs much between brands, as I haven't looked for that.

Perhaps the market sees a diminishing rate of returns for more frames per second past 7 on a high-megapixel sensor, and I'm just one of the few with the niche need.
 

Don Haines

Beware of cats with laser eyes!
Jun 4, 2012
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Don, I wasn't trying to equate the R with the 1dx2. The 280 mp/sec that the 1dx2 puts out requires three processors, and the R has one, so there's that. Mirrorless - due to power constraints - will likely continue to have one processor. Maybe two with a much larger form factor and different battery? I don't think anyone points to the R as the ultimate in Canon throughput capacity. It does rival my trusty SL1, though. Not sure which is more powerful throwing bits onto a card; could go either way. Point is, there are quantifiable differences in throughput capabilities that have now grown to be stark. I believe this is somewhat temporary, in that Canon will likely be able to make greater throughput improvements, as rivals face diminishing rates of return for technologies they've already implemented.

Back when I saw people complain about the anemic FPS at the 5D4 launch, many thought that this was "nerfing" to protect the 1D series. In retrospect, it appears, it was that the 5D4 had one fewer Digics in it, and the capacity wasn't there to be had. At the time, I don't think any of us saw this as a hardware limit, but it appears to have been one. Hopefully, they've been spending the last 3 years developing several strategies to push more through the straw.

Doc, you make a great point about high iso file size and how it affects throughput requirements. I'm not sure that differs much between brands, as I haven't looked for that.

Perhaps the market sees a diminishing rate of returns for more frames per second past 7 on a high-megapixel sensor, and I'm just one of the few with the niche need.
I don't like the word "nerfing", it has very negative connotations and can set off some people.... how about "product placement"? Sort of like stubbornness is a bad trait and tenacity is a good trait, even though they are the same thing :)

The R is the first of the line and it seems to be the equivalent of the 6D2, the bottom of the line camera. Canon can't give it great specs or we will have no reason to upgrade to the next one. I fully expect that the next R camera will be a 5D4 equivalent, undoubtedly with a dual digic configuration and a far more impressive frame rate, my guess is 12-15FPS. It will cost more, but it will have better hardware. I also expect that when they come out with their 100Mpixel monster and when they come out with their 1DX2 equivalent that they will both be in 1D sized bodies, quite possibly with quad digic chips, and both of them with throughput that is significantly better than the 1DX2. Thermal management is definitely going to be a problem and a large body makes it easier to deal with.

As far as throughput goes, Canon has always been conservative and does not like to push things to the limit, and that helps with the longevity of the gear. I can't see them changing. Even my Oly P/S camera has higher throughput than the 1DX2, but only for a burst, not sustained. Likewise, their flagship camera can handle 600MB/sec for a burst, and also, not sustained.

Of course, we are all guessing. Realistically, these cameras are going to need a HUGE buffer and the limiting factor may end up being how fast you can write to storage. However you slice it, with the mechanical speed limitations of the mirror assembly removed, the next few years are going to be interesting!
 

Bennymiata

EOS 6D MK II
It must be difficult for camera manufacturers to balance processor speed, heat, battery life etc.
Laptops have very large batteries compared to cameras and laptops and their much faster processors chew a lot more electricity than cameras too.
If they put in larger batteries perhaps we can get faster throughputs.
 

Maximilian

The dark side - I've been there
Nov 7, 2013
2,538
345
Germany
Hi tiggy!
First I am not part of the CDL. But second I can think for myself and when reading your summary, it sounds quite interesting but not always consistent.
These are my thoughts about it:
Current throughput deficit: Sony A9 has 1.7 times the throughput; A7R3 has 1.5 times the throughput; Nikon D850 has 1.2 times; and the Nikon Z7 has 1.5 times.
Interesting that you are comparing recently released cameras with a camera released about 3 years ago and that's rumored to be replaced this year.
If this is taking place (1DX II successor in 2019) will you do exactly this comparison again? And where is the D5?

The introduction of the R mount [...] giving the R camera 3.1 times worse throughput (assuming you want autofocus between shots for moving targets) than the Canon 1DX2.
Also comparing a camera worth 1/3 of the 1DX II that's aiming at the FF amateurs or prosumers and not at the full (sports) pros really sounds like "apples and oranges".
I suppose that Canon put in some performance brake pads in the FW of the EOS R for market differentiation. Not nice from Canon but reasonable.
You'd better wait for a high FPS EOS RX (?) and then do this comparison again.

The Seattle DPReview crowd taking urban shots at their leisure will be less affected by that difference. The action/wildlife pros would be most affected. Interestingly, the latter is Canon's most loyal market right now, and the former appears to be their least loyal.
Seems that Canon is thinking there is more possible growth in market share of FF amateurs/prosumers than in the sports/wildlife market. It also seems (from reading opinions here) that those pro/sports photogs still prefer the OVF over the EVF and therefore probalbly will get a new 1DX III this year.
Conclusion: everyone is pleased and Canon market share could grow further.

Stupid Canon? No!
 
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Pape

EOS RP
Dec 31, 2018
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Camera bodys are just too small to be effective for action photographers.
I think all they put to body, should be just computers what read sensor and all other electronic outside of body, to packback.
So we would look like ghostbusters . 10 or 20 fp/s more sounds lame. hundreds or thousend fp/s sounds more better . :p
I dont understand cameras good enough to know whats problem there . but adult man can carry 80kg on back ,thats lot of processors and card writers :p and car battery to make all roll.
 

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tiggy@mac.com

Pentax K-1000
Jan 20, 2014
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The R is the first of the line and it seems to be the equivalent of the 6D2, the bottom of the line camera.
As ever, great points, Don. But regarding the quote above, I agree that the R was positioned roughly on the 6D2 level, but that to me is a hint of the tech problem: the 6D2 can AF with 6.5 frames per second. I worry that the R has 3 fps in servo because of throughput/processor limits. I strongly suspect Canon wanted to give the R 5 or so FPS, and this is where the limitations show.

Of course, I could be wrong, and they just "product placed" it where they wanted.
 

Mt Spokane Photography

I post too Much on Here!!
Mar 25, 2011
15,408
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The reason for lower pixel count in 1 series cameras is more related to performance in low light than throughput. For the target customers, that's the big factor.

The FPS with a moving mirror and shutter with a AF computation between each shot hits mechanical limits plus speed of computation, which is why it has a separate processor for AF.

While we will continue to see the 1 series have minor increases in MP, the FPS will stay pretty much fixed until there is a mirrorless model. For video, the frame rate and thus throughput will increase as more power efficient processors are incorporated.

I'm sure that Canon and Nikon as well have mirrorless designs, but they won't make it out of the lab unless they can perform.
 
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Don Haines

Beware of cats with laser eyes!
Jun 4, 2012
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As ever, great points, Don. But regarding the quote above, I agree that the R was positioned roughly on the 6D2 level, but that to me is a hint of the tech problem: the 6D2 can AF with 6.5 frames per second. I worry that the R has 3 fps in servo because of throughput/processor limits. I strongly suspect Canon wanted to give the R 5 or so FPS, and this is where the limitations show.

Of course, I could be wrong, and they just "product placed" it where they wanted.
My suspicion is that you are right. To me, somewhere between 6 and 8 FPS seems right for that level of camera. Of course, in the mirrored cameras the AF sensor and the image sensor are two completely separate units and with multiple digics you can have one concentrating just on AF and not have it interfere with sensor issues. Now you have two processes sharing the same sensor and I can see how conflict would arise.
 
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