Sonykon = Sony is the head of Nikon?

woodman411

EOS 80D
Aug 1, 2017
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USA
https://www.dpreview.com/news/1234108119/nikon-d850-sensor-confirmed-as-sony-made

As many have suspected, Nikon's D850 sensor is from Sony, not Nikon-designed-built-by-Towerjazz as some have claimed. When looking at the short-term, one can brush this off as insignificant, as even Canon has used Sony sensors in some of their cameras. But looking long-term, the signs are ominous for Nikon.

First, the d850 is their all-around pro cam, besting IQ from their flagship, and many features that give it that status is from that Sony sensor. When Sony defines the main features, the control is theirs to determine the if/when/how on distribution. Of course, Nikon knows this too, so this is either a stop-gap to buy more time for their mirrorless efforts, or if they keep relying on Sony going forward, they have accepted the role as Sony's DSLR arm. It's like a car company using someone else to build the engine for one of their top vehicles - it's a significant capitulation in the DSLR space no matter how one looks at it.

Second, assuming Nikon is focusing their efforts in the mirrorless space, which becomes more relevant every year, it will eventually become Sony's competitor. Can they keep up with Canon and Sony in mirrorless? It is highly unlikely. As both Canon and Sony have shown, mirrorless bodies and technologies need at least a few iterations to become truly useable, and Canon at least has the ball rolling with aps-c, and with full-frame, they have implemented and refined their dpaf (in fact, I personally would be happy with a full-frame mirrorless based on the current 5d4 dpaf). Nikon has none of that yet, again, maybe Nikon is totally focused on mirrorless as we speak and will introduce fully competitive sensors/bodies/lenses. But chances are they are behind, and it's possible they will rely on Sony sensors again, in which case, now being in Sony's competitive area, they will play second fiddle to their technologies. It's like the relationship between VW and Skoda - Nikon will get all the older sensors and technologies as they basically become the lower-tier/lower-price mirrorless options for Sony.

Third, Nikon's market cap and resources are significantly less than either Canon and Sony. Yes they are part of the Mitsubishi Group, but that does not necessarily mean they can easily pull resources from the other groups within Mitsubishi. Canon's resources have allowed it to consistently rank 3rd over the years in the number of patents ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_top_United_States_patent_recipients ), even besting the larger Sony, whereas Nikon is unseen in these rankings. Granted, the number of patents does not ensure success, but it is indicative of R&D and future potential.

Putting all this together, I can't help but feel Nikon is playing more like the #3 camera player, and that Sony is their head, if not now, then increasingly so going forward.
 

dak723

EOS 6D MK II
Oct 26, 2013
1,141
434
If I understand correctly, Nikon is not getting hand me down older sensors. The contract Sony to manufacture their sensors to Nikon's specifications.

And, I believe in many cases, the Nikons with the Sony sensors have out performed the Sony cameras.

And, frankly, aside from forum dwellers, people don't care who makes the sensor, nor do they think the sensor is the most important aspect of a camera system.

Of course, in the days of the internet and social media, a product that creates the buzz can succeed far beyond it's actual capabilities - witness the incredible enthusiasm Sony generates for their FF cameras - which, having tried them, were a HUGE disappointment in actual use - at least in my opinion.
 

Orangutan

EOR R
Sep 25, 2010
2,140
3
The real question here is whether Sony sees itself primarily as a manufacturer of sensors, or of cameras. My guess is the former because of the huge market for their phone sensors, and much smaller for APS-C, 35mm, and MFD sensors. Sony is probably happy to have Nikon as a showcase for its more important business unit.
 

Mikehit

EOS 5D MK IV
Jul 28, 2015
3,253
454
woodman411 said:
https://www.dpreview.com/news/1234108119/nikon-d850-sensor-confirmed-as-sony-made

not Nikon-designed-built-by-Towerjazz as some have claimed.
First of all, that is still not certain, but is deduced.
Secondly, the article says "other companies can commission Sony Semiconductor to make them a sensor and can include their own intellectual property in the design, without that information (or the rights to use it) being available to Sony's camera division. " so it is still possible it is Nikon specification built by Sony.
Does it really matter who Nikon has that agreement with?

Sony sensor is completely different business unit to Sony cameras so can make its own corporate decisions on how to make profits.
 

IglooEater

EOS 6D MK II
Nov 15, 2014
904
0
If I’m understanding right, the sensor design is Nikon’s even if it’s made in a Sony foundry. If so, Nikon can just move the production to another manufacturer if Sony doesn’t want to make the chips at any time in the future.
 

fullstop

EOS 6D MK II
Apr 23, 2018
1,088
153
Mikehit said:
woodman411 said:
https://www.dpreview.com/news/1234108119/nikon-d850-sensor-confirmed-as-sony-made
not Nikon-designed-built-by-Towerjazz as some have claimed.
First of all, that is still not certain, but is deduced.
You seem to have a very hard time accepting facts, even when they are clearly in your face.


IMX309AQJ =definitely Sony.
http://astrocn.org/thread-3189-1-1.html

Yes, Nikon D850 sensor is "Nikon designed" and manufactured by Sony. It is different in some aspects from the Sony sensors in Sony cameras. There is no problem or issue whatsoever in Nikon outsourcing fabbing of their imaging sensors. Probably canon-designed sensors would also have been better over the last 10 years had they been made in modern Sony fabs rather than in outdated 150nm process Canon fabs.
 

9VIII

EOR R
Feb 8, 2013
1,843
0
In terms of R&D potential, Nikon won’t just be #3, they’re probably #6.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nikon
Fuji and Panasonic are similar to the size of Canon, and even Olympus has a larger workforce than Nikon: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Olympus_Corporation

For better or for worse, Nikon is one of the few companies in this industry that is so specialized.

Having said all that, the new Nikon Full Frame Mirrorless body is something that interests me more than practically anything else we know of in the works. Nikon desperately needs to ditch the F-mount with all of its legacy oddities, and their specific combination of Sony’s tech with Nikon know-how has thus far produced more attractive cameras than anything Sony has come up with on their own.
I wouldn’t be surprised if that translates over to the short flange mount as well.
 

fullstop

EOS 6D MK II
Apr 23, 2018
1,088
153
9VIII said:
Having said all that, the new Nikon Full Frame Mirrorless body is something that interests me more than practically anything else we know of in the works. Nikon desperately needs to ditch the F-mount with all of its legacy oddities,
...
Fully agree. But would you dare to write this in also a Nikon (Rumors) forum? LOL ... "Nikopologists" would probably kill you. ;) ;D
 

Mt Spokane Photography

I post too Much on Here!!
Mar 25, 2011
15,593
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Canon has used Sony Sensors in their P&S cameras almost since their first Digital Cameras, and still do. Sony sensors are sold to many camera manufacturers almost as a commodity. I once took apart a broken Canon digital camera and found the LCD display was branded Sony.
Manufacturers sell components to each other, or they are resold by distributors as commodities.

Nikon and Sony have worked to produce sensors for some of their DSLR's for many years, that does not mean Sony owns them, since Nikon also gets sensors from other suppliers. They use the best they can get for the price point.
 

Don Haines

Beware of cats with laser eyes!
Jun 4, 2012
8,230
1,841
Canada
So Sony says: “Hey, to make more money, let’s start manufacturing parts for another company”, “Let’s only sell them inferior products”, “Why are they not buying from us?”

Sony and Nikon are not idiots. They both know that if a deal like that is going to wrk, that the components sold will have to be quality. Also, I am fairly sure that both Sony and Nikon understand that a camera is far more than a sensor....

In related news, at work we have a cube van and a pickup that use the same engine. Most people can understand that they are different vehicles.... apparently they are not forum members.....
 

woodman411

EOS 80D
Aug 1, 2017
111
75
USA
dak723 said:
If I understand correctly, Nikon is not getting hand me down older sensors. The contract Sony to manufacture their sensors to Nikon's specifications.

And, I believe in many cases, the Nikons with the Sony sensors have out performed the Sony cameras.

And, frankly, aside from forum dwellers, people don't care who makes the sensor, nor do they think the sensor is the most important aspect of a camera system.
It never starts out that way. Just like Qualcomm's Snapdragon, before nobody cared what version of Snapdragon a phone had. Now people ask, does that have the 845 or the "old" 835 or the cheaper 6 series, or for Apple, is it the a7 or a8 or a9. That's what happens when a single component controls the important features. It's fortunate Apple had the insight not to be reliant on Qualcomm for it's processor, and that Samsung has enough resources to create their own (Exynos). I'm not discounting the fact that there are other factors that make up the camera body, important ones, like build quality (I love how higher Canon bodies are the only ones now made in Japan). Nevertheless, the important headline features are now at the sensor + processor level.

IglooEater said:
If I’m understanding right, the sensor design is Nikon’s even if it’s made in a Sony foundry. If so, Nikon can just move the production to another manufacturer if Sony doesn’t want to make the chips at any time in the future.
Except in this case, the foundry is owned by your competitor. At the very least, it's an awkward situation, much like Apple using Samsung foundry to make their chips.

Mikehit said:
... it is still possible it is Nikon specification built by Sony.
The d850 has the same green cast that is typical of Sony sensor design, and Nikon just happened to choose 45MP for the d850, almost the same as Sony's 42MP. Coincidence?

9VIII said:
In terms of R&D potential, Nikon won’t just be #3, they’re probably #6.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nikon
Fuji and Panasonic are similar to the size of Canon, and even Olympus has a larger workforce than Nikon: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Olympus_Corporation

For better or for worse, Nikon is one of the few companies in this industry that is so specialized.

Having said all that, the new Nikon Full Frame Mirrorless body is something that interests me more than practically anything else we know of in the works. Nikon desperately needs to ditch the F-mount with all of its legacy oddities, and their specific combination of Sony’s tech with Nikon know-how has thus far produced more attractive cameras than anything Sony has come up with on their own.
I wouldn’t be surprised if that translates over to the short flange mount as well.
We'll see. It will be interesting how the balance-of-power unfolds between Nikon and Sony as Nikon enters the mirrorless space.

Mt Spokane Photography said:
Canon has used Sony Sensors in their P&S cameras almost since their first Digital Cameras, and still do. Sony sensors are sold to many camera manufacturers almost as a commodity. I once took apart a broken Canon digital camera and found the LCD display was branded Sony.
Manufacturers sell components to each other, or they are resold by distributors as commodities.

Nikon and Sony have worked to produce sensors for some of their DSLR's for many years, that does not mean Sony owns them, since Nikon also gets sensors from other suppliers. They use the best they can get for the price point.
P&S market is inconsequential now. I would be worried if Sony produced sensors for Canon's 80d/7d/5d4. Look at the headline features of the Nikon d850, and ask how much of those features are due to the Sony sensor. It's the sensor + processor(s) that is now primarily defining the camera features more than anything else. Same thing for Canon - when the 5d4 came out, headline features were 30mp, on-chip adc, and 4k video with dpaf - all revolving around its sensor + processor(s). Same thing with M5 mark II - 28MP sensor, 4k video with dpaf, eye detect, etc.
 

Mt Spokane Photography

I post too Much on Here!!
Mar 25, 2011
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woodman411 said:
P&S market is inconsequential now.
Actually, Canon sells a lot of P&S cameras with 1 inch Sony sensors, its far from inconsequential as far as sales go, maybe of no interest to you, but Canon is selling to a wide variety of photographers.
Then, there is the not so small or inconsequential surveillance camera market which likely also uses huge numbers of Sony Sensors, both Canon and Axis sell a ton of high end surveillance cameras, big bucks as well, and even bigger profits.

3.4 million P&S for 2018, and many of them are the higher end models going for $500 and more.
 

Kit.

EOS 6D MK II
Apr 25, 2011
1,491
852
Back in the film days, Nikon used Kodak, Fuji and Agfa sensors, did not produce its own ones, and still was fine.

Konica, on the other hand, did produce their own film, but that didn't help it in the long run.

Still, monopoly is unhealthy. There should be at least two companies producing FF sensors.
 

woodman411

EOS 80D
Aug 1, 2017
111
75
USA
Mt Spokane Photography said:
woodman411 said:
P&S market is inconsequential now.
Actually, Canon sells a lot of P&S cameras with 1 inch Sony sensors, its far from inconsequential as far as sales go, maybe of no interest to you, but Canon is selling to a wide variety of photographers.
Then, there is the not so small or inconsequential surveillance camera market which likely also uses huge numbers of Sony Sensors, both Canon and Axis sell a ton of high end surveillance cameras, big bucks as well, and even bigger profits.

3.4 million P&S for 2018, and many of them are the higher end models going for $500 and more.
I should have said inconsequential technology-wise. It's the high-end crop and full-frame bodies where a camera maker shows its capabilities.
 

ahsanford

Particular Member
Aug 16, 2012
8,064
636
To the OP: disagree.

People are reading way too much into this. I find it fascinating who is making what these days, but consider:

1) No one knows the specifics of the deal. Nikon surely has exclusive access to the D850 sensor for the foreseeable future (if not indefinitely) and Sony can't trap-door Nikon by robbing them of supply to torpedo D850 sales. Nikon would never sign up for a deal that could ever run out of supply during the D850 lifecycle.

2) What Nikon does on one product line is not what they are doing on the other. They still put Nikon sensors in to other cameras.

3) The difference between Sony-made and Nikon-made sensors is presumably the difference between Sony-made and Canon-made sensors, i.e. not very much at all. We can debate feature-set specifics, backside illumination, etc. but 5-10 points difference at DXO is nothing in terms of real image output. That means that if the business relationship sours with Sony, Nikon can just drop their own sensor into future bodies.

4) Sony wants to be selling sensors as much as it wants to win in the ILC market -- isn't the sensor business still decoupled from the camera business? They each have their own business goals through separate leadership, I thought.

If you believe Nikon using Sony sensors means that Sony is running Nikon, I can't help you. That position paints a picture that an imaging company is only as good as their sensors, but Canon's dominance in the market absolutely dismantles that argument. There is so much more to an imaging company than the sensor inside -- ergonomics, handling, controls, AF, data handling, lenses, etc. and I don't think you are giving remotely enough credit to Nikon in those areas.

- A
 

unfocused

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Jul 20, 2010
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ahsanford said:
...If you believe Nikon using Sony sensors means that Sony is running Nikon, I can't help you...
I'd say, "if you believe Nikon contracting with Sony to make Nikon sensors means that Sony is running Nikon, I can't help you."

It sounds like Nikon simply contracts the manufacturing out to Sony, but no evidence that they are not designing and setting the specs for those sensors themselves.

If Sony were to back out of the agreement, I'm sure Nikon could find another company to do the sensor manufacturing for them.
 

ahsanford

Particular Member
Aug 16, 2012
8,064
636
unfocused said:
I'd say, "if you believe Nikon contracting with Sony to make Nikon sensors means that Sony is running Nikon, I can't help you."

It sounds like Nikon simply contracts the manufacturing out to Sony, but no evidence that they are not designing and setting the specs for those sensors themselves.

If Sony were to back out of the agreement, I'm sure Nikon could find another company to do the sensor manufacturing for them.
Fair.

"Sounds like" = do we know it's Nikon designed and Sony built? Any chance they completely farmed out the sensor work -- dropped the desired high-level performance and connectivity expectations (with some negotiation for what is possible) and just let Sony do the rest?

Also, I think Sony would face an epic lawsuit if they didn't deliver for the specific products they've agreed to supply. Nikon may own the specs, but it's not a certainty another supplier could just knock that out in a reasonable timeframe with identical performance, is it?

- A