Monday, October 28, 2013

Touch God

Zürich, 2013-10-28.

With Sony Nex-5R and Minolta MD 50mm f/1.7 (my very first lens:).

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Full-Frame Camera Mind Share

For the ones not into digital photography, full-frame is today's name for a digital sensor size that has the same size as the effective picture size of the traditional 35 mm film rolls. If you subtract the perforations of the 35 mm film at the top and bottom, then a 36x24 mm area remains for each photo.

With the advent of the digital sensors, such big sensors had been too expensive to produce in the beginning. The bigger the area of the sensor the higher the chance a single pixel is corrupt, resulting in much lower yield rates in production.

The standard sensor size for DSLR (digital single-lens reflex cameras) has therefore become the so called APS-C image size, which is 24x16 mm. Most DSLRs use sensors of this format. BTW, each side of the full-frame format is 1.5 times bigger than for APS-C format. But the area of a full-frame sensor is 2.25 times as big as an APS-C sensor (OK, you do the math).

Since the advent of the Canon 5D, digital cameras with the bigger 36x24 mm sensor size have become available and affordable for serious enthusiasts and of course professional photographers.

I took a look at a Flickr statistic and summed up the average daily users (as of 2013-10-09) who use a full-frame camera:

I use this as a proxy for possible market share of different manufacturers. Of course, this is just a rough idea, so lets call it the market mind share instead.

The Leica M9 actually is closer to USD 10'000 then 1'000. So it is no surprise, it has only marginal usage.

But what is also obvious, Sony has also only minuscule usage numbers. If we look only at the currently produced models, it becomes even more severe for Sony (BTW, Sony took over the camera business of Konica Minolta, which by itself took over the Minolta system).

And Nikon is catching up with Canon big time.

Who is missing completely on this list is Pentax. It has a digital medium format, which is even bigger in size then full-frame. However, besides this it has only APS-C cameras and had so big business problems, that they got bought by Hoya and then resold to Ricoh.

Who is also absent is Olympus. They today don't even produce cameras of APS-C sensor size, but years ago have opted for an even smaller image size (the Micro Four Third and formerlay Four Third format).

But the list also can change considerably very soon, as Sony is shortly before introducing new cameras without the traditional mirror box. It has a mount it uses for its smaller size mirrorless Nex line, the E-Mount. The Nex uses an electronic view finder or alternatively a back screen like a compact camera. There is no mechanical mirror needed anymore. That also allows to make the so called flange range, the distance of the mount from the sensor/film pane, much much shorter. Without a mirror in between, there is a lot of space that can be safed.

But also, that space can also be filled with a simple tube or adapter to create the exact flange range of some other traditional mount from Canon, Nikon or whomever.
That way any lens from any manufacturer can be used on a camera. And should this camera have a full frame sensor, these lenses would be used the way they were initially designed.

So lets wait and see when and with what Sony will come out and how it will change the camera circuit.