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Photographer
Digitoxin
Posts: 13,343
Houston, Texas, US


Can anyone envision a day when we are able to swap the sensor in a dSLR, Mirrorless, or rangefinder camera like we swapped film?  Will chips ever get cheap enough that a camera maker will create a line of chips tuned for certain tasks?

B&W tuned for low ISO settings
B&W tuned for high ISO settings
Infrared
Various pixel counts
Various tonalities (replicating certain films for instance).

Each chip could simply be swapped into the camera as needed. 

This day is likely many years off .  I can see this day but I am wondering if anyone would buy into a system like this (inexpensives chips, swappable, no need to buy a new body for each type of tuned chip)?

Would ya?
Jun 30 13 05:08 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
marknmanna
Posts: 305
Golden City, Missouri, US


I honestly don't see this happening,ever.  Post processing software is the future of this kind of thing,I think.
Jun 30 13 05:17 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
AJ_In_Atlanta
Posts: 12,774
Atlanta, Georgia, US


I think we already had this in a way with digital backs, the issue of alignment started to crop up.  As sensors resolution increased it became increasingly harder to make something user changeable that could maintain such high levels of accuracy.
Jun 30 13 05:20 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
michael___
Posts: 303
New York, New York, US


Ricoh tried that idea with the GXR cameras, somewhat.

I don't think it is really viable to be honest.  I would imagine that most sensors are getting just getting better all around and so fine-tuning them isn't really marketable/profitable from a commercial point of view as most people wouldn't really care.
Jun 30 13 05:21 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Motordrive Photography
Posts: 2,736
Lodi, California, US


I think there is too much that goes along with the sensors
for that to be practical. I do see a time when you could
have multiple firmware setups held on your PC the way
that an engines tuning can be changed from a laptop for
differing conditions.
Jun 30 13 05:27 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
BTHPhoto
Posts: 6,786
Fairbanks, Alaska, US


In the late '90s or early 2000's you could buy a 35mm "film cartridge" that had something like a 1mp sensor in it.  I remember thinking that what you're suggesting was exactly where digital was going then - we'd have a sensor customized to match portra, one customized to match TMX, one customized to match FP4+, etc. - and that it was surely only a matter of time before they produced the 120 version that would fit my Mamiya 645.  I also remember thinking how foolish all these people buying digital cameras were when it was just a matter of time before there were digital cartridges for their film cameras.  Now I recognize how naive I was - it doesn't matter how much sense it would make or whether it could be done, it would NEVER make as much money as selling brand new DSLRs that get "better" every market cycle.  As long as profit is the motive of corporations, we'll never get the chance to find out whether your idea makes sense or not.
Jun 30 13 05:28 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Marc Damon
Posts: 6,562
Biloxi, Mississippi, US


No. The first thing we will see is two sensors that can be alternated by flipping one up, down or to the side with the push of a button. Of course it will have the drawback of changing the optics because it will be impossible to get the two sensors in exactly the same position. Color/b+w maybe? With your choice of which sensor flips for the second version. The price of those bodies will be through the roof and unaffordable to any but the busy pro with that specific need. And don't forget the special lenses that deal with the issue of the length not being right for the flipped lens. Then.... more money for something else. Of course it's all digital so it won't be able to do anything more than software is capable of doing and one day you'll wake up and realize you spent tens of thousands of dollars on hardware when licensing Photoshop would have resulted in less than 1% of the cost.
Jun 30 13 05:35 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
David Parsons
Posts: 972
Quincy, Massachusetts, US


BTHPhoto wrote:
In the late '90s or early 2000's you could buy a 35mm "film cartridge" that had something like a 1mp sensor in it.  I remember thinking that what you're suggesting was exactly where digital was going then - we'd have a sensor customized to match portra, one customized to match TMX, one customized to match FP4+, etc. - and that it was surely only a matter of time before they produced the 120 version that would fit my Mamiya 645.

That was vaporware, and none were ever actually made.

Jun 30 13 05:39 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
BTHPhoto
Posts: 6,786
Fairbanks, Alaska, US


David Parsons wrote:
That was vaporware, and none were ever actually made.

I've never actually seen one, so you could be right, I distinctly recall two different companies, Imagetek and Silicon Film, advertising them.

Edit: seems you're correct.
http://photo.net/bboard/q-and-a-fetch-msg?msg_id=0008BW
http://www.imaging-resource.com/NEWS/1032460933.html

And there was even an April Fools version in 2011.
http://petapixel.com/2011/04/04/35mm-ca … o-digital/

Jun 30 13 05:44 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Motordrive Photography
Posts: 2,736
Lodi, California, US


David Parsons wrote:

That was vaporware, and none were ever actually made.

but they had wooden mock-ups and were just a few hundred million short in R&D tongue

Jun 30 13 05:46 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
J O H N A L L A N
Posts: 10,072
Santa Ana, California, US


BTHPhoto wrote:
...it doesn't matter how much sense it would make or whether it could be done, it would NEVER make as much money as selling brand new DSLRs that get "better" every market cycle.  As long as profit is the motive of corporations, we'll never get the chance to find out whether your idea makes sense or not.

Yep - this ^^^
The obsolescence cycle is just too attractive for camera companies. Now that they've got you on the treadmill, they'll never let consumers off.

Jun 30 13 05:50 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Jon Gilchrist
Posts: 329
South Bend, Indiana, US


I'd like to see the camera become more modular.  Reduce the body to a lens mount and a shutter/sensor assembly, then have a separate plug-in module for storage (could be SD, CF, Wireless, HD, USB, etc), another for viewfinder, another for system control.  You could update the sections you wanted, and retain the parts that still worked (has anyone ever worn out their viewfinder?).

This would certainly make weathersealing difficult, but some of us don't need weathersealing.

Many MF systems operated this way.
Jun 30 13 06:02 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Bender Of Light Photo
Posts: 2
Buford, Georgia, US


Oh, I'd love to see it, if it was done well and was cost effective.  However, it would probably be like the laptops with the "easy" to swap graphics cards.  Not an easy swap, there very few to be found, and for the cost of the ones you can find it's cheaper to buy a new laptop with the graphics card in it.
Jun 30 13 06:03 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
SKITA Studios
Posts: 1,564
Boston, Massachusetts, US


+1 Ricoh GXR.
Pretty much exactly as you described.

Digital backs in the MF world did something similar.
Jun 30 13 06:42 pm  Link  Quote 
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Photographer
Robb Mann
Posts: 10,381
Baltimore, Maryland, US


Nope. Imaging chips are tied to their processors, memory chips and other dependancies. Perhaps if we were down to one camera company it might happen...
Jun 30 13 06:51 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Digitoxin
Posts: 13,343
Houston, Texas, US


SKITA Studios wrote:
+1 Ricoh GXR.
Pretty much exactly as you described.

.

Not really.  If I recall that camera correctly, it was a lens/matched sensor module.  Only one chip to buy and you bought it with the attached lens, right?

That is different than my thought.  With my contraption, a consumer would have just a chip module and might own several of them for specific purposes.

As with lenses, the "tuned" chips would tie you closely with a particular brand making switching potentially less likely.  As new bodies came out with new features - über plus autofocus, say- you might buy a new body on a replacement cycle.  Chips would be continuously refined and new "tonalities" introduced routinely.  Continous sales.

In today's model, I am not sure that selling ONE body with a fixed chip to a consumer every four years (say) is inherently more profitable than selling one body every 6-8 years but selling a bunch of high margin chips too. 

Apart from the very real possibility that this system will never be built because of technical or financial reasons, if it ever was, I think I would be interested.  I would love to be able to swap out a color chip for a tuned b&W chip with specific ISO performance ranges rather than carry around a completely separate body (aka Leica Monochrome) .......

Jun 30 13 06:57 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
R.EYE.R
Posts: 2,796
Tokyo, Tokyo, Japan


There was a digital film roll design presented some time ago, which would allow it to be used in any 35mm camera.
I don't see much realism in the proposition though..
Jun 30 13 08:05 pm  Link  Quote 
Artist/Painter
The3LivingAndThe3Dead
Posts: 963
Los Angeles, California, US


sounds like a good idea
Jun 30 13 08:10 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Gary Melton
Posts: 6,391
Dallas, Texas, US


Remember you heard it here FIRST...this is what the next BIG thing in digital cameras will be:

                             Liquid Sensor Pixels!

Here's the way it will work - the camera will have a thin empty "tank" in it in place of the sensor...that you will fill it with the appropriate "liquid sensor pixels" (LSPs) - and there will be a variety of them available.  They'll have different sensitivities, different levels of sharpness, different bokeh algorithms, different color patterns, etc.  When you need different characteristics, you simply drain the "tank" and pour in different "LSPs".

Once these "LSPs" cameras are even somewhat perfected, all camera improvement development will cease pretty much completely...and a whole new world of "LSPs" development will become the "next big thing" - with thousands of variations for EVERY occasion being available within 2 years of the first cameras hitting the market.

The GIANT of this whole new world will be a newly created division of Holga...
Jun 30 13 08:33 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Raoul Isidro Images
Posts: 6,143
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia


Money:
The manufactures became smarter and held back features that were already there and released them in trickles. They would loose income by just churning out replaceable sensors.

Alignment and Focus Accuracy:
Even modern cameras need AF fine tuning after the factory process. Today's tolerances of new lenses against high capacity sensors require very precise alignment and adjustment. A plug in sensor just won't make the cut.

.
Jun 30 13 08:42 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
AVD AlphaDuctions
Posts: 10,533
Gatineau, Quebec, Canada


of course I want to drop in a newer better sensor and have it crippled by old buffers, processors, data paths and lack of tomorrow's USB HDMI or other standards... or lack of support for the new CF or SD data modes to support the new cards that you really should be using with the new chips.  remember all the hardware thats in the camera that cannot be upgraded by firmware except within the limitations of the hardware.

yes. makes perfect sense to me.
Jul 01 13 07:47 am  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Christopher Hartman
Posts: 54,145
Buena Park, California, US


Digitoxin wrote:
Can anyone envision a day when we are able to swap the sensor in a dSLR, Mirrorless, or rangefinder camera like we swapped film?  Will chips ever get cheap enough that a camera maker will create a line of chips tuned for certain tasks?

B&W tuned for low ISO settings
B&W tuned for high ISO settings
Infrared
Various pixel counts
Various tonalities (replicating certain films for instance).

Each chip could simply be swapped into the camera as needed. 

This day is likely many years off .  I can see this day but I am wondering if anyone would buy into a system like this (inexpensives chips, swappable, no need to buy a new body for each type of tuned chip)?

Would ya?

Why not?  Samsung is allowing for upgrading our TVs big_smile  maybe some day...

Jul 01 13 07:51 am  Link  Quote 
Photographer
R Michael Walker
Posts: 11,985
Costa Mesa, California, US


Red can already do that. So all you need is beaucoup bucks and the future you want is already here. Epic!
Jul 01 13 08:02 am  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Piscis Noctis
Posts: 11,007
Santa Clara, California, US


Jon Gilchrist wrote:
I'd like to see the camera become more modular.  Reduce the body to a lens mount and a shutter/sensor assembly, then have a separate plug-in module for storage (could be SD, CF, Wireless, HD, USB, etc), another for viewfinder, another for system control.  You could update the sections you wanted, and retain the parts that still worked (has anyone ever worn out their viewfinder?).

This would certainly make weathersealing difficult, but some of us don't need weathersealing.

Many MF systems operated this way.

I think RED might be doing something along the lines you want ...
It's a bit expensive tho ...
http://www.red.com/products

(I was slow, see post above.)

Jul 01 13 08:46 am  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Michael Zahra
Posts: 1,098
Toronto, Ontario, Canada


Gary Melton wrote:
Remember you heard it here FIRST...this is what the next BIG thing in digital cameras will be:

                             Liquid Sensor Pixels!

Here's the way it will work - the camera will have a thin empty "tank" in it in place of the sensor...that you will fill it with the appropriate "liquid sensor pixels" (LSPs) - and there will be a variety of them available.  They'll have different sensitivities, different levels of sharpness, different bokeh algorithms, different color patterns, etc.  When you need different characteristics, you simply drain the "tank" and pour in different "LSPs".

Once these "LSPs" cameras are even somewhat perfected, all camera improvement development will cease pretty much completely...and a whole new world of "LSPs" development will become the "next big thing" - with thousands of variations for EVERY occasion being available within 2 years of the first cameras hitting the market.

The GIANT of this whole new world will be a newly created division of Holga...

No.  Thixotropy.

Jul 01 13 09:00 am  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Gary Melton
Posts: 6,391
Dallas, Texas, US


Michael Zahra wrote:
No.  Thixotropy.

Well...thixotropic yogurt to put a finer edge to it...

Jul 01 13 10:08 am  Link  Quote 
Photographer
J O H N A L L A N
Posts: 10,072
Santa Ana, California, US


Gary Melton wrote:
Remember you heard it here FIRST...this is what the next BIG thing in digital cameras will be:

                             Liquid Sensor Pixels!

Here's the way it will work - the camera will have a thin empty "tank" in it in place of the sensor...that you will fill it with the appropriate "liquid sensor pixels" (LSPs) - and there will be a variety of them available.  They'll have different sensitivities, different levels of sharpness, different bokeh algorithms, different color patterns, etc.  When you need different characteristics, you simply drain the "tank" and pour in different "LSPs".

Once these "LSPs" cameras are even somewhat perfected, all camera improvement development will cease pretty much completely...and a whole new world of "LSPs" development will become the "next big thing" - with thousands of variations for EVERY occasion being available within 2 years of the first cameras hitting the market.

The GIANT of this whole new world will be a newly created division of Holga...

And you won't be able to purchase LSPs, they will only be available for use via a never-ending monthly subscription. If you stop paying, you're existing LSPs will cease functioning.

Jul 01 13 10:18 am  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Photos by Lorrin
Posts: 6,983
Eugene, Oregon, US


No

can you image trying to use the processing power in a Nikon D70 with the 24 megapixel image out of the D7100

It would be slow and would not have the new firmware to handle new advances in image processing.

Can you imagine using Photoshop 6 on a 283 machine - same problem
Jul 01 13 10:37 am  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Bob Helm Photography
Posts: 18,199
Cherry Hill, New Jersey, US


Cameras are designed as a system and just changing the sensor is like putting a Corvette engine in a Miata without doing anything to the suspension and brakes. Sounds good on paper but ...
Jul 01 13 10:40 am  Link  Quote 
Photographer
SKITA Studios
Posts: 1,564
Boston, Massachusetts, US


Digitoxin wrote:
Not really.  If I recall that camera correctly, it was a lens/matched sensor module.  Only one chip to buy and you bought it with the attached lens, right?

That is different than my thought.  With my contraption, a consumer would have just a chip module and might own several of them for specific purposes.

Yes.  The GXR was a P&S w/ a similar concept so the lens was included.
The closest thing to what you're thinking of really is a digital back.  It has to be designed as a system as someone mentioned (big ass sensor plus slow processor = crappy performance, so you're going to at minimum have a sensor plus processor).

But the main issue is that will scuttle your idea is the mechanical tolerances involved.  It was hard to get digital backs perfectly aligned.  The D800 sensor will lose focus if you slightly dent your mounting flange by bumping a lens into it.

Jul 01 13 11:08 am  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Kincaid Blackwood
Posts: 23,364
Atlanta, Georgia, US


That limits options. You're better off making such tweaks and customizations after they've downloaded.
Jul 01 13 12:01 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
pdxROCKpix
Posts: 118
Hillsboro, Oregon, US


No. I work In the semiconductor industry and I can't see a way to package the chip where it would be user changeable and yet protected enough to not ruin it and still perform properly. It's not like swapping a CPU in your computer, which many people can't do without ruining something.
Jul 01 13 12:12 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Michael DBA Expressions
Posts: 3,181
Lynchburg, Virginia, US


OK, I just gotta ask: in what way is swapping sensors remotely analogous to swapping film???

The analogous swap would be to trade memory cards. And given the ease of sharing images and the technical difficulties in trading cards -- to avoid problems, one needs to reformat the card before shooting anything -- I don't see a reason to attempt such a thing.
Jul 01 13 02:03 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Digitoxin
Posts: 13,343
Houston, Texas, US


pdxROCKpix wrote:
No. I work In the semiconductor industry and I can't see a way to package the chip where it would be user changeable and yet protected enough to not ruin it and still perform properly. It's not like swapping a CPU in your computer, which many people can't do without ruining something.

How does the medium format backs do it?

Jul 01 13 02:08 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
pdxROCKpix
Posts: 118
Hillsboro, Oregon, US


Digitoxin wrote:

How does the medium format backs do it?

it's a completely different design, cost point and level of maintenance.

are you willing to have your DSLR double in size just to be able to swap the sensors? Pay 5x as much just for the sensor? Pay 5x as much to have it maintained and repaired?

DSLR is what it is because it provides a high quality image from a relatively compact size that is easy to use and maintain. being able to swap sensors would take away many if not all of those advantages.

you are talking about two completely different systems.

Jul 01 13 02:22 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Digitoxin
Posts: 13,343
Houston, Texas, US


Michael DBA Expressions wrote:
OK, I just gotta ask: in what way is swapping sensors remotely analogous to swapping film???

The analogous swap would be to trade memory cards. And given the ease of sharing images and the technical difficulties in trading cards -- to avoid problems, one needs to reformat the card before shooting anything -- I don't see a reason to attempt such a thing.

Film had certain characteristics, sensitivities, and tonalities.  You swapped film to acheive specific results. Chips could too.

Can you envision a chip that rendered images like velvia?  Or how about something that we haven't considered?

Can you envision a chip that was tuned amazingly well to get rich blacks but only in an ISO range of 50 - 400 and another tuned to provide amazing results at 3200 -12,800?

The chip sees the light.  The memory card just stores it as 0's and 1's.

Does that answer your question?

Jul 01 13 02:25 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Digitoxin
Posts: 13,343
Houston, Texas, US


pdxROCKpix wrote:
it's a completely different design, cost point and level of maintenance.

are you willing to have your DSLR double in size just to be able to swap the sensors? Pay 5x as much just for the sensor? Pay 5x as much to have it maintained and repaired?

DSLR is what it is because it provides a high quality image from a relatively compact size that is easy to use and maintain. being able to swap sensors would take away many if not all of those advantages.

you are talking about two completely different systems.

Yes, it is a different design.  The cost point is based on the size of the sensor and current manufacturing costs.  In the future, dSLR chips might fall markedly in price.... Say $15 each wholesale.

There are many people, including myself, who cannot see a way to do something.  Yet, often times I am wrong and people invent a way to do things that I would not have thought possible. The "digital film cartridge" that never came to fruition might be a starting point that was simply before its time.  Or, perhaps not.

I guess the point here is that, base on our experience in the tech industry, you don't see that we will "ever" (I.e. never) be able to swap a sensor like we could swap film in something about the size of a current dSLR (or smaller). I am not sure that I think we will either.  But, if it is ever created, I think I would be an interested customer.

Jul 01 13 02:34 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
pdxROCKpix
Posts: 118
Hillsboro, Oregon, US


Digitoxin wrote:

Yes, it is a different design.  The cost point is based on the size of the sensor and current manufacturing costs.  In the future, dSLR chips might fall markedly in price.... Say $15 each wholesale.

There are many people, including myself, who cannot see a way to do something.  Yet, often times I am wrong and people invent a way to do things that I would not have thought possible. The "digital film cartridge" that never came to fruition might be a starting point that was simply before its time.  Or, perhaps not.

I guess the point here is that, base on our experience in the tech industry, you don't see that we will "ever" (I.e. never) be able to swap a sensor like we could swap film in something about the size of a current dSLR (or smaller). I am not sure that I think we will either.  But, if it is ever created, I think I would be an interested customer.

Bigger chips are actually easier to make. This is to me of the ironic parts of the mid size sensor costs. The pixel density of a mid sensor is actually less than say a D800 sensor. It is MUCH harder to manufacture the higher density, smaller sensor.

Jul 01 13 03:56 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Jakov Markovic
Posts: 1,124
Belgrade, Central Serbia, Serbia


MEDIUM FORMAT.

The end.
Jul 01 13 04:19 pm  Link  Quote 
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