Difference between Nikon (Sony) and Canon sensors?

One_Oh_FourOne_Oh_Four Posts: 70Member
edited March 2015 in General Discussions
I've read a couple of times that the architecture of Canon sensors is somehow somewhat more "old fashioned" than those Sony sensors that Nikon uses? And that we see that in the dynamic range. But I wonder, what is the difference in build then? I would think that a CMOS sensor = a CMOS sensor and that only the sizes of the photosites would be different as would be the image processor that turns the raw sensor signal into a digital file?


  • PB_PMPB_PM Posts: 4,494Member
    Since nobody here has the actual design specs of the given sensors, it would be hard for us to say. Needless to say there are different designs and technology being used. Canon's sensors are all made in house by Canon engineers, since it has it's own fabs. Nikon on the other hand sources sensors from Sony (All FX bodies), Toshiba (all current DX bodies) and Aptina (some older D3xxx series bodies).

    CMOS is simply a sensor type, and does not tell the entire story of how the sensor functions, nor the firmware and electric hardware behind the images we see.
    If I take a good photo it's not my camera's fault.
  • SportsSports Posts: 365Member
    I think PB_PM describes pretty well that it's hard to guess the exact reason why Canon is behind on dynamic range.
    Maybe Canon can't or won't use a "back-illuminated sensor", but do all others really use this technique, and is this what makes the difference?

    A few words on the "oldness" of Canon's process:
    Canon uses a 0.5 um process. (This number is strongly related to the smallest possible dimensions on the chip.)
    Others use newer processes that allow smaller features. Could be 0.18 um.
    This is probably not as important as it sounds for an image sensor, as you want the pixels much larger, something like 5 um. So pixels themselves don't directly benefit from smaller dimensions being possible.

    CPUs, RAM, and flash memory need much smaller dimensions, and Canon's "Digic" is definitely using a much newer process.
    It's expensive to upgrade a factory to a newer (smaller) process, so that's probably why Canon keeps its sensor process at 0.5 um.
    D300, J1
    Sigma 70-200/2.8, 105/2.8
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  • One_Oh_FourOne_Oh_Four Posts: 70Member
    Thanks for your insights, guys or gals!
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