There’s a hot new rumor out there that Sony has been developing a new medium format digital camera with an Exmor image sensor that is 2 1/2 times that of full-frame. But with the ongoing processor shortage and lagging camera sales, does this news make sense?
The rumor comes from photographer Tony Northrup on YouTube. Citing an article from Sony Alpha Rumors, Northrup thinks that hasn’t sat well with Sony that Fujifilm has developed an image sensor larger with higher a pixel count packed into them.
Since Sony is a leading force in image processors, that kind of innovation threatens their dominance. To that end, the rumor is that Sony’s medium format sensor is one and a half times larger with a crop factor of .63.
Moreover, Northrup says that the image sensor may be a hemispherically curved, back-illuminated CMOS design which bends in two different directions. Digital image sensors have historically been flat, due to convenience.
In the film era, the plane of the camera was flat to lay the film on the gate easier. When image sensors came in, they were laid out in a similar flat array.
A curved sensor, however, has the advantage of improving the brightness of an image. As light projects onto the image sensor, a curved design can pick up more light from the edges, thereby improving how bright an image can become.
Consequently, a curved image sensor has the effect of canceling out the common problem known as lens field curvature aberration. While this is certainly a benefit, the design may also limit the camera to using prime lenses exclusively.
Another downside is that a curved image sensor is very difficult to manufacture. The chief issue is how to curve an image sensor without cracking or breaking. Sony has been working with a semiconductor company that has perfected the technique of heating a sensor and curving it in two different ways. That translates to a limited yield and a much more expensive price tag.
Moreover, there’s also the challenge is timing. With the current worldwide processor shortage that has been dragging down the market, plus the global pandemic that has kept people at home, the market for cameras has been lagging in sales, and manufacturing cameras and other electronics has been a serious challenge.
However, if Sony is getting into the medium format market, why? Is there that kind of demand? According to Northrup’s analysis, medium format cameras as doing well with professional photographers, with a projected growth trend in the coming years. On top of that, Sony wants to surpass Canon as the camera king, and a growing multi-category approach could be just what the doctor ordered to accomplish it.
Only time will tell, to be sure. Sony Alpha Rumors also states that Sony is working on two medium format cameras. One with a 150MP image sensor for $7500, and a second with a 200MP model for around $10,000. Northrup, however, believes the price could easily reach twice that, with the lenses fetching around $5,000.
Expect the announcement to come with a trio of prime medium format lenses sometime in June, and it may come in concert with the announcement of the Sony A7R V.
[source: Sony Alpha Rumors]
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