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Why is FF so expensive?
Why are FF cameras so expensive?Is FF that much better?What is the system most DSLR have now called?..

Comments (29)

Linslus wrote:.

Why are FF cameras so expensive?.

Because the large sensors they use are very expensive to make - probably 8-10 times more expensive than the smaller sensors most commonly used in DSLRs..

Is FF that much better?.

For some applications is can be, for others, less so..

What is the system most DSLR have now called?.

"APS-C" is the collective name applied to the smaller sensor DSLRs produced by Canon, Sigma, Nikon, Sony, and Pentax, although there are three slightly different sizes (Nikon, Sony, and Pentax use a slightly larger sensor size, Canon's is a little smaller and Sigma's is smaller still). Olympus and Panasonic use a smaller 4:3 aspect ratio sensor which is generally referred to as "Four Thirds"...

Comment #1

Im not sure I totally buy into that argument anymore&yes;, more expensive, but then you see the big sensors in even the low end MF (Mamiya) offerings and you realize that the DSLR vendors are going after the deeper pockets first until they exhaust the market or when there is more competition; it's also about recouping their R&D  then as the current target market gets thin, the FF sensors will get real cheap, real fast..

Mike..

Comment #2

Because that is the price that they believe most people are willing to pay in the intended market! most people that go looking for a FF camera are serious about thier hobbie/profession. most people in this category will lay down approx. 10,000 for their equipment. those that feel strongly about it but are a bit more money conscious will go about 1,000... etc etc...

Comment #3

What is the difference between FF and aps-c?Bigger sensor, does that mean FF is faster and more light sensitive?Is that the main advantage?..

Comment #4

1. because they are bigger that means the usually have bigger pixels then aps-c sensor which means they have better picture quality and lower noise.

2. there is no crop factor, lens on aps-c body like 450d or 40d that is 50mm will in fact be 80mm. on 5d it will be 50mm. For those who shot birds it's better to have crop then ff..

3. you can have much more megapixels on ff. Rumor is the new canon top of the line will have about 50 (48 I think is more precise...) and had the same pixel density of aps-c 12mpx sensor. Canon 1ds mark III has 22.4. Viewfinder is much bigger and brighter, and that's a big plus.

5. So yes, most of us hope and pray for cheaper ff like refurbished 5d with 16mpx, live view( dont need it, but will have it...), dust cleaning, lets say 5 fps and that it wont cost that much...

Comment #5

Given that an HD39 II is $35K and the best that DSLR lenses can resolve is something between 20 and 30 MPs (L and S glass), a 48/50MP DSLR anytime soon seems well, just a tad far fetched. I never say never but odds? A MP to one..

Mike.

Polaroid Swinger; Kodak Instamatic 126 Ricoh 500; Canon FTb; Nikon F3; Hassleblad 530CM; Pentax 67II, Nikon 990;Nikon D1x; Nikon D300; HD39 II (ok, it's next)..

Comment #6

Hasselblad h3dII has 39 mpx. (Integrated 22, 31 and 39 Mpix capture units), yes I know it's the top of the line and so are lenses but still if they can do it I have no doubt canon will think of something, but hey thats just rumors I heard, still ff can has more pixels then aps-c...

Comment #7

Linslus wrote:.

Why are FF cameras so expensive?.

The chips are much more expensive to manufacture, and therefore are only being put in professional grade bodies..

Is FF that much better?.

This is a hotly contested point. From a high ISO standpoint, yes. For control over depth of field yes. It is fairly subtle though and really depends on where and how you shoot if it is worth it for you.

What is the system most DSLR have now called?.

APS-C..

Comment #8

Poliscijustin wrote:.

Linslus wrote:.

Why are FF cameras so expensive?.

The chips are much more expensive to manufacture, and therefore areonly being put in professional grade bodies..

But isn't the cost of the sensor a very small proportion of the total cost of the camera?.

A professional-grade body may merit it's price, but there is no practical reason why an entry-level FF body could not be made at a modest price..

I suspect it is being held back by the makers as they plan the future income to be made over the next several years, the aim is to trickle out a stream of slight upgrades over an extended period of time to keep the customers buying and re-buying, rather than give out all the goodies at once.Regards,Peter..

Comment #9

Sherwoodpete wrote:.

But isn't the cost of the sensor a very small proportion of the totalcost of the camera?.

No, quite the opposite. The sensor is the single most expensive part of the camera by a good margin. Roughly 20-40% of the *cost* of a current camera with a current generation sensor as it leaves the factory is the sensor itself. All the tear down reports and economic modelling I have seen suggests this holds from the cheapest entry level DSLR right up to medium format DSLRs..

Best estimates put APS-C sized sensors in the $40-$100 range and 35mm FF sized sensors in the $400-$800 range at the sort of volumes we see today. That price difference has a pretty major impact on how much it will cost to make a FF DSLR and how much it will have to sell for to recoup r&d, engineering and marketing expenses and have enough margin that everyone from manufacturer to retailer makes some money...

Comment #10

The sensors all cost about the same. the ONLY difference in price it that they can produce fewer in a given time of the bigger sensor. my guess would be a cost difference of aout 1.6, as that is the difference in area between FF and aps-c. what you have to realize is that the price for the camera has NOTHING to do with production cost and EVERYTHING do do with what the consumer will pay for it...

Comment #11

My understanding (granted, it is only from folks eslewhere on these forums) is that the bigger the sensor, the more the cost goes up because 1. You can't fit as many of them on a wafer during the fabrication process (half the number of APS-C for example) and because the percentage discarded for flaws is higher (the bigger the sensor, the more chance of a random error in the wafer ruining it). I've seen claimed several times that a FF costs somewhere north of 500 bucks to manufacture, whereas APS-C sensors are in the 30-50 dollar range. If the sensor is 500 bucks, and both the MFG and retailer need to return at least a little profit, for the time being, FF is about where it needs to be price wise to make it pfofitable. You'd still be looking at like a 2K rebel or 40D at this point, although supposedly MFG costs are coming down on these. These figures are all hearsay and not my own, so I can't vouch for their credibility, other than they struck me as pretty plausible..

Then there is the cost benefit side of things. From what I can gather from reviews and the half hour I spent with a D3 (making me a huge expert  ) the differences between FF and APS-C are fairly subtle. Not on par with the differences between an ultra compact and a APS-C. Maybe 3 stops better High ISO perofrmance, a little more DOF control, a little more dynamic range. With the price premium on the chips, I'm not sure that users at the lower end would be willing to pay for these sort of modest gains. In our shop, customers are pretty price sensitive until you get to the folks who are like d300/5D buyers.

This chunk of the market is probably 80-90% of canon and nikon sales, and very few of them have even heard the term full frame. They wouldn't spend an extra 75 bucks for it if it were that cheap..

Comment #12

Being discussed elsewhere..

Http://www.amateurphotographer.co.uk/...;Number=641631&page=0&fpart=2.

Http://www.chipworks.com/blogs.aspx?id=4626&blogid=86.

& it looks like a 10:1 difference in sensors per wafer,before rejections due to defects...

Comment #13

PhotonFiend wrote:.

The sensors all cost about the same. the ONLY difference in price itthat they can produce fewer in a given time of the bigger sensor. myguess would be a cost difference of aout 1.6, as that is thedifference in area between FF and aps-c..

You guess would be woefully incorrect..

Right now most CMOS sensors are made on either 6 or 8 inch wafers. For the 8 inch wafer case, about 25 36x24mm sensors fit on a wafer (the exact number will depend a little on the design and the complexity of the test area). For "DX" (24*16mm) size sensors, the number is about 75, for Canon "APS-C" it is a little higher still. That instantly gives a roughly three times cost advantage per wafer to smaller sensors of similar complexity made in the same fab..

Then there is the question of yield. A single, uncorrectable defect on the product portion of an 8 inch wafer of DX sensors results in a yield loss of 1.3% (ie one sensor in 75). For FF, it results in a yield loss of 4% (ie. 1 sensor in 25). The yield of FF sensors is (and will always be) lower than APS-C..

But it doesn't stop there. Right now, nobody (not Nikon, not Canon, not AMSL) has a mixed device stepper design which can expose a full 36x24mm sensor mask in a single step. This means that FF sensors require multiple exposures and stitching during each photolithography pass. Stitching is complex, less efficient and reduces yield. Stepper productivity is considerably lower (approaching 50%) for FF sensors. This is is problem that someone with enough money (probably half a billion dollars or so) could make go away, but I doubt anybody will, because sensor volumes just don't justify such an extraordinary capital investment..

Then there are all the other costs associated with making sensors that are directly proportional to area, like test and inspection, filtration and microlens installation, packaging..

The ratio of cost between FF and APS-C today is about 8-10 times. It is not 1.6 times, and it never will be,.

What you have to realize isthat the price for the camera has NOTHING to do with production costand EVERYTHING do do with what the consumer will pay for it..

Perhaps in a parallel universe where semiconductor fabrication is boundless and basic manufacturing economics don't apply, but not here and now. You might find the old Canon full frame whitepaper that accompanied the 5D release informative:.

Http://www.robgalbraith.com/...ic_files/Canon_Full-Frame_CMOS_White_Paper.pdf.

It has a number of factual errors and was written by someone from marketing, rather than an engineer, but it is a pretty reasonable starting point for someone who seems to have no prior knowledge or understanding of the subject...

Comment #14

Ok, I admit my guess was based on limited analysis, but was based on reason. I think you are just as woefully wrong in the other direction. read my post below and perhaps we can agree to meet in the middle, which is probably a good mark...

Comment #15

PhotonFiend wrote:.

The sensors all cost about the same. the ONLY difference in price itthat they can produce fewer in a given time of the bigger sensor. myguess would be a cost difference of aout 1.6, as that is thedifference in area between FF and aps-c. what you have to realize isthat the price for the camera has NOTHING to do with production costand EVERYTHING do do with what the consumer will pay for it..

Not correct. Read this article in particular the section headed:.

"COST OF PRODUCING DIGITAL SENSORS".

Http://www.cambridgeincolour.com/.../tutorials/digital-camera-sensor-size.htm.

Which says the following:.

"Each sensor is cut from a larger sheet of silicon material called a wafer, which may contain thousands of individual chips. Each wafer is extremely expensive (thousands of dollars), therefore fewer chips per wafer result in a much higher cost per chip. Furthermore, the chance of an irreparable defect (too many hot pixels or otherwise) ending up in a given sensor increases with sensor area, therefore the percentage of usable sensors goes down with increasing sensor area (yield per wafer). Assuming these factors (chips per wafer and yield) are most important, costs increase proportional to the square of sensor area (a sensor 2X as big costs 4X as much). Real-world manufacturing has a more complicated size versus cost relationship, but this gives you an idea of skyrocketing costs.".

Thom Hogan has given some figures in threads on this subject recently (4-6 weeks ago at a guess). The end user price has quite a lot to do with production costs and using capital letters and guessing at costs will not change that fact..

EDIT: Aviday - Sorry I missed your post when replying which deals with the matter more comprehensively but since your post is being challenged I might as well let it stand rather than delete it!.

Chris Elliott.

*Nikon* D Eighty + Fifty - Other equipment in Profile.

Http://PlacidoD.Zenfolio.com/..

Comment #16

PhotonFiend wrote:.

Ok, I admit my guess was based on limited analysis, but was based onreason. I think you are just as woefully wrong in the otherdirection. read my post below and perhaps we can agree to meet inthe middle, which is probably a good mark..

Your post below contains a link which discusses only yield and still comes up with a factor of 10 times different in price, which is *exactly* what I have now said twice in this thread. How does this support anything you have written in this thread?.

The piece you link to does not factor in fab productivity at all, just yield. Stepper limitations and productivity are one of the biggest cost differentiators from FF to APS-C/DX right now. Canon has explicitly acknowledged they cannot expose the full 35mm FF mask in a single exposure in their fabs. They identify it as a major barrier to lower cost FF in the 5D whitepaper I linked to. Teardown analysis of the Nikon D3 has shown that Nikon's FF sensor is also stitched..

There is more to this than either you or the guy who wrote the piece you link to knows...

Comment #17

Ok consider this: say nikon completely botched the initial production of their D80 successor. this has been know to happen, does not happen often but it can happen. do you think nikon would announce to thier customers, sorry folks but due to production issues you will have to pay 5x more than normal and for the competitors equivelent until we work out the issue. thanks for your understanding and loyalty. would you pay $5000 for your D80?..

Comment #18

Oops, my mistake. I took the 1.3crop vs the FF. so thats settled. there is approximatly a 10x production cost differenct between a aps-c and full frame scensor. as far as absolute cost that is less clear. I still condend that it is much less then most would think. I will not venture a guess as I am in no possition to defend it as factual or fantasy...

Comment #19

PhotonFiend wrote:.

Oops, my mistake. I took the 1.3crop vs the FF. so thats settled.there is approximatly a 10x production cost differenct between aaps-c and full frame scensor. as far as absolute cost that is lessclear. I still condend that it is much less then most would think. Iwill not venture a guess as I am in no possition to defend it asfactual or fantasy..

So let me see if I got this straight. Your position in this thread has been.

1. There is less than 2 times difference in price between APS-C and DX sensors and sensor prices or production costs don't have much bearing on the retail price of cameras - that is arbitrarily set by the camera manufacturers as they see fit..

2. When it was pointed out your first position is deeply flawed, you admit that some elements of your first hypothesis were derived "from reason" (which I presume is code for "I just made them up") and might be slightly inaccurate, but then continue to suggest what others have suggested is still wrong..

3. You then provide a link to support you case which, in fact, completely contradicts it and agrees entirely with what at least two other people in this thread have posted..

4. You then post some barely intelligible rant which appears to contain some wildly fantastic, hypothetical gedankenexperiment about the NIkon D80. What you think it has to do with the subject at hand, I still am unsure about..

5. You finally post the above, which I presume is code for "I really don't know what I am talking about, and I didn't correctly read or interpret the material which I claim proves you and others are wrong, but I still believe you are wrong. I just can't prove it"..

Did I miss anything?..

Comment #20

Simply no reason.just "happy with higher maring" vdenor expectations..

This result a littly more higher quality overall design, some "premium" features(such as RAW) and more or less adequate IC's and firmware..

And about sensor - silicon itself - cost almost NOTHING, but package and especially testing - a littly(but no more)costly. 35mm or APS-C or 4/3 sensors - made in same silicon waffel as P&S and most P&S sensors just "DSLR Q&A drop-out" stuff sometimes. and only 4 times larger(remember - silions itself - is almost free).

Som no really reason for such HIGH differences..

P.s.other components(in DSLR) - also cheap..

And when I hear "this high-tech features in DSLR", I rarely can stop self from laugh or smiley at leas, because is - oxymoron.mass-produced goods and high-tech - exclude each...

Comment #21

Basiley wrote:.

Simply no reason.just "happy with higher maring" vdenor expectations.this result a littly more higher quality overall design, some"premium" features(such as RAW) and more or less adequate IC's andfirmware.and about sensor - silicon itself - cost almost NOTHING, but packageand especially testing - a littly(but no more)costly. 35mm or APS-Cor 4/3 sensors - made in same silicon waffel as P&S and most P&Ssensors just "DSLR Q&A drop-out" stuff sometimes. and only 4 timeslarger(remember - silions itself - is almost free).

Som no really reason for such HIGH differences..

You plainly have not bothered to read other posts in this thread which completely pull the rug out from under your feet. Basically you are saying that all camera manufactures are profiteers and that you don't care to know any facts that contradict your belief..

Chris Elliott.

*Nikon* D Eighty + Fifty - Other equipment in Profile.

Http://PlacidoD.Zenfolio.com/..

Comment #22

PhotonFiend wrote:.

Ok consider this: say nikon completely botched the initialproduction of their D80 successor. this has been know to happen,does not happen often but it can happen. do you think nikon wouldannounce to thier customers, sorry folks but due to production issuesyou will have to pay 5x more than normal and for the competitorsequivelent until we work out the issue. thanks for your understandingand loyalty. would you pay $5000 for your D80?.

What has that got to do with the price of fish?.

You seem to have lost the plot regarding this thread (and perhaps life in general)..

Chris Elliott.

*Nikon* D Eighty + Fifty - Other equipment in Profile.

Http://PlacidoD.Zenfolio.com/..

Comment #23

1. I read thread..

2. why ? simply because my answer not provde "he's suscessfuly brainwashed by me" in someone ? .

3. anway, it strictly MY IMO. I assure yours, I have reason, experience, and eggs, to have MY OPINION. My, not mass-media...

Comment #24

Basiley wrote:.

Simply no reason.just "happy with higher maring" vdenor expectations.this result a littly more higher quality overall design, some"premium" features(such as RAW) and more or less adequate IC's andfirmware.and about sensor - silicon itself - cost almost NOTHING, but packageand especially testing - a littly(but no more)costly. 35mm or APS-Cor 4/3 sensors - made in same silicon waffel as P&S and most P&Ssensors just "DSLR Q&A drop-out" stuff sometimes. and only 4 timeslarger(remember - silions itself - is almost free).

Iron is pretty much free. Price a Rolls-Royce lately?..

Comment #25

Very good example among comparsion of oil canister and space shuttly .

Andway, most pricing generations related PR-roars(especially about "how wonderfully huge sensor productions, that drives me crasy and yells "heyya !!"" similar) - quite empty.just as I describe above.intentionaly simplifed, but that's it.absolete and overpriced pieces inside shiny new cases...

Comment #26

I think Chris and Greg were too kind. .

Charlie DavisNikon 5700, Sony R1, Nikon D300HomePage: http://www.1derful.infoBridge Blog: http://www.here-ugo.com/BridgeBlog/'Experience: Discovering that a claw hammer will bend nails.Epiphany: Discovering that a claw hammer is two tools...'..

Comment #27

Boy do the insults fly when you contest the beliefs of a pro!i wont stoop to that lever..

So lets assume you are right. so that 1d costs canon about $1k. ok, from you statmens thats about $500 for the sensor and $500 for the rest. thats about right. ok so canon sells it to the dealer for $2k, and the dealer makes a whopping profit of $5k! so canon get $1k for each 1d they sell. ok follow me here, I dont know the figure but lets lay they sell 1million world wide.

Now canon to profits for 2007 where around 20billion. that means 5% of canons total profits come from the sale of this one camera! please correct any figure as you see fit to make this suit you arguments...

Comment #28

I'm gonna guess that it costs Canon $6000 to make a 1DsMk3. $4000 for the sensor. $2000 for everything else. Then they sell it to the retailer for $7000 for a $1000 profit. They sell maybe 10,000 of these a year, yielding $10 million profitrounding error on their balance sheet. These aren't mass-market cameras...

Comment #29

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