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Gear Rumors

Canon & Sony To Team Up On 50MP Sensor via Patent Sharing?

By Anthony Thurston on January 28th 2015

Now this, this is what I call a juicy rumor. The latest buzz in the Sony and Canon rumor mills is that the next round of high megapixel sensors for both companies, will be produced through a joint venture.

28-megapixel-aps-c-cmos-image-sensor_2 According to the report, published both on Canon Watch and Canon Rumors, the new 50MP sensors that we have been hearing so much about from Canon and Sony, are actually the same sensor. The rumor states that by way of a patent share, Canon would get the benefit of Sony’s sensor design and Sony would get the advantage of Canon’s Dual Pixel AF, the resulting 50MP sensor would be used in both companies’ high megapixel bodies.

I don’t know about you, but that sounds like the best of both worlds. If you are a Canon shooter, you get a HUGE increase in dynamic range and sensor quality, while retaining the awesome abilities of the Dual Pixel AF. If you are a Sony shooter, you gain the advanced AF ability of the Dual Pixel AF (something we know many mirrorless offerings still struggle with), while maintaining your superb sensor performance.


It almost feels like one of those too good to be true sort of rumors, and given that it is being reported as coming from a new, anonymous source, plenty of salt is needed for this rumor feast. That said, how freaking awesome would this be?

I am curious what this would mean for Canon’s sensor fab though, if Sony was producing the sensor, that means no work for the Canon sensor fab. This is worth noting because of the incredible investment that fab is/was from Canon, I find it hard to believe that they would completely shutter it.

[REWIND: Major Canon Announcements Coming Next Week?]

Once they started using Sony sensors, the fact is they simply could not go back to their own – unless they managed to take some things they learned from the Sony sensors and were able to improve the quality of their own.

Regardless, this is an important year for Canon. If they manage it correctly, they can retain their place at the top of the pyramid. But if they screw it up, they could get so far behind the mirrorless competition that there is no way to catch up…

What are your thoughts on this Canon/Sony sensor partnership rumor? Is it too good to be true? Would you like to see it happen? Leave a comment below and let us know what you think!

[via Canon Watch]

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Anthony Thurston is a photographer based in the Salem, Oregon area specializing in Boudoir. He recently started a new project, Fiercely Boudoir to help support the growing boudoir community. Find him over on Instagram. You may also connect with him via Email.

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Jeremy Giles

    This is the second time I’ve heard the 50MP sensor thing thrown around. Am I the only one that thinks that this sounds kind of like medium format?

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  2. Stephane Fortin

    With 50mp, I wonder how the lens will handle this..
    The Canon EF 50mm f/1.2L USM has the equivalent shrpness of 15mpx for exemple. (DXO Mark)

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  3. Robert Moura


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  4. Maarten de Boer

    As it said on the CanonRumors site (for a few times now), take this with a TRUCK of salt. Though this wouldn’t be impossible, I don’t think this will be a good thing for the market when everyone is using Sony sensors with or without their own additions. Canon is more than able to produce their own sensors so I see no reason why they wouldn’t in the next era of CMOS sensors.

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    • Jean-Francois Perreault

      I agree that Canon is able to produce their own sensor so this partnership is a little surprising to me.
      But maybe it’s not a long term thing. Maybe Canon just needs a couple of years until they manage to get better D.R? And since I believe they can’t “afford” to release another sensor that’s already beaten by almost everyone else, maybe they decided to go with Sony in a short term partnership? That would be better than getting hammered for releasing another “inferior” sensor.

      Although we should take it with a grain of salt, a few rumors seem to point into this direction as well. One of them suggests that the EOS M3 would have 24MP. Sony’s A6000 is 24MP. Does it mean it’ll get the A6000’s sensor?

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  5. robert garfinkle

    So, is that a weakness of Nikon, autofocus, or is it a strength of Canon..

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  6. aaron febbo

    Someone at Canon read this article and if you guys are not working with Sony make the moves to work with Sony and make the rumor a reality ! Id love to see a Canon/Sony sensor! Great autofocus with and increase in dynamic range …. what more could you ask for ? Don’t need the megapixel count to at 50 but then again it wouldn’t hurt ;)

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  7. Arnold Ziffel

    Interesting news. I’m still wondering why no other manufacturers have “poached” the NX1 sensor from Samsung. Seems like a logical move to me for someone like, say Pentax.

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  8. Tosh Cuellar

    “completely shutter it” ha I see what you did there… seriously though, good article, would be a sweet deal for both sides and consumers

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  9. robert garfinkle

    question? didn’t Nikon and Sony do similar…

    interesting though… why is it, if Sony did partner with Nikon ( or Canon for that matter ) that Canon and / or Nikon consistently get ranked higher than Sony on sites like DXO? Unless there is something I am not aware of ( DXO-wise ). Meaning – if Sony sensors are being used in Nikon / Canon you’d think Sony would be top dog, right?

    I am looking for resolution to these details – please set my information straight. thanks.

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    • Justin Haugen

      question for your question. Does the camera processor/software have any effect on DXO scores, as well as the lenses used?

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    • Justin Haugen

      Hearing all these 50mp rumors lately regarding the new 5D mk4 has been unexciting, but potentially having the dynamic range from Sony sensors is really what I want to see. I hope this comes to fruition.

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    • Anthony Thurston

      The sensor only collects the information, the processors are what do the heavy lifting in regards to how it processes the information from the sensor. That is where the difference between separate cameras with the same sensor come in.

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    • robert garfinkle

      I agree, 50mp does not interest me really, D.R. is the ticket, right?

      I mean, don’t get me wrong, I own a D810, yet let it be known that it was not the 36mp that moved me to it. Although the 36mp is a nice to have for sure, would never kick it out of the darkroom if you know what I mean – and I will say, just unprecedented detail, that does move me…

      but generally MP is not a high priority… for me, 1. DR, 2. ISO latitude (before perceptible noise) – which means I do not care if the sensor has a native high ISO of 409k etc, if it’s noisy (and it’d probably always be, right) then it does not interest me – though note I did go after the D810 for low ISO 64, 3. shutter speed capability, 4. FPS, 5. MP, 6. Battery Life, 7. Movie making capability (don’t really care), and last, 8. wireless..

      really, not included in the list is button / feature ergonomics but that is important – very important.

      There are other nice to haves I suppose, but overall image quality / capability – that’s the most important..

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    • robert garfinkle

      @ ANTHONY – So, what I’m hearing is, that Canon / Nikon do it better, right?

      here, and please correct me if I am mistaken – I’ll share the D7000 vs. Sony A77 story…

      while most people, at that time, were drooling over the a77’s 12fps and the fact that you could practically submerge the camera underwater (saw a video of this) and the camera would live / do just fine… There seemed to be an issue with usable ISO range (from 100 to 800 before perceptible noise) in the a77, which for me stated a couple of things, and again, please correct my thinking (open to it), that if I were an a77 owner, in order to avoid perceptible noise, I would have to either throw all sorts of dollars at low light (fast) lenses for that camera or be very well lit situations – that I see as a major limitation.

      Now, the D7000 at that time had a very high latitude between perceptible noise, which was great to know…

      Now, we are lightyears from those two cameras right, but that’s when I entered the photography scene and starting to go online for information. Plus when the D7000 was ranked at DXO in the neighborhood of a 7 from the top vs. the a77’s 17 or 21 spot, not sure which one, it was really overall dynamic range that placed them not so much ISO yet noticed the a77 limitation…

      at any rate, with the exception of the A7R, Nikon is nicely clustered at the top – don’t get me wrong, there will be a day when that’ll all change, and probably sooner than I think, where Nikon will plummet, but I think they will not be out of the running for long and punch to the top…

      also, I’m not a DXO-head per se, although it seems so, but do use it as a measuring stick from the sense of sensor tests (and I suppose it’d be DXO-tainted tests) but seems to be fair just the same…

      This does not mean I would run out and get a Sony if they punch to the top, not just because I have an investment in Nikon, but like Nikon’s approach (even in the few years I’ve been snappin’ pix), and do not like Sony’s general business approach…

      It’s all in the math

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    • David Hall

      Great question Robert. Yes, that would be responsible to think Sony would be on top.

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    • Matthew Saville

      What many people here are forgetting is that Canon is just a little bit of R&D away from truly perfecting its mRAW and sRAW modes. Or, I could say, they’re about as likely to deliver perfect mRAW / sRAW in their next camera, as they are to match Nikon’s DR in their next camera.

      If this is the case, mRAW will give you a gorgeous, low-noise ~24 megapixel file, and sRAW will give you Sony A7S-like ~12 megapixels, perfectly pixel-binning to 4K resolution.

      It’s a long shot to think they can perfect the per-pixel acuity and deep-shadow banding in their mRAW and sRAW modes, but then again shadow banding something that Canon has struggled with even at their sensors’ full resolutions.

      All in all, I don’t see 50 MP as being a bad thing at all, if Canon can do it right. They get to satisfy the crowd that wants a Nikon D810 killer, and they get to satisfy the ~20 MP wedding & portrait shooters, as well as the ~12 MP action sports shooters and 4K videographers.

      The real question is, why the heck are they doing different versions, didn’t Nikon already figure out that doesn’t work? This is going to be like the D800 + D800e release all over again… Then again, Canon has very little experience in the “sans AA filter” realm, whereas Nikon has put it into 100% of its high-MP DSLRs now…

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  10. Bill Bentley

    If it’s a patent share then couldn’t Canon also manufacture the sensors in their production facilities? There may need to be some retrofitting, but maybe not. If the sensor is to be used in several upcoming models then maybe demand requires more than one fabrication facility.

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    • Anthony Thurston

      That is possible. I think it would require an upgrade of the facility though, if I recall it is using rather dated technology currently.

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  11. Basit Zargar

    Happy for them :)

    Hope they make any masterpiece

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