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Gear Rumors

Sony Could Announce 50MP Competitor To Canon 5Ds Soon!

By Anthony Thurston on March 19th 2015

Canon kicked off the next bout of the Megapixel Wars with the announcement of their 5Ds and 5Ds  R – both 50MP monsters. But a problem with announcing things so far ahead of time is that you open the door to have your thunder stolen, and it looks like Sony could be gearing up to do just that.

Sony-full-frame-sensor

Canon’s 50MP bodies are not expected to be ready until June, but according to the latest rumors, Sony could be announcing their own 50MP body within the next month, and it is said to ‘easily outperform’ the Canon offering.

Currently, the rumors say that Sony will have two cameras utilizing this new 50MP sensor: the A7R II, which will retain the 36MP sensor in the A7R, and a new body. The new body possibly being that long rumored A9 ‘Pro’ mirrorless camera, or maybe a new flagship A mount body.

The question I have to ask though is this: Canon announced first, yes. But if they are second to market (i.e. Sony announces soon, and ships before Canon) does that make them a challenger to the Sony, or is the Sony a challenger to the Canon, regardless of when the cameras ship?

[via Sony Alpha Rumors]

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. Jesper Ek

    Find me a reliable affordable backup system first…

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  2. norman tesch

    im using 5d mk 3. i shoot multi row panoramas. most all my photos had over 20 to stich together. i already have to shrink it for my computer to process it. 50mp i dont think so

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    • Matthew Saville

      But if you had a 50 MP camera instead of a 20 MP camera, you could cut your stitching needs in more than half. (If you’re down-sizing just to process your 20+ image stitches, why are you stitching that many photos in the first place? Future aspirations or something?

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    • norman tesch

      matthew. i shoot that many because unlike most people i use my prime lenses like my 50 or my 135 mostly. i want to view my landscape as your eye sees it. if you use like 17-40 lens not only does it disstort but it also pushes your subject away from you. normally when im shooting my panos im under 40 yards away, not half mile away.

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  3. Ralph Hightower

    There are numerous things to consider when moving to massively megapixel cameras: storage media and processing power, I think that there was some famous wildlife photographer that uses Nikon lamented about the file size of the 38MB Nikon.
    PS:
    He’s named after an animal.

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    • Dave Haynie

      Oh yeah. OM-D E-M5II hires raw files are over 100MB each. I have a couple of composites I’ve done that run over 10GB each… you learn about the difference between PSD and PSB files when you get there.

      I was already doing video before I got into huge composites and cameras with crazy raw file sizes, so I have a 6TB RAID built-in on the PC, and a 16TB Drobo as an external. In fact, I just upgraded that this week — B&H has the Drobo 3 for $199 (driveless) until Monday. The difference between USB 3.0 and USB 2.0 or Firewire 800 is significant. And I archive on HTL Blu-ray and cheap SATA drives.

      It’s critical for any digital photographer to think about storage, and specifically, the fact that an HDD is probably good for about 5 years. Probably. Some of them can give you a real warning before they go into critical failure mode, but that’s not something to gamble on. RAID at least lets a drive fail (two if you get an enterprise RAID). I have a 4TB HDD on the shelf here in case one of the Drobo drives fails… the old one took about 50 hours to re-form the RAID, hope this one is faster.

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    • Dave Haynie

      And memory. Ok, not so much if you’re just editing a photo at a time. But running 40-60+ Canon 6D raw shots together, or even regular 16Mpixel OM-D shots, can really hit your memory requirements. When I built my new PC in 2013, I had stacked up a bunch of composite stitching projects that failed on the previous PC. With 64GB of RAM, I ran out of memory that very first night the PC was up — trying to do two at once.

      Processor and storage needs are pretty well shaken out by video requirements. Photography right now is the one thing I’ve found that needs huge amounts of memory. Well, that, and successfully running Microsoft’s CHKDSK on a nearly 16TB drive.

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  4. Stephen Jennings

    Poor Canon. Found out Sony was launching first so they announced first. :P

    I’d love a medium format camera.. so, Sony, if you could just stitch together two of those 36mp sensors that’d be awesome. I want 80mp. I don’t know if I’d upgrade my d800 if Nikon took the sensor and released a 50mp. 90% of my photos are online, and online all those pixels are sadly wasted.

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  5. Dave Haynie

    This wouldn’t be surprising — Sony’s probably grown used to being the megapixel champ. And Nikon as well. They can’t take that whole Canon thing lying down, now, can they.

    But not everyone needs that many pixels. It is inevitably going to affect your high ISOs and your sensor noise. As detailed in some of the Canon talk, if you make a FF sensor with pixels the size of those found on higher resolution APS sensors, you’re going to get the same level of performance as that APS sensor. Of course, noise isn’t as APPARENT when it’s deep down in a 50Mpixel image as it would be in a 20-24Mpixel APS image. But peep the same number of pixels and you ought to see the same basic noise levels.

    I’m still digging the solution Olympus did in the OM-D E-M5II, using accurate sensor shifting to build up a composite that delivers much higher effective resolution and isn’t Bayered, without any sacrifice on the basics of the sensor. But I also find that 16-20Mpixel is just dandy for most things I do.. well, ok, sometimes 60 or 80 of those in a large composite. But still…

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    • John Cavan

      If I recall correctly, Hasselblad (H3D 50 II) was the first to use sensor shift to increase resolution. The downside with it is subject movement since it was basically taking 4 shots. So it was really only good if the subject was absolutely still and you’re using a tripod.

      Having said that, Sony and Pentax have had in-body sensor shift stabilization for years and could probably do similar. Heck, Pentax was clever enough to couple sensor shift to a GPS unit in order to provide up to 5 minutes worth of Earth rotation compensation for astrophotography. Makes you wonder why they haven’t.

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    • Dave Haynie

      Yeah, Hasselblad has this in like 2012 or something. The H4D-200MS could move the sensor by full or half pixel steps — that movement was ONLY for the cool multi-shot modes. So they could do a 4-shot version that delivered a 50Mpixel true-color image (all pixels get RGB data, no Bayer sensor interpolation) in about 20 seconds or a 6-shot version that delivered a 200Mpixel result in about 30 seconds.

      The OM-D E-M5II does only an eight shot version, which captures full color for both “normal” and “half-pixel offset” positions — thus the eight shots. That takes a second to shoot, then another second or so for processing.

      Keep in mind both of these are “cheating” a little, which is why Olympus delivers a 40Mpixel JPEG, not a 64MPixel JPEG. What you get is the same as the old Fujifilm cameras with 45-degree sensors. Rather than a square pixel matrix, you have an interstitial matrix of two 16Mpixel images in the Olympus case, two 50Mpixel images in the Hasselblad case.

      F F F F F F F F
      S S S S S S S S
      F F F F F F F F
      S S S S S S S S

      You can see the issue — no simple lining up of the two images. So we interpolate neighbors:

      F f F f F f F f F f F f F f
      s S s S s S s S s S s S s S
      F f F f F f F f F f F f F f
      s S s S s S s S s S s S s S

      So now with interpolated pixels, you have a standard array, but half of the pixels are “just made up”. The raw file, of course, just stores the results of the each of the eight shots.

      So Olympus decided that above 40Mpixel, you really didn’t gain anything, so they spit out the 40Mpixel JPEG. There may be some more advanced image processing than this simple example, but that’s the basic idea.

      Olympus has been doing IBIS since 2007, Pentax since 2006, and Minolta since 2004. But according to Olympus, their earlier systems weren’t accurate enough to do the multi-shot trick. They have better motors in the E-M5II. So this isn’t getting updated into older bodies. And they also hinted that, in the future, the hires and IBIS functions should be combined, so you can actually hand-hold a very fast hires shot.

      And of course, others have done some cool IBIS tricks, too. Pentax had a mode that straightens your horizon for you, and another than slightly vibrates the sensor in video mode, so they can ship a camera without an anti-aliasing filter, but get the same basic effect (eg, a low-pass filter == a slight blur) when you want it. And their “autotracer” feature, to reduce star trails.

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  6. Matthew Saville

    Whatever Sony does, Nikon will probably take the sensor and do something even better. This has been the historical trend for years, and the A7 mk2 is just now barely catching up to the likes of the D750 and D610… The D800e and D810 beat the A7R, too.

    So, as a Nikon shooter, I’m not really that “worried”. Not that I need a 50 PM sensor anyways, lol, that’d be so pixel-dense that it would barely be worth it if I have to shoot at f/16 a lot. And I have no interest in focus-stacking every single shot I take at f/5.6 or f/8…

    Then again, the D5300 (24 MP, 1.5x crop) seems to pull detail out of f/11-16 okay, despite being noticeably less detailed than f/5.6-f/8. So it might still be popular among those types of shooters.

    I’m “done” at 24-36. 24 is more than enough for general landscape photography, and 36 is more than enough for large projects.

    Canon is the one who needs to worry, in this situation. Sony’s 50 MP sensor will likely have 2-3 stops more dynamic range than the Canon 5Ds/R, if their corporate claims about 7D mk2 / 5D mk3 performance WRT high ISO and DR (respectively) …and the Sony will probably cost half as much, give or take a few hundred bucks.

    That is downright embarrassing for Canon. You can’t have your cake and eat it too- You can’t argue that DR and high ISO just don’t matter that much to forfeit a 2-3 stop or 1-2 stop gain, in favor of a few extra megapixels. Canon is treading water in a shark tank.k

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    • Rafael Steffen

      The Dynamic range is what is going to make Nikon keep ahead of the competition.

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    • Rafael Steffen

      Where are we going with this MP war? How many people actually order a print the size of their house?

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    • adam sanford

      In good light, high MP offer *flexibility*, Rafael.

      It’s more than just for large print needs — cropping is also fantastic if you have the pixels. It’s like having a built in teleconverter in some circumstances.

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    • Ed Rhodes

      Maybe this is why Canon hasn’t released a 5D mk 4 yet? they are testing the waters with the 50MP sensor, and seeing what the competition was willing to put forth before they commit to a Mk4.

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    • adam sanford

      Don’t think so, Ed. It appears that Canon is splitting its non-sports pro FF rigs into two camps:

      5DS/5DSr are for the super high resolution camp, but all that data will hurt framerate and jamming so many pixels in there will hurt low light performance. So think of it as a ‘good light’ camera. Think studio or tripod with this one.

      The 5D4 will have a smaller sensor (rumored 24-30 MP) but a higher burst rate and better low light performance. That camera will go anywhere and do anything in any light, but at a lower resolution. I see this one aimed at events, reportage, video (4K a certainty), and not-terribly-far-away wildlife.

      It would appear that Canon is splitting its lines because you can only handle so much data. Some want to see that throughput dedicated to ultra-high-detail images, and others would prefer more frames per second or better low light performance.

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  7. Vince Arredondo

    I saw this coming…

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  8. adam sanford

    Time to market only matters if there’s a good 3-6 month gap between the two. We’ll see. Otherwise, folks will wait for tests and see which performs. Anyone who follows testing should put their money on Sony outperforming:

    1) People’s exhibits A, B, and C: D800/E/810, A7R, D750 = Sony is on a very, very good run
    2) Canon’s chief Maeda said we should expect the same pixel level performance on the 5Ds/r models as the *7D2*, which is a nice endorsement for detail but possibly a condemnation of high ISO and DR performance (we lack testing to know).
    3) The 5Ds/r conspicuously *lowered* highest ISO allowable over the 5D3 but the corporate answer to that was pretty weak, citing that pros have tighter standards on noise. (See #2 — I personally think that’s why.)

    So I expect Sony to keep up the winning streak. And yes, this coming from a Canon guy. :-P

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  9. John Cavan

    Put a Sony 50mp sensor into a Nikon D820 and I’m probably upgrading my D800.

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    • Cy Sawyer

      I’m with you on that!

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    • Cy Sawyer

      Announcements are meaningless without a release date. Whoever gets this to market first (working right) will be the first, others will all be challengers so to speak.

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    • Mac MacDonald

      If that happens, I’m selling a kidney on the black market and grabbing an 820 as a primary and another 820 as a back-up.

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    • Rafael Steffen

      Before you buy a D850 since it is going to have a 50 plus MB sensor, grab a few TB worth of Hard Drives at Best Buy.

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    • Graham Curran

      And some more RAM.

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