Why are there no large sensor camcorders?

Discussion in 'Digital Video' started by tsuru, Mar 4, 2009.

  1. tsuru macrumors member

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    Dec 14, 2008
    #1
    Hey, I have a question regarding camcorders. That is, why are there so few camcorders with large (i.e. APS-C) size sensors? I know that RED has their pro cameras but in the consumer camcorder market there are none that I know of. I was just curious since it is possible as RED has shown, and the Nikon D90, Canon 5D Mark II, and Panasonic Lumix GH1 all can record video in addition to their photo functions but beyond that there are no camcorders with equivalent size sensors. Is there some technical barrier preventing manufacturers from building large sensor camcorders? Or is it pure marketing to prevent cannibalizing the sales of their other products (which I wouldn't be surprised at at all)?
     
  2. FF_productions macrumors 68030

    FF_productions

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    #2
    I'm thinking it simply costs a lot for a large sensor chip camera. The Mark II is a new adventure along with the D90 (which I own). The movie modes on those cameras were an afterthought, and they didn't want to spend too much time on it because the Photographers are who they are after.

    PLUS, Canon doesn't want to annihilate their own video division by making the Mark 2 the ultimate camera. (Nikon doesn't have a video division, they have a chance at making a big splash with their D90 successor).

    With the current recession, things are kinda slowing down, but with time you will start to see companies step up to the plate after they've seen the kind of quality that can be achieved with a Mark II.
     
  3. tsuru thread starter macrumors member

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    #3
    Thanks for the reply. Yeah, I also thought that out of all the manufacturers, Nikon's the most likely to put out something that will really spur the competition so that's something to look forward to.
     
  4. FF_productions macrumors 68030

    FF_productions

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    #4
    yeah panasonic announced the Lumix GH1, but it's very much a consumer camera, with a smaller sensor than the D90 (I think half the size?), I'm not impressed with that camera.

    Things are very interesting in the video world, you'll see some more hybrid SLR/Video cameras. Like I said, the recession is effecting things, RED is delaying the scarlet because of a slowing economy.
     
  5. KeithPratt macrumors 6502a

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    #5
    I'm not sure there's as big a market for them as people think. Or at least that's what many of the big video camera manufacturers think. Red are a company that appear to beg to differ — but they probably don't expect to sell as many Scarlets as Sony will EX3s. The corporate video market, where the bulk of prosumer sales go, don't necessary need the additional dynamic range a larger sensor offers, and shallow depth of focus is not a universally attractive thing. It's often more of a worry as far as focus is concerned than it is an aesthetic preference.

    I think the stills cameras with movie modes are Nikon, Canon and Panasonic dipping their toes in the water. They'll gauge the reception the video mode on these cameras gets and make their future product decisions from there.

    Oh, and I think there are some technical challenges with the affordable APS-C and larger CMOS sensors found in digital stills cameras. Rolling shutters, overheating, etc. And in using those there's also the issue of in-camera scaling so that the resolution fits anything approaching acceptable size (Red output natively or window and the Canon pixel-bins, which is far from ideal).
     
  6. tsuru thread starter macrumors member

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    Dec 14, 2008
    #6
    Yeah, I think one of the biggest limitations of the GH1 is it's 2x crop factor which renders a lot of Nikon and Canon lenses useless in many situations. I think my dream camera would be: APS-C size sensor, interchangeable lenses (Nikon/Canon mount), all the basic manual controls and options, Super 8/pistol grip like camera body, and all built like a Leica M8. Hehe, well maybe not that last one but one can always hope that eventually manufacturers will ditch plastic for a material like aluminum.
     
  7. tsuru thread starter macrumors member

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    #7
    After thinking about it for a while, although the 2x crop factor limits you in terms of fast wide angle lenses, on the other hand, you have all of Leica's M mount lenses to use as well as those made by Cosina and whoever else makes M mount lenses. So that opens up a whole range of high quality manual lenses. And I wouldn't think the lenses being manual would be a problem since anyone relatively serious about video would be doing everything manually anyway. Just a thought.
     
  8. FX120 macrumors 65816

    FX120

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    #8
    The larger the sensor, the more complicated everything becomes, and the more costly the end product becomes.

    They do exist, in the digital cinema realm.

    But in the world of video, there really isn't too much of a need. $50,000 HD broadcast cameras that use "only 2/3" sensors deliver world class video quality for virtually any application you'll run into in the video realm.

    Also, one of the biggest problems with large sensors for video cameras is the shallow DOF by default. While on DSLR systems where there are dedicated AF sensors that can allow for fast and precise focus, video systems require on using the imaging sensor itself to lock focus. With smaller sensors this is much easier since you've got feet to play with, AF can be fairly fast and sloppy. Larger sensors and their very shallow DOF require much much more precision, and because of that AF will be very slow, almost unuseable.
     
  9. LethalWolfe macrumors G3

    LethalWolfe

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    #9
    Still camera lenses don't make very robust film/video lenses though because the mechanics inside still camera lenses aren't made to as tight of tolerances. A video/film lens is designed so that the operator can smoothly adjust the iris, focus, or zoom while shooting. A still camera lens is not.


    Lethal
     
  10. tsuru thread starter macrumors member

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    Dec 14, 2008
    #10
    Ah, thanks FX120 and Lethal for the informative posts. I'm not very knowledgeable in the technical engineering aspects of cameras but with your posts you make the restraints of still imaging gear nice and clear.

    Although, I imagine there will still be a pretty large market for cameras such as the GH1 since many people seem to be making due with still image lenses via 35mm adaptors. Also, for the video enthusiast market that these cameras are aimed at, I doubt that the people that will use these are as particular when it comes to lens precision control. Compared to the consumer camcorders out there, these would probably be just as good if not better.
     
  11. LethalWolfe macrumors G3

    LethalWolfe

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    #11
    Yes, there are definitely many people using still camera lens w/35mm adapters, and even with the Red One, so it's not like they are impossible to use or anything like that. They can just be limited in comparison to video/film lenses. Depending on shooting requires though the limitations can range from 'not a big deal' to 'completely impractical' so like so many other things in this world, horses for courses.


    Lethal
     
  12. Chris7 macrumors 6502

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    #12
    I'm thinking this is one of the main reasons -- it's not in their interest to make better camcorders or they screw up their whole line. Very frustrating.

    I was wondering why low light sensitivity doesn't seem to be a priority, when it seems to be at the center of the DSLR world. The video world has plenty of lighting on the set. But I wonder... Do pros care about low light sensitivity when making documentaries, or news shows, for example? Or do they just bring their lights?
    It looks like the photosites of the Scarlet 2/3" are going to be around one third the size (surface area) of the the photosites on the RED One. Darn. All else being equal, would a sensor with potosites 1/3 smaller mean a stop and a half less low light sensitivity?
    I’ve been wasting time recently reading about this Micro Three Fourths thing, once I heard about the GH1. I didn’t’ know about it before, but it seems like a really good idea to use a 17mm wide sensor and make the distance from the base of the lens to the sensor half the size of the regular three fourths format, which allows for much smaller and easier to focus lenses (e.g., a one pound 10x zoom lens).

    I wonder if they just ran into more marketing problems. The whole 4/3 thing was apparently was originally geared toward those who are intimidated by or didn’t like the weight of the APS and full frame DSLRs. Panasonic could have made the GH1 a 6 megapixel camera for larger photosites, with a higher quality sensor for more low light sensitivity and less rolling shutter artifacts, and provided a much faster lens. An absolutely incredible 2 lb. camera with lens, and exactly what I want (besides the problems of the 8 bit interframe compression AVCHD, but there’s no way around that with the SDHC memory cards). But it seems not many people (besides me) would want to pay the extra one to two grand for this. Technolgy seems to be way ahead of what the manufactures are willing to give us, and it's frustrating. I donno... do the people here think?
    -Chris
     

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