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Thread: something to think about....Canon semi-MF?

  1. #1
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    something to think about....Canon semi-MF?

    O.K., let me preface this by saying that I have no knowledge, leaked info, or anything else on Canon and forward plans. I just got to thinking a lot more after seeing the Leica S2 pricing and stuff.

    Do any folks think that Canon could produce something similar to the S2, but done with Canon strengths and capabilities? By this I mean does it seem feasible to maybe build a new body that could handle a sensor about the size and density of what is in the S2, and still be able to utilize the EOS mount and other features to some degree? As we have seen, the new 17mm TSE lens can throw quite an image circle, so it may be realistic to enable use of a larger sensor in a newly designed body.

    My thinking was to also create a new line of glass, call it "L+" for lack of anything more creative that would fit the EOS mount for the camera, and have stellar performance levels rivaling Leica's stuff. Canon (or even Nikon at this point) have enough depth in the 35mm DSLR market, and at the higher performance end where folks are looking for this sort of camera and glass (S2 type stuff), that they could build it.

    My thoughts are that this new camera could still utilize existing EOS mount glass, but maybe that could trigger an internal masking on the sensor back to present 35mm FF size or something, while the "L+" glass would cover the larger image circle. There may have to be some adjustments with depth mounting, etc., but that seems doable.

    Effectively, one could keep their existing glass and use it on a body that would also be able to handle higher performance glass at higher resolutions. So folks that really like the 85 f1.2L II for example, could continue to use it on this new body, still producing great results to maybe 25MP equivalent files, or drop on a new 100 f1.4L+ lens for example, and deliver to 40MP equivalent files or something. (I have not bothered to work out sizes and stuff, but just looking at where the sweet spot may be.)

    The new "L+" glass would most likely be costly, but probably nowhere near what Leica is asking for their new S-line. Even if it was close, one would not have to completely forgo existing EOS mount glass to cover things.

    The other specs could incorporate all of latest tweaks and more that we do not know about. Maybe 3-4 DIGIC VI processors if needed, fast and accurate AF over many more points than just one, image stabilization in lenses (Canon does this pretty well), etc., etc. While probably not able to handle both leaf and focal plane shutter capabilities, a 1/400s or 1/500s sync may be possible anyway, which may be enough, and avoid the leaf shutter costs and build issues. (Recall, the original 1D had 1/500s sync speed, so it is doable.) The trick may be the sensor design and fab. Nobody is doing a CMOS at that size, but has anybody tried yet? Since Canon does its own fab, it may be in a position to do that. Not going to go into the concepts of AA filter and microlenses and stuff, but at this point, it seems obvious what could possibly be done to challenge or better the MF sensors and still have the higher ISO capabilities, camera speed, etc.

    If such a beast is possible to build, it could create an entirely new ripple on the pond, and more so if the pricing were kept in line. I could see even going to $10-12K for the body, and that would still be reachable and very attractive for many if all the other pieces came together. The overall versatility would be tremendous, and permit users to buy up in glass as needed/wanted, while still having 35mm FF performance from body and existing glass.

    Anybody else see this as something possible and interesting? Let's face it, if the S2 does hit the mark for size and handling, this sort of solution might be "proven", but available at a much more reality-based cost for users.

    LJ

    P.S. I sort of chafed at the "blue collar/white collar" analogy in the Leica thread, as I see that as being a foolish line of thinking. I know a lot of folks that are considered "blue collar" workers that have and use tools that far exceed anything the "white collar" counterparts might consider. Price is a bigger practical consideration now than it may have been for a while, but that does not mean one has to scrimp on quality....this is where Canon volumes could overcome that situation easily, I would think.

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    Re: something to think about....Canon semi-MF?

    Sorry, and let me preface this by saying I am NOT that technical a person as an engineer would be, but here is my answer. No, unless you can find a format that will fit within the outer diameter of the mount and still be larger then 24x36mm which it was initially designed for. Maybe you could fit a square, 32mm x 32mm, or 35mmx 35mm, but I doubt that anything even close to a medium format 35x45+ could be managed. Now, if they changed the size of the opening closer to the flange diameter of the S2, with an entire new line of lens mount lenses, sure. It is not just that, the lenses, current EF mount lenses are made to function with a 35mm based format, the mirror box, shutters, etc, the whole ball of wax would have to be bigger to fit the medium format system. I am not 100% certain about the logistics of the systems, but have used enough camera formats over the years, that I feel at least that I am close with the above. Hope this helps, on the other hand, I would certainly be infavor of such a new Canon or Nikon MF digital system, there has been other rumors of this for years now. If you check out www.canonrumors.com or nikonrumors.com, you will find such imaginary camera systems. Can only hope some day, that this will happen. By that time unless it is like my old Mamiya 7 system I may be too old and frail to schlepp it all around....have a good day...

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    Re: something to think about....Canon semi-MF?

    I think Don may be right. Which is not to say that Canon or Nikon couldn't do something in the way of an S2 knockoff and produce it at a more reasonable price.

    While we're on the subject of fantasy cams, my new favorite would be a Rolleiflex TLR with a digital sensor in it. A nice big, fat 2.25" x 2.25" sensor. Heck, I'd even hand meter it. I know a fixed focal length lens might be an issue for some, so maybe there would need to be some easy way to exchange the lens pairs. Screw the zoom. Just a few tasty focal lengths made with modern coatings. Keep that lovely quiet shutter and try not to fudge up the body too much with the battery. One can dream anyway.

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    Re: something to think about....Canon semi-MF?

    Don,
    I guess what I was thinking about was something along the lines of a larger mount that could also accommodate the smaller present mount, maybe with some adapter. The issue with the mirror will remain, IF the mirror is a solid flip structure as has been traditionally done. An alternative could be a two-piece system that part flips up, part down. (I know, the part that flips down would create all sorts of light bouncing headaches, but there have to be some sorts of solutions.)

    Not looking to argue any of this, as I am just thinking/typing out loud on some of this. I used to look at the fantasy camera concepts, but stopped doing that a while back, as most ideas were more far-fetched than mine ;-)

    The concept of an entirely new, more affordable camera and lens set is great, but the problem still comes back to having to buy so much at once for a functional system, or to be able to cover enough ground. Just as many were wishing that R lenses could be used on the S2, the concept of "L" lenses on the whatevercam is the same. To me, one of the problems with the entire S2 system is cost and when enough pieces will truly be available to help fill out a system. Hence the thinking about something that could swing both ways.....35mm FF or semi-MF. At least it would let folks get down to one system and they could play it how they needed it, for the most part. I still need to shoot with a 400mm f2.8L a lot, and would love to be able to mount that to a body for that kind of work, and then use the same body for MF type portrait or product work also. I know it is a dream, but I am thinking there have to be some creative engineers out there that could make something like this doable. Nikon does the resizing of sensor area already, but that does not have the lens mount differences to deal with. Just thinking.

    LJ

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    Re: something to think about....Canon semi-MF?

    Why would Canon want to compete with its present 1D line?

    As for moving mirrors Canon solved that years ago with the 1N RS.

    "The market wants a Leica to be a Leica: the inheritor of tradition, the subject of lore, and indisputably a mark of status to own."
    Mike Johnston


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    Re: something to think about....Canon semi-MF?

    Actually, I would like to see a digital rangefinder like my Mamiya 7II. It produces fantastic images, is very light weight, the lenses are extremely sharp but not heavy or large.

    I rarely use my viewfinder on my Canon 5D2, preferring to use Live View. So a rangefinder with Live View would be perfect. Light weight, large sensor, sharp optics--a dream camera.

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    Re: something to think about....Canon semi-MF?

    John,
    Not sure it would be competing with its 1D line as much as enhancing the upward direction of it. From a strategic perspective, better to eat your own young than have your competitor do that for you. I know that sounds gruesome, but it is an effective approach. At this point, Canon is sort of dead in the water with its 1D and 1Ds cameras. Nothing came out at Photokina, and probably nothing will come this year, save maybe an announcement of what may be coming next year. The 1D MkXX can continue as the sport/speed camera, while something else could serve as the upper end camera as the 1DsMkIII does now. BTW, the 5DMkII probably bit more into Canon's 1DsMkIII sales than anything else, so they already know that issue.

    I have been hoping/waiting for the 1-series bodies to be merged, as suggested years ago by Canon engineers. That could still come, or the 1D could continue as is with the 1Ds version moving up to MF territory more, since the 5DMkII is essentially replacing it in many ways except seals and some speed issues.

    The pellicle mirror thing was supposedly dropped by Canon, as was the eye-tracking feature on the old EOS 3, but that does not mean they have not looked into other options. The pellicle mirror was more to achieve high frame rates for the film camera, but who is to say something along those lines or more advanced could not be deployed to achieve variable mirror box depth to accommodate different lenses.

    Again, just wondering aloud to some degree. I really think and believe there are some ways, maybe unconventional to what we have been seeing, to get things done. The key issue is how much it may cost to develop, and how reliable it may actually be. Not afraid to say that I am more impressed with how Canon executes things than Leica at this point, even if Leica is claimed by many to be "superior". Not seeing that. And Nikon is not behind in any of those ways either. They (Canon and Nikon) are just coming at things from a different angle....build and sell lots, versus build a few and sell even less, as Leica seems to be more prone to do.

    LJ

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    Re: something to think about....Canon semi-MF?

    LJ - it is fun to talk about isn't it. The other issue is you would have to crop using present ef mount lenses on it the same way when using DX or EF-S lenses on FF systems, similarly the way Nikon does theirs. This is due to the fact that these lenses are only designed to cover the 35mm field, irrespective of what size the sensor really is. There is also the issue of focusing distance, focal flange distance to be considered here. I do not know what advantages there would really be to using legacy 35mm lenses.

    The other side of this is interesting in that how many really need more MPs then currently available. Most folk really are fine with current MP counts whether they be 12 or 21+. I happen to be a landscape shooter, so the bigger format and bigger pixels and more of them would be desired.

    I had heard awhile back that Canon was working on a 35mm sized 50Mp chip. Have no idea if this is even possible and what the noise characteristics are, but it does speak well for the next generation or two dslrs, like the 1DS4 and after. IF noise levels can be controlled, things could be very interesting. The advantage of a MF system are still there, but again just where does this end, and what level of MPs do we really need. I for one do not want to schlepp around 40lbs of gear anymore like with my old MF and LF gear. A MF based chip like a large EP1, like the old Mamiya 7 would still be attractive, and would live view options, and better AF focusing modules, the focal length limits of the original would be easily exceeded hopefully. IN the end, really how many pixels does anyone need.

    Meanwhile my 5D2 is doing very well thank you, just have to rethink my lens choices, and am going to switch over to prime lenses as my zooms are either inadequate or too heavy or both. L zooms are minimally OK but not as good as either prime lens I currently own.

    One last comment, I am sure if Canon or Nikon really wanted to, they could come out with this type of product for far less then Leica and their S2, but just what market there would be, would guide the cost recovery and end market cost ...if only...I would also not mind using a 2.25 square sensor, packed with like 30-50MPs in a light EP1 type body, the cropping possible options would be like my old Hassy which I always loved.

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    Re: something to think about....Canon semi-MF?

    Don,
    I hear you. My thoughts were/are along the lines of there needing to be some sort of sensor masking if older glass is used. The flange area of the proposed camera would be larger to accommodate the new glass, and would have an adapter to accommodate the present glass. At least that is my thinking on this. Seems doable once one gets around the mirror box issue, and even as you suggest, pure live view could get you there also, though personally, I like a viewfinder.

    As for more MP....I agree that we probably have plenty already. I would not be attracted to a 50MP 35mm sized sensor for lots of reasons. Unless the laws of physics change or something close, cramming all those much smaller pixels into the same area has got to have losses in other features....noise, diffraction, etc. That is why my thinking is to go to a larger sensor that can handle more robust pixels. The masked size for the older glass would probably not be much more than what we have now on the 1DsMkIII or 5DMkII, and those both work quite well. The added real estate could handle the larger image circle of the new "L+" lenses I describe, and go to those higher resolutions.

    You are correct, this is all fun speculation, but it does have some real potential. My thinking about the more complicated ability to handle old and new glass is purely from an installed base perspective. One of the big issues with the S2 is that there are no alternatives to glass, other than what will eventually ship with the system. I see that as a big stumbling block to adoption and use, both from a timing and cost perspective. I too do not wish to carry multiple systems around....too much to carry, too much to afford, and too much to maintain/support.

    Anyway, thanks for sharing thoughts and perspectives.

    LJ

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    Re: something to think about....Canon semi-MF?

    LJ - continuing on a bit, the use of legacy glass while fun and certainly doesn't require any additional cost, really is not needed, all one has to do is crop the existing image as outputted[sp] and you achieve the same thing and carry less gear. Only higher framing rate and smaller file sizes might result from Legacy glass, and the latter you could do with a small raw or higher compressed jpg file. If you need higher frame rates, a different format altogether might be better off. I would be interested in this both for the larger pixel dimensions and tonality gains, doubt there would be lower high ISO noise then we already have, do not know if current MFDB show lower noise then say my 5D2 or D3 type of cameras. I would guess not, older MFDB were worse by far, and never went over say ISO 800-1600 that I am aware of. I might not be right on this as I have never actually owned or used a MFDB, but have read on the subject. One of the reasons I was more excited about the 5D2 when announced then looking at say a ZD. Tonality gains would of course be opposite.

    One of the bigger perks even with my 5D2, is that I have more cropable realestate, and use this often, get by with a 300mm lens, when with lower resolution, I might have needed a 400-500mm lens to achieve the same large print and resolution...

    Don't know if 50Mp is doable or not, who would have thought 5 yrs ago, we would even have 21-24 MP cameras in 35mm format. In another 5 yrs, who is to say what is or is not possible at that point. The bigger question as we both agreed so far, is, do we need 50mp?? For landscapes it would be neat to have it, if noise is good, in a 35mm based system, can't think of anything besides that, and maybe some catalog work for billboards that might need such resolution. Am sure some one will.... happy shooting...Don

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    Re: something to think about....Canon semi-MF?

    I would be very interested in a Canon MFD camera. I like their small 580EX II flashes, their intuitive camera buttons and controls, LiveView manual focus, auto focus, etc. Just give me a bigger sensor and glass!

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