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Thread: Sensor Glow: CCD or CMOS, Accident or Intent?

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    Sensor Glow: CCD or CMOS, Accident or Intent?

    Hi there
    Shooting with the A7s brought this to mind as it's an obvious contender. Most users seem to agree that the files are just 'lovely' with a kind of internal glow.

    This got me thinking - there is quite a conventional wisdom on the internet that this is a CCD / CMOS difference . . . .

    So - cameras I'm aware of which have been considered in this light:
    Nikon D2H
    Sony A900
    Leica M9
    ..... and now
    Sony A7s

    I can't speak for MF cameras as I've not owned one, but I'm sure there are contenders there as well. (and others that I've missed).

    Noticeable that in his review of the A7s Michael Reichmann said that the files had a medium format like look. DxO figures certainly don't give a clue - or CCD/CMOS.

    Do the manufacturer's even understand this? Or is it just a by product of sensor design? is it quantifiable?

    What do you think?

    Just this guy you know

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    Subscriber Member Jorgen Udvang's Avatar
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    Re: Sensor Glow: CCD or CMOS, Accident or Intent?

    It's very interesting that you bring this up. Traditionally, I tend to think about lenses when characteristics like this come up, but when looking at the A7s images, particularly those of that hairy creature of yours, they have a.... I wouldn't really call it glow... a "something" that makes these images stand out, regardless of what lens is used. I'm tempted to add the Fuji S3 to your list btw., although that camera's rather flat tonal curve made the effect somewhat subdued unless properly post processed. And the E-1?

    There's a similarity to the characteristics of traditional, fast b&w film, like Tri-X and HP5, films that give impression of rendering detail that isn't really there, if you see what I mean.

    Is it intentional? The cameras on the list, except the A900 but including the ones I added, all have sensors that were special and unique to those cameras. Maybe they did invest some extra effort with that in mind?
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    Re: Sensor Glow: CCD or CMOS, Accident or Intent?

    That is a hard one Jono. In fact, I'm not even sure I understand the term "sensor glow" in context of sensor types. Perhaps you could elaborate?

    Or are you simply commenting on how certain cameras seem to have got the combination of sensor, optics, and processing skew right in terms of how they render images as collectively and subjectively judged by respected and experienced eyes? (i.e., "Look and Feel").

    If the latter, a few other, albeit more obscure, combinations come to mind Contax 645, its' Zeiss lenses, and the Kodak 16 meg "Fat Pixel" Proback-645C; The short lived Contax N Digital with its' pioneering 6 meg FF Phillips CCD sensor and Zeiss N optics, and the Leica DMR CCD so dependent on Imacon's e-engineering and of course R optics.

    The common element to initial file qualities seems to be the "combination aspect" sensor, optics, internal processing aesthetics.

    While all of the above are now considered archaic technology by today's standards, the "look and feel" extracted from them is still to be admired, and in some cases even preferred by some (M9/ME verses M240 for a contentious example :-).

    Right now, the only manufacturer that seems to grasp sensor preferences is Leica by offering the ME and now the SE. Although how long that'll last is up for speculation.

    However, you make a good point in mentioning the A900 and A7s in context to "Look and Feel" since they seem to "have it" using a CMOS sensor. Your A7s images are smashingly good IMO, notably using select Leica glass. But not all A7s images shown show the same level of IQ, so I don't know how much your PP skills figured in the equation.

    The A900 was a one of a kind DSLR the likes of which we may never see again. I now use a A99 and in no way is it the equal of the A900 in terms of that "Look and Feel". IMO, Sony advanced the A99 to hit all the tech hot-buttons, and lost part of its' soul in the process.

    So, no, in general I do not think the manufacturers "Get It".

    Unfortunately, the same may be said for a lot of photographers who push for more convenience, picture taking by chart numbers and DR claims, and pixel count, etc. etc., so the camera makers may be just giving them what they want, since "Look and Feel" is a hard thing to competitively sell.

    - Marc
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    Re: Sensor Glow: CCD or CMOS, Accident or Intent?

    Quote Originally Posted by fotografz View Post
    ... so the camera makers may be just giving them what they want, since "Look and Feel" is a hard thing to competitively sell.

    - Marc
    Exactly and unfortunately.

    All the more pleasing then that cameras like the A7s and the ME actually exist. And with the imploding value of digital cameras, even photographers on a budget can pick up one of these gems for a reasonable price after a few years. I believe that the value of my 15,000 click D2Xs is now around 5% of the new price. The original price tag is still on the box
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    Re: Sensor Glow: CCD or CMOS, Accident or Intent?

    What I find interesting is that in some ways I'm a victim of the marketing hype and collective "bigger is better" mindset myself since I have a hard time shelling out $2,400 for a 12 meg A7s even though I subscribe to the opposite beliefs.

    On the other hand, Jono's recent image contributions may have sold more A7s cameras than Sony's entire marketing effort

    - Marc
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    Re: Sensor Glow: CCD or CMOS, Accident or Intent?

    The Epson R-D1 has a lovely look and that has a CCD sensor. Being that the A7s has a CMOS sensor, it could have something to do with the pixel size that gives it its own unique look.

    Joel
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    Re: Sensor Glow: CCD or CMOS, Accident or Intent?

    Quote Originally Posted by fotografz View Post
    What I find interesting is that in some ways I'm a victim of the marketing hype and collective "bigger is better" mindset myself since I have a hard time shelling out $2,400 for a 12 meg A7s even though I subscribe to the opposite beliefs.
    I'm just the same . . and I find it very hard to bring myself to believe that I can manage with 'only' 12mp as well. It was DocMoore who broke the camel's back in a discussion about which camera Rayyan should buy with AF (he bought a Fuji XT).

    I'm certainly not regretting it though - the combination of the electronic shutter, the silly high ISO (which together make up for the lack of IBIS) . . . . and those lovely files

    Quote Originally Posted by fotografz View Post
    On the other hand, Jono's recent image contributions may have sold more A7s cameras than Sony's entire marketing effort

    - Marc
    Thank you - I'm flattered . . . I don't think it's my post processing though (it's pretty basic), I think it's the files speaking!

    . . . . what's also interesting is that you can still see the characteristics when it's crushed for the internet - they even look good on facebook!

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    Re: Sensor Glow: CCD or CMOS, Accident or Intent?

    Quote Originally Posted by JoelM View Post
    The Epson R-D1 has a lovely look and that has a CCD sensor. Being that the A7s has a CMOS sensor, it could have something to do with the pixel size that gives it its own unique look.

    Joel
    Hi Joel
    I don't think it's the big pixels (otherwise why the Sony A900). I think Marc is probably right - it's just a coincidence of different factors, and I suspect that it's not really understood (or concentrated on) by the sensor makers either. Serendipity in fact.

    Interesting also that you can spoil it pretty easily (The D3x and the A900 had the 'same' sensor, but the Nikon files (better at high ISO) didn't have that feeling about them).

    All the best

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    Re: Sensor Glow: CCD or CMOS, Accident or Intent?

    There could be a lot going on here. The low resolving power could actually be increasing system contrast by simply eliminating the low frequency detail. The increased DR can also be adding to this. Then the profile and signal processing will add to that. I am sure you could figure this out, but it would take some effort to pull it apart. The first problem is what you mean by "glow"?

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    Re: Sensor Glow: CCD or CMOS, Accident or Intent?

    Processing can also effect this. If you process at 100%, then a higher resolution image can end up flatter with less pizzazz.

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    Re: Sensor Glow: CCD or CMOS, Accident or Intent?

    I'm never sure if I prefer CCD over CMOS or vise versa.
    Subject matter may suit one over the other too.

    I feel I can only tell the difference if told, which is kinda silly if you think about it.
    I see them more as different that preferring one over the other.

    Then there is Foveon.

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