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Sony A7S specs announced - S for sensitivity. 4K via HDMI to "third party recorder"

Andrew Reid

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Kinda off topic, but I felt like giving some insight in the cost of a fullframe sensor. I do agree that the A7S doesn't have to be more expensive than the A7 seen from the 'cost of sensor' perspective.


I suspect though, that faults would get less and less, due to experience. 


Interesting though that the GH-3 sells now for retail now @ $1,300; while the A7 sells for $1,700. That's about your price difference on sensors ($400). 


But more relevent here, is the price for other FF cameras. Canon and Nikon both have FF cameras that cost under $1,900. The Nikon D610 is a cese in point. It has a magnesium obdy with polycarbonate front outer skin, and its as weather and shockproof as a D800. It shares the same optical viewfinder as the D800 too, which means 100%, good magnification, and expensive prism optics to get the high quality view to its viewfinder. Which is much more expensive technology, that an A7's. Same too with the reflex mirror mechanism. It has LCD "live" views like an A7's too, and its LCD screen is 3.2", which is big. Its body is big and more costly to make too, plus it has lots of buttons and switches, all weatherproofed. Costly again ... but it retails for under $1,900.


When I look at the A7, its highly profitable at $1,700. Its a much cheaper camera to make than a FF DSLR. 


If Sony want to really get a jump on Canikon, their chance is the A7. Of course. This is why they've taken mirrorless into FF. Back when the OM-D was rumoured, gossip said it was FF. But it was just m43. Sony's now done FF in mirrorless, with the A7 range, with so far three different FF sensors.


Sony has good reasons not to have high prices for the A7"S". Highly competitive prices could see mirrorless even become successful in North America. If Sony have higher prices, then they'll not be successful IMO.


Strategically, if Sony sell the A7 cameras at mid to high range APS DSLR prices, they'll still be profitable, because the mirrorless platform has less costly mechanical components than DSLRs, and they use less materials in manufacture.


If the A7 and the A7"S" are both really affordable, Canikon will know that if they enter the FF mirrorless market, they'll have to do so much lower prices than their DSLR FF cameras in order to compete with Sony. And lowering prices for a effective FF mirrorless camera, would consequently likely damage their precious DSLR businesses. Which would threaten their whole business model, based on selling lenses onto DSLR bodies that are restricted to an exclusive attachment criteria.


IMO the key to Sony winning a very large FF mirrorless market, is to have value prices, because that will attack (ie compete) with their Canikon competitors where their profits are indeed vulnerable. Selling for high prices for the FF Sony Alpha cameras would be a competitive mistake, and could result in another Betamax fiasco (introduces 1975), because high prices for the A7 range will invite in Canikon who would likely take the Sony market, just like VHS did (which entered in 1976).

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Faults are just part of the process. I don't know why, but this is always the case in chip production. Memory, cpu's, gpu's, etc.


I recall the CPU story from a Japanese manufacturer, who was requested to have a failure rate of .002%. Curious about this, the company sent some extra CPUs along, to satisfy the customer's error "requirement"! The customer was somewhat surprised ... 

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It's not really a matter of insisting. It has to do with the process of making the Silicon wafers and there are numerous other reasons for it, apparently. Some interesting answers here.


For example:




Another issue is the size of the wafer. They have been using 200mm for ages now I think. There is some switching going on to 300mm and 450mm is in development I think, but it probably will take a decade or more before it is standard, because all the machines have to be replaced and remade for the bigger wafers.


Btw... imagine the cost of that new 50MP Sony medium format sensor :) The price of the Pentax 645Z is incredible if you take that into consideration.



Interesting stuff on wafer sizes here.

57.8% of chip production (not only image sensors!) is already done on 300mm wafers. This will be 70% by 2017, but 200mm wafers are still being used for image sensors...


I love this stuff.


You're right the price of the Pentax is amazing and it would seem Sony are making huge strides forwards with their CMOS business. Usually very hard to break performance and price barriers both at the same time. Somehow they are managing to mass produce sensors that have unheard of until now spec for the price.


If Canon are playing catch up in 2 years time and image quality on their DSLRs lags significantly behind Sony, and Nikon are using Sony sensors, it could spell a serious problem for Canon, something not easy to fix overnight as Sony has been building up to this level of sophistication for years and have surely spent many millions of dollars in the process.

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Very interesting.


I wonder why they insist on making the wafers circular.


36% of the area wasted on the full frame sensor yield is pretty wasteful.


I guess you can't change how crystals grow without them having to touch (dirty) walls and with perfectly even heating.

*I* wonder why they still can't combine smaller and larger chips on a large waver to make ue of the "waste" areas.

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If Sony has just change the sensor on the a7s allowing to do full frame readout due to the lower pixels density with the same Bionz X processor across the a7 series camera (this is what i think is more expensive due to the time involve on R&D), then the a7 maybe have the capacity to do a full sensor readout at least to get a HD image something that Sony has cripped on this camera, strange becasue no too long ago Sony announced the a7 as the Fullframe camera for video, but it leaves us with a image not much better than the last year series camera as the a99.

If this is partially true then the A7s it shouldn't be more expensive to produce than A7R.

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I don't think the production cost of a camera (or whatever device) is very relevant for the retraul price. Sony can (and will) price it whatever they want and whatever they think is 'best'. Maybe they haven't even determined the price yet... just feeling how the market reacts to it.. price it accordingly.

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I don't think the production cost of a camera (or whatever device) is very relevant for the retraul price.


You're right, it isn't! It just conditions the viability of the product.

Besides according to the -very interesting- document you provided the actual cost of processing a wafer is 1,200 $, leaving the production cost of the die to 50 $ per unit.

The "value" -11,000$- is a different concept, usually the difference between the cost of materials and operations to make something and how much you can get for that product. It's pretty much the cornerstone of economy: the cost of seeds, water, sun and time is lower than the value of a full grown tomato, therefore the operation generates wealth.

In this case, since Sony is making the sensor, the Bionz processor and I imagine most of the parts, the production cost of the camera should not be too high, surely in the ballpark of the A7 or A7R.

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I don't think the production cost of a camera (or whatever device) is very relevant for the retraul price. Sony can (and will) price it whatever they want and whatever they think is 'best'. Maybe they haven't even determined the price yet... just feeling how the market reacts to it.. price it accordingly.


The marketing team have a large hand to play in setting the price, that's a big part of their job.


They will be getting feedback as we speak and some pros with money to burn will be telling them that the A7S is a Jesus Camera and should be priced $6000 :)

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