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Old Feb 23, 2012, 12:31 AM   #1
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Default interchangeable sensor camera?

Do you know if any of the manufacturers have ever attempted to build a camera with interchangeable sensors? It would be pretty much the same approach as during the good old film days you've got a good camera with good optics and you choose the sensor depending on the light conditions. If you you are going to shoot in low light then you'll use a high sensitivity sensor optimized for high ISO values. Or if you are going to shoot outdoors in bright sunshine then you'll attach a low sensitive sensor optimized for low ISO values (60 or even less).
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Old Feb 23, 2012, 8:13 AM   #2
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Welcome to the forum.

I can't remember the model number, but Ricoh make a camera with a plug-in
sensor and associated bits.

I don't see the merit in having a sensor with good low ISO performance.
Surely good performance at low ISO settings is an inherent feature of any
sensor that has good high ISO performance?

What we really need is greater dynamic range so that we can cope
very dark or very bright scenes without much noise at the dark end
and without clipping in the highlights. Sensors have been improving
slowly but steadily over the years. They are already better than colour
film and hopefully they will continue to improve in the future.

Marketing tends to take precedence over engineering when it comes
to new camera designs. When manufacturers develop a better sensor,
they have to decide whether the improvement should be used to
improve noise and/or dynamic range or whether it should be used to
cram more pixels into a given sensor size. The market tends to demand
more megapixels, so progress tends to move in that direction.

There are some signs of a reversal in that trend. Some of the newer
models from the big manufacturers have less MP than the previous model.
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Old Feb 23, 2012, 8:30 AM   #3
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Image sensors don't work in a vacuum. There is lots of support circuitry that varies from sensor to sensor. For instance, you can't use the same A/D converter for a 24MP sensor that you'd use for a 12MP sensor. Also, sensors need to be kept clean, and making them interchangeable makes that tougher, even if you never change one. Plus, the distance between the lens and the image sensor is critical to the sharpness of the image, and you can't simply position the sensor the way that film cameras position film.

It's not like changing film. Changing the ISO and changing the picture effects already covers that. And what little you can't do in the camera, you can do in postprocessing.
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Old Feb 23, 2012, 1:17 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by corkpix View Post
I can't remember the model number, but Ricoh make a camera with a plug-in sensor and associated bits.
See our Ricoh GXR review for more details.

Since that review was published, they've announced more sensor/lens combinations for use with it. Here's the latest one:

http://www.ricoh.com/r_dc/gxr/unit6.html

They also make a Sensor Module that allows the use of interchangeable lenses (Leica M). See this page:

http://www.ricoh.com/r_dc/gxr/unit5.html

This page shows the available "units" (modules for the Ricoh GXR that include a sensor and lens combo; or sensor/lens mount combo):

http://www.ricoh.com/r_dc/gxr/unitmap.html
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Old Feb 23, 2012, 3:30 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TCav View Post
Image sensors don't work in a vacuum.
Actually, I'm fairly sure they do!
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Old Feb 23, 2012, 6:30 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by peripatetic View Post
Actually, I'm fairly sure they do!
I stand corrected.
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Old Feb 24, 2012, 4:08 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JimC View Post
See our Ricoh GXR review for more details.
Thanks Jim. That's the one.
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