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Nikon's official statement on the D3X sensor

Ellis Vener , Dec 09, 2008; 11:11 a.m.

You can now stop speculating.  While Sony is doing the fabrication  the D3X CMOS sensor is completely designed and engineered by Nikon.  To make it crystal clear: It is not the same sensor in the Sony A900. Here is the full text of Nikon's statement as released to me this morning:

"The Nikon D3X’s 24.5-megapixel FX-format (35.9 x 24.0mm) CMOS sensor was developed expressly for the D3X in accordance with Nikon’s stringent engineering requirements and performance standards, with final production executed by Sony.  Featuring refined low-noise characteristics, 12 and 14 bit output, Live View capability and more, the D3X’s unique sensor design was carefully blueprinted to perform in perfect concert with proprietary Nikon technologies including EXPEED Image Processing and the Scene Recognition System. Meticulous efforts allowed the sensor to become one of the many essential components and technologies which contribute to the D3X’s superior image fidelity."


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Rob Piontek , Dec 09, 2008; 11:22 a.m.

Could this not be paraphrased as "It's basically the same, but we we need to make it sound special for this press release"?  I mean, would anyone really expect Nikon to say 'Yeah, you can get the chip that comes in our new $8000 camera in a Sony that costs way less"?

Luca Stramare , Dec 09, 2008; 11:26 a.m.

It reminds me of the old 70-300 ED, when somebody pointed out that Tamron was selling an identical lens. :)

Ilkka Nissila , Dec 09, 2008; 11:29 a.m.

Rob, you can believe what you want or make a mockery of the facts if that's the kind of thing you enjoy. If Nikon actually used the A900 sensor in the D3X, do you honestly believe that Sony would allow Nikon to give such a press release?

BenoƮt Marchal , Dec 09, 2008; 11:33 a.m.

This is useful, thanks for fishing this out.
Although it makes it clear that the sensor has some aspects that are specific to the D3x only, it does not state that it's a Nikon design so it may still be a derivate version from the Sony sensor. They did something similar with D70, if you recall. If memory serves me right, the D70 had a combined mechanical/electronic shutter mode that was unique to Nikon.
Note that "Nikon requirements and performance standards" does not mean much: it is common practice when a company subcontract the design or the development of a component to impose requirements and performance standards on the contractor.

Eric Sande , Dec 09, 2008; 11:36 a.m.

Response to 70-300 ED and Tamron

I never understood where that claim or argument came from.  The Nikon & Tamron 70-300 lenses looked nothing alike and had different filter sizes.  I vaguely remember seeing internal diagrams of the lenses and they were different as well.

OK, back to the D3x discussion already in progress...

Clay L , Dec 09, 2008; 11:46 a.m.

Here is a link to interview with Masato Takeishi, design engineer
for Nikon FX format sensor.Should kill the rumour that it is
a Sony sensor:



Mike Earussi , Dec 09, 2008; 11:58 a.m.

Clay, the article seems to be talking about the D3 not the D3X.

Luca Stramare , Dec 09, 2008; 11:58 a.m.

Eric, sorry to go off topic, but believe me, the now discontinued Nikon 70-300 4-5.6 AF ED (the lens that replaced the 75-300 AF) and the Tamron 70-300 AF ID are exactly the same design. I have both because I use the Nikon and I got the Tamron in gift (I'm not selling it since the resale value is miserable) and if you look at them side by side you will notice not only that they have the same 62 mm filter thread, the same dimensions and design but also the same internal movements, building construction and the like. At the time I recall somebody saying that the Nikon had a better quality optics because of ED glass and superior coating, but this is my memory. For this reason I am not surprised of the above statement.

Clay L , Dec 09, 2008; 12:03 p.m.

Thanks Mike,
How about we split the difference ?
Nikon also makes machines called 'steppers' that actually manufacture
the sensors. Nikon's biggest customer for their steppers is Sony, ha !
So, who made the sensor ? Who cares, long as it works.
Best regards,

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