Nikon D600 Image Sensor made by Sony?

Nikon D600 sensorThe 24.3 MP CMOS sensor in the Nikon D600, judging from the initial sample photos published around the web, has very good dynamic range and relatively low noise even at a high ISO 6400. Nikon representatives state the the sensor was designed to their specification but do not reveal their manufacturer. However, we have heard this line before from Nikon, who use Sony-built sensors in several DSLR including the D800, D7000 and D3200. Sony’s 24.3 MP sensor used in the Sony RX1 seems to be very similar in noise characteristics and resolution. And the Sony A99 which also uses a 24.3 MP sensor, but features an additional layer with built-in with phase-detect auto focus, shares a very similar outward appearance. Another interesting point is that the Nikon D600 and Sony A99 were released just days apart, however the fact that Photokina is next week probably explains the reason, rather than an agreement between the two companies regarding a synchronized launch schedule.

Sony A99 Sensor DisplaySony seems to be well ahead of its competition in sensor design and fabrication, able to pull outstanding dynamic range and color depth out of ever-shrinking photosites. Regardless of who produces the sensor, it is clear that Nikon has a winner on their hands.

D600 sample photos show well controlled noise at ISO 6400 indicating improvements in signal-to-noise ratios when compared with sensors produced just a few years ago, not to mention that today’s high resolution sensors are doing more while acquiring less light per photosite than their lower resolution predecessors.

It may be a few weeks before an independent lab such as DxO will get their hands on the latest Nikon and Sony cameras, but we fully expect to see these cameras near the top of the performance charts, if not breaking new ground, when it comes to dynamic range, low light performance and color depth.

3 thoughts on “Nikon D600 Image Sensor made by Sony?

  1. Minor correction: the d3200 sensor is made by Nikon. Well, designed (Nikon never had fab capacity). (google for chipworks and d3200).

    The “built to Nikon’s specifications” is kind of a white lie. Nikon’s strategy from the very beginning of the digital era was to use the best available sensor tech. They have a pretty good sensor design team (the d3s is still king of high iso) and sometimes they design a sensor from the ground up and outsource manufacturing (Sony, Aptina, etc),

    • Thanks for bringing that up. I updated the article to read “Sony-built sensors” rather than “Sony sensors” to clarify. Chipworks stated the D3200 sensor is “made by Nikon,” but that is not entirely accurate since Nikon outsources sensor production. It is really the design of the sensor that matters. As in writing a book, the author is recognized as the source while the publisher or printer is given separate credit for production. However, I think the D600 sensor may turn out to have a lot in common with the Sony variants (A99, RX1) with some tweaks as requested by Nikon.

      • All sony sensor have a problem with long exposure photography

        if you open the shutter for 2min you will notice that all sony sensor will cause tons of white pixel appear all over the image

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