Surprise! Truesense (ex-Kodak) announces a new Four Thirds sensor with Global Shutter (and Monochrome version too!)

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Back in 2011 Truesenseimaging was acquired by Platinum Equity through a transaction with Kodak. And one year after the acquisition they surprised us by announcing a new Four Thirds sensors! You can download the full specs as pdf (Click here). And there are some very intriguing specs. First this sensor is available in both Color and Monochrome version! I am probably among one of these few guys that would like to own a Monochrome MFT camera. The sensor also features global shutter.

Here are the key features:

  • Global shutter and rolling shutter
  • Very fast frame rate
  • High NIR sensitivity
  • Multiple regions of interest
  • Interspersed video streams

 

Resolution: 4000 x 3000
Total Resolution: 12 MP
Pixel Size µm: 4.7
Diag. mm: 23.5
Max Frame Rate (fps): 60
Configurations:
  • Monochrome
  • Color
Optical Format: 4/3

What is the strategy behind this? Are we going to see a Panasonic or Olympus camera featuring this sensor???

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  • Being more a DSLR user, I’m not into MFT. But looking at the first reviews on Leica’s Monochrom, I’m more than convinced by the qualities of a monochrome sensor over B&W post-processing. A monochrome Pen with EVF coupled with Pana’s 20/1.7 could be an affordable alternative to Leica’s and an absolute killer for street photo

    • djmdgk

      +1 but would it sell?

      • I’d buy one immediately.

      • Mymaco on Instagram

        I’d buy it immediately!!!

      • Nathan

        If they made a monochrome camera and a color camera, I would buy one of each. Of course, that near infrared sensitivity would also be useful.

  • may be another four third partner other than Panasonic or Olympus doing a new camera?

  • ha

    Global shutter has more noise but is essential for machine vision.
    Wasn’t there a surveillance system recently using m43 lenses? Should work well using this sensor.

    • homer

      How does global shutter add noise?

      • ha

        Specification gives read noise for rolling shutter as 10e, for global shutter 30e

      • jim

        the capacitors to hold the charge for each data line are embedded on the Backside of the chip causing more interferance and hence noise.

        In a line by line read no row memory (capaciters) are required as the data is collected an stored in RAM memory as soon as it is collected.

        With global all data is collected simultainously and hence had to be stored for a moment and then read into RAM. – this moments storage is where the extra electronics come in and electronics make noise!

        This new sensor is excelent news for m43 system… mono too will give very very good low light ablility – clean ISO12800 all the way! – astronomers will be intrested in this sensor!

  • Anonymous

    Damn ,. Monochrome 43 sensor its really great news,.. I cant afford Leica Mono body and its damn expensive lens , but i will work to the bone if Olympus comes up with under 2000$ body ,.. Paired with 12mm f2 or the up coming 17mm f1.8 and set up with zone focus area ,.. Is gonna be awesome with my OM-D

    • AMVR

      Why would/should it be $2000 !? Just because Leica overprices their stuff M4/3 should also do it ? that’s nonsense! there’s no reason for them to charge more, it’s not like they’re altering an existing sensor, they’ve built 2 versions from the beginning so it’s included in the R&D.

      That nonsense aside, it’s nice to see Kodak being reborn indirectly in some form or another, specially if M4/3 has something to do with it.

      Global shutter can only be a good sign, yes, theory dictates that it would be noisier, but we don’t know the real world performance of this is yet, and even so, this is but the first iteration, it’s nice to see someone finally venturing into new territory (unlike Pany who’ve been hinting at global shutters since the old days of the GH1).

      any new sensor manufacturer is a healthy sign for this system, hopefully they don’t limit themselves to machinery cams, that would be a waste. I hope this means a third camera company for M4/3 *IN THE LONG RUN. There’s lots of space for many CSC/MILCs manufacurers FOR NOW, but 5-6 years from now it may be different (samsung, pentax, Ricoh, sigma I’m looking at you) so a different source for sensors might help consolidate the system by giving an alternative to Pany and Sony.

      • Face it, a B&W sensor camera is not your general public massive success. Its a niche. The overhead of the production chain would have to be spread among much fewer buyers. $2000 per unit is not a surprising to me.

        • Boooe

          Yeah, but the extra production “overhead” is minimal, unlike developing a new m43 body.

  • Jeff

    I would LOVE a little simple monochrome camera, one with direct shutter and apature controls and a screen. It’d be perfect.

  • KI

    Monochrome FTW! It would be very cool if Oly developed a “rarity” … :P Doesn’t need video-mode… (doesn’t even need a screen). A miniature OM-4-like camera with monocrome sensor. Would be awesome!

    (OR even more awesome – a fullframe body with OM mount…, but let’s keep it closer to reality…)

    • admin

      Full frame OM? A dream that comes true :)

      • Rhys

        I am hip to your jive good sir.

  • OM-4

    Maybe Oly will put this in a new category to compete with Sony RX1 and Fuji X100.

    How about an E-R5c/E-R5m with fixed 17.5mm/f1.8 styled after the 35RC/RD with built in EVF, flippy screen and multifunction ring around base of lens.

    Screen must be 4/3 not 16:9 to provide for larger area to put buttons and dials on the back.

    It’s lame for Oly to have 16:9 LCD at the back when the support for video is bad compared to stills.

  • Anonymous

    Consumer cams are now at 16MP so it must be for surveillance or other special purposes.

  • I with you for a mono chrome 4/3rds camera… It would be amazing… And would be on my shopping list…

  • Jeff

    Just had a thought, the xb-1 and the xc-1 (b&w and color respectively, the revival of the xa). Rangefinder style evf, 2 inch LCD (for settings and optional vf), two customizable control wheels (one on the back under the shutter, one around the lens mount), a 1 inch monochrome LCD on top with mode, aperture, shutter speed, and (firmware updates) focal distance and depth. Only psam modes. Simple, effective, and awesome for street shooting.

  • fix

    I’d be happy to have a little more noise in exchange for a global shutter.

  • Tropical Yeti

    Hey daydreamers… Has anybody read the PDF? Fort this sensor it says:

    APPLICATIONS:
    – Machine vision
    – Intelligent transporation systems
    – Surveillance

    • admin

      Yep. But you can’t deny it would be posisble to use it on cameras too!

    • Anonymous

      You are right. But with such a sensor in production it opens possibilities of using it in a B&W cam even if it wasn’t designed for it from the beginning.

    • Ulli

      if its 4/3 we claim it!

  • YT

    Multiple ROI. Industrial.

    • peevee

      Or digital zoom.

  • Curious

    With Oly having signed the deal with Sony, I’m not sure if Oly will be using this sensor. Not sure if a contract exists between the parties. Having said that, I’m eagerly waiting to see this sensor in production. Being an ex Kodak, I Wonder if it has the same colour signature as before.

    • So you mean Olympus only can having deal by Sony. ;-)

    • Olympus having had a financial investment and technology deal with Sony does not mean that they are ruled out from using other company’s sensors. Remember that the original E-1 sensor was made by Kodak, and later the Olympus sensors were made by partner/rival Panasonic. Such technology decisions are at times made independently of corporate strategic financial decisions. We just don’t know all of the details of the Sony-Olympus deal :-)

      That being said, I do not happen to think that Olympus will be making a monochrome camera (at least for consumer use). What this likely represents is that there is a growing recognition of the large amount of excellent optical work that has been done by the mFT manufacturers, and that the system has always been setup for electronic control of the lenses. Thus there is a good opportunity for industrial visual equipment manufacturers to use these sensors and existing lenses. Just my $0.02 worth :-)

  • Treb

    Clearly a machine-vision sensor, designed for high-resolution & high-frame-rate video in near-infrared. Typical industrial applications with no high performance requirements noise-wise; this sensor probably would yield nothing special in terms of photography. Don’t hold your breath if you hope to see this in a camera you are likely to use, ’cause that’s not the target market.

    Besides, as Oly’s Tanaka-san recently pointed out, there’s a lot more to creating a monochrome camera than just a sensor swap. There’s a whole codebase required to properly process monochrome images *in a photography context*, and nobody can pull that out of thin air. They would need to see a real market opportunity to devote resources to that rather than, say, working on leveraging their world-class FT lens base…

    • Anonymous

      “there’s a lot more to creating a monochrome camera than just a sensor swap. There’s a whole codebase required to properly process monochrome images *in a photography context*, and nobody can pull that out of thin air. ”

      Probably, but Leica did it and they are a rather small company. So it can’t be that difficult. Still, I´d be surprised if Olympus or Panasonic did it. An “affordable” B&W cam? I’m still hoping for Ricoh. It fits better into their lineup and style and the last year there has been some persistent rumours that they are working on it.

      • Treb

        Leica bought their codebase, as they did with everything digital in their cameras. They are merely the end-client in that respect, very little is truly done in-house other than evaluation and testing. Put simply in layman terms: they are mechanics, not electronicians nor software developers.

        Then, sayeth thou, why wouldn’t Oly or Pana do the same? Because *they* have huge resources in place in both the electronics and software departments, and people in those departments will fight to the death against outsourcing anything. It’s the way the big corp world goes: if it’s done, it will be either done in-house, or people will see to it that the project ends up canned or costing several times more and with consequential delays. Gotta educate those admins, ya know…

      • Treb

        Oh, and as for the task not being that difficult? Go ahead, try it! :-D

  • I’m in for

    high DR low iso camera, extremely accurate AWB

    • peevee

      Speaking of DR, they list it as 62 dB with rolling shutter, it is more than 20 EV if I am not mistaken. How could they do it with only 13,000 electron capacity and matching 14-bit ADC is a mystery.

      • Jostein

        DR = 20*log10(Signal/Noise) dB = 20*log10(13000eV/10eV) dB = 62.3dB

        DR = log2(13000eV/10eV) EV = 10.3EV

  • Williams

    I feel that this would be the greatest sensor we’ve ever seen. It may blow away FF sensors. No joke !

  • fix

    Cyberdyne Systems are buying these for prototypes.

  • Richard

    Why would a monochrome sensor be better than doing post-processing with Black-and-white tools in PS, LR, or etc?

    • Che

      @Richard

      On a colour sensor pixels are either red, green or blue…on a b+w sensor every pixel is capturing light across the range leading to much higher levels of detail.

      i.e. a 12mp colour sensor is picking up 4mp red, 4mp green, 4mp blue.

      a 12mp b+w sensor is picking up 12mp total

      • @Che (by normal Bayer filter is the on 12mp sensor; 3mp red, 6mp green and 3mp blue) :-)

        • Anonymous

          @Ingo-M

          Thanks for the correction! My understanding was rather simplistic :)

          • Only minimizing comment from me. :-D

    • Two stop better ISO, and maybe more and also more sharp.

    • Anonymous

      I can’t think of two obvious reasons:

      – It doesn’t need an RGB filter array therefore each pixel picks up more light.
      – The process of converting a color image to B+W involves guesswork because the process assumes brightness levels in the filtered channels are similar to those of adjacent pixels belonging to different channels. In case of a green pixel it assumes red and blue brightness levels are similar to the green level of that same pixel or red and blue levels of adjacent pixels. This causes artifacts.

      There may be other reasons that I am not aware of.

  • Frederic Hew

    Actually it is not a 43rds sensor in the sense that it larger than the 43rds consortium specifications. It does have a 4/3 aspect ratio and can of course be used in a (m)43rds camera but with less than 12MP resolution.

    • Multi-aspect possibility?

  • Henrik

    i like it that they restrict themselves to 12 MP. Hopefully they also think about still image quality, not just video.

  • peevee

    Well, at 60 full-frame FPS it is not fast enough for fast CDAF. It has 4x and 9x pixel combining modes, if it is proportionally faster at those, it still can be useful (the last one is definitely good for live view and even HD video).
    Read noise with global shutter seems excessive…. I wonder if new Pana G5 has the sme problem?
    I wish the parameters of Panasonic and Sony 4/3 sensor were available for comparison…
    And it would be fun to try and engineer an m43 competitor using this sensor. ;)

  • Heat Legend

    BREAKING NEWS!!!11!!!1

    You all have monochrome cameras already.. Just set the filter to monochrome.

    You’re welcome in advance.

    >Implying the quality of monochrome images would go up just because you bought a camera with a B&W only sensor

    lolno

    • Anonymous

      If its the case,.why people are crazy,.about Leica M Mono,.,.?

    • Later breaking news. Wait, not news at all, but long-established information.

      A monochrome sensor doesn’t use the Bayer pattern. As such, it gains perhaps 33% resolution right off the bat, all else equal (some say more, but 33% is easily observable). Moreover, it doesn’t require an AA filter to reduce color moire, improving edge acuity significantly. Because it doesn’t have Bayer filtration, more light gets to the sensor, so you get about a two stop advantage overall in ISO capability.

      The KAC-12040 specs show the monochrome version isn’t very sensitive to light in the red and blue wavelengths, though. I’d have to look at that aspect a lot more carefully to fully determine its suitability for general purpose monochrome photography; the falloff in the extreme wavelengths has implications on general purpose photography. Leica had a similar issue with the M Monochrom’s sensor that they had to manage.

      So while you can set a regular camera to “monochrome” and get black and white results, you aren’t getting the level of results that you could attain from the same sensor stripped of its Bayer filtration.

    • Some of you may know that RED recently added a monochrome version of the Epic camera to their lineup. To have better resolution and light sensitivity. Head over to Vimeo to see the b/w test shoot.

  • Yu

    Holy cow! 62db of dynamic range is 18.6 stops!! Correct me if I’m wrong please!

  • Bronica

    Only on thing is imaginable for me: That somebody takes this sensors as a base and develops a simple Lomo-style camera – for creatives. All plastic, AF not needed.

    Would’nt that be fine?

  • ljmac

    This is why Kodak went broke: they kept making all this expensive, specialist stuff that nobody would ever actually use. Looks like Truesense is carrying on the tradition.

  • Take that Sony!

    Although to be honest, there is only 2 potential customers for this. Olympus which now is somewhat tied to Sony and are unlikely to buy a competitor sensor (losing its biggest investor money) and Panasonic, who may be seriously interested if it saves them developing a new sensor and this one has global shutter giving it a edge over whatever Sony comes up with and makes it more suitable for video too.

    Actually I guess there is a couple more customers like black magic, but I’m not sure if they are going to offset development costs.

  • rick

    Um, not in Olympus with Sony buying a chunk of the company. Maybe Panny or maybe something like the BlackMagic Cinema Camera or another upstart like that goofy Digital Bolex, but not Olympus.

  • Robbie

    I think it’s gonna used by Olympus, maybe we will see a remake of the E-1 (since Olympus likes this tribute thing so much) because 2013 will mark the 10th anniversary of the E-system.

  • Daemonius

    Cheap BW Pen? Damn, I would love that..

    Only thing I would really wish is CCD sensor, not CMOS. :(

    • Boooe

      Why CCD? To make CDAF slower?

    • Sam

      Converting from colour to mono is fine. Nothing that’s new is cheap.

  • El Aura

    The 10 electrons read noise already made me doubt this would be used in any new camera and the QE is also nothing to write home about and 12 MP is now only used in the low end.

    Thom Hogan adds that the read-out rate is slower than current sensors which reduces to contrast-detect AF performance. He concludes that it is highly unlikely to be used in a camera by any of the two current m43 makers and is targeted at surveillance and technical applications:
    http://www.sansmirror.com/newsviews/the-kac-sensors-live.html

  • tengris

    A monochrome camera is not the best way to use a monochrome sensor. A 3CMOS camera is the best way to use a monochrome sensor.

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