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(FT3) A few new technologies Olympus is testing for the future PRO cameras.


Sometimes sources do send me info about camera prototypes and future technologies. As you can imagine it is very difficult to check if those info are correct or not.
Last week a new Olympus patent (Click here to read the article) confirmed that one of our source were right when he told me that Olympus had a prototype camera with semi-transparent mirror. The same sources also gave us a list of other technologies Olympus is working on:

– Sensor Shift with Rotation
– Larger Multi-Format Sensor (think GH2)
– New Battery Grip with Audio & Video I/O
– Single Shot HDR Capability
– Same Video Ability as GH1

The most amaizng feature is certainly the “Single Shot HDR Capability“. We already saw a few Olympus patents about this. But as we all know, we are talking about technologies we might see in a few years only!

  • io

    Interesting… a single shot HDR tech should mean also HDR video.

    • kaine

      Heres hoping. I would purchase a Olympus Pro 4/3 or M43 Dslr in a heartbeat if it had the video features of a GH series camera. In a nanosecond if it had HDR video. Come on Olympus the cash is waiting for you from every video DSLR shooter out there. HDR still mode not so much, easy as pie to do in post impossible to do on video in post unless its faked. New Battery Grip with Audio & Video I/O – God dam Olympus, you might be just about to save yourselves.

      • sam

        You could do HDR in video by pixel splitting the sensor to electronically expose adjacent pixels at different ev’s – like pixel binning to get 1080p from APS-C or whatever only you’re not binning the pixels, it would need some serious image processing and data storage capable of recording four or whatever number of differently exposed video streams.

        It’s difficult but not impossible, I’m not sure how much of a demand for it there is?

  • fta

    I never understood the point of ‘sensor shift with rotation’?

    • M

      The point of a rotational sensor shift is to automatically level your photos perfectly. Of course, it won’t do anything for a 30 degree shift, but if you’re 1-3 degrees off, the sensor can compensate. Lovely stuff, Pentax has it.

      • Wow. You have explained it so /well/, that even I almost lost it.

        In fewer words: simplest application of rotational stabilization is compensation for the camera movement caused by press/depress of the shutter button. The button is located not in the middle of the camera, thus the camera moves not only up/down/sideways – it also rotates slightly.

    • MP Burke

      Being able to controllably move the sensor up and down (and ideally, be able to tilt it) could be used to provide perspective control functionality in a way similar to a monorail view camera. However this would require a lens with a much larger than normal image circle. Since Olympus has not made a perspective control lens for four thirds or m43 they appear to believe we can do without perspective control.

  • MP Burke

    A high dynamic range technology may be the new must-have feature in cameras in a couple of years time. Some of the other technologies may never appear. The translucent mirror technology United States Patent US7889268 was applied for in 2006. It could be that at that time Olympus had a more positive view of the prospects of four thirds than they do today.
    Having worked for a technology company I am well aware that many ideas are developed and patents filed which never have a commercial impact. Sometimes staff are motivated to apply for patents just to ensure they get their next pay rise or bonus!

  • Great. They are working on existing and/or useless technologies. Oly should come up with something radically new. Like a BW sensor without AA filter, removable IR filter, etc. There are so many things to develope!

    Grip with audio and video I/O! Oh, my…

  • Jorgen

    Single-shot HDR for pro camera’s? More likely something for consumer camera’s since I expect pro’s to know that HDR sucks.

    • bilgy_no1

      Sounds more like an Enhanced DR tool to me. That would be welcome.

      BTW amateurish features make their way into pro-dslr’s all the time. Live View on a DSLR was di(smi)ssed when it first appeared on the E-330. But now it’s standard.

      Art Filter, same thing when they first appeared on the E-30. other companies are now starting to do the same thing.

    • spam

      Fuji already had it in their dSLRs, supposedly quite popular for pros shoting weddings.

  • Eugene

    New technologies it is certainly good. But to do a product which users it want it is even better! What waited from flagman chamber Olympus? Work on high ISO isn’t worse Nikon D300S and a wide dynamic range. It isn’t present. What lenses with 1.4 (in an ideal 1.2) has let out Olympus? Any. And what advantage of patents if Olympus it is similar to a donkey from one fable which has died, without having managed to make a choice in favor of one of stacks (technologies)?

  • Ulli

    i hope that HDR includes wide raw latitude, not just some trick made by the processor engine

  • tttulio

    What? they were not busy working on Full HD video since 2008 like everybody else?

    • Ganec

      FullHD is already implemented in the latest pocket-ultrazoom Olympus SZ-30MR

  • ZDP-189

    Single frame HDR is useful and obvious, like being able to increase the latitude and dynamic range of the JPEG. We can already do this with RAW, but it saves a lot of post-processing.

    A larger sensor would be interesting. Who says Micro Four Thirds has to have only a 17.3 mm × 13.0 mm sensor size? You could have a variable crop to suit different lenses.

    • Ganec

      It should be interesting, if it can have different resolution acccording to the lenses or actual zoom position.

  • Chris

    Mathematically, rotation is an independent operation from translation. In translating in the x direction, for example, all pixels move a fixed amount in that direction. In rotation, all pixels above the point would move negative, all below positive, and to varying amounts. It’s just another degree of freedom that can induce blur.

    On the whole I’m excited for Olympus. It sounds like they’re taking the competition from Panasonic seriously. If they can come up with a camera that competes with the GH series and can actually put it in the hands of consumers, it could be a big gain for them. Panasonic has shown the goods are in demand, and maybe Olympus can actually fill that demand.

  • The Other Chris

    Hopefully that new sensor is coming from someone other than Panasonic.

  • Max

    – Single Shot HDR Capability would be great. Hand held HDR!!! without 9 exposures.

  • “Sensor Shift with Rotation”-If the sensor can turn 90 degree every time I want to take portrait, it would be wonderful. And we no longer to buy external grip! :)

  • Ganec

    How olympus can do single-shot HDR, if he does not produce senzors?
    (at least I cannot imagine this possibility without specificaly designed senzor)

    • spam

      They make cameras without making sensors, I’m sure Olympus can order the sensor design they want if they are willing to pay for the development, or like Nikon – design it themselves, but subcontract the production.

      Anyway, Fuji already have made their Super CCD sensors with one small and one larger ligth sensitive area for each pixel. I’m sure they can make some for Olympus if Olympus really want them.

      I’d expect Olympus to develop it with a standard sensor though. Autobracketing can already do this, except for the merging of the images and some cameras have this built in (like Canon G12). The “new” Olympus technology might not be more than the automerge part.

  • Thierry

    I want it all! When can I buy such a camera?

  • Bu

    Bring forth single shot HDR!

  • Jonathan

    One thing I do not understand is how can this be an mft camera, when it requires clearance for a mirror. Suggestions anyone?

    • Jonathan

      And then one other thought:

      since the camera should have a tilting and shifting sensor – wouldn’t this require a sensor larger than Panasonic’s multi aspect sensors? In other words, shouldn’t it be at least APS-C size?

      For obvious reasons, I would very much like to see Olympus moving to some other sensor manufacturer. Not only are Panasonic’s sensor’s are way behind the competition, also Panasonic has been holding Olympus by the throat and slowly suffocating it.

      • Michael Devitt

        “In other words, shouldn’t it be at least APS-C size?”
        If Olympus is considering alternative Pro-solution sensor beside 4/3 one it should be 135 format (or bigger) for true high-end market, but what about lenses for it? They pick Panasonic (or other brand) multi-aspect 4/3 sensor more likely.

  • snowflake

    Rotational control of sensor.

    The best feature of rotational control of the sensor was mentioned by M is the ability to adjust for a level picture.

    However, this feature also raises the possibility that the ability to accurately adjust for camera shake is taking a significant step forward.

    If we attached two lasers directly on each side of a lens and watched the motion of the laser dots on a wall, we would see the effect of camera shake being primarily from the camera not rotating, ie left and right sides of the camera moving in opposite directions, but from erratic tilting of the camera. The two dots would stay essentially parallel.

    However, if the camera shake is completely removed from tilting, that leaves the smaller effect of erratic rotation behind. (The slight variation forward and backward usually is only an issue with close-up pictures)

    If you want to get rid of the blur, as mentioned by Chris, you are going to have to deal with rotation.

    I would estimate that at around the ability to correct for camera tilting is limited to about 4 f stops before rotation becomes an issue.

    If rotation control is now possible, then this raises the possibility of amazing advancements in sensor control.

    I’d love to see the equivalent of 6 f stops of image stabilization for hand held photographs. “Normal” pictures may run into the issue with objects moving, but for telephoto lenses this would be a real significant advancement.

  • snowflake

    I think HD Burke is right about HDR

    The advancement of sensor technology is ongoing.

    For example,
    If a 20 mega pixel sensor is arrayed or broken up to be essentially 4 – interlaced 5 megapixel pictures at different ISO settings, then a very wide dynamic picture can be taken.

    The processing of the final image would require integrating the pictures together.

    Such separation of images would also allow the possibility to also reduce noise (sequence the information gathered from each of the separate 5 images on the sensor by 1/1,000,000 of a second to reduce the thermal cross talk noise), and provide amazing sharpness from what are incredibly small densely packed sensors.

    heck, m4/3 is eventually going to too big and we will need a new round of micro micro 4/3 cameras using even smaller lenes and smaller sensors.

  • James

    Larger Multi-Format Sensor <– come on ship it. Coolest thing of the list, and also quite realistic – all the technology is already there. Just put a decent APSC chip in there and it's done.

    • spam

      Why APS-C? The GH1/GH2 sensors are already multiformat and big enough. Using a bigger sensor would increase cost and require slightly bigger bodies.

      • 43photo

        I think a Cmos sensor can be cheaper than 4/3rds because they are produced in huge numbers and so development costs are lower per sensor. Olympus should find a way to use other than panasonic sensors…

        • Nathan

          The Four Thirds lenses do not project a large enough image circle to illuminate an APS-C image sensor. The multi-aspect 16MP sensor from Panasonic is the largest sensor that 4/3 can work with without serious vignetting.

          • david

            People say that, but no one has tested it and I think this assumption is wrong. The 70-300mm is based on the full frame sigma! I think most oly lens are sharp because they do allow aps circle.

          • Ross

            If the sensors are bigger than the GH2 but still fit into new Olympus bodies, there is nothing stopping them from using the APS-C sensor cropped or is there?

        • Nathan

          I tested the 14-54 (crudely). It produces a 24mm image circle.

          • Inge-M


    • sam

      4cm x 3cm sensor aimed at pro market as a digital alternative to mamyia 7ii?

      • Nathan

        Never gonna happen. Not ever.
        Pentax has the cojones to do this, and have done so, but Olympus doesn’t make premium 10,000 dollar items in runs of one hundred.
        Also, Pentax already had the 645 system as an established line of cameras, Olympus doesn’t build anything remotely similar.

  • David

    “Same Video Ability as GH1”

    Wow, that’s great Olympus. Wait to shoot for the moon. I don’t care about video, but I know some people do, and I don’t know why developing a technology for a future camera, that will have the abilities of a discontinued camera, is a selling point.

    More importantly, high iso noise is still poor compared to DSLR offerings. Fix that first, and give us a weather sealed body and a few small weather-sealed lenses. That’s what Olympus does. Don’t try to compete with Panasonic on the electronics. You’ll lose that battle.

    • 43photo

      Olympus is generations behind on the video platform. They probably cannot do better… that is why my first micro 4/3 cam will probably a panasonic.

      • spam

        Agree, but the main GH1 problem was too high compression which should be easy to avoid.

    • They make it very clear in their lens literature that these are designed for the 4/3 image circle, not larger. Panasonic gets away with a slightly larger sensor for 16:9 shots, filling the edges, but that’s it. You could put some kind of reverse TC on the lenses, but that would lose some light.
      I think a ton of us would like to see a waterproof Oly version of the GH2, even if it costs $1699.

  • seb

    The most amaizng feature is certainly the “Single Shot HDR Capability“

    Why ? There is two meanings, maybe they will extend the sensor DR capability, but the “single exposure” make me think (in oposition of “multi exposure” it only will be a kind of extreme jpg engine processing, kind of the same effect you get when you pull every sliders to the max in light room. Whatever it is, i don’t see something really interresting, i think that “pro” camera are bought by people that know how to expose a picture well, and that tone mapping style photography was already a kitschy gimmick from the past.

  • Len

    Bring on a large square sensor, so for us square shooters we aren’t cropping away pixels…. :) so I hope the larger multi format sensor is soon…

  • Ross

    To Chris
    “Mathematically, rotation is an independent operation from translation. In translating in the x direction, for example, all pixels move a fixed amount in that direction. In rotation, all pixels above the point would move negative, all below positive, and to varying amounts. It’s just another degree of freedom that can induce blur.”

    It sounds like you are refering to digital shift of pixels rather than the ultrasonic mechanical shifting of the sensor. Adding in rotational level correction to the X Y correction already used should only improve the final outcome as well as producing level scenes (within limits, when needed).

  • misu

    I always wanted an Olympus camera. this might be it.

  • PK

    All I can ask is, WHY?

    If they really want to make advances, they need to FORGET about STILLS, but instead create Ultra-Super HD-VIDEO that can film at 10,000 frames/second and capture motion that way, on sensors the size of post-cards, so that we DON’T HAVE TO shoot stills but pull freeze frames from the ultra-super-duper-fast HD-videos.

    Of course, I’m talking about 25 years from how, but hey, it’s gonna happen!

  • Jonathan

    Is that a pro 43rds or micro 43rds?

    • spam

      Olympus has stated on several occasions that E-5 i probably end of the line for 43rds. Personally I’d expect an upgraded E-620 or E-30 unless Olympus can get a micro 43rds model out in that segment fairly soon.

      Anyway, Olympus seem determined not to sell too many E-5s by overpricing it (and stating it’s the last model) so I’d expect any rumored future technology would go into a micro 43rds model.

      Btw, all this talk about Pro micro 43rds gear seem weird to me. After all, 43rds and micro 43rds lags even advancned amateur models from other brands in high Iso image quality, autofocus performance and the lens selection (even for 43rds) are limited compared to what Canon and Nikon offer.

      That doesn’t mean that no pro use 43rds or micro 43rds gear. I’m sure some do and many pros don’t need top high Iso or a huge lens selsction. But the market got to be pretty small compared to the entry to mid level markets where the smaller size of the micro 43rds gear can be a clear advantage.

      • Jonathan

        How then does the mft mount apply if this camera have a mirror?

        Too much missing information.

        • spam

          There is no reason why they couldn’t use a mirror in a MFT body. Just look at the numbers, flange distance is 20mm, sensor height is 13.5mm with a sligtly smaller image area.

          A 45 degree mirror would need to be 19,1mm which would be very difficult to to flip up with a simple hinge, even with the hinge at the sensor plane. A fixed mirror wouldn’t be a problem though as it wouldn’t stick out more than 13.5mm if placed at the sensor plane.

          In practice you’d probably need to place it sligtly in front of the sensor, but with 6+ mm extra space that shouldn’t be much of a problem.

          Olympus could also do like Sony (A33/A55) and not use a 45 degree mirror. Making it slightly steeper would further decrease the amount of space needed.

  • Inge-M

    Extremely probable FT, and also PRO 43rds.

  • Miroslav

    Bunch of great ideas here guys! As always on 43rumors … I don’t know what stops manufacturers from producing cameras with those features.

    Sensor shift with rotation would be a great thing if it could improve IBIS performance. I’d like to have single shot HDR capability, especially if it could be adjustable. It could end those complaints about limited DR of 4/3 sensor. That idea on dividing sensor space in four and then combining those pictures is excellent, could be easily put into practice.

    I’m still hoping that Olympus will be given that GH1 multi-format sensor. According to Dxo, it’s the best 4/3 sensor and I’m sure Oly engineers would squeeze much more out of it. Its pixel count is enough for most people.

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