(FT3) Olympus revolution: The next Pen Pro with own designed sensor!


The Panasonic sensor (for the Olympus E-30)

It’s not a secret that Olympus is working on a Pen Pro camera line. We long discussed on 43rumors how those cameras should be to deserve that “Pro” definition. Many agreed that Olympus would have to get rid of the Panasonic agreement that forces them to use the second generation sensors (Olympus still hasn’t used the GH1 or GH2 sensors in PEN cameras). I know from my sources that Olympus tested Kodak sensor (two years ago) and Sigma sensors. But those were only prototypes and Kodak isn’t developing any CMOS sensor anymore. And I was told that they were not happy with the noise at High ISO of the Sigma sensor. But the rumor I got now is  a huge but also very welcome surprise! Before you read the rumor let me add that I got the info from a well known source. I asked him thousand times if he was really sure about that rumor he gave to me. He said he is 100% sure! But it’s to early to give that rumor a high credibility. I hope some other of my trusted sources can help me to confirm (or deny) the rumor. Thanks!

So here it is:

Olympus has designed their own very first Four Thirds sensor! And it’s going to be used inside the next Pen Pro camera. The sensor is 100% designed by Olympus and will be produced by Panasonic. If the recent Japan earthquake disaster didn’t delay anything than the PRO camera should arrive within 2011. The source could not give me any specs about the sensor but a second new source told me that Olympus has developed the sensor with “photography” in mind. He expects a low Megapixel sensor with high dynamic range and better image quality than any other current m43 sensor. I should receive more info about the sensor soon. But let me say I am crossing my fingers for that news to be true!

One more thing: The Pen Pro definitely has a built in electronic viewfinder (EVF). That has been confirmed by some of my other sources too. I don’t know yet if it will have a DSLR (EVF in the middle) or a rangefinder style like the Olympus RC. I bet such a camera would be at least as popular as the Fuji X100.

As soon as the source gets back to me to tell me more I will post the new info on 43rumors. Just a reminder. We expect new Olympus pro m43 lenses to be announced in June!

– Olympus RC on eBay (Click here).
– Fuji X100 on Amazon, B&H, Adorama, Olympus US store, FocusCamera, eBay.

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Reminder: Rumors classification explained (FT= FourThirds):
FT1=1-20% chance the rumor is correct
FT2=21-40% chance the rumor is correct
FT3=41-60% chance the rumor is correct
FT4=61-80% chance the rumor is correct
FT5=81-99% chance the rumor is correct

  • Alphonse2501

    oh,really? who will make mass production?
    If its Olympus themselves, when did they have fabrication plant already.

    • I guess the sensors will be manufactured by Panasonic. Or maybe Sony would accept to make that sensor for them? Don’t think so, but who knows…

    • Stig

      What do you think “will be produced by Panasonic” means?

  • it would be good if you could dial in dynamic range, so if you wanted limited (lower than normal) or high dynamic range you could chose it for your shot, as increased dynamic range isn’t aways desirable…

    • Wouldn’t it be possible to truncate the DR in PP?

  • AndyOz

    Thanks for posting the rumor. Very interesting. It does seem a bit surprising that they would be able to design and manufacture their own sensors in such a small amount of time and to setup a factory etc. Unless they are subcontracting to another sensor manufacturer (not sure how many there are!) and just giving them some design specs.

    Admin please try and found out more about the EVF location. It would be great if they came out with a rangefinder style EVF in the top corner.

    • AndyOz

      Oops just reread it – ok it will be produced by Panasonic at their factory to Oly specs. I guess that makes sense and seems plausible.

    • > The sensor is 100% designed by Olympus and *will be produced by Panasonic*

      EDIT: okay you’re fast ;)

  • josh

    did you guys read the rumor? he said panasonic would be producing it….not Olympus

  • KI

    This is great news! … If they are true. Hope to see a prototype soon. As well as some specs.

  • Deckard

    This rumor is too romantic…

  • Bu

    I’m actually quite happy with the EP1 so any (real) improvement on it could be quite inviting.

    • Ganec

      me too

      But I don’t want EVF, if it increase the size of the camera.

  • Bob B.

    This is what Micro 4/3’s needs to stay alive. Hope it is true. Plus I am excited that it was mentioned that this will be a “photography” sensor. The best sensor right now is the one in the GH2….and that camera is too large, geared toward video, has lackluster high ISO performance (compared to the competition on the market), and is very expensive for a person like me who is strictly a stills photographer.
    I am all ears for more info in this direction…and to date all of my micro 4/3’s equipment is Panasonic..who seems to have gone the way of the average consumer and housewives (especially with their still-camera offerings)…not towards photo-enthusiasts.

  • This is huge.

    Though, sorry, I wouldn’t expect any breakthrough from their first gen sensor.

    But IMO this is a HUGE step in the right direction.

    Oly should have leaked that info on their own – and long time ago.

  • thom

    this better be true.. m43 desperately needs better high iso performance..

    • Matthias

      For me, high iso performance of my E-PL2 is good enough, it’s just a very, very small step behind cameras that are much more expensive, even full frame cameras. But more dynamic range then in actual sensors from any producer is something I’m waiting for a long time.

  • If a ‘rangefinder’ like MFT camera body from Olympus is in reach within a year, that will put my temptation to buy the X100 on hold until I know more about such a PEN – if it will still be a PEN.

    If the camera body will be in a DSLR like format, I am not that interested to be honest.

    • AndyOz

      Totally agree Tobias. I am hoping for an evf in the top corner. Here’s hoping.

    • That’s exactly where I stand as well :)

  • Jungle

    I want Olympus has its own sensors. So do not depend on anyone and the improvements could come faster.

    Olympus do excellent lens, good cameras but need to have a powerful sensor. Olympus, you can!

  • Bob B.

    Actually…if Fuji would just say they are coming out with the X200, an interchangeable lens camera and also release at the same time (35mm equiv.) 24mm, 35mm, 50mm and 100mm fast glass…we could all just put our micro 4/3’s cameras and lenses on eBay and be done with it….!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :-)

    • WT21

      Fuji has IBIS? Crop factor, too, would grow the lenses.

      • Bob B.

        It would be worth it if everything was a little larger to have such a great VF and Sensor…Have you seen the high ISO comparisons to the GH2????? Completely different ball field…which I think is sad..because with some development I think the M 4/3 could be a whole lot more competitive…truly…but Panasonic is more interested in cheapening their lens line, touch screens and cutesy colors etc..instead of any REAL improvement, i.e. maximizing profit. Olympus has been dependent on Panasonic..and apparently still is.
        As far as IBIS goes…if Fuji came out with an interchangeable lens X200…I wouldn’t care where the stabilization was. They would truly be approaching (dare I say) M9 territory for a fraction of the cost even if the pricing was twice that of Micro 4/3’s.

  • Duarte Bruno

    Well, this would be good news all along. :)
    I’ll settle for 10MP even though I would like the camera to capture video too.

    • WT21

      I used to be a hybrid person (video and photo), but more and more, I’d sacrifice video, if I could get the camera I’m really looking for.

  • Ulli

    really curious how they implement the EVF

  • reverse stream swimmer

    Sensor design is becoming commodity.

    The rumor also tells us that the Pansonic Tonami plant (Japan west coast) is competitive enough and has capacity to produce a sensor for an external company. The Panasonic GH2 sensor has the highest pixel density of all DSLR/ILC, so that would be an indicator of the most suitable process for Micro Four Thirds, having a somewhat smaller sensor. Developing their own sensor, indicates a firm plan on selling cameras in large volumes. Are there any other companies waiting to join the Micro Four Thirds? Leica? Cosina? Kodak? Ricoh?

    There are several foundries that could produce a sensor with modern semiconductor processes. Also companies like Aptina are hungry in entering the DSLR/ILC market, which certainly would welcome a cooperation from a leading camera manufacturer.

    With the frequqent messages from Olympus that they will not push pixel amount as a priority, fitting larger pixels on a modern semiconductor chip seems to be a good compromise for their next generation cameras. Of course, we still would welcome bright optics to be launched simultaneously.

    Regarding video, the smaller the chip, the faster the framrate. Also the smaller the chip, the less heat problems. Even with still photo as the priority, implementing full HD capability shouldn’t become any problems.

  • Alfons

    Sounds like a dream come true! I hope they worked their way around bayer sensors. Might be too much to ask, but dedicated sensor is good news anyway.

    Built in viewfinder and old school looks and this beast will step on many feet.

    I hope they’ll do a good af confirm for mf lenses too.

  • TR

    I agree, Great news! My vote is for top left for the EVF.
    What I want to know is, whether there is a e-p3 coming? Which sensor will it use? Or will the e-p3 be the pro? Or wlll the pro be a new line? If so will the mid-range have a built in evf?

  • CRB

    Finally…. Finally…. Finally…. Finally…. Finally….woho…woho…

  • Arrow

    Does the “Pro” designation mean these cameras will be very expensive?
    I want to buy an Olympus four thirds camera with a built in EVF but would not pay much more than the price of an EPL2.

    • spam

      Pro for Olympus seem to mean big and expensive, they sure know how to scare customers away.

  • DonTom

    Well, when I bought my E-PL1 I ex

    • DonTom

      Damn touch screens! What I was trying to say was that I expected to be able to significantly upgrade from the E-PL1 in two years, (without paying new release prices). Sounds like that’s on track.
      I’m sure that Olympus is “designing” the new sensors in the same way that Leica “designs” their Panasonic clones.
      I’m sure the Olly engineers know what tweaks to make to suit their JPEG engine better than anyone…..

  • Mal

    Olympus contracting Panasonic to make a sensor of Olympus design suggests that it will include a new technology, perhaps patented. Otherwise why bother?

    • Or maybe the “designed by” Olympus only means that they ask Panasonic to make a few small tweaks in the sensors they produce for them. Nikon also states that they design their own sensors, but they are just the same Sony sensors with a few tweaks.

    • reverse stream swimmer

      I also hope it includes new patented technology.
      Perhaps a layered sensor, using some basic ideas from the Sigma Foveon sensor, but with todays modern architecture for low noise readout (former Panasonic achilles heal).

      This would make possible for large pixels, and at the same time keep the resolution enough for competitive reasons. It could be a real winner, 9×3=27Mpixels total

      • spam

        If Panasonic had (good) three layer sensor tech they’d launch it themselves, not not use it in an Olympus-sensor. When Olympus design a sensor and Panasonic produce it then they are restricted by the available Panasonic tech.

        • reverse stream swimmer

          Although I suspect the Panasonic fab is a closed foundry, there is no evidence at all that Panasonic is playing the protectionistic games with Olympus.

          Rather it’s large scale economics that’s the key factor in business here. Just exactly as with Sony, providing P&S & DLSR sensors all over the market.

  • I know it would be extremely gimmicky, but imagine a pop-up viewfinder, where they currently stick a pop-up flash (on the E-PL1 for example).

    If they designed it right, you would be able to tilt it, and when the LCD screen is being used, it would be tucked away and protected.

    There are a few mockups floating around the interwebs of concept designs for new styles of rotating viewfinder/LCD screens, grips, etc.

    I know we all love retro, but Olympus has often been a pioneer of new tech in cameras- stuff that is taken for granted as being ‘standard’ in many other cameras these days.

    • Bob B.

      Cool idea!

      • Joey

        brilliant would love a pop up VF, in my mind i see it flush with the top plate, then it would hinge up and back. compact form, yet highly usable evf :)

  • Nathan

    This has me intrigued.

  • Mr. Reeee

    Great news if it’s true!

    My only reservations revolve around a (ANY) company’s FIRST attempt at designing a sensor. Clearly there will be glitches and shortcomings, since Olympus would be starting from scratch. Other sensor designers/manufacturers would frown upon any reverse engineer that may or may not be done to speed the process.

    Bottom Line: I NEVER buy a Rev.A release of ANY product. There are too many unforeseen problems that can arise. I object to PAYING to be a beta tester OR a guinea pig.

    That said, let’s hope it’s good!

    • Ulli

      Wasn’t Olympus involved with the design of the E-1 sensor from Kodak?

    • Vlado

      Olympus isn’t starting from scratch ….

      1) they cooperated with other company in the pass
      2) the senzor itself will be made by Panasonic
      3) they are making senzors for the medical stuff (endoscopes and so on …)
      4) When this senzor will be made by Panasonic I think it’s more a “Marketing” stuff than a start of new division in Olympus.

      • spam

        Exactly, marketing and a few tweaks.

      • > I think it’s more a “Marketing” stuff than a start of new division in Olympus.

        Or costs sharing: Pannay might have moved some work related to sensor design to Oly.

    • the camera they stick up your ass has an Olympus sensor. Not only do you pay to use it, you squeel like the guinea pig

  • alexander

    Fantastic News!Hope it also has an build in flash!

    • Vlado, I agree that this is probably more marketing than reality. As a preferred customer, Olympus may have had more input in the design process than in the past. If this new sensor has a different resolution than the sensors used in Panasonic MFT cameras, then it will serve to differentiate the Olympus and Panasonic product lines.

  • Kevin

    new sensor with built in EVF…it sounds so good that it’s a bit hard to believe! but nevertheless the biggest camera news-rumor I’ve heard in 2011. well done admin!

    I am a bit surprised that olympus is making their own sensors and not looking for a good one out there though…hope it turns out good! by the way how low is the low megapixel sensor going to be? the current 12.3 megapixel in the PEN seems just about right to me; hope it doesn’t go too low…

  • M

    I want an E-7, please.

    • Ross

      Time! Just give it time. :)

    • Boooo!


    • I want E-550 or E-50. (Grip of E-6×0 bodies is too small for my hands.)

  • Ross

    I hope this is good news too, but I can see a number of you putting forward your order for features & getting excited & hoping for some fantastic additions or specs etc, just like the rumours happened for the E5. Please don’t start ordering your premium custom spec camera because you will be disappointed like some were over the E5 & I imagine Olympus have the design of the camera pretty much decided already with less major improvements to be done. Speculation can be fun, but it isn’t helpful to build up unrealistic expectations so that many start believing it’s going to happen & are then bitterly disappointed when the product is announced (or leaked).

    Well, that’s my two cents worth anyhow. ;)

  • Is Olympus really up to making their own sensors? And will the first generation be good enough to compete with the others? Even Nikon and Pentax choose to buy sensors from others (Sony) rather than making their own.

    E-P3 with built in EVF sounds great! Looking forward to see what’s coming.

    • Joey

      oh but isn’t that all part of the fun ;)

    • Nikon uses Sony as the producer only.

      After Sony nabbed Konika-Minolta and became direct competitor, Nikon started designing their own sensors.

  • Ross

    Just another thing from Olympus.
    Olympus announces LS-20M pocket camcorder

  • Tom

    sounds really great. But i guess, if they really state that it has low MPix and higher dyamic range/Iso performance, that would mean, that the new panasonic sensor, 16 MPix like in the G3, will not be that step forward Olympus thought it would be? I guess thats whats standing between the lines. So i dont expect better dynamic range in the new Sensor, and thats really sad :/
    The main reason for Olympus to go that way, is that Panasonic isnt delivering what Oly thinks, 4/3 is capable of. And that would include the new 16MPix sensor…

    • TR

      Or they’re making their own because Panasonic wouldn’t give them the 16MP.

    • > And that would include the new 16MPix sensor…

      Frankly, I wouldn’t be much surprised if the new 16MPix from Pannay would also bear Oly logo.

      It is unlikely that Pannay and Oly would use very different designs. Considering that they are now against two APS-C mirrorless companies, deeper cooperation makes a lot of sense.

  • Trevor

    Boy, this seems like quite a gamble. If they don’t turn around and use that sensor in every camera or sell it to Panny or someone then they are doing R&D on a sensor for a very small market. That, or they’re hoping to use that sensor for 5+ years, which just doesn’t fly anymore.

    While I personally appreciate fewer, better quality pixels, I’m not sure the general market will. So, combine the price of the current “pro” E-5 with a custom designed sensor, EVF, and possibly more cool tech and I could see this camera readily approaching Canon 7D/Nikon D300s territory, both of which are due for a refresh soon and have more (and high quality) pixels. Not to mention the m43 lens line is nowhere near Canikon and 43 lenses don’t focus all that quickly on m43. That’s stiff competition.

    Hopefully there is a game changer in the plans for Pen Pro. I just hope they’re not betting the farm on small size.

    • TR

      What else would they bet on?

    • +1

      I don’t know Olympus corporation as a whole to know if they have *any* experience designing sensors, which seems to me is quite intensive in R+D, exactly the kind of scenario that Olympus doesn’t seem to be in a good position to handle right now.

      Add to that the valid concerns of the user base of an entirely new sensor (guinea pigs anyone?), and this obviously turns into a bold gamble.

      Sincerly i hope they turn to create something great. That would help differentiating their product line from other brands, and would remove from the equation one of the biggest (perceived) drawbacks of the system, the lack of DR and high iso performance.

      Only time will tell…but i still question how a small company such as olympus can create out of nowhere (apparently) a new sensor that defies what companies with enormous pockets and resources like Panasonic, Sony or even Samsung have been able to come up with.

      I wish olympus a home run!!!


  • Miroslav

    A big plus for “low Megapixel sensor with high dynamic range and better image quality than any other current m43 sensor”! Olympus, just give us 8 Mpx sensor that exceeds APS-C dynamic range and high ISO capabilities. It would be a sensor that would end megapixel race :). There’s no need for more pixels. Those billboard photographers should buy a full frame DSLR and put up with its weight and size.

    This sounds a bit like Nikon-Sony partnership – Nikon influences the designs the sensors while Sony manufactures them.

    On the other hand, Nathan said two days ago: “So far, in the two years I’ve been reading this site, nothing really exciting has happened. There have been new camera models, but these have simply addressed concerns people had on day 1 of the E-P1 launch”. So I’ll believe this rumor when I see the announcement.

    • +1

    • Boooo!

      Unfortunately, nobody would buy 8 Mpx cameras. That Nikon or Pentax or Canon have 16-18 Mpx, and the new Sony sensor will supposedly have 24 Mpx. “Bigger is better” says marketing…

      Even if an 8 Mpx sensor would have a dynamic range of 16 stops and clean ISO 25600, it would lose on the market to anything with more megapixels. Hell, even compacts have 12+ Mpx these days. The majority of people buys megapixels, not image quality…

      12 Mpx is the very minimum. We are also yet to see how the new 16 Mpx G3 sensor behaves.

      • greyhat

        let me disagree: a pro pen E-P3 is target at street photographers and as a good second camera for pro photographers (and all the enthusiasts that go along them and follow their blogs). 8 MPx may be enough.
        This camera, if will be launched it will be expensive but it may change the 4/3 hater’s opinion and drive sells of other, not so high spec’ed models.

        Still I think they will stick at what they said is their golden figure: 12MPx. But Probably is a Foveon sensor type at 8 MPx and that may be equivalent in IQ to bayer 12 MPx. That would be good news – no Anti alias filter!

      • Miroslav

        “Unfortunately, nobody would buy 8 Mpx cameras. That Nikon or Pentax or Canon have 16-18 Mpx, and the new Sony sensor will supposedly have 24 Mpx. “Bigger is better” says marketing…”

        It’s just a question of who you think your target group is. The target group of PEN cameras are ( should be ) enthusiasts, who surely would understand why the sensor has “only” 8 Mpx. If you are targeting P&S upgraders, as GF2 and NEX do, than 8 Mpx won’t be enough. The best solution is to go both ways, such as Nikon did: D3x and D3s. Olympus should make cameras both with their low-res high-ISO/DR sensor and new Panasonic high-res sensor.

  • safaridon

    One point of the rumor that most seem to be overlooking is ” designed by Oly but produced by Pany”? Isn’t that what happens in the real world with Fuji or others telling Sony what changes they want incorporated into their Sony sensor?

    We have been told that the Pany new 16MP sensor was also to be “photography orientated etc” ie higher dynamic range higher ISO performance etc. and if the new Pany sensor design is as effective as the existing Sony APS-C one then maybe Oly has requested Pany to use the same technology only make the pixels larger ie the existing 12 MP size to give same IQ characteristics as existing Sony APS-C 16MP one?

    On another point I think the fact there still is no confirmation that this new Pen Pro is definitely a rangefinder style leads me to suspect that it rather has a raised EVF in the middle instead? I personally think such a mini SLR could be very attractive yet not look like the existing DSLR crowd. This is necessary for a practical reason if the EVF is to be same size as existing VF2 or else the rangefinder would be too large? That would mean the Pen Pro would seem more like a mini E7 and if that is the case then I would also wish for a smaller EP3 model with the new sensor.

  • Michael Devitt

    Maybe this is an Olympus reaction to keep resolution on reasonable values (12 Mpix) unlike going with Panasonic megapixel race route. In this megapixel word it is very rare approach. Who needs more resolution are shooting with different cameras anyway (5D, D3x, medium format etc.).

  • Bob B.

    Thought about this a little more…..
    I am guessing if Olympus took the time to design a sensor it is better than the one in the E5 ????????

    • Martin

      Aren’t you a genius by any chance?

      • greyhat

        Another rumor: E5 mark 2 coming ;) (E5 + New sensor)

        hope E-P3 has E5 processor, do you know anything admin?

  • TempTag

    I am happy with the news and hope it is true. However, I will be disappointed if the sensor is produced by Panasonic. There is nothing wrong with Panasonic (I own 3 Panasonic m43 cameras), but the 4/3 sensor market needs more players to have a chance of keeping up with the improvements we are seeing at other sensor sizes.

    A third company (e.g. Sony) working with Olympus on a design will go farther faster in terms of 43 sensor improvement than Olympus working with Panasonic on tweaks to Panasonic designs already seen in current 4/3 sensors.

    • safaridon

      The problem is production cost to both Pany and Oly goes down with use of the same sensor and up if using different sensors. This is because of economics of scale of much larger production for the APS-C sensor lowers its relative cost. This is probably why so many of the m4/3 cameras are all using the old 12 MP sensor at present. That also is why so many DSLR companies like Nikon and Pentax are using the Sony sensor rather than developing their own which they are perfectly capable of doing? Pany noted that cost of producing the lower volume GH1 sensor was significantly higher and the sensor is reportedly the most expensive part in most DSRLs isn’t it?

    • Martin

      >I am happy with the news and hope it is true. However, I will be disappointed if the sensor is produced by Panasonic.

      Hmm. So you don’t know anything about the supposed sensor yet you know you’ll be dissapointed. Interesting.

      • TempTag

        Yes, and that has nothing to do with Panasonic as I wrote in my post. (Or even anything to do with the quality of any sensor released.)
        My post was about the desire to get new blood into the 43 camp and my belief that more competition will lead to more improvements. I used Sony as an example but really could be a number of companies.

  • David Bateman

    Not sure I fully agree with the implication that Panasonic sensors are junk and Sony sensors are the best. Sony has just now with only one sensor, become the king. Yes one the new 16Mpixel one. Look at the previous and the DR is low and Noise is high. You need the Nikon tweaks to get it to a reasonable level, but then the contrast of JPEG is messed up. Before Canon was the sensor king. So it took time for Sony to work it out and make the best senor. Maybe Panasonic has also looked into new technology, improved the spacing, and reduced the electronics on the active face. Remember Sony took a long time to do this.

    • spam

      Sony has been the sensor king since the 12MP D90/D300/A700 sensor was launched, and seem to beat Panaosnic with the 10MP G12/S95/P7000 sensor too. Canon is close on dSLR-sensors, but haven’t been able to regain the top spot. Panasonic seem to be slightly behind Canon again, and the smaller size of Four Thirds also make it difficult to get the same perforormance. The GH2 sensor is a step forward though even if it didn’t score too well in the DXO-test.

      • reverse stream swimmer

        The Sony sensor with columnwise A/D sampling enables low readout noise, which is a benefit at low ISO levels. At higher ISO levels, the Canon isn’t that far away, mainly depending on their slightly lesser sensor area, you know 1.6 vs. 1.5 crop factors.

        Actually, the Panasonic GH2 sensor beats the best Canon sensor in the 7D, but since the area of MFT is lesser than Canon EF-S, it’s pays tribute to the Canon in the end of the day.

        Actually Panasonic has the most miniaturized sensor design of all system cameras, and I bet they knew what they were doing, when they decided to stay with MFT sensor size, when they lanched the MFT. They could have increased the sensor size, since they made a clean slate with their new system. Guess what they did?

        DXO score mainly reflects sensor area and readout noise. It’s only a single-dimensional figure of merit, don’t forget that.

  • George

    I hope the rumor is true. A still photo oriented camera. What a novel concept. ;-). Please Olympus, make this the first 16-bit, low noise, High Dynamic Range camera on the market. I can imagine now the beautiful skin tones.

    I haven’t been this excited since the E-1. Don’t let me down!

  • Daemonius

    Hm, I just wish they used Kodak CCD, not something else.. When you see whats CCD capable in Leica M9 or S2, you just regret that there isnt more cameras with CCD.

    Though Im curious how will work Olympus own sensor. It will either kill them or bring back some glory.

    • spam

      There aren’t a single large sensor CCD-based camera that support Live View. Without Live View no MFT camera unless you want a camera with just an optical viewfinder.

      The Leicas you mention give excellent image quality (on low Iso) and use CCD-sensor, but that’s not because of sensor technology, that’s because of sensor size and excellent lenses.

      Since Olympus don’t make sensors themselves they’ll probably do like Nikon which also design sensor themselves (but don’t make them), i.e send the specifications they want to Panasonic which will do the rest.

      • Ganec

        “liveView” is standard compact behavior, every CCD compact camera use it .. why it should be problem?

        And latest Kodak senzors supports ROI (range of interest), it should probaby be used to improove AF. It uses the same pixel size for every chip size .. and FF and 43 chip size (8 mpix for 43) is ready…

        There is also possibility to use PDAF senzors outside the lenses (as Ricoh do)

        I don’t see the problem…

        • Daemonius

          CCD are supposed to have problems with overheating when sensor is too big (full-frame). Though since there are quite a large sensor movie cameras with CCD, I dont know..

          Maybe cause CCD has kinda crappy high ISO, but hey I dont want more than lets say ISO 800 – 1600? :)

        • babbit

          There is a whole list of reasons why live view with large sensor CCDs aren’t viable. Readout speed is an issue. For small CCDs on P&S cameras, it doesn’t matter how much sensor lag there is, but for premium compacts and above, lag may actually be the biggest hindrance to CCD live view. 2nd, is heat. For a large sensor, high ISO, continuous live view can easily overheat the sensor and will cause IQ degradation when you actually take the photo. Current leakage is another issue for large sensor CCDs, where a bright pixels during live view can cause all adjacent pixels in the row to light up. 4th reason, although CCD is a lot simpler than CMOS, it would actually cost more to suppress the deficiencies of live view CCDs in order to make it work (such as the heat issues). There are plenty more reasons if you do a google search.

          • Inge-M.


      • Youre kidding me right? Download some raw-files and you´ll see how extremely BAD that M9 sensor is. Of all the M9 raw-files I´ve worked with, any Sony aps-c CMOS will equal it or beat it. (dont count resolution)
        Its crazy how the “Leica M9 HYPE” has gone so far that people cant see the truth?!
        Of course I would LOVE an M9, because its a rangefinder, but not because its sensor is any good.
        Please people, WAKE UP!

  • John

    Ahh …. give me high quality 12MP in a multi-aspec sensor and I’m there. Probably too much to ask though . . .

  • Olympus is in a tricky position. S/N is determined by sensel efficiency and size. To beat APS-C in image S/N, they have to be more efficient than Sony, Canon, and Nikon. If they match in pixel efficiency, they still lose in overall image S/N simply by virtue of having a smaller area to play with. So they have to exceed not the current generation of sensors, but the next generation in order to have truly compelling product from an image quality point of view. Note that I believe that they already have a reasonably compelling product from an optical and mechanical (size and weight) POV, but this clearly isn’t enough to the market at large.

    Still, Olympus does have some very good engineers, and have shown more lateral thinking over the years than is typical from Japanese companies. And as an underdog I always root for them. Now if I could just afford a new camera ;-).

  • If the rumor should be true, I guess:

    10 MP and at ISO 6400 comparable noise to E-5 today at ISO 1600. Cobinated with an AF as fast or even faster than the GH2 and a sealed body and a useable viewfinder.

    Then I will buy it up to 1.500 USD.

    • Gino

      All that for mere $1500? Keep dreaming.

    • 10MP? Not likely. I bet you 12MP, maybe even 16MP. Don’t expect miracles from such a sensor. I don’t think there will ever be a weather sealed MFT camera anytime soon. Where are the lenses for that?!

      • Robbie

        Olympus knows how to make such lenses so I am not at all worried. The camera body, for me, is more of a concern.

  • Super!!!
    Premium news!!!
    Olympus ensures full controll to a core competence.

    • spam

      Not exactly full control, Olympus do the specifications, Panasonic do the production. You could probably done the design too, just go Panasonics sensor design page. Select the radiobutton for FT/MFT-size, no for supersized, 16MP, 720p video and 2 14 bit DA/converters. Then select number of sensors and delivery date.

      And of course, give it a name and upload a logo for the sticker.

      • In a modern economy – based on the division of labor – there exist phenomena like subcontractors, in-house production depth, outsourcing, clustering …
        Cost minimization is an absolute priority.
        The design and development of their own sensors makes perfect sense for Olympus. Cooperation of Olympus and Panasonic in the production within the Micro/Four Thirds camp is just a cost minimization strategy to improve the competitive ability.
        The architect’s plan is determining the design of a house even if he does not produce the brick by himself.

        • spam

          At least we agree that “Cost minimization is an absolute priority.” And the cheapest option is obviously to adjust an existing Panasonic design. And why not? Nikon has managed to get better performance from Sony sensors than Sony do, probably with some minor Nikon specific tweaks. To do a completely new design would be much more expensive and not add a lot as Olympus will be restricted by Panasonic’s production technolgy anyway.

      • Inge-M.

        HaHa Panasonic is not a Pizza resturante :-)

    • Gino


      • spam


  • Per

    This rumor contradicts a Olympus statements in a recent interview. That time mirrorless would just replace low end E 4/3 cameras. So what is false and what is true? Next week Panasonic is expected to present the G3 – may this leak from Olympus has to do with that.
    OK – Olympus are inovative. -But do they really have a clear strategy. They “have photographers in mind” when the design the sensor!! BIG NEWS HERE!! Hard to imagine that designers are thinking about laundry or week-end shopping when they design camera sensors!?? Or what do they normally think about at Olympus when they design cameras?

    • reverse stream swimmer

      Of course, Olympus Japan must have a clear strategy, that’s a core fundamental in runing a business operation.

      However, I agree it seems that they keep that information, very close to their chest. No wonder, since the daughter operations are leaky as a sieves. I guess that makes the marketing managers in Europe and America improvising, leading to all these contradictory messages appearing after each exhibitions.

    • spam

      @Per: This is a rumor site that get a few predictions right each year (and this isn’t even FT5). There’s a fair chance that the Pro-name is just a description of a higher end MFT-camera than the Pens and don’t originate with Olympus. My guess is that the Pro-designation don’t mean E-5 level, but something in the E-620 range possibly with slightly better build and some weather sealing. Pentax had something like that a few eyars back, the K200. Going much higher than that with a MFT-camera today wouldn’t make much sense.

    • Dear Per, you are probably wrong – there is no contradiction:
      PEN will replace the Exxx-series (note: 6xx, 5xx and 4xx-series).
      Olympus will continue to produce and develop the Ex and Exx series
      (note: E-5 and E-30) and 4/3 lenses.
      The Olympus E-5 was developed for the professional and most demanding user.
      There was no statement that mirror less is restricted to consumer target groups and low end.
      I guess there will be Olympus high end cameras with OVF and mirror less design (high end MFT) as well in the future.


  • Stig

    I think as it stands, this rumour is nonsense.

    Olympus is an optics company, not a bleeding edge semiconductor manufacturer. The chances of them coming up with something that betters everything else on the market from dedicated semiconductor manufacturers is less than zero.

    The only way this might have a grain of truth to it would be if Olympus has employed another company to do a design for them. The same way Samsung contracted Intrinsity to design the Hummingbird processor they used in their bleeding edge phones. Apple liked Intrinsity’s work so much they bought the company and now claim they designed the A4 chip used in the iPhone 4.

    So does anyone know of a small independent tech firm with expertise in sensors?

    What is it with everyone wanting retro? For gods sake, if you want retro and a Leica like rangefinder – go and buy a Leica rangefinder and shoot film!

    As for bleating about a viewfinder in the top left corner – is that the ideal location for people who happen to be left eye dominant?

    They can put the viewfinder wherever they like, as far as I am concerned, so long as it is ergonomic and the overall package gets delivered – a pro grade M43 with a first rate sensor.

    • Joey


    • spam

      I think the rumor is OK as far as it goes, but many are reading way too much into the “Sensor by Olympus”. It also says that Panasonic will produce it which most likely mean it’s a Pansonic sensor where Olympus has adjusted some parameters to their liking.

    • Mk7

      So does anyone know of a small independent tech firm with expertise in sensors?

      Aptina, perhaps? They just won an award for sensor technology – a 16MP sensor in fact!

  • Arkersaint

    @Stig : -1
    We do not want a “retro” style because it is retro, we want a style that :
    – does not scream “big camera here”
    – therefore does not disturb our beloved subjects
    – And is slimmer…
    – and is not expensive like Leica
    – with auto focus capacity unlike Leica

    We want that badly with EVF and no mirror, simply for one good reason :
    – Both Oly and Pany can.

    • Boooo!

      Then buy an XZ-1. It’s exactly what you’re looking for.

      Meanwhile, I want a huge DSLR made out of metal forged by the finest dwarven blacksmiths that doesn’t shatter into pieces when you look at it badly (as it usually happens with low-end Canons).

      I want a huge DSLR protected by magical forest elf spells to give it durability against earth, wind and water (fire might be too tricky, to be fair).

      I want an evil DSLR with the Red Eye of Sauron for focus assist.

      I want a heavy DSLR so I can hit potential thieves on the head and break them, instead of my camera breaking. The tripod quick release plate shall be used as a sharp cutting weapon.

      I want a huge and heavy DSLR so I can balance my fast telephoto lenses properly, and I want a huge and heavy DSLR with a proper, huge grip for my huge hands.

      • Gino

        Then buy some canikon and be happy. The whole point for Olympus moving to m43 was to escape to territory where big guys won’t go (for some time yet)

        • spam

          I thought the point of going to m43 was (the belief) that the future is there.

        • Boooo!

          Why would I buy a Canikon when the E-3/E-5 is the most magical dwarven-elven body ever built? It just needs an Eye of Sauron (which the E-1 had, sniff).

          m4/3 does not mean small bodies. It just means that the flange distance is shorter. There’s nothing stopping Olympus from producing an E-7 or an E-9 that looks and weighs completely the same, but accepts m4/3 glass.

          I want a camera that supports the lens. I don’t want lenses that awkwardly support a tiny little excuse for a plastic camera.

          • Trevor

            Boooo!, I agree with you, but it seems that when I post and when I read posts most do not. While m43 is defined by flange distance and lack of mirror, it seems most believe that emphasis is on the word “micro” and that any m43 product should necessarily be as small as it possibly can be.

            I personally would have no use for a “pro” camera that is the size of an E-PL1 or even GH2 for that matter. In my opinion, if it’s pro or high-end or whatever, it should be large enough to balance large aperture lenses and flashes and have quick access to lots of controls.

          • Inge-M.


      • gf1man


        • Mk7

          Perhaps he’s compensating, for shortcomings elsewhere? :)

          • Boooo!

            I’m not compensating for anything :)

            When I go out to shoot wildlife, I need a camera body that can resist a light drizzle or gusts of wind that carry dust around. I need that camera body to balance well with the 50-200 and EC-14. And let me tell you something – my E-3 barely does that, unless a grip is used. That makes it more comfortable.

            I don’t care if the next flagship E camera is mirrorless or not. I care about fast PDAF focus for my 50-200 and hefty size and weight. If they make a smaller 50-200 for m4/3 that is just as fast (though it wouldn’t be that much smaller), guess what – I’m not buying it, because I already have a working lens. I also have that famous Summilux, and again, it’s a lens that feels at home only on E-30/E-3/E-5, because of its bulk and their bulk. I’m not interested in buying a redesigned m4/3 version. Money does not grow on trees.

            So, to conclude, a future flagship E system camera needs to be big and heavy, like the current cameras are. Naturally, if I feel like street shooting with pancake primes, then I’ll gladly accept a small PEN or something the size of E-4xx and E-6xx. Right tool for the job, and all that jazz.

      • I want a camera I can travel with by plane – not a weapon!

        • Boooo!

          What, you’ve never wanted to display a burst of violence towards Canon users ridiculing our smaller sensors? ;)

          On a sidenote, I was at a concert the other day, and there was a photographer from some kind of a photo agency that carried a huge, huge white lens. The lens, dangling with the camera from his shoulder, reached his knees. I couldn’t help but think “poor guy, he’s going to have to retire early from having issues with his shoulder if he continues carrying this thing around”.

  • Daniel

    I really do hope Olympus stays alive. As a long time user of Nikon DSLRs I have to admit my EPL1 + 20 1.7 easily blows away my Nikon SLRs out of camera. The Olympus formula is pretty damn amazing and after years of exhaustive lightroom use being a raw junkie I can finally kiss long hours in the digital darkroom goodbye and concentrate purely on shooting.

  • Len

    To me this means better performance than the E-5 and that is fantastic news. I would have been happy with pen sized E-5… But his hints at something more exciting… Yesterday I was printing my first exhibition shot with the EPL-1 and my beloved Voitlander, the prints are amazing… I can’t wait to upgrade my EPL-1…. Bring on the rumors… I love my Pen.

  • at

    This is a great news, though I don’t know how can Olympus keep the noise level lower than the Panasonic sensor if it is designed by a company with no experience in sensor technology and made by Panasonic, unless it is co-designed with a third-party company, or apply heavy-handed NR to RAW images.

  • john

    So does this mean that it will only use m4/3 lenses?

  • Personally I would be happy enough with the GH-2 sensor tweaked for a high-end Olympus model. The lower noise at high ISOs in the GH-2 is a marked improvement over the current PEN cameras. Of course, something even better would be excellent, but being realistic it does seem more likely right now that the new Olympus sensor is an upgrade of the current Panasonic one.

    A built in evf (that doesn’t compromise the size of the current EP-1/2 cameras too much) would be fantastic. I just tried the VF-2 in store yesterday and was blown away by the quality. I’m holding off buying it for my EPL-2 right now though in case there is an upgrade in the near future.

    Add to the higher end model all of the features from the EP-2 and EPL-2 models together, put it in a smart, retro styled body close to the EP-1 and address a few of the quirks and I’d be up for upgrading!

    Then we just need a bright portrait lens to be done with it :).

    • Who wants a GH2 sensor when you see what the Fuji X100 can do? For street photographers who are using the GF1+20mm, the incentive to upgrade within the m43 system is weaker everyday and the only rational upgrade for the moment seems to be the Fuji X100. I would love to be proved wrong but as far as product releases from Panasonic, Olympus and Fuji have gone so far that’s just the way it is…

  • What I assume is that we all waiting a corner built-in EVF, and Oly could produce a DSLR-like centered one…
    Because since E-P2 their marketing choices are always exactly the opposite of my wishes.

  • Arkersaint

    +1 and lol

  • “He expects a low Megapixel sensor with high dynamic range and better image quality than any other current m43 sensor.”

    what a revolution ! A shame noone else had the idea before.

  • SSingh

    I am quite happy with my E-P1 for what it is and what it does.. except the LCD screen which is just not good enough for me.. I use a LCDVF with manual lenses and gotten myself used to the strange balancing act one has to to with this setup.. but I wish that were compensated by a great resolution screen.

    • Inge-M

      Test E-P2 by EVF, then can you buy to good price now.

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