(FT5) Sensor has “High Dynamic Range” and ISO up to 25.800. (The OM-D Logo graphic registered in Germany


The graphic in top has been registered by Olympus at the german patent institution (Click here).

I know you are all waiting to here more about the upcoming new sensor inside the OM-D camera. I just got something for you: I have been told by top sources that the sensor has 16 megapixel and actually has been designed for a “High Dynamic Range“. I don’t know yet is how you get this dynamic range increase. Is there a software trick or is the sensor really a newly designed Olympus sensor rather than the same GX1 sensor? The ISO goes up to 25.800 which on paper beats every current Micro Four Thirds camera!

I take the chance to ask my sources if they can tell me more about HOW this dynamic range performance has been archived and if that is really a completely new sensor. Thanks!

P.S.: The new weather sealed 12-50mm lens which will be the new kit lens of the OM-D is in Stock at Fotomundus (Germany) , Pcstore (Taiwan) and soon at Adorama, BHphoto, Amazon UK and Amazon Japan.

  • Vivek

    I hope, despite the usual Olympus hype, the shutter is quieter.

    • mpgxsvcd

      I like the sound of the high dynamic range. However, I don’t want the 12-50mm lens. I hope they sell this camera body only.

      • P

        Get it cheaper with the body and sell it for more on Ebay!

        • and who is the idiot to buy a weather sealed HUGE lens for his e-p3?

          • same one who is buying regular kit lens separately?

            • P

              If someone has the 14-42 and wants the wider 12-50mm may be?

              • @somebody eat this
                I can feel a tipping point coming on in the mind of the consumer :D

          • BLI

            One tester claimed it balanced very well on the E-P3.

    • Leiya

      Vivek, I agree!! The current shutter is too loud. Need to be much softer to do discreet photography (though I don’t know if the digital OM will be significantly bigger than the PENs or the GF/GX cameras and can’t keep the discreet profile)

      • ihateidiots

        People who worry about shutter noise should stop being so conscious about themselves. Jeez.

        • Chris

          It’s not only discretion that makes quieter shutters handy; a shutter that loud on small bodies can create a lot of vibration and so make less sharp pics.

          • ihateidiots

            Honestly, I use the Ricoh GXR with a metal focal plane shutter that makes plenty of noise, but quite frankly, it doesn’t cause enough vibration to be of any problems.

            • Kyle

              Which GXR module are you talking about? My 28 and 50mm GXR modules are whisper quiet compared to my Oly E-P3.

        • Gman

          With Street Photography, these is a lot more noise than you think, I have never had complaints about shutter noise. Maybe: “Did you just take my picture?” (They SAW me hold/tilt up my camera), In small cafe’s, (Private Property, although a public space) the current mirrorless are quite enough, for me at least. I would like an INVISIBLE Camera ;-)

          • MJr

            True, but it sounds cheap, like plastic. I don’t like it. (E-P1)

            • Digifan

              I have the E-P1 and a G2, guess what shutter is quieter. All the Panasonic camera’s have an ugly metallic sound.
              I wanted the GX1 but it’s shutter sound is the same. Up to now only the E-Px have a more dampened sound. The G2 goes when this OM-D appears to be a feasible alternative to my E-5. Maybe even the E-5 and E-1 too.

        • huipfui


    • nicwalmsley


      Edit: +10 to the comment that they hope the shutter is quieter. Crazy how loud it makes the Pen Mini. Likewise the blue on light, bright enough to be a small torch.


      ISO goes so high does not mean it´s useable.

      oly just included it into the featurlist for hype.

      do someone here really think oly wil come up with a GREAT SENSOR?

      lol… no.. not in 100 years. their sensors are always medicore.

  • Maley

    12.800 was already useless why even higher ISO? Makes no real sense for me. Well, maybe Olympus goes the marketing route now with higher ISO and higher MPX, strangely for their first “pro” model.

    • Well, if it’s capable of crap quality at 25600, it might actually be usable at 6400.

      • jonas


      • ljmac

        I suspect you’re right, but a usable 6400 is way good enough for me! Indeed, a usable 3200 would be great as far as I’m concerned – I don’t shoot black cats in coal mines. :)

    • The G3 sensor has more than 1 f-stop better performance at high ISO than the one in the E-P3. It’s normal that if the E-P3 had ISO 12.800, the new one will have 25.600. Of course, it will be also completely unusable (but at least ISO 1600 – 3200 will be usable).

  • JF

    The dream camera is coming :D

    • BLI

      Hm. Sounds too good to be true… But it is fun to dream :-).

  • David

    Didn’t they say the E-p3 has a high dynamic range? ;)

    • MJr

      No they said they would do/did their best to optimize it for that. Just like now. It’s good to know they care about it, but it doesn’t say much. At least they’re not saying ‘we think it’s good enough’ like they did about the 12MP sensor.

  • Stravinsky

    I love the sound of my pen cameras shutter.
    Something tells me the sensor story will be the Same as with the Ep3. They claimed it was new and turned out to be recycled

  • bilgy_no1

    Wow! We can only hope it’s true!. Correction on the ISO number: shouldn’t it be 25,600 instead of 25,800? The sequence goes 3,200 to 6,400 to 12,800 to 25,600.

    Anyway, High DR sensor that goes so high should be more than just marketing trick allowing for acquarel results at the highest three ISO settings.


    • rrr_hhh

      The actual E-P3 is already going up to 12800 ISO, what is announced is only one stop more. Plus on the E-P3, going higher than 1600 is the most you can do without a serious drop in IQ.

      I think that we will get the G3 sensor tweaked by Olympus, like they tweaked the 12meg sensor for fast AF. Don’t have irrealist expectations, as you’ll be deceived.

      • I think you are right here. They squeeze out dynamic range by using a different curve than Panasonic. But that doesn’t mean it won’t be good in its own way. I’m often surprised how much I like my E5 sensor, despite also having a GH2.

      • You are right, no dreaming, but having a 16MP with one additional stop of usability and maybe 1 or 1.5 additional stop of DR, that would be great for me.

        • bilgy_no1

          Exactly! If they increase ISO range by one stop, and that’s an indicator for one stop better ISO (i.e. usable 3200 instead of 1600), that’s already pretty good.

          Not sure that the best APS-C even gets more than usable 3200/6400, so it would be good enough. Still, we need to wait and see…

          • nobody

            Yes, one additional stop of usability, please! But at the low end!

            ISO 5o – ISO 100 is what m43 needs to reach APS-C image quality.

  • Mike

    Excellent news (from a happy GF1 owner intrigued by the possibilities of the OM-D)! Now let’s see how long until this forum twists it into something negative and finds more things to complain about.

    • Anonymous

      They are already complaining. But, then again, very few of them are photographers.

      • mark

        you have my big PLUS. Soon I will be m43 camera owner, no supposedly superior mirrorless competition ()systems

  • Vader says:

    “Impressive. Most impressive”

    And… of course… he also says:

    “I find your lack of faith disturbing!”

    Just sayin’ :D

    • achiinto

      Vader might says:
      “Impressive. Most Impressive. But you are not a (Pro Camera) yet.”
      Vader also says:
      “I find your lack of faith disturbing!” …. and then start using his OM-D to take photos of Takin in B-mode without releasing the shutter.

      Takin replies:
      “Enough of this! Vader, release (the shutter)!”

      The result is an extreme overexposed photo with motion blur of Takin’s lips….
      Just joking… :D

  • slomo

    Do you mean ISO 25,600? 12,800*2 = 25,600.

  • MP Burke

    These rumours about the sensor having better dynamic range seem to be echoing those a few months ago, before the E-P3 was released. So we should not be surprised if the sensor, when evaluated by DXO, turns out to have the same performance as the GX1.
    Even so, if Olympus can make a compact camera with weather sealing. a good built in EVF and effective IBIS, it may be enough to make people like me (who selected Panasonic in order to get a built-in EVF) switch to Olympus.
    I suspect that by the end of the year there will be two or three Olympus cameras with the same 16MP sensor. Panasonic is likely to discontinue the 12MP sensor then the sensor in the G3/GX1 will be the mass market model and there will be a newer sensor in the GH2 replacement.

    • Jorginho

      Agreed 100% on everything you say here. Indeed, better DR was mentioned, first thing I saw when I saw this.
      IS 25800 will turn out to be a hype. Unusable. even ISO 12800 will be about as usefull as on current m43 cams GH2 and GX1. Not really.

      But if it is weahtersealed, smallish, has IBIS and an EVF in it does what my GH2 does I’d say it is the camera to go for. Unless movie is really important. The sensor is very good and with LR4 you now really get close to Sony NEX 5n like performance (Or Nikon D7000) when it comes DR it seems. I have to test it myself, but from what I have seen it now looks as if highlights are much better, at least with the old 12 MPixel sensor.

      I think the main advancements will be:
      – EVF 9even if hyped, what I saw already was revolutionary)
      – Weathersealing
      – 16 MPixel sensor

      And I agree: fi they get this sensor I am positive that a new and better one is on the way for the GH3.

    • JF

      But GX1 doesn’t have a high dynamic range ! It is exactly the same as G3 and 1EV worse than GH1 at 100 iso…Shame on olympus if they clame that with GX1 sensor…

    • jonas

      DXO suck

  • Michael Devitt

    If the high DR means APS-C-like performance, then the new 4/3 sensor is completely different from what we have seen in current MFT CSCs. Maybe another sensor supplier is involved with Olympus. Good for them!

    • reverse stream swimmer

      Most likely, it’s the G3/GX1 analogue output sensor from Panasonic. However, what we can hope for, is a better A/D conversion circuit, which would make sense in a premium camera here, so it can actually measure better than both the G3/GX1 siblings. At least, I’m a bit optimistic here.

  • Duarte Bruno

    Global shutter + double exposure??? I can’t see any other way… Who’s the supplier? Panasonic seems unlikely!
    BTW if it’s rated for 25K, it means it will play decently at 6400 after discounting the marketing hype, which will be nice indeed. Unless of course it’s at reduced resolution…

    • Berneck1

      Global shutter or a faster first curtain would be very nice. That lag drives me crazy sometimes!

  • Ralentizeur

    dream camera means, everything over Iso 800 will have a dreamy look to it :)

  • FotoRipOff

    DO NOT BUY FROM FOTO-MUNDUS! They regularly label items “in stock” when they are not. Just a warning.

    • P

      lol! Thanks for the advice nevertheless. I always found something a bit sketchy about them. They offer products on ebay for way lower than others.

    • ShatteredSky

      Hmmmm, I had no problem with them, even when I had to send in my 12-60 for repair.


  • Suppose they have changed one of the green sensels in the Bayer array to panchromatic. Wouldn’t that increase dynamic range? They would still have a R+G+B sensel for deternining chrominance but could use the panchromatic sensel for luminance in the low light areas. In highlight areas the panchromatic sensel would clip but the RGB sensels would be used for determining luminance, as on normal Bayer sensors.

    • NativeFloridian

      BRILLIANT!!! Have you e-mailed Olympus yet?

      • Kodak filed a patent which involved panchromatic sensels, but I don’t know if it works the way I suggest.

  • Alexander

    a miracle soon happens? :-)

  • L.S

    What I don’t understand is , why all you Olympus loyal customers don’t say a word about Olympus’s betrayal of 4/3 owners.
    I own / stuck with amazing lenses such as the 12-60 and 50-200 swd and with a lame E520 .
    If you ask me the new OM-D should include a proper solution for all of us 4/3 zuiko lenses owners who spent thousands of $ and got nothing right now.

    • Martin

      Don’t hold your breath. Rather sell your FT equipment before it becomes just a collector’s item. I did it too.

      • Max

        find any adapter with pins like Sony´s?

        • Martin

          You mean Sony’s “one ugly system”? When I saw that for the first time, I began to fear that Olympus would come with the same solution and sold all my FT gear (except for the FL-36R flash, which I now succesfully use with my GH2)

      • Ross

        Yeah, I want the 50-200 SWD. I’ll take it if it comes nice & cheap. ;)

    • Richard

      I hope and belive that we will get our E-5 successor later this year. As Olympus said a couple of weeks ago. They see the m4/3 as a bridge system between P&S and DSLR. Fingers crossed! :-)

      Think what our HG and SHG lenses can do with this new sensor if the rumors are true.

      • Martin

        It reminds me of the definition of optimism: lack of information ;-)

        • occam

          This sensor news/rumor is the kind of ‘lack of information’ I like. :-)

      • Esa Tuunanen

        Retro brick just isn’t successor to ergonomic full controls DSLRs.

      • Ross

        That’ll be when they’ve had time to perfect the use of the new sensor in the OM-D to refine it for the E5 replacement. :)

    • @L.S
      I’m out about with my GH1 with 5 four thirds lenses and 2 micro four thirds lenses and it’s all good :D

      ” the best lens is the one you have with you”

    • Because people are more attached to a brand than their phoography (those few that actually do some). I am a Joel
      Shooter and I got blasted and een called names in the past for
      Doing so

      Now the e-5 having as one of the only few features over the competition a good jpeg engine all of a sudden I saw a curious increase in jpwg shooters since it came out. All of a sudden shooting jpeg is also ok. All of a sudden Olympus millions of dollars doing a fantastic jpeg engine is ok.

      See te hypocrisy and blindness? Of course the market for Olympus became smaller but don’t mind the un enlightened “few” that switched brands “because they only buy the latest thing”

      Know what I mean?

    • I don’t feel betrayed. My E-5 is just a year old and works absolutely fine – and according to Ogawa-San, they already are working on the successor. So where’s the problem?

    • FotoRipOff

      Wheres the problem with the E5? Get one and stop whining.

      • bilgy_no1

        It’s too big, too much and way too expensive. Olympus needs to fill the gap of the E-620 and E-30. And no, the answer is not the E-5 for people who bought into the E-system with an E-520 or E-620 and then got some nice lenses such as the 14-54, 11-22 or 50-200.

    • bilgy_no1

      L.S. I wrote exactly about that in the previous thread. But you’re right, it can’t hurt to repeat this TIME and AGAIN until Olympus delivers a solution…

      I want to be able to use my 14-54mm mkI with good AF speed on the new body. I see it more as the spiritual successor to the E-620 and E-30 than the OM-series. So far it looks good, but the only bit of info I still want is a confirmation that there is some kind of solution for 4/3 lenses on this new m4/3 body. It would be a great match for the fantastic HG 4/3 DSLR lenses they already have.

      I don’t care how they do it (new PDAF adapter, on-chip PDAF, seperate PDAF module or whatever). They just need to do it…

    • Digifan

      Grow up man, technology evolves. The only ones that are pissed are oldtimers like me that can’t adapt. I have an E-1 and an E-5, including some (S)HG lenses I’m not crying wolf.
      In fact if the OM-D is equal to E-5 in features the E-1 and E-5 will eventually go. The lenses will find a new owner, they were tools, not collectors items.

      The problem is that everybody who sells them wants too much money second hand and think they should be able to buy new gear without having to add money.

  • OutofFocus

    That sounds too good to be true. In fact, high dynamic range and high sensitivity at the same time have a strong enemy: physics. There are just not enough photons.

    If my calculations are correct, a 16 MP crop-2 sensor at ISO 25800 receives 1000 photons per pixel. That limits the dynamic range to 3 or 4 stops, if you want a signal to noise ratio of 10:1.

    Physics is a serious buzzkill.

    • Yes, but Olympus is going to sprinkle the new sensor with magic pixie dust that will make all our dreams come true! We just have to clap our hands fast enough to show them that we believe!

      • Mr. Reeee

        ROFLMMFAO! :-)

        • bibi

          moron, go and comment on Panasonic news and rumors. you have nothing to add to the comments. you are allways + for shity comments. don’t like Oly products, go to the promise land of Canon, Nikon, Panasonic, Pentax, Fuji, Mamys etc.
          and change the f…photo. it looks like s…. i think that it looks exacly like you take photos.
          GET A F….. LIFE duuude!!!!

      • taran

        Ranger 9 FTW!

  • Fish

    Oh man, this is sounding better and better.

    Admin, any word on compatibility with 4/3 lenses? If so, I want to start buying back my old lenses before the official announcement so I can avoid competing with everyone else : )

  • dvdyeo

    regardless of whether its a software trick or a genuinely higher DR sensor, I’m glad.

  • om-4

    Sensor with fast readout combined with software tweak:
    instant 3shot HDR= old sensor with more dynamic range in Jpeg only.

  • twoomy

    This is starting to get exciting. I hope the camera offers a 3:2 mode as well; something the Pany’s do.

  • man

    if the iso 25600 is as usefull as the 12800 on my E-P3, its just there to have it on the paper, but you can’t actually use it. whats the point?

    • bilgy_no1

      Well, if 25,600 is as useful as 12,800, then by conjecture ISO6,400 will be as useful as 3,200 on the old sensor. That’s pretty good, isn’t it?

  • Mark Hsu

    I just hope that this sensor can be on par with Canon G1X…

  • soldar

    didn’t they say the exact same things about the previous 12MP sensor? ;p
    like i said before, it’s 16MP, and olympus uses the panasonic sensors, it’s obviously one of the current sensors and I doubt panasonic will give olympus something better than the GX1

    • Cedric L

      It’s suppose to be tweak by Oly. That should make a nice difference, I hope.

  • Sören

    @admin: Look up the first sensor rumors of the E-P3, they said exactly the same. Of course I nevertheless hope your are right.

  • Martin

    Finally it beggins sounding interesting, much more than the marketing hype we have seen until now.
    But, “High dynamic range” is a relative term. Let’s hope that this time it’s not all just about the JPEG engine, as usually with Olympus..

  • Bob B.

    25.8 is a great number. VEry improved. That would be REAL change from what MFT has now…not a marketing shell game…….We shall see….I am very skeptical.

    • Berneck1

      Well, 25.6 is not a great number unless it is useable. You could probably have these sensors go much higher, but the photos will look awful. I feel to some extent ISO is just another megapixel race. The biggest problem I have is that the image files keep getting larger and larger as a result. My hard drives are filling up faster…. It’s ridiculous!

  • Zo

    High Dynamic Range as in HDR

    With a fast enough processor or pipeline I wonder if what they are talking about is doing the manual HDR technique as a one click option. Multiple exposures merged together. No reason why you cannot do this. Also, they could multi meter different areas of the picture and then merge the results. Would this not be similar to Nikon’s “Active D-Lighting” (you can argue how effective that is, my point is, its possible). Whatever it is, it needs to be outside of the box of the way Olympus has designed/developed sensors before.

    • I think Nikon’s “Active D-Lighting” is similar to Olympus SAT (gradation = auto).

  • Hojk

    if iso 25600 means 6400 is usable i am ok with it.

  • Thissur

    ..Maybe something to do with Fujifilm..

  • Me

    The sensor is designed by Olympus and developed by Toshiba.

    • admin

      How do you know that? :)

      • Bob B.

        hmmmmmm….that comment sparked admin’s curiosity…my spider senses tingle!!!! LOL!

      • occam

        Finally, a genuine _new_ sensor, sensor partner, and breath of life for Oly camera bodies:

        “TOSHIBA ANNOUNCES NEW HIGHLY-SENSITIVE CMOS IMAGE SENSOR WITH BACK-SIDE ILLUMINATION TECHNOLOGY” (http://www.toshiba.com/taec/news/press_releases/2011/assp_11_613.jsp).

        Sounds like the real deal.

        • occam

          And serious dynamic range upgrade (60 dB → 92 dB):

          “While previous solutions only provided a CMOS image sensor dynamic range of up to 60 dB, the new Toshiba Wide Dynamic Range technology extends this to 92 dB. Camera phones can now capture high-quality images in both low-light and bright-light situations.”


          • maybe Olympus will pay for the Toshiba sensor with new shares ;-)

        • Duarte Bruno

          That sensor is 1,000,000x smaller than a 4/3. Perhaps it’s satisfactory for mobile phones…
          Come on, did anyone care to read the text?

      • Martin

        Because.. OMG!.. is it really HIM? :D

      • Me
        • admin

          Sounds like he almost copied the rumors from 43rumors. The only thing he added is a pure speculation about Toshiba. Hmmm, don’t trust that.

          • Is there any top source stating the sensor is from Panasonic.
            Or is there a possibility that its from another sensor manufacturer.

            • admin

              Not a single source told me it’s from Panasonic. They only said Olympus tweaked 16 MPX sensor with High dynamic range. More or less that’s it.

          • Richard

            They say “probably” made by Toshiba.

            • Bob B.

              geeeeeee….I wonder where he is getting the info to post….so f’ing LAME!!!! Like the website!

    • Narretz

      Sounds intriguing. A quick search showed that Toshiba indeed makes sensors for cameras, but noen as large as m43. But I don’t know how difficult / profitable it would be to produce a small series of sensors with a larger format.

      edit: also, they do backside illuminated sensors!

      But I would still give this a FT0.5

      • katy

        If this new Olympus OMD pans out I will sell one of my Panas and keep the GX1, buy the OMD for use with my Non OIS lenses and then I’ll be set. Perfect! Just one system of lenses so I’ll forget all about the Canon G1 X and Fuji Pro X.

      • reverse stream swimmer

        Toshiba has many semiconductor foundries, with capacity for other companies like Fujifilm to manufacture their devices there. However, most likely the MFT sensors used by both Olympus and Panasonic will be manufactured at the Panasonic foundries.

      • Narretz


    • Jonathan

      Increase in Dynamic Range implies a new tech, even if the Olympus treatment imaging signal is the best.
      Two solution : – Panchromatic pixel as used with the latest Kodak TrueSense color filter pattern.
      – Or BSI sensor.

      Toshiba is already making 2/3″ BSI sensor with 16mp and EXR array for Fujifilm compact camera…

      • Jonathan

        Also, Toshiba’s 2/3″ BSI Sensor we can find in Fuji Cameras like HS20 or Fuji F550,F600,… and the following have ON-SENSOR PDAF !

    • NativeFloridian

      Could it be???

  • Narretz

    Omg, talk about getting the hopes up again. You are certainly doing a good job, admin + and sources. And I don’t mean that negatively, since you can’t influence what people make of rumors.

    But you should go a little slower with the news; I want to see a comment thread 400 + and we only get that if a news item sticks around for a bit (and contains good stuff) :D

  • sound sweet….

  • P

    Hahah what sensor are you actually talking about? :p

  • Admin, ISO and MP are ok, but the most important information for me is about 4/3 lenses compatibility and the posibility of an aditional grip.
    Do you have any possible information about this?
    I can’t wait anymore haha.

    • admin

      Will do that!

  • L.S

    Following my previous comment , I would say that THE MOST IMPORTANT RUMOR WOULD BE ABOUT 4/3 COMPATIBILITY !!!

    Please Admin target your trusted sources on this issue .

    • admin


  • camerafan

    since the size of sensor is the same, the dynamic range would not be much different.

    • Esa Tuunanen

      Sensor size doesn’t decide really anything.
      It’s pixel/photosite size which defines how much light it gets and then level of sensor tech defines how well that gathered light is utilized to make some usefull data.
      And Sony’s tech would get practically four times as big dynamic range from same pixel size! (Sony 13.4EVs from 3.9 micron pixel vs Pana’s 10.6EVs from 3.75 micron pixel)

    • David Bateman

      Not true. The sensor size does matter. But Panasonic sensors are not the best for DR. There are many tricks still available. Thats how Nikon’s V1 sensor that is much smaller than a 4/3rds sensor actually has better DR. Yes Better DR!

      One can add sulphur to boost signals. You can use Back side illumination to reduce light use. You can make the sensor less reflective to light, so light is used to activate rather than just reflect off. Then you can add White pixels to increase range (ala Kodak). Lots of possibilities.

      • Bright Bum

        Maybe I’m not as familiar with the technology as some, but why would you want your backside illuminated?

        • bilgy_no1

          Didn’t you know? Olympus is already the market leader in endoscopes. I’m sure they use backside illumination for that…

          • ange7

            !! lol

  • Harry T

    if that 12-50mm lens is to fit the OM-D then it seems its confirmed its a Micro-4/3 camera.

    from description on amazon.co.uk
    Available in a choice of black or silver, the Olympus M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 12-50mm 1:3.5-6.3 EZ also fashionably complements whichever DIGITAL PEN SERIES CAMERA body it is twinned with.

    states that it fits PEN series cameras.

  • Vivek

    If it has a BSI sensor, I am in! :)

    • reverse stream swimmer

      BSI sensors are only manufactured for very small sensor sizes, normailly up to 1/2.3″. BSI will not make any difference compared to FSI at MFT sizes.

      Rather we would like to see that the sensor is digital output, like the GH sensor and the Sony sensors. However, most likely it’s the analogue output G3/GX1 sensor that Olympus is using for their newer cameras.

      • Jonathan

        Sony APS-C CMOS EXMOR sensor are BSI.

        • Vivek

          No, they are not. The ones used in some Sony camcorders and some P&S cams are. They are designated as EXMOR-R sensors.

        • reverse stream swimmer

          Sonys APS-C & 135 format sensors are using the Column-Parallel A/D Conversion Technique, but are still FSI = FrontSide Illuminated. BSI is only available for very small sensor sizes, i.e. for smartphones.

      • Vivek

        Your are repeating claims made by some camera manufacturer’s PR department? Particularly that of Sony?

        • No, he’s repeating what sensor experts say.

          As I noted on an earlier thread, BSI has advantages for small photosite sizes (near 1 micron). It (mostly) loses those advantages at larger photosite sizes. Moreover it is costlier to produce and has crosstalk issues.

          • Vivek

            That isn’t what the astro folks or the ones researching such in Princeton would say.

            The sensitivity goes up in a back illuminated sensor.

            Cost issue, marketing, etc are very different and have nothing to do with the performance.

            • rootkit


              For example the E2V and Fairchild CCDs with large sensels
              and extremely high QE. See “Back Illuminated” here:

              Of course these kinds of sensors don’t appear in any mass produced cameras, and they’re even not that widely used in astrophotography – often the noisy Kodak sensors are used, as they’re relatively inexpensive for large sizes. All (serious) Astro CCDs are cooled, and have quality AD and processing to deal with the noise.

              Anyway, the point is – there are back illuminated CCDs with large sensels,and they are built that way for a reason.

              • reverse stream swimmer

                When mentioning BSI sensor technology for consumer cameras, it’s always about BSI-CMOS, which is replacing traditional CCD for small pixel pitch sensors. Still the FSI-CMOS is competitive here at 1.4µm pixel pitch, such as with this 1/2.33″ MN34110 from Panasonic. One important goal is to achieve high Quantum Efficiency, where BSI-CMOS has proven to be successful with small pixel pitch sensors.

                Increasing the sensor size, makes production of BSI-CMOS very problematic, mostly due to the thinning process of the chip. The benefit of BSI-CMOS over FSI-CMOS vanishes for the larger pixel pitches we see in larger sensors apart for specifically P&S and smartphones.

                The largest sensor using BSI-CMOS I know of, is the Fujifilm 1/2-inch EXR BSI CMOS, having a pixel pitch of 1.4 µm.

                It’s therefore unlikely we’re ever going to see BSI-CMOS larger sized sensors even for the XZ-1 type of enthusiast cameras. For the larger sensors, the trend is towards digital output sensors, enabled using more leading-edge semiconductor process technologies 45nm -> 32 nm -> …

          • jonas

            cross talk issues are more of a problem with tiny pixels

  • Same sensor size, and a great increase in MP and ISO, live to believe.
    I hope, it will be true.

  • I hope it looks like OM1, not OM4

  • Aly

    2012 should be an exciting year. Certainly a new GH3 should be just around the corner too. It was late 2009/2010 when the G/GH/GF1’s and PENS started showing up so maybe it’s time we get a new leap in performance.

    And with the new 1DX,5DIII,D4,and Pro1 some serious money is going to be spent.

  • Hojk

    no more shoes for my wife as a new camera could be it very soon :)

  • Admin, while it cpd be a real new sensor it most likely isn’t. Remember the new pens “can do” ISO 12800. Do you think the new pens do better than an e-5 with the same sensor? The e-5 “only goes to ISo 6400”. How usable is that ISo 12800?

    I call this marketing

    That said a g1x sensor should provide probably 1/2 to maybe 1 stop better noise. That being the case ISO 3200 and perhaps ISo 6400 become useful.

    I wouldn’t trumpet higher dynamic range until proven and evidence is not Olympus brochures… And jpegs.

    • admin

      I also had fear that it was juts a marketing blabla. That’w why it took so long before I posetd this rumor. i had to ask around. Common perceptions eems to be that there is a real improvement. But how much has to be seen.

      • Charlie

        I feel like Charlie at the end of Willy Wonka — “Remember what happened to the man who suddenly found out that he got everything that he ever wanted?” :D

  • Daemonius

    ISO numbers have no meaning, most sensors has native top at 6400 and everything over is just digital gain (like in any RAW developer). And native ISO 6400 has only D3s as far as I know..

    DR.. well, GH2 actually has pretty good DR (despite noise) if you tweak RAWs a bit. Might be similar or better, tho it would be welcomed improvement and one thats definitely needed for m4/3s.

  • GF1 For Life…I guess

    In my opinion, all the m4/3 format needs is “good” iso between 50/100 – 800 and 12 stops of DR (preferably 13+) to be the obvious format of choice for 90% of all non-professional photographers (which is a lot of people). Why does anyone need iso 25,600? You’re a joke of a photographer if you do.

    These ridiculously high iso ratings along with new EVF and weatherproofing sound like sad attempts to cover the fact that Oly can’t (or doesn’t have the money to) improve on what really matters for photographers (low iso IQ and DR).

    It’s sad because there seems to be a lot of people (like myself) who are really hoping for the m4/3 system to succeed and aren’t asking for much other than some basic sensor improvements, but this just isn’t happening.

    Maybe we are asking for unachievable sensor improvements or maybe it just takes a long time, but at a certain point we as consumers have to force these companies to give us what we want/need (by refusing to purchase bodies with unimportant and useless upgrades) or move on to a system that does.

    Unfortunately the perfect system doesn’t seem to exsist and obviously people have different needs/wants in a camera, but you would think that by now between Panny and Oly and all of their m4/3 models, they could have created at least one new camera that is a true “next generation” m4/3 body. They have to be getting close, but there is no way this new Oly will be “that” body if it has the same sensor as the G3/GX1 because it does not address the fundamental IQ improvements that m4/3 requires in order to remain relevant in this increasingly competitive mirrorless market. Yes, some clowns will buy it just because they have a sentimental attachement to their old OM body, or because it will look neat, but I doubt that is enough to keep a format successful.

    I wish both companies the best of luck, as I have invested a significant amount of money in m4/3 lenses that I hope to be able to enjoy on a body similar to my GF1, but has the capabilities to reduce blown-out highlights, and produce “good” IQ between iso 200-800 (which no m4/3 body to date can do that I’ve seen or used).

    Now I’ll go hit the streets and love life, taking pictures of, well…life.

    Stay positive. Haha, ya right. I’m talking to people on a m4/3 rumor site.

    Pentax, Nikon, Canon, and Sony RULE!!


    Your friendly neighborhood Trollman.

    • Chris

      “Why does anyone need iso 25,600? You’re a joke of a photographer if you do.”

      Well, if you want to photograph nocturnal beasties, I guess…

      • GF1 For Life…I guess

        Haha. I support people photographing nocturnal beasties, so I take it back. I think we should push for iso 51,200/102,400 and forget about everything else (except improved EVF quality of course).

        High quality EVF night vision is the “future” of m4/3 photography. Make it happen Oly. You can do that for sure. Maybe add a tilt screen for good measure. We know you can do that. Amazing.

    • While I will agree with you a lot of people that think they need it don’t someone who in a knee jerk reaction throws the blanket statement “you are a joke of a photographer if you do” gets applied the “ignorant idiot” label

      Go out and do some street night life without flash (sorry if you are going to tell me to use flash- flash changes look even if it can also be made to look great- its still a different look). Or shoot a wedding reception at night on dim candles if you want in natural

      With logic like yours film would have never move past Asa 200. Certainly there is a pint of diminishing returns but I don’t believe we have hot that yet- at least for what I do though that ISo comes close (assuming if it was usable which on this. A era for the most part it won’t )

      • GF1 For Life…I guess


        I apologize if I offended you or someone you know by being blunt about how people are so easily herded into whatever direction companies want us to go. Out of curiosity, would you rather have a barely usable iso 3,200 or an extra stop of DR and better IQ at say 400 or 800 iso? If it’s the former, we just have different needs and you’ll probably be completely satisfied with any new camera that comes out in 2012.

        My guess is that the majority of people would rather these companies focus on getting better low/mid-range iso quality and a couple more steps of DR instead of taking the easy route and creating the equivalent to a new mega pixel war but with high iso because they can do it without spending as much in engineering costs.

        At least 50% of my photography is night shooting and I never use a flash. If I could get the IQ of my current 400iso at 800iso, I would be extremely happy, but I’d rather have improved IQ at iso 50-400 and an extra stop or two of DR over higher (1600+) iso quality any day. I guess it depends what you’re shooting.

        Either way, I hope a camera is released that meets/exceeds your wants and needs.

      • Mr. Reeee

        ISO 25,600 is just a bullet point for some sales dweeb’s PowerPoint presentation and the game of dueling spec sheets that every tech company’s marketing department plays, regardless of the products they sell.

        Has anyone tried 12,800 ISO. On my GH2 it looks like Fuji ASA 1600 slide film from the 80s, without the icky green cast. In other words, crap. Sure, it’s fun to play with, but little else. I’ve not tried cleaning the pix up in Lightroom yet, so maybe it’s more useful than it appears.

        If you want to do low light shooting TONIGHT, buy a Voigtländer Nokton 25mm f0.95. With it, I rarely need to push my GH2 past 1250 ISO and usually shoot at ISO 800 at night.

    • P

      Well said!

    • Well, a better high ISO performance usually also means less noise in low-ISO pictures and an increase in DR (at least if the photo well size is kept constant). Noise and DR are closely linked.

    • Mal

      Try taking a photo of my daughter in a dance concert with a telephoto lens. If the sensor was capable of it I would get 100mm, f5.6 (for DOF), 1/1000 at ISO 12,800. Anything else is a compromise in shutter speed or a more expensive and brighter lens. I can get by with OM 100mm f2.8 and 1/500th at ISO 3200 but that is manual focus, still one stop short for the current EP3 sensor, short DOF and the lens is not sharp until f4 for my taste.

      While higher ISO is not my first priority, with higher ISO the options open up in terms of shutter speed, aperture, DOF and glass.

  • napalm

    At best: a new sensor
    At worst: G3 sensor with a better implementation of SAT

    • bilgy_no1

      So worst case scenario is already a good improvement over the current Olympus offering. Think 1 EV stop improvement across the ISO range, which also helps the DR because of less noise in the shadows.

      More would be better of course, but the G3 sensor is already praised in every review to be very close to APS-C competition. It would give Olympus an up-to-date package in the IQ department for now.

  • compositor20

    I think it is a samsung sensor it has good dr you can see in dpreview sample

  • SteB

    It’s understandable that people are a bit sceptical considering that it was definitely implied that the EP-3 sensor was a new one made to Olympus’ own design. In fact I seem to remember this a few times. However, it’s not confined to Olympus, users of Sony sensors often make similar claims. You’d think that Japanese camera manufacturers would have learned that they are their own worse enemies when it comes to embellishments, because it means people are understandably sceptical when these claims are made again.

    Even after announcements have been made only JPEG samples are released. Meaning it’s only when RAW samples and the proper RAW profiles are released, that the the truth become clear. I hope this claim is true, but you can expect that it won’t be some time after the announcement when we can find out how much is new JPEG processing, how much is a better sensor, and how much is marketing speak.

    This causes problems. People’s expectations are raised, and then there is an understable let down when the facts become clear. Even Canon did this with the 50D sensor claiming it was a couple of stops better than the 40D, when it turned out the sensor was no better or slightly worse, just with more default JPEG noise reduction, a common trick. This trick has a limited lifespan.

  • Robbie
  • Zo

    In what situation and for what reason would anyone need to shoot at ISO 25,800?

    Back in film days we rarely shot 800 and even more rare was 1200 speed film. Even concert lighting, do you need something more than say ISO 1600 or 3200?

    Just like megapixels (anyone realize there wonderful HD TVs are only 2mpx and even the best LCD can only do about 4mpx), I do not see why we need ISO above 6400 max for good shutter speed [unless you have some very highly specialized subject to shoot]. What we do need is better DR and more accurate color and IQ that make those 4/3 lenses shine.

    Lets hope for the best on this sensor and hope its not all marketing speak

  • SLOtographer

    EP3 goes to ISO 12K on paper. One more stop on paper doesn’t mean anything, since what is useful in the real world is much lower.

    It’s the G3 sensor almost surely. The rest of the details are marketing fluff/noise. I hope I’m wrong, but this has been the pattern in the past.

  • Charlie

    Sounds like it’s going to have a hump. :(

    • nobody

      How would an OM lookalike have no hump?

  • hannes

    high dynamic range probably means that they use the same trick as in earlier cameras with increased base iso, underexposure and different tone curve.

    I am sure it is the same Panasonic G3, GX1 sensor and nothing else.

    • JF

      I hope you’re wrong and it’s not just marketing noise…But Unfortunatly you will probably be true

  • Firefox23508

    Well, if nothing else, if this does happen to be the G3/GH2 sensor, it means that Panasonic is about ready to release a new improved sensor for its GH3 … since we all know Panasonic only lets Oly have its last gen sensors …

    • May I remember you that the E-30 was the first camera featuring the 12MP sensor?

  • S

    How is an ISO of 25~26 considered ‘high’? It doesn’t matter what is after the decimal point, or how many zeros, it’s still only 25. It’s just a marketing gimmick! 25.80000000000 is still under 26 which is basically the state of CCDs fifteen years ago!

    • Duarte Bruno

      I’ll have two of what you are smoking, please!

  • io

    I already saw this movie. Seems a remake of an old movie about an “amazing” 12Mpx sensor. It ends with a lot of people crying when DXOMark says what everybody already knew.

    It’s Panasonic G3 sensor.

    • Duarte Bruno

      Yup. Dejá vu.

      • Who bothers DXO? According to them, there are tiny sensors with higher DR than nearly every APS-C/DX and FF sensor on the market. Thank you very much.

  • I want to see tests – immediately :-)

  • Anonymous

    IF THIS IS TRUE ,.I WILL SELL MY GX1 as soon as i get tehe OM-D

  • I don’t really believe that. It’s sales/marketing buzz. Remember the “redesigned” sensor of the current PEN range? The highest ISO setting on those cameras seemed also high but is in fact not usable at all.

    Let’s hope for the best though.

    Another interesting fact is that if the sensor is really going to wipe the floor with the E-5’s sensor, the E-5 is finished – I couldn’t imagine why people keep on buying that camera. Owning an E-5 (and loving it for its toughness and usability), I probably have to live with the fact that I won’t be able to sell it anymore as demand will evaporate.

    Let’s see how much of the rumored hype is actually true or just a panicky Olympus trying to keep people from buying Fuji hardware before they have a chance to appeal with their new OM-D.

  • Well, unfortunately i agree with most of the not so cheerful comments. This movie we already saw when they launched E-P3. And, given Olympus financial situation…do we really think they have the muscle to design a new sensor? Hmmmmm.

    m43 should not focus on high iso, but rather DR. I’d say 90% of my photography is in daylight (and judging from other posts, most people’s the same), so improving DR, hence tonality and the ability to reproduce an image with richer gradations would have a way bigger impact on IQ than having better high iso. And, if you REALLY need high ISO for critical photography, you’ll already be shooting full frame, right?

    m43 is ideal for travel and street. Both genres would appreciate better DR than super high iso performance i’d think. Its strange how manufacturers create a product for “this”, customers use the same products for “that”, and manufacturers fail to see the potential of taping into “that”.

    Fuji has shown how to tap into users imagination and needs with the X100 and X-Pro1 cameras. They may not be perfect, but they squarely target a group of users that needed “that”. They understood a certain market and replied accordingly. Conceptually, they did a fantastic job.

    • Mr. Reeee


      Battling blown highlights is a pain. Reducing that would be fantastic!

      I get the feeling that pushing ever-higher ISOs is easier to do than increasing DR, so camera companies try to sell us the “advantage” of ever-higher ISOs.

      • ljmac

        Actually, I think it’s more to do with marketing – it’s easier to sell a higher ISO number than higher DR, especially as ISO performance has somehow come to equal IQ on camera review sites (and in photography fora).

  • compositor20

    Our only hope is a FUJI sensor. If you size fuji x10 sensor to m43 you will get iso 6400 equal to what e-p3 has now at iso 1600… so that would be great…

  • tags

    Without an ISO below 200 this camera is likely to disappoint anyone doing exposures longer than a few seconds. For those shooting at dawn and dusk from a tripod, this makes the camera somewhat useless. If you don’t believe me, do exposures from 8 second – 2 minutes on your epm-1 or ep-3. The images look horrendous, absolutely mind-blowingly horrible. It’s embarrassing. You get cleaner images from an LX-5 at ISO 80 even in RAW with the least amount of NR. Even NIkon DSLRS that are 7 years old outperform these sensors for these kind of exposures.

    The trend is high iso performance, but we can’t forget that not everyone is prioritizing their camera on high iso ability. I do everything I can to prevent using high isos for any critical work. If I am shooting for a client, I’m not going to be shooting at ISO 6400 unless it’s an emergency (or a non-critical shot that’s just for fun!). If I ever really NEED high iso performance, I shouldn’t be shooting 4/3 to begin with. This is ridiculous.

    A “pro” camera needs to have impressive low ISO image quality. Also, it would help to have an ISO below 200 for using faster lenses in daylight.

    I’m a huge OM fan. I still shoot with an OM-2n. I’ve been desperately wanting to invest in Olympus for the past year, but I can’t bring myself to do so when a 25 second exposure at twilight appears inferior to some high end compacts. This is regardless of JPEG or RAW processed in DXO.

    If this camera goes to ISO 50 or even 100, it will satisfy many more people who want a travel camera with good build quality that can handle landscape.

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