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Olympus E-M5 II Will Feature ‘Sensor Shift’ Capable Of 40MP Images | Rumor

By Anthony Thurston on December 4th 2014

Some new, and very very interesting rumors, regarding the upcoming Olympus OMD EM-5 II, surfaced this morning. The new body, which is expected to be announced towards the beginning of February, is now rumored to have ‘sensor shift’ technology that will allow the user to shoot images up to 40MP.


Olympus 40MP Sensor Shift Tech Rumor

This new report comes from 4/3 Rumors, which indicates that the original source of the information was new and anonymous, but that it has also been confirmed by one of his ‘best’ trusted sources. The report states that the E-M5 II will feature a 16MP sensor, that when shot with this new sensor shift technology will be capable of producing a 40MP image (using the sensor shift tech with up to 8 shots). pixelshift_zpseddc7a97

Currently it is thought that this will somehow utilize Olympus’s 5-axis image stabilization technology to shift the sensor. But the details about how this sensor shift tech will work are unclear.

[REWIND: Olympus OMD E-M1 Review]

The closest tech that we are aware of is Hasselblad’s ‘Multi-Shot Capture Mode’ on their H5D-200c. The Hasselblad tech currently only allows users to take up to 6 shots, the Olympus tech will allow for up to 8 shots, if the current rumor is to be believed.


My Take

Olympus is clearly looking for a way to distinguish itself from other M4/3 offerings, and this tech would do just that. But I wonder how usable this tech will actually be. For example, if I shoot a landscape and the wind is blowing trees around, will it screw up my shot? I would also think shooting action of any kind would also be out of the question.

So my thoughts are that this is pretty cool tech, but at the same time it seems sort of limited in its uses. Maybe there is something about it that we don’t know yet that makes it better, but from what we know now, this seems like something that very few people would actually use on a regular basis, and if this is their ‘flagship feature’ for the E-M5, I think people will be disappointed.

Your Take

What are your thoughts about this rumor? Do you see a wider use for this ‘sensor shift’ technology that I do? Would you use it on a regular basis? Leave a comment below and let us know that you think!


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Anthony Thurston is a photographer based in the Salem, Oregon area specializing in Boudoir. He recently started a new project, Fiercely Boudoir to help support the growing boudoir community. Find him over on Instagram. You may also connect with him via Email.

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Kostas Panagias

    It seems an interesting feature but I think it will be only applicable to still-life photography. Anyway this sensor shift technology reminds me of another recent rumor about Sony’s Active Pixel Color Sampling technology which is based on a color filter that moves above the sensor. This doesn’t increase image size in terms of megapixel but it enables each pixel to record full color (all three color values: Red – Green – Blue) just like sensor shift in Hasselblad and rumored E-M5 MkII.

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  2. Greg Silver

    So this would work if the exposure was locked for all photos. However, I’m wondering how you would take an HDR photo with this camera. Would it have to take 3 bracketed sets of 6 shots each.

    Although I think it’s a cool concept, I’d rather them just develop a 40MP sensor and skip the ‘several shots’ stitched together process. I can’t see this working for moving objects.

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    • adam sanford

      Agree, Greg. I’m all for neat in-camera tricks, but I can’t see many applications for this.

      But somewhere, someone is pumping their fist about this for what *they* shoot. I’m just trying to figure out what that is. Other than product work and really static landscapes like architecture, I’m lost on who would use this regularly. Any thoughts?

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    • Stan Rogers

      It wouldn’t work out the same as using a 40MP sensor unless that 40MP sensor was similar to a Foveon. Let’s assume that the tech is similar to Hasselblad’s. The first four shots (which would probably be available as a separate shooting mode, as on the Hassy) shift the sensor by exactly one pixel up, down, left, and right, giving you a 16MP image where every pixel is covered by a red, a blue, and two green exposures (as well as full-spectrum “next neighbour” information). That does really nice things to colour rendition, and by removing the Bayer filter from the equation, means that all aliasing (colour as well as luminosity) is at the same frequency. That is, the moiré, if any, would be the same as a monochrome sensor. Subsequent shots add additional luminosity information between the colour pixels (the colour info gathered here is somewhat less important).

      No, it isn’t a whole lot of use for moving things (see this question at the photography StackExchange to see what innapropriate use of a multishot camera looks like: ), but you still have a conventional 16MP single-shot camera in your hands when you want to take pictures of moving things. (The multishot ‘Blads, both the 200MP and 50MP versions, are still 50MP single-shot ‘Blads when you want them to be.) You don’t lose anything, you just gain a lot when your photography allows it. It’s mostly about product, and very still landscape, I suppose, but even if those are things you only occasionally dip your toes into, having a camera that can do incredible detail with immaculate colour when you want it to is probably a good thing.

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    • Holger Foysi

      @S. Roger: It is only a question of speed. In case the movement and pictures were taken 1/8000s apart, you could get a sharp stitched picture of even slightly moving things (don’t know wether it is possible, but Fuji now gets 1/32000 via firmware, so why not). Your Hasselblad example, was for pictures 1s apart each, or was this just a guess of one guy answering?

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  3. John Cavan

    This isn’t new, Hasselblad did that back in 2010, albeit for a medium format back with the H3D 50 II. Working with the smaller format is probably more useful to be honest, the lag between captures would be much less. However, the lighting really needs to be under complete control when doing this though!

    In any event, I always thought Pentax should do this. They clearly have the concepts available, the linking of their GPS unit to control sensor movement for astrophotography is brilliant, so I think they could do this too.

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  4. adam sanford

    What HDR does for dynamic range, this might be able to do for detail/resolution. Interesting, but just like Any multishot solution, your subject has to be still or the upside of that detail would go unfulfilled — this might be problematic for portraiture and definitely will be problematic for landscapes with water, trees with wind, etc. And action, wildlife, kids, etc. would be out unless capture rates dramatically improve.

    So if they launched something like this, who would it be for? Architecture? Product photography? Landscapes… of cities or treeless mountains? I’m not being a brat with this — I do see value here — but little of what I shoot is on that list. I’m curious what everyone thinks about this.

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    • Paul Monaghan

      I’ve been saying for years that pentax should have done this, way before they added manual sensor shift and AA simulation.

      It’s not going to work for everything as you say but it’s a nice feature to have.

      If you need higher rez for single images there are other options.

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