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Gear Rumors

Sony May Bring ‘Pixel Shift’ Mode To A7 II Via Firmware Update

By Anthony Thurston on April 10th 2015

One of the headline features of the new Olympus OMD E-M5 II was the pixel shift technology that utilized the camera’s in-body stabilization to move the sensor and create 40+ MP images. If a new rumor is correct, Sony may bring a similar feature to its A7 II via a firmware update.


According to the new report over on Sony Alpha Rumors, a source tells the Admin that Sony is currently testing out a similar feature on its A7 II. The feature would work similarly to the Olympus mode, by moving the sensor one pixel up, down, left, and right to create an image with a higher resolution.

It would still suffer from the same issues with ghosting and movement as the Olympus (and Hasselblad) modes, but in studio and other settings where movement is minimal, the mode would open up a host of new options for A7 shooters.

It appears that Sony is just testing this technology at the moment, but if a time comes where they get it to work as the Olympus mode does, you will likely see it added to the current A7 II by way of a firmware update.

What are your thoughts on this mode? Would you like to see Sony add this to the A7 II via a firmware update? Leave a comment below and let us know what 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. Miau Inimene

    This function would be totally useless for me. 24 MP is enough for my A4 size photos and web posts.
    I need much more uncompressed RAW as i do shoot a lot thunder stormy skies and nigh skies.
    As of it’s now the resolution of A7 II in a good monitor color range is 24 MP, but after good 11 bit the resolutions drops to 23 kP for another 7 bit.

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  2. Dave Haynie

    Yeah, it’s only for tripod work. But keep in mind, it can do two things for you. One is the half-pixel shift to give you twice the resolution at an interstitial offset, which results in an interpolated photo 4x resolution, much like Fujifilm’s old 45-degree tilted SuperCCD.

    But the other thing is can do, via 1 pixel offsets, is eliminate de-Bayering. You’re getting four samples per pixel, two greens (which also drops noise a bit), one red, one blue. So no Bayer interpolation, which means better color, no purple fringes, and no moire issues.

    The OM-D mk II does both with its 8-shot High Res mode. Hasselblad had two different modes, one gave you a 200Mpixel result, the other a 50Mpixel in full RBG per pixel color.

    The other thing this does for you is let you have your sensitivity and your resolution. Now, sure, if you need 36Mpixel or 50Mpixel all the time, get that. But you’re losing low light for that, and sure, it would be much worse on an m43 camera to have to shrink pixels down. And of course, Sony and now Canon are trying really hard to sell everyone two or three bodies of the same basic model, since we as a group just aren’t buying new cameras often enough. This wouldn’t necessarily help there.

    On the other hand, it’s a real improvement and actually free, if you already have that IBIS. Olympus has suggested that their old IBIS wasn’t accurate enough… though they didn’t actually say if a 4-shot mode was impossible or not. Maybe Sony’s got more accuracy or some feedback mechanism to let them add this as an upgrade. Certainly not impossible, and everyone likes a firmware upgrade that actually does something new. Good press, too.

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  3. J. Dennis Thomas

    I’m always wary from info from “rumors” sites.

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  4. Michael Young

    And then Sony will get credit for being the innovator of the technology lol

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  5. Paddy McDougall

    I love it when companies use firmware to give their customers something extra as a canon owner this is few and far between, however the facination with squeezing out a few more million pixels baffles me. How many people actually print large enough to justify this. Most people post and view the pics on HD phones and tablets, they ain’t going to resolve 40 mps. Give us more fps, better evf, silent shutter and stop trying to get free advertising off the back of gimmicks. Think I need a sugary coffee! ;)

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    • Rafael Steffen

      This is true. Todays camera could support 4k video, it is just a question of when they will release it.

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    • Danny Vanderbyl

      My wife is an artist ( and I shoot her artwork. Extra pixels when shooting artwork keeps me from having to stitch later on / alignment problems, and the rest of the time my hobby photos won’t have to be downsized to keep my HD from exploding. :)

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    • Ben Perrin

      To be fair (and I realise this has nothing to do with Canon) but magic lantern has been a luxury for Canon users. It’s not without downsides however.

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  6. Jerry Jackson

    I’m in favor of any firmware update that adds extra features to cameras that have already been released instead of just fixing problems. I feel like there are too many cameras that get released that are essentially identical to previous cameras except for updated firmware and one or two “minor” changes.

    I’d rather have a camera company release a camera and add new features via firmware updates for the next 2-3 years rather than make a new camera every year with only incremental changes.

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  7. Allan Zeiba

    this would be great, not only for the possibility to use the high megapixel mode when you need it, but also this would mean that Sony is breaking the Canon/Nikon way of having cameras with features suppress by the firmware, I will love to have this possibility on the a7II and Sony will gain more trust with this move

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    • Rafael Steffen

      Interesting point of view, but we should expect some new D850 with more than 50mp next year.

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  8. Danny Vanderbyl

    I think this would be a deal maker for me!

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    • Rafael Steffen

      Only if you shoot in very controlled enviornments.

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    • adam sanford

      Agree. If you work off a tripod and wind or subject movement is not an issue, this can be useful. I think that’s a very small list of types of photography, though — product shot, *indoor* macro, architecture, landscapes without foliage in the foreground, etc.

      Sensor shift is like a super power with a crippling limitation. It’s like being able to fly… but only to where you work.

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  9. adam sanford

    The drawbacks of a multi-shot composition spectacularly limit the usefulness of this feature. So rather than have (say) a 24 MP rig occasionally be able to deliver 50-60 MP of detail on perhaps architecture/astro/studio work, I’d rather have a 36 MP rig for *any* kind of photography to get shots in one frame.

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  10. adam sanford

    I understand why Olympus is offering this — they are resolution limited. But Sony isn’t. If you want more resolution, just buy that model (a7R, or an a7R II when it is unveiled) and be done with it.

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    • Rafael Steffen

      I totally agree!

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    • Dustin Baugh

      If it’s something that is a free firmware upgrade why discourage it? It may only be useful to you one or two times but now you have access to that extra feature for that one or two times. And if somebody shoots almost exclusively in situations where this can be used it gives them the option of getting Medium Format resolutions without MF camera prices; good for somebody just getting started in product photography.

      My point is this is basically a feature Sony can throw in for free (pending rumor), whether you use it or now why discourage or poo-poo it? Last thing we need is another camera manufacture that doesn’t include a firmware based feature just so they can up-sell the more expensive model with it.

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