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Gear Rumors

Upcoming E-M5 II Will Feature Same Sensor As Current E-M5 | Rumor

By Anthony Thurston on December 8th 2014

Last week, we shared with you the latest rumors coming out of Olympus regarding an upcoming OMD E-M5 II, and its impressive ‘sensor shift’ 40MP mode. Today, some more details have emerged about this new body, specifically regarding the sensor.


Upcoming E-M5 II Will Feature Same Sensor As Current E-M5

According to the latest reports, the sensor in the upcoming E-M5 II will not be a new or updated one, but will, in fact, be the same sensor in the current E-M5 (Which, by the way, is currently $200 off). The sensor will be “upgraded” in that it will be able to do this ‘sensor shift’, but otherwise, the E-M5 II sensor will be identical to the E-M5. Way to take a page out of Canon’s book, Olympus!

Joking aside, I am not sure what to think about this news regarding the sensor. I mean I know that changing the processors and upgrading software can have a huge impact on sensor performance and the final images that you can get out of digital sensors. But idk, if I bought a car in 2015, I wouldn’t want it sporting the same engine as the 2013 model…


Then again, I believe that Fuji used the same 16MP sensor in their X-series cameras several times, and those turned out great. The problem that I have here is that the E-M5 II is supposed to be an upgrade; in the case of the Fuji cameras, they were all different camera models, not upgrades (most of them anyways).

Am I over thinking this? What are your thoughts on this news that the E-M5 II will sport the same exact sensor – albeit with the improvements needed for this ‘sensor shift’ tech – as the current E-M5 that was just put on firesale for Black Friday? Leave a comment below and let us know what you think!]

[via Mirrorless Rumors]

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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. Dave Haynie

    Like most companies who aren’t Sony, Canon, Fujifilm, Panasonic, or Samsung, Olympus does have to rely on other folks to supply their sensors. They went from some also-ran Panasonic sensors to the Sony sensor in the OM-D E-M5 and the much improve Panasonic sensor in the E-M1 (and a few Pen models).

    Thing is, the E-M5 proved to be a very popular camera (I have one), and not something to be replaced by either the E-M1 or E-M10. So being interested in things like money, it makes perfect sense for Olympus to launch an updated model. And sure, Canon did this with the T3i, T4i, T5i, etc… same sensor, but an updated model. Sony did this with lots of models, including the Alpha A7 II, same sensor, but a tweaked processor, improved software, new video CODEC (well, AVC-S, which is technically the same CODEC in a different media stream wrapper), and an Olympus-like 5-axis in-camera stabilization system. So, new stuff, same sensor. Probably not targeting Alpha A7 I buyers.

    This is no different than the refresh carmakers do every 3 years or so to any given model. Heck, PC makers probably do it twice a year. Smartphones come in successor models every year, but the incremental difference is big only once in a few years. Just the way the industry works.

    Note that I said “updated”. If you’re upgrading your E-M5, you probably buy an E-M1. The updated offering is for new buyers… people get nervous about buying a camera model that’s too old, since they’ll expect a new one any moment. As long as Olympus has enough “new” in there to justify an update, why not do the update?

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  2. adam sanford

    Sensor fab does not gallup like AF tech and processing power seems to. So we’re seeing sensors make a big splash every 3-4 years with a major improvement, typically we care about/notice it when there’s a spike in megapixel count (but there’s clearly a lot more than that going on).

    Consider Sony, the runaway speed-demons for sensor and camera body product development — they wowed the world with first a 24 and then 36 MP FF sensor. But over the last 2-3 years, Sony has simply proliferated that tech on to (what?) 3-4 Sony bodies and 4-5 Nikon (licensed) bodies. Mind you — Sony is still cranking on the new hotness (and we’ve heard rumors of a 50 MP sensor on the way). But it takes time to develop the sensor fab technology and periods of seemingly ‘meh’ sensor improvements must occur unless you like hearing crickets for years in between releases (i.e. like with Canon).

    But *in-between* those big moves with sensors, companies are constantly squeezing out more useful performance metrics elsewhere — more AF points, bigger buffers, higher burst, better noise reduction in-camera on JPGs due to improved processing power, etc. Olympus (apparently) is trying a sensor-shift tech to generate really high detail on in-camera composited shots. In these in-between new sensors windows, other folks offer HDR modes, intervalometers, network connectivity, GPS, etc. You get the idea — if the sensor doesn’t evolve, the feature set or value proposition in improved elsehwere.

    I liken it to cell phones. There are versions that are all new physical designs with new screen resolution and new camera sensors, new wireless tech, and then in-between those versions, improved non-sexy tech like better battery, faster processor, slightly more MP on the selfie cam, etc. comes out in *the same physical package* the next year — See iPhones with the 4 vs. 4S, 5 vs. 5S, etc.

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    • Anthony Thurston

      I see what you are saying Adam, I am just of the opinion that unless an upgrade can offer a significant performance/feature improvement its not worth releasing.

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    • adam sanford

      I don’t disagree at all, Anthony, and maybe only 10% or so of people who own the prior version would buy-in to the new one if the sensor was unchanged.

      But refreshes like this are key for two reasons:

      1) Bringing in people who lack a camera system today — they care less about a new sensor and a lot more about buying a ‘new camera’ that won’t be obsoleted too quickly. I know Olympus gear isn’t exactly the Best B

      2) Sadly, these releases are stalling tactics until the new sensors arrive. Such releases give the perception of a live and active brand that has new product releases and vigorous product support. As a Canon guy, I prefer their “don’t release it unless it’s clearly better than the prior product”, but I know how painfully loud the crickets can be while we are waiting. So mid-lifecycle releases like the Nikon D750 and perhaps this Olympus body will give the faithful a shot in the arm as they await the next great sensor.

      We may not buy the product for reason #2, but it indirectly maintains user loyalty. That has value for the company.

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    • adam sanford

      (whoops — typo)

      “isn’t exactly the Best Buy crowd, but you get my idea.”

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    • Stan Rogers

      It also gives them a niche that they can keep for a while. Whether the bokehlicious crowd want to admit it or not, there are big chunks of photography where there’s never enough DoF, and that wee 110-sized sensor goes a long way towards solving that little issue without costing too terribly much in other areas. And as an old table-topper, I can tell you that multishot “real” captures won’t hurt the workflow at all if you can do low-rez “Polaroids” all through the set-up and lighting, especially if you can drop half or more of your focus-stacking exposures for the “same” picture. (And even when you’re going to throw a bunch of pixels away in the end, having them there during retouching makes a huge difference, sanity-wise.)

      One of the biggest problems in photography is that accursed word “photography”. It encourages us to see it as “a thing”, when it’s really a couple dozen (or more) loosely-related things, most of which have absolutely nothing to do with what each of us is doing. All cameras (and lenses, etc.) must be built for *me*, or they’re somehow illegitimate. While there are legitimately illegitimate cameras — I’m looking at YOU, Hasselblad-branded bedazzled Sonys — there are far more cameras, etc., that simply solve problems that I don’t have. (Meanwhile, I’m still waiting for a “real” D100/D70 replacement. Why should I have to worry about flash sync speed and weird focal-plane subject distortion in this day and age? And no, HSS/AFPS is not the same thing.)

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  3. Mac MacDonald

    Given the rate at which technology advances, I’d expect improved tech in each new release of any hardware I buy…including new sensors.

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    • Anthony Thurston

      That is pretty much where I stand on this as well. Unless the sensor was ahead of its time, and was being held back by the processors (doubtful, but possible I suppose) I don’t think anything more than marginal performance improvements could be expected.

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