Camera manufacturers are still cramming ever more pixels into their sensors. Canon has recently announced that it is releasing a 50MP full frame camera which has left many speculating about its technical limitations due to sheer physics. One solution of course is to move up to a larger medium format sensor but prices can be prohibitive for many. Olympus, in typical Olympus fashion, decides to tackle the want for more pixels in an innovative way.
With the release of the OM-D E-M5 ll Olympus has introduced sensor shifting technology in the camera which allows the onboard 16MP sensor to capture 8 frames in sequence and stitch them together for one much larger image; which it does by shifting the sensor ever so slightly. In the case of Olympus it would be 8 images that amount to 40MP or 64MP in raw+jpeg mode, and Olympus claims the resulting image will rival the quality of single capture sensors of equivalent pixel count.
While this sounds great on paper there is one major caveat to consider. The 40MP image would be captured over a 1 second time span and the 64MP image over a 2 second time span. Product photographers rejoice, but for any real world applications, this is quite a handicap. The camera would need to sit perfectly still for the duration of the capture if the photographer wants a usable image.
Fear not because Olympus General Manager Setsuya Kataoka has said in a recent interview that they are working on technology which will alleviate that concern. They want to speed up the process of the sensor shifting so that the photographer can remain mobile and create these stitched images while the camera is handheld. Just how fast are they thinking? The plan is to make these captures happen in under 1/60th of a second!
This is pretty exciting news because if the application of the technology proves practical, it could alleviate the physical limits imposed by sensor size, and we can introduce higher pixel counts while retaining a decent signal to noise ratio. This is all very preliminary and as of yet there is no word on when the technology will be implemented, but there are innovative things brewing over at Olympus, that much is certain.