Canon announces a global shutter CMOS chip

Canon has announced a global shutter CMOS sensor which uses a re-designed pixel structure aimed at boosting the chips dynamic range. Using a global shutter presents a clear benefit especially for videography applications, as it doesn’t suffer from the distortion effects that a standard ‘progressive scan’ sensor does when capturing fast-moving subjects.

Its been widely reported that Olympus and Panasonic have also been working on a global shutter for some time and there were  hopes one would appear in the soon to be announced EM1 II.

This announcement by Canon is potentially exciting but its still early days.

Global shutter designs have tended to offer less dynamic range than their conventional counterparts. Canon says that the sensor’s drive system (ie the way it’s read out) increases the amount of light the sensor can capture before overexposing. This is combined with a more efficient pixel structure and ‘optimized internal configuration’ aims to reduce noise and increase sensitivity. The result in pratical terms should be improved dynamic range, something many photographers seek and want.

September 2016

New ” Post Focus” Function for Panasonic models

From the 26th November Panasonic will offer a firmware update for its GX8, G7 & FZ300 models which will allow users to select the focus point in an image after capture, very neat & potentially very useful indeed.

From Panasonic

Available with the latest free firmware download*, Post Focus allows you to take a photo and then choose your focal point later. With Post Focus, you can shoot with confidence knowing that you can always change the focal point if your photo was out of focus.

*Post Focus will be available on DMC-GX8, DMC-G7 and DMC-FZ300 by updating the firmware to version 2.0. Customers can download the upgrade from 26th November

Olympus to introduce a new MFT Sensor?

Olympus 3D Stacked Sensor on its way?
There are rumours circulating that unlike Panasonic’s recent adoption of a new Sony derived 20mp  Fout Third (FT) Sensor, Olympus will instead use a revolutionary 16mp 3D stacked sensor with a global shutter mechanism in future models, including the OMD EM1 II or EM2 which should break cover around January.
The suggested advantages of this new mechanism includes:
Higher image quality from a less populated 16mp sensor, no artefacts and no rolling shutter artefacts.
Previous Olympus has also claimed extreme frame rates capture by the new mechanism meaning the 16mp sensor will be able to produce handheld High Res images  without concerns of recording movement ( at the moment the current high res shot mode in the EM5 II is only suitable for static scenes and is best used in conjunction with a tripod)
One presumes high speed multi frame capture would also allow several images to be combined to improve the dynamic range of the captured image via an in-camera  HDR process not mention a capacity for multi shot noise cancelling capture?
Although  Panasonic’s new 20mp FT third sensor performs admirably the new 3D stacked sensor from Olympus promises to be far more revolutionary and it’s a very exciting concept indeed.
October 2015


Rumour – Tec News

Organic Sensor on its way?
There are rumours circulating hinting that within a month or so Panasonic and Fuji will jointly and officially announce the production of their ground breaking “Organic Sensor”. The concept and basic patent was revealed some 2 years ago, so in theory any potential sensor could be near production?
The organic sensor in very simple terms uses an organic “photoelectric conversion material” to collect light as opposed to the use of silicon as found in more conventional photodiodes.
In doing so the new sensor design promise twice or double (yes double) the current dynamic range of the best sensors on the market (i.e. Sony designed ones in general).
In very basic terms that would mean the new sensor delivering a scarcely believable near X30 stops EV as opposed to say the 15 stop EV delivered by the sensor in the Nikon D800E, that’s some improvement.
So what does this potential sensor development mean in practical terms?
Well for a start  you would have far greater dynamic range flexibility before highlights were clipped, in other words you could capture a far, far greater degree of shadow and highlight information in a scene allowing immense flexibility in post capture editing.
Additionally the new sensor is meant to be able to detect light from a greater angle, so each pixel exhibits increased light sensitivity, apparently 1.2x greater over a traditional sensor.
This would allow a user to keep the ISO low and hence the avoid the introduction of  “noise” until later in the ISO range. One presumes it would also allow slightly more populated sensors to be produced without the fear of the greater pixel density introducing much more noise overall?
One doesn’t have to be a brain surgeon to realise that ultimately this development would mean even relatively small CMOS sensors would be able to compete on a more equally playing field to their larger brethren. Although this would be especially true for a cropped i.e. Four Third (43rd) sensor it would equally apply to say a Trans X APS-C sensor?
Although Panasonic appears initially to have tied itself to a 20mp Sony produced Four Third sensor as debut in the new GX8 it would be most surprising if this new organic sensor doesn’t appear in future Panasonic cameras not mention future Olympus MFT cameras?
As for Fuji , maybe a 24mp APS-C organic sensor with Fuji’s unique trans X design which has been rumoured may actually debut in the forth coming X-Pro 2 camera?
Just as exciting would be the introduction of smaller organic sensors (say 1″ ones) in high end compacts and future bridge cameras.
Organic sensors promise much, lets hope the rumours are true
Mark Baynham (September 2015)


Sony Alpha A7R II tested by DxOMark

Sony Alpha A7R II : King of the full frame cameras
The Sony A7R II is Sony’s reasonably compact mirrorless CSC that sports a new 42mp full frame back-illuminated CMOS sensor with 399 phase-detect AF points (a world first), shoots 4K video, possesses a XGA OLED EVF ( with a massive 0.78x magnification), has in-body 5-axis stabilised (like the A7II a world first for a full frame camera), has Wi-Fi (with NFC) and the option to use an electronic shutter for silent and vibration free operation.
This technology tour-de-force was tested by DxOMark recently, the result?
The Sony Alpha A7R II has become DxOMark “best” camera to date, a result that will have the traditionalists rubbing their eyes in disbelief. The Sony A7R II mirrorless / CSC scored a hugely impressive overall score of 98 beating the previous full frame king, the Nikon D810 DSLR which scored 97.
The Nikon D810 (which uses a Sony sensor) still has a slightly superior dynamic range but the new Sony A7R II wins with better colour depth and low-light rating. The score is even more impressive when you remember the A7R II touts a new incredibly resolute 42mp sensor.
If ever you needed proof that Sony’s Alpha 7 range of mirrorless full frame cameras deserve proper recognition as genuine pro / enthusiast photographic tools this result attained by the A7R II is it.
The A7R II has a number of features and tricks up its sleeve which conventional DSLR’s can’t hope to match and now as shown by DxO Mark it also possesses the image quality to take the DSLR’s on and beat them.
Pair the A7R II with a growing range of high end FE lenses or even 3rd party lenses (via adaptors) and the end results will speak for themselves.
Whilst I have yet to enter the full frame world but when I do (and I will) its increasingly looks like it  will be via the A7 series even if that means binning my Canon EF lenses in the process. The more I read reviews of the A7 series (especially the newer mark 2 models) the more convinced I become that mirrorless is the way forward for cameras even in the previously exclusive full frame world,
Although there is still an impression that “Sony” as a brand doesn’t represent proper photography and the brand was to some extent previously sunned by pro’s / enthusiasts these impression / perceptions are not necessarily founded on fact.
Sure Sony’s sometimes bizarre tendency to over populate ranges with models of very specs isn’t helpful, plus a perennial habit of introducing “upgrades” far too soon after the release of the original model doesn’t help nor garner customer loyalty but as the A7 II and A7R II proves they can and do produce class leading cameras.
The Sony Alpha A7R II demonstrates that Sony is perfectly capable of producing genuinely innovation models that push the boundaries of photographic technology and in the process also turn out to be class leading cameras, no bad thing in my book.
August 2015