New Tec for EM5 Update?

Pixel Shift technology for EM5’s successor ?
The update / replacement for the Olympus OMD EM5 is due to break cover in a month or so. This new micro four third (MFT) CSC / Mirrorless model from Olympus will still sit below their flagship OMD EM1 but will likely borrow several features from its bigger brother, notably the EM1’s EVF, rear screen and Wi-Fi capacity in order to bring the newer model up to date.
Rumours are beginning to circulate hinting at a slight change in body shape (maybe to incorporate the bigger EVF from the EM1?) as well as weather sealing although the new model is meant to be visually quite similar to the EM5.
What is exciting is the rumour that the EM5 MkII ( apparently it’s not going to be called the EM6?) will have a new sensor design / feature which enables the 16mp Four Third CMOS sensor to capture 40mp images? This feature called “Pixel Shift” is a genuine and proven technology used by Hasselbad so it works.
A micro four third camera capable of capturing hugely detailed, definition rich images is tantalising to say the least. Of course its still only a rumour but if it is actually realised the image detail / resolution advantage that APS-C equipped CSC”s have over MFT cameras disappears completely.
Adoption of pixel shift also removes the temptation to physically over populate a MFT sensor in any attempt to match the more pixel rich APS-C sensors, all in all this rumour if true could shift (excuse the pun) Olympus’s micro four third system in the big time?
December 2014 .


Firmware Upgrades for Fuji’s CSC’s

Firmware Version V3.00 for XT-1 models announced
Fuji continue the trend of giving their camera models regular firmware upgrades to keep them competitive and they will be releasing a major firmware update for its X-T1 and X-T1 Graphite Silver Edition to enhance operability and functions. This upgrade brings no less than 21 functional enhancements including a fully silenceable electronic shutter, instant manual override in auto focus mode, Natural Live View, a new Classic Chrome Film Simulation mode, unlocked AE-L & AF-L buttons, direct AF area selection (bypassing the Fn key), direct selection of Macro mode, variable MF area, and much more. The firmware update will be available on 18th December
Firmware Upgrade for XE1 / XE2 & X-Pro 1 announced
Additionally Fujifilm will also shortly be releasing firmware upgrades for its X-E2, X-Pro1 and X-E1 compact system cameras. New features and enhancements will include a Classic Chrome film simulation mode, interval timer shooting, enhanced wireless function for shooting from your smartphone or tablet, and full-time manual focus override during auto focus operation. The first three features are new to the X-E2 model only, while the fourth enhancement will be applicable to all three cameras. The firmware updates will be also available on 18 December 2014.
November 2014


New Sensor Design On Its Way?

Tech News
Various sites are reporting that in the near future Sony will formally announced a new design of imaging sensor called  Active-Pixel Colour Sampling Sensor (APCS) which promises some seriously significant advantages over both traditional bayer designed sensors and even Foveon type sensors.
Instead of having four pixels “RGBG” interpolated into one single pixel information (as in bayer sensors) every pixel on the APCS sensor grabs the full colour information. There is no need of interpolation with Sony’s solution being more advanced than Sigma’s Foveon sensors.
Advantages of  Active-Pixel Colour Sampling Sensor (APCS)
4 times bigger pixels compared to same resolution Bayer sensor which means superior dynamic range and less “noise”
Larger more sensitive pixels means faster processing and readout.
There be no moire issues anymore. There is no Anti Aliasing filter, resulting in increased pixel sharpness.
The tech would also allow for some seriously high megapixel sensors
This new sensor technology will first see the light of day in small camera sensors but within 18 months expect APS-C sized APSC sensors and just imagine a full frame sized APSC sensor.
As a 43rd owner the prospect of an Olympus 43rd camera (remember Olympus and Sony have had a sensor tie up for a while) with significantly improved dynamic range and less noise is rather exciting.
November 2014

Battle of the Superzooms

Camerlabs has a preview of the recently announced Olympus Stylus 1 plus two interesting comparisons between this new high end superzoom and two of its most obvious rivals, the Panasonic FZ200 & Sony RX10.

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Sony Cyber-shot RX10 review

The comparisons make interesting reading.

From Camerlabs:

Olympus STYLUS 1 vs Panasonic Lumix FZ200

The Lumix FZ200 is Panasonic’s flagship super-zoom camera and the model Olympus is most targeting with the STYLUS 1. Both models share DSLR styling, lenses with constant f2.8 focal ratios, electronic viewfinders, 3in screens, hotshoes, 12 Megapixel sensors and plenty of manual control, but their feature-set and capabilities are quite different.

In its favour, the FZ200 sports a broader optical range, with a 24x zoom equivalent to 25-600mm – this starts slightly wider than the Olympus STYLUS 1 and ends with a telephoto reach that’s twice as close. Indeed the FZ200, while out-gunned by variable aperture models like the Canon SX50 HS and Panasonic’s own FZ70 / FZ72, features the longest range of all the constant f2.8 aperture super-zooms. The FZ200’s screen is also fully-articulated, so can twist and flip to any angle including back on itself for protection, whereas the STYLUS 1 screen can only vertically tilt. The FZ200 additionally sports a microphone jack, albeit with a 2.5mm socket that will almost certainly need an adapter for most third party microphones.

In its favour the STYLUS 1 boasts a slightly larger sensor, a 1/1.7in type versus a 1/2.3in type. The viewfinder may share a similar resolution, but on the STYLUS 1 the image is much larger, whereas it’s quite tiny on the FZ200. The body is around the same height, but 1cm narrower from the front and most importantly half the thickness and two thirds the weight, making it much more pocketable. The screen is also higher resolution and touch-sensitive, and the STYLUS 1 also features built-in Wifi with smartphone remote control.

So the STYLUS 1 is comfortably smaller and lighter, sports a slightly bigger sensor and Wifi, but the FZ200 counters that with double the telephoto reach not to mention slightly wider coverage at the other end of the scale. As an older model, the FZ200 is also cheaper, costing around two thirds the price of the STYLUS 1 depending on your region. Certainly if the longer range, fully articulated screen and lower price are key factors for you, the FZ200 will be a better bet.

Olympus STYLUS 1 vs Sony Cyber-shot RX10

Sony’s Cyber-shot RX10 is another new super-zoom camera with a constant f2.8 lens, although one that’s unashamedly targeting a higher-end photographer than either the STYLUS 1 or FZ200. There are similarities between them all, but the RX10 is by far the most sophisticated, but equally the largest, heaviest and most expensive too, and while it boasts the largest sensor of the three models compared here, it also has the shortest zoom range too.  In its favour the RX10 has the biggest and highest resolution sensor of the three models, the same 20 Megapixel 1in type that’s employed by the RX100 II compact. With 2.8 times the surface area of the 1/1.7in sensor of the STYLUS 1, the RX10 enjoys lower noise at higher sensitivities – you can preview what to expect in my Canon S120 review where I compared it against the RX100 II, so it’s a 1/1.7in vs 1in type sensor comparison. So the Sony enjoys the best sensor quality.

While the STYLUS 1 has a great viewfinder, the RX10’s is even better with a higher resolution 1024×768 XGA OLED panel. The lens starts out wider too at 24mm vs 28mm. The RX10 enjoys the best build quality too, being the only one of the three to boast weather-sealing. While it’s possible to connect external mics to all three models, the RX10 additionally sports a headphone socket, along with a manual aperture ring that can be configured to clickable steps or smooth adjustments. All of this coupled with manual exposures for movies make it the best video camera of the three models. The HDMI output can even be set to deliver 4k to compatible TVs – although this is just for image playback, not video capture. The RX10’s Wifi is also complemented by NFC for easier setup with compatible handsets.

In its favour the STYLUS 1 is much smaller and lighter: 13mm narrower, 15mm shorter and almost half the thickness, not to mention half the weight too. The telephoto reach on the Olympus is 50% longer, so while the RX10 zooms wider at 24mm vs 28mm, the STYLUS 1 zooms much longer to 300mm vs 200mm. The STYLUS 1 is also much cheaper, indeed depending on region it could cost almost half the price. So clearly with its touch build, bigger sensor and more sophisticated video capabilities, the RX10 is aimed at a higher-end owner, but it remains a compelling option if you want a high performance camera with a big zoom and great quality.

New Canon EOS 70D sensor explained

Dpreview has posted a detailed technical explanation of the new highly innovative sensor in the newly announced Canon EOS 70D and interesting reading it makes.

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I can only agree with Dpreview’s summary of the new 70D. If this new sensor delivers on its promise of ultra fast AF, especially in live view then when combine with its other key features, the Canon EOS 70D could represent the best mid level APS-C DSLR in the market by some margin.

Mark Baynham (July 2013)