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Olympus Sensor Patent Reveals New E-P3 Autofocus Technology?

Discussion in 'Micro 4/3 News and Rumors' started by Amin Sabet, Jun 28, 2011.

  1. Amin Sabet

    Amin Sabet Administrator

    Apr 10, 2009
    Boston, MA (USA)
    Strong rumors have been circulating that Olympus has made a breakthrough in autofocus technology and that the new Olympus PEN cameras which will be announced on June 30, 2011 will implement this technology (Grade A). Simultaneously, there have been rumors that the new Olympus cameras will feature a new "tweaked" 12MP sensor.

    A member at Mirrorlesscam.com discovered information which potentially explains both the autofocus breakthrough as well as the related sensor technology which makes it possible. According to his post on that site, Olympus has created a sensor where one of the two green pixels from each unit of the Bayer array is somehow able to switch between visible green and infrared (IR) sensitivity. The camera, meanwhile, implements a focus control unit which is informed by focus calculations based on image signals generated by each of these two wavelengths of light.

    5880950663_1d07fd3881_z. 5881054159_24c8247eae_z.

    The source of this information is an Olympus patent titled "Focus Position Control Apparatus and Camera".

    Interesting discussions of these findings are underway at Mirrorlesscam.com, 43 Rumors, and in our own forum.

    [Thanks Antozone]


    Rumor Evidence Grading System:
    A = Proven source, rumor extremely likely to be correct
    B = Good source, rumor likely to be correct
    C = New source, rumor plausible
     
    • Like Like x 3
  2. Pan Korop

    Pan Korop Mu-43 Veteran

    479
    Mar 31, 2011
    Phare Ouest
    Thanks for the news! If they are confirmed, it's only a firmware (or hack) question to give access to IR photography at 1500x2000 resolution. Let's hope it doesn't mean a ban from every country still restricting IR sighting/recording... ;)
     
  3. pxpaulx

    pxpaulx Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jan 19, 2010
    Midwest
    Paul
    Pan, I think you'd still need an IR filter to block the light waves below IR wavelengths, otherwise the image would get polluted. With that said, if it can read IR, then it might have an extremely weak IR cut filter, meaning you could shoot handheld using an R72 Hoya filter (or similar). It would also mean you wouldn't have to hack it to do so!
     
  4. zettapixel

    zettapixel Mu-43 Veteran

    470
    Aug 12, 2010
    NY
    Ouch, and here I am with my old 14-150 and 9-18 :sad010:. I knew I should've waited, 14-150 could've used faster AF. Although for a travel kit it should be ok. Well, dual processor should still help... maybe...
    BTW, does Panasonic apply anti-IR coating to its lenses? Or does it mean Panny lenses will focus faster on E-P3 than old Oly lenses?
     
  5. Bill Gordon

    Bill Gordon Mu-43 Top Veteran

    I don't understand why you would have to get rid of your two lenses......???
     
  6. Armanius

    Armanius Mu-43 All-Pro

    Feb 23, 2010
    Houston
    Muttley
    This all sounds great ... but in layman's terms, what does it all mean??
     
  7. Ned

    Ned Mu-43 Legend

    Jul 18, 2010
    Alberta, Canada
    The sensor reads Infrared Rays to assist in fast autofocus. Older Olympus lenses have coatings which block out all IR Rays (from what I've read, by 2008 they had blocked out about 100% of the IR Rays, and had started with IR Ray coatings in 2003), so they will not benefit from the new technology.
     
  8. zettapixel

    zettapixel Mu-43 Veteran

    470
    Aug 12, 2010
    NY
    Oh, I'm not going to get rid of them. But I bought them a month ago (although didn't really have to) and before long Olympus will release optically equal ones that focus much faster.
    That means my conscious decision to get Olympus glass and wait for the new cameras was overall incorrect, that's all there is to it, simple fact. I underestimated how big the coming changes are. That's good! It makes me hope that one day I'll get rid of my Canon 100/2 USM because new Oly portrait lenses will focus as fast and easy.
     
  9. pictor

    pictor Mu-43 Top Veteran

    635
    Jul 17, 2010
    Are you sure?

    Adding an Olympus E-PL1 Visible Spectrum IR system

     
  10. Armanius

    Armanius Mu-43 All-Pro

    Feb 23, 2010
    Houston
    Muttley
    What about Panasonic m4/3 lenses? Do they block IR as well? I thought that most IR blocking was done at the sensor level.
     
  11. mauve

    mauve Mu-43 Top Veteran

    892
    Mar 9, 2010
    Paris, France
    While honestly I can understand people mourning their previous investment (and so do I), I nevertheless think this is the best thing that could have happened to :43: in general and Olympus specifically. In fact, this is probably the single most significant patent in camera since phase detection. And ironically, it comes from Olympus who has been plagued (and mostly left stranded in the 35mm film era) because it never managed to overcome its initial false start in that area.

    This patent, if enforceable, can become the main driving force behind CSC dominance over DSLRs in years to come, and the biggest cash cow for Olympus through licensing.

    ¡ Viva la revolucion !

    Cheers,
     
  12. Ned

    Ned Mu-43 Legend

    Jul 18, 2010
    Alberta, Canada
    Certainly not. This is all new and rumored information that's just popping up based on filed patents and how they line up with recent gossip. How can any of us be sure of its validity? ;) In fact, Olympus makes tons of optical and imaging devices, so how do we even know these patents are related to cameras?

    There were supposedly two patents by Olympus for IR-blocking lens coatings. That's as much as I know, but yes I agree with you that it would be natural to block IR at the sensor level.

    See the above comment though, RE: other imaging devices by Olympus. It's entirely possible those coatings are only used on certain medical or industrial imaging devices, for all we know. I'm sure we will find out more when the announcements about these new cameras are made.

    PS, what I said about the technology was just a paraphrase of what everybody else is saying, since you asked for layman's terms. I don't actually know any specifics about it outside of this and maybe another thread on the topic. ;)
     
  13. RobWatson

    RobWatson Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    IR test

    Grab your TV (or other) remote control and while someone is pushing buttons and take a photo of the 'mote! See funny spots on the end - that would be IR (actually NIR as the sensors can't see past 1200nm and likely have really poor QE in the 900nm and beyond range anyway).

    Use a mix of old and new glass to figure if the sensor is blocking of just some lenses.


    Interesting to note that different lenses with have different amounts of dispersion so the focus point for green versus NIR will be different from one lens to the next unless specifically designed to be otherwise (not likely).
     
  14. pictor

    pictor Mu-43 Top Veteran

    635
    Jul 17, 2010
    Sorry for my ambiguous post, I cited too much. I take issue with your remark, that the lenses of Olympus would block IR completely. I doubt that, because the photographer I cited uses these lenses for IR photography with much success. He could not do that, if IR were blocked completely.

    Obviously no one can be sure about how the patent relates to the coming cameras and if the rumors are true. That's why I don't participate much in discussions about rumors.
     
  15. Djarum

    Djarum Super Moderator

    Dec 15, 2009
    Huntsville, AL, USA
    Jason
    Well, I did some complaining in the other thread about this issue. The truth is, I don't know if we really know right now. Probably won't until after the realease. If all their lenses let IR in, then why is a special coating to allow IR to come in really needed? Also, if you look at the website you posted, the IR range used doesn't go up to 1300nm. Maybe the current lenses only block out of a portion of the IR spectrum?

    I've stated my issues in the other thread, and I won't drag them into this one.
     
  16. georger

    georger Mu-43 Regular

    73
    May 28, 2010
    Looking at the patent’s flow chart; the new Olympus system can evaluate both IR and visible images and deduce which site of focus the lens is at the starting point. Knowing from the start where the lens is in relation to focus will eliminate the time to find this point by contrast changes during focusing.

    I just don’t know how the pixel can distinguish how much green versus IR light landed on the pixel; it can only see photons, not wavelengths.
    George.
     
  17. sparkin

    sparkin Mu-43 Regular

    173
    Nov 18, 2010
    Lexington, KY
    I believe it's the Bayer mask filter that determines what wavelengths a particular pixel "sees".
     
  18. georger

    georger Mu-43 Regular

    73
    May 28, 2010
    Indeed, but the color mask is above the pixel and it is fixed. So how the photo sensitive element below the Bayer mask knows the different between IR and green light.
    George.
     
  19. sparkin

    sparkin Mu-43 Regular

    173
    Nov 18, 2010
    Lexington, KY
    I'm not so sure the photosensitive element would need to know. So long as the processing software/electronics knows what filter colour is associated with a particular pixel. Wouldn't that be sufficient ?
     
  20. rcferraris

    rcferraris Mu-43 Regular

    I was just saving up for that 14-150mm. =0( hope they won't overprice the new version if they ever make one. :frown: