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Panasonic GH3 Sensor Rumors and Speculation

Discussion in 'Micro 4/3 News and Rumors' started by Amin Sabet, Sep 20, 2012.

  1. Amin Sabet

    Amin Sabet Administrator

    Apr 10, 2009
    Boston, MA (USA)
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    There has been a lot of speculation, interest, and confusion when it comes to the sensor in the new Panasonic GH3. Is it multi-aspect? Did Panasonic make it?

    Let's start with the first question: Does the GH3 have a multi-aspect ratio sensor?

    Photographer and Mu-43 member Giulio Scorio had the following to say on his excellent blog Small Camera Big Picture:

    My own sources at Panasonic say that the GH3 does not have a multi-aspect sensor, disabled or otherwise. This comes from pretty reliable although not infallible sources. It seems there are very few people in this world who know every detail about such matters! Most others are confirming this - no multi-aspect sensor.

    Second question: Who makes the GH3 sensor?

    A secondary question to this one is "Why do we care who makes the sensor?". That's what the Olympus marketing folks asked me when I pressed them on who made the E-M5 sensor, and there are a few reasons why we care: 1) At the present time, Sony is making the best sensors. 2) If it's Sony, that means both Panasonic and Olympus are using Sony for the sensors in their flagship cameras. 3) We're curious about this stuff.

    Back to the question: Did Panasonic make this sensor? Sony??

    The first clue to this question is that by most accounts, it's not a multi-aspect sensor. If Panasonic were making this sensor, it seems likely that they would make it multi-aspect like the GH1 and GH2, so non-multi-aspect suggests the possibility that the sensor was made by someone else.

    The second clue is this juicy tidbit dropped by the well known Panasonic hacker Vitaliy Kiselev on his blog Personal-View.com:

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    No beating around the bush there, and I'm guessing Vitaliy has some good sources.

    Third clue was given in a recent interview by EOSHD of Yoshiyuki Inoue, Senior Engineering Planner for the Panasonic GH3:

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    That's a pretty heavy "no comment!" Surely if it were made by Panasonic, he would have said so. For what it's worth - probably not much in this case - my own sources at Panasonic said that they were not aware of any information to suggest that anyone other than Panasonic made the GH3 sensor.

    What do the specifications tell us?

    Panasonic GH3 (source):
    Total Pixels 17.20 Megapixels
    Camera Effective Pixels 16.05 Megapixels

    Panasonic G5 (source):
    Total Pixels 18.31 Megapixels
    Camera Effective Pixels 16.05 Megapixels

    Panasonic GH2 (source):
    Total Pixels 18.31 Megapixels
    Camera Effective Pixels 16.05 Megapixels

    Olympus OM-D E-M5 (source):
    Total pixels: 16.9 Megapixels
    Camera effective pixels: 16.1 Megapixels

    We already know that the GH2 and G5 use the same sensor. The question is whether the GH3 and E-M5 also use the same sensor. If the above specs are correct, then they do not. However, it's not hard to imagine some minor tweak or alternative interpretation that could lead to a small difference in pixel counts on what boils down to the same sensor.

    Taking all of the above into account, I'm 90% confident that the GH3 uses a Sony sensor, and if I had to guess, I'd say it is a slightly revised version of the E-M5 sensor.

    So what if it's a Sony sensor? We're having that discussion right here, so come weigh in!
    • Like Like x 6
  2. gsciorio

    gsciorio Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Dec 29, 2011
    Miami, FL
    Thanks for the shout out Amin. Super excited for the GH3! 2013 is the wave of mirrorless and the GH3 will be leading the way.
    • Like Like x 1
  3. Amin Sabet

    Amin Sabet Administrator

    Apr 10, 2009
    Boston, MA (USA)
    Giulio, good job asking the tough questions of Panasonic in the hangout the other day! It's all too easy to throw them the slow ball up the middle like the host was doing. You asked the questions people want to know the answers to!
    • Like Like x 1
  4. meyerweb

    meyerweb Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Sep 5, 2011
    From DPR, specs for the new EPL5 and EPM1, which Olympus says use the same sensor as the OM-D:

    Total Pixels 17.2 Megapixels
    Camera Effective Pixels 16.1 Megapixels

    Virtually identical to the GH3
    • Like Like x 1
  5. hoodlum

    hoodlum Mu-43 Veteran

    Jul 16, 2012
    Toronto Canada
    Not sure how Panasonic and Olympus come up with their Effective MP count but if you look at the links that you provided for the GH3 and E-M5 you'll see that both sensor have exactly the same resolution (4608 x 3456). They are the same sensor.
    • Like Like x 2
  6. Linh

    Linh Mu-43 All-Pro Subscribing Member

    Apr 14, 2009
    Maryland, US
    "Why do we care who makes the sensor?"

    Personally, I don't want to see Sony as the sole supplier of nearly every sensor out there =/ So many eggs in one basket. However, my viewpoint would certainly change if Canon started providing sensors for 3rd parties.

    There's still Samsung, too, but they seem to still be playing catch up. Foveon, too, but they are far too niche likely.

    But as it stands now... doesn't matter at this point, cats out of the bag, can just hope it's a damn good sensor because they need to push m43 forward.
  7. jloden

    jloden Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 15, 2012
    Hunterdon County, NJ
    It sure sounds to me like they've gone with the OM-D EM-5 sensor or something very close to it from Sony. I'm pretty much convinced that's the case at this point unless some compelling evidence to the contrary comes out.

    On the plus side, that's great that Panasonic will be on par with the fantastic OM-D EM-5 performance. On the negative side, aside from the reasons I mentioned in the other thread and my issues with Sony in general, both companies using effectively the same sensor in their flagship cameras is disappointing.

    First, it means that Panasonic likely didn't improve much on the OM-D EM-5's sensor (probably not likely anyway with the GH3, but still). Second, the two cameras are going to share a number of characteristics which is good if you're a fan, but not so good for providing choices in the marketplace. And lastly, it could put Panasonic further behind for the next generation of sensors and cameras, if they start relying on Sony. I'd much rather see multiple companies producing sensors and challenging each other with improvements rather than a single company providing slightly tweaked designs to every maker on the market. If this is really the OM-D EM-5 sensor, then that means we'll have four current m4/3 bodies using effectively the same sensor. Sure it's a good piece of tech, but it's also homogenizing the market.
  8. Amin Sabet

    Amin Sabet Administrator

    Apr 10, 2009
    Boston, MA (USA)
    The ideal situation would be Panasonic stepping up and making a sensor that can match what Sony has made. Second best situation is Panasonic using Sony sensors. I hope the GX2, GF7, etc all use the GH3 sensor as well.
    • Like Like x 1
  9. jloden

    jloden Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 15, 2012
    Hunterdon County, NJ
    Agreed on both counts, and I consider it highly likely the next model or two from Panasonic will use the GH3 sensor since that seems to be Panasonic's M.O. so far.
  10. jloden

    jloden Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 15, 2012
    Hunterdon County, NJ
    Hmm, I just had a distressing thought.

    If this is the same sensor and a similar reduced AA filter, I wonder if that means the GH3 could suffer from the dreaded purple flare/reflection issue OM-D EM-5 users are seeing with the 7-14mm lens. I'm hoping Panasonic wouldn't have let that pass QA, but I guess we'll see...
  11. Agent00soul

    Agent00soul Mu-43 Regular

    Jan 22, 2010
    Panasonic touts the GH3 sensor as "high dynamic range". But have they told us what this claim entails?
    We all know that the OM-D sensor has vastly improved dynamic range, so this is another thing that points to the GH3 sensor being from Sony (and basically the same as the OM-D's).
  12. arad85

    arad85 Mu-43 Veteran

    Aug 16, 2012
    Which has exactly the same resolution as the GH2 and G5... They are ALL 4608 x 3456. You cannot go on pixel numbers.

    Unless, of course, we have been thrown a curveball and in fact they are ALL Panasonic sensors..... :wink:
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