Rumours that Panasonic is slowing/postponing Micro Four Thirds gear

Joined
Oct 29, 2018
Messages
1,752
Location
Charente Maritime, western France
Real Name
Roddy
I can confirm that the GX8 has no Post-Focus and shoots 4k.
You must have a different GX8 to me, then. Mine has it :). I have it mapped to a button, too.

Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)
 

L0n3Gr3yW0lf

Mu-43 Top Veteran
Joined
Jul 31, 2013
Messages
996
Location
UK
Real Name
Ovidiu
The main reason why I believe this rumour is not entirely without a merit is the fact that pretty much every single "Super 35" sensor seems to have somewhat different dimensions and they all are apparently coming from different manufacturers and using different technologies up to OPF.

This indicates that every Super 35 sensor is a very high-tech, very expensive and very, very low volume product in an industry where economies of scale is everything.

Currently Super 35 sensors are only used in real TV/Cine/broadcast-cameras which don't see consumer cameras as their direct competitors.

Manufacturers and their customers might be more than willing to sell one Super 35 sensor to Panasonic because GH6 alone would increase production volumes to entirely new level which causes prices to drop substantially - for every customer.

Unfortunately the most likely outcome is that GH6 - if we ever see one - would just use the 41MP Sony MFT sensor which has already been in production under their surveillance category since September. In the likely case that price tag of this 8k camera body alone matches the combined price of Panasonic S5 + 24-105mm f/4 Macro O.I.S, it will be very easy for me to decide which way to go.
Very true, Micro Four Thirds is fitting bigger size competitors not just for the economy of a shrinking market and consumer interest for cameras but also supply for the sensors they need. If they can (and probably are) be beaten in terms of how much they can buy to incentivise the manufacturers of sensors to produce more and at a lower cost (be it Tower Jazz, Sony, now Canon, Samsung, Toshiba, etc). In terms of ubiquitous formats for sensors are mobile sizes (less then 1"), 1 inch, APS-C and 35mm (because more of them are made by and for more manufacturers which drives the price down) while formats like 4/3 and Medium and Large formats are rarer with less beans using them (as big as the Micro Four Thirds grouo of manufacturers are they pale in comparison to how much Canon, Sony, Samsung and others are producing and selling).

This is one issue that Olympus has almost no control and has to deal with what (this side of) the market offers them. Panasonic used to be in better position when they used to make their own sensors but they sold off that businesses so now they have to pick whatever they can get from other manufacturers or deal with their ex-department (be it for better or worse).
(This is speculation on my part as I have not read the data or researched this: the biggest players in camera business right now sre those who manufacturer their own sensors, driving their own techonogly and development instead of relying on others, Canon and Sony. Samsung tried it but gave up before they could make a dent in the market, not being able to overcome their reputation as "household items manufacturers" be it by professional or amateur photographers. If they would have stuck for the long game (they have the capital and resource to do that) they could have become big or even bigger then Canon or Sony by outselling sensors by quantity and possibly quality (that NX1 sensor was quite outstanding when it came out).

Let's look at it realistically, both Olymous and Panasonic are waiting for sensor manufacturers to improve and sell better 4/3 size sensors (if their are willing to do that we don't know). What we have currently (officially) is 4 years and 1 month old, how much improvement they can squeeze out of it we do not know, but likely not much seeing 5 cameras with that sensor on Olympus side have little improvement between the 5 of them. Outside of one officially launched sensor type that is better (by how much better we don't know) we don't know either, it might be a while or a long time. It wouldn't be surprising if Panasonic and/or Olympus are trying to consolidate their resources, their user base, their advantages to pull through the pandemic, the shrinking market and the lack of better sensors until such time has passed and growth/improvement can be made again. As user we do not know what Panasonic and Olympus knows so it comes down to the user base's trust in these companies (or necessity if they can't afford other alternatives, or are to invested to be willing to switch, or it fits just enough or perfectly for what they need) to keep supporting and/or using the products.
 

BDR-529

Mu-43 Top Veteran
Joined
Jun 27, 2020
Messages
552
In terms of ubiquitous formats for sensors are mobile sizes (less then 1"), 1 inch, APS-C and 35mm (because more of them are made by and for more manufacturers which drives the price down) while formats like 4/3 and Medium and Large formats are rarer with less beans using them (as big as the Micro Four Thirds grouo of manufacturers are they pale in comparison to how much Canon, Sony, Samsung and others are producing and selling).
The bottom line is that in electronics industry that "expensive" component which has 10x or 100x higher production volume ends up being cheaper than that lesser "inexpensive" alternative.

Since pricing information is kept secret, I don't have any concrete numbers for camera sensors but based on data I do know for other expensive components, I'd say that a standard high-volume 24MP FF sensor might be already less expensive than current 20MP MFT sensors. At least any totally new m4/3 sensor would be more expensive due to low production volume compared to FF.

Therefore it would be a *lot* less expensive to find an existing sensor that could fit in new MFT camera than to ask someone if they are willing to create such a custom product just for us. Even if they do, manufacturer must collect the entire R&D and production line investment from a very small lifetime volume which causes the unit price to explode out of the chart.

This is the reason why 8k Super 35 sensor would be a perfect match. R&D and ramp-up investments are already sunken cost for the manufacturer and now some MFT company comes asking if they are willing to sell 10x or 100x times more of these than they originally calculated albeit at reduced price. Heck, YES!

Even Canon has recently made a historical 180 degree turn and they started selling sensors to other manufacturers as well. They didn't initially talk about camera sensors but Canon 90D has their latest 32,5MP APS-C sensor which has dimensions of 22.3 x 14.9 mm. I calculated that this one would become a 23MP MFT sensor if only m4/3 image area is cropped from the center and since it's already in mass production, any substantial additional demand could only bring down the unit price. (It can't be very expensive to start with since 90D is sold at $1100€ or so)
 
Last edited:

L0n3Gr3yW0lf

Mu-43 Top Veteran
Joined
Jul 31, 2013
Messages
996
Location
UK
Real Name
Ovidiu
The bottom line is that in electronics industry that "expensive" component which has 10x or 100x higher production volume ends up being cheaper than that lesser "inexpensive" alternative.

Since pricing information is kept secret, I don't have any concrete numbers for camera sensors but based on data I do know for other expensive components, I'd say that a standard high-volume 24MP FF sensor might be already less expensive than current 20MP MFT sensors. At least any totally new m4/3 sensor would be more expensive due to low production volume compared to FF.

Therefore it would be a *lot* less expensive to find an existing sensor that could fit in new MFT camera than to ask someone if they are willing to create such a custom product just for us. Even if they do, manufacturer must collect the entire R&D and production line investment from a very small lifetime volume which causes the unit price to explode out of the chart.

This is the reason why 8k Super 35 sensor would be a perfect match. R&D and ramp-up investments are already sunken cost for the manufacturer and now some MFT company comes asking if they are willing to sell 10x or 100x times more of these than they originally calculated albeit at reduced price. Heck, YES!

Even Canon has recently made a historical 180 degree turn and they started selling sensors to other manufacturers as well. They didn't initially talk about camera sensors but Canon 90D has their latest 32,5MP APS-C sensor which has dimensions of 22.3 x 14.9 mm. I calculated that this one would become a 23MP MFT sensor if only m4/3 image area is cropped from the center and since it's already in mass production, any substantial additional demand could only bring down the unit price. (It can't be very expensive to start with since 90D is sold at $1100€ or so)
Very true, both Panasonic and Olympus should look at any solution they can afford to compete not to grow but to maintain the customers at least. Maitani always tried to appeal to women to join in photography, even just for fun, ever since the original Pen camera, if they drop the Olympus Pen line they will drop a pretty big piece of history and appeal, the Pen line has a big success in the Asia and especially the Japanese Market. With these models, you would less compete with other big camera companies and more with smartphones, less on raw image quality and more on ghimics and AI like blurring the background, beautifying faces, art filters, uploading, and connecting to online services (like Instagram, YouTube, Facebook, etc). The low-end line would need more software development than hardware upgrading, but they can bring more cash-flow than the OM-D line (by quantity per price) so there's still a use to the 16 MP and 20 MP sensors. That would apply for Panasonic too, like the GM (if they resurrect it) or GF line.
Normally high end gets the newest and the best sensors at a higher cost for users who need and are willing to pay the cost, it takes time and quantity production to iron out a new assembly line of a sensor (the tooling for a new product be it camera, lens or sensor costs from hundreds of $ to millions of $ PER PRODUCT MODEL), it would be expected that a new sensor would start with E-M1 X and E-M1s before it gets down to E-M5s, E-M10s or Pen line. For Panasonic, it would be GH and GHs before G and GX. The cost gets quite painful when many changes are made to a production line from changing/upgrading a product. Sony had a good economic reason why there was so little change between their Ax and Axxxx cameras for so many years (and still to this day).

Canon made the historical change to sell their sensors because they needed to upon up a new inflow of cash and compete with Sony on sensor manufacturing, the more one company controls the market the more that company controls the price of the sensor, could cut a competitor from making cameras or making it so expensive that it becomes less profitable. Another is the fact that cameras are getting so much integration, robotics, AI driving, smart devices, mass surveillance, the incredible increase in popularity of video chatting (which could become as stape of office work turning into work from home and fewer meeting in person and more video conferences from small to big businesses ... especially for those with international coverage). Canon should have done it sooner but I guess it's better late than never.
 

speedy

Mu-43 Hall of Famer
Joined
Nov 27, 2015
Messages
2,375
This is the interesting part. Panasonic and Fuji signed a deal in 2013 for development of Organic/CMOS sensor that would replace the silicon diode used in current sensors. This is the Holy Grail of sensor technology.

In February 2018 Panasonic announced "industry's first" [email protected] OPF sensor that has also global shutter. They even demonstrated a prototype camera that used this sensor in 2019 when it was promised to be ready for 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Unfortunately Panasonic sold their entire semiconductor unit to Nuvoton in November 2019 but in May 2020 Hitachi announced a broadcast 8k camera that uses Super 35 OPF sensor which sounds awful lot like panny technology.

" Using a CMOS image sensor with an organic photoconductive film (OPF) enables a higher saturation charge compared to silicon photodiodes, thus increasing dynamic range without the diminished image quality inherent with previous range expansion technologies.

The camera’s Super 35mm OPF CMOS sensor delivers 8K video with 7680x4320 resolution. The SK-UHD8060B is claimed to offer greater than 400% dynamic range, maximizing the effectiveness of its support for the Hybrid Log Gamma (HLG) HDR specification, and combines it with built-in signal-to-noise management to optimize visual performance.
"

Sharp was first to introduce 8k (33MP) broadcast camera in 2017 and it uses Super 35 sensor as well so this is already "old" technology in bizarrely expensive cine or TV cameras but more prosumer-oriented companies like Blackmagic have already introduced 12k (80MP !!) super 35 sensors in their flagship models.

Super 35 is not really a standard because each manufacturer uses somewhat different sized sensors but some 16:9 aspect ratio ones have also same height as M4/3 image area so it would be very easy to use one in MFT body by just leaving pixels unused on both edges.
Panasonic did better than just demonstrating an organic, global shutter camera. They produce one, commercially available, in the form of a higher end video camera. Can't think off hand the exact model etc, but it's definitely out there. There's also video out there, of an interview from a pre Covid trade type show, where one of the Panny executives stated that the Organic sensor was coming to Lumix. After the Tokyo Olympics. Obviously, that time line has been thrown into disarray, so who knows when we'll see it. I also find it very difficult to comprehend, that Panasonic would sell off their organic sensor tech, without some sort of clause/agreement enabling them to retain access to said sensor. Seeing as they're already using it in one of their products. So I really don't se ot as being dissappointing that they sold off the sensor part of their business. Interesting times for sure. That's why I fthought your comments on the Super 35 sensor to be quite plausible
 
Last edited:

speedy

Mu-43 Hall of Famer
Joined
Nov 27, 2015
Messages
2,375
Panasonic did better than just demonstrating an organic, global shutter camera. They produce one, commercially available, in the form of a higher end video camera. Can't think off hand the exact model etc, but it's definitely out there. There's also video out there, of an interview from a pre Covid trade type show, where one of the Panny executives stated that the Organic sensor was coming to Lumix. After the Tokyo Olympics. Obviously, that time line has been thrown into disarray, so who knows when we'll see it. I also find it very difficult to comprehend, that Panasonic would sell off their organic sensor tech, without some sort of clause/agreement enabling the to retain access to said sensor. Seeing as they're using it in one of their products. So I really don't se ot as being dissappointing that they sold off the sensor part of their business. Interesting times for sure. That's why I fthought your comments on the Super 35 sensor to be quite plausible
Here's a short clip of one of the interviews
 

Mike Wingate

Mu-43 Hall of Famer
Joined
Feb 21, 2017
Messages
3,503
Location
Altrincham
Real Name
Mike Wingate
I did check this from the local Panasonic website (Europe/PAL models) and they too claim that Post Focus has been available for both GX8 and G7 since FW update 2.0 which was released on 25th of November 2015

"[Post Focus] is now available.
New function which enables the user to select in-focus area and pull out favorite shots, after shooting."

https://av.jpn.support.panasonic.com/support/global/cs/dsc/download/fts/dl/gx8.html

This feature was also not there when camera came out of the box and it might not be included in the original printed manual if there ever was one.

They don't indeed mention anything about in-camera Focus Stacking, though and based on original reviews this feature was only available on PC software which means that the whole Post Focus mp4 clip has to be uploaded to PC for processing.

I have never found any use for Focus Stacking or Post Focus but it would be interesting to test them out one of these days when I don't have anything better to do. HDR on the other hand is a very usefull feature but that has been around since the dawn of digital photography.
people need to update the firmware to ensure that they have up to date features.
 

Mike Wingate

Mu-43 Hall of Famer
Joined
Feb 21, 2017
Messages
3,503
Location
Altrincham
Real Name
Mike Wingate
Re new m43 sensors. Have any new sensors appeared recently in new cameras? Any announcements of new sensors for cameras? How many years since the flagship cameras appeared. Panasonic have done lots of work and issued firmware upgrades to max the present sensor. Not the end of the line, surely?
 

pake

Mu-43 Hall of Famer
Joined
Oct 14, 2010
Messages
2,415
Location
Finland
Real Name
Teemu
Re new m43 sensors. Have any new sensors appeared recently in new cameras? Any announcements of new sensors for cameras? How many years since the flagship cameras appeared. Panasonic have done lots of work and issued firmware upgrades to max the present sensor. Not the end of the line, surely?
Sony did announce one or two new 4/3 sensors last year that are yet to debut in a camera. It would be strange if we didn't get any new cameras with a new sensor this year. And it would be a worrying sign as well.
 

JensM

Mu-43 Top Veteran
Joined
Mar 6, 2016
Messages
894
Location
Oslo(ish), Norway
Real Name
As screename
Latest (regular) sensor is the one present in the G9, it is the latest high-end model. If I understand it correctly the same sensor is present in the later releases of the GX9 and the G90 as well, but with other feature-sets in the bodies. What they put in that 100 something camera I dont know.

As far as I recall, all of those where released in 2018.

*edit: I dont have track on the G5S, but it has a speciality sensor.
 

BDR-529

Mu-43 Top Veteran
Joined
Jun 27, 2020
Messages
552
Latest (regular) sensor is the one present in the G9, it is the latest high-end model. If I understand it correctly the same sensor is present in the later releases of the GX9 and the G90 as well, but with other feature-sets in the bodies.

*edit: I dont have track on the G5S, but it has a speciality sensor.
There are currently three MFT sensors in use: IMX269, IMX270 and IMX272. They are all variants of the same chip and therefore IQ differences are measurable in a lab but not so much in the real world.

IMX269 was a commercially available product from the start and it is still in use in panny and oly mid-range 20MP models like GX9 (or any oly model that has 20MP but not PDAF)

IMX272 is a custom sensor for Panny with marginally improved specs and today you can find it in G9 and GH5. It's interesting to note that exclusivity ended last year (or Panny didn't bother to pay for extension) because this sensor has now appeared in Sony catalogue as a freely available product.

https://www.sony-semicon.co.jp/e/products/IS/camera/product.html

IMX270 is an equivalent custom version for Olympus but this sensor has also 121 cross-type AF points which were specified or co-developed by Olympus back in the good old days. This product is apparently still dedicated to Olympus because it can't be found in the link above.

GH5S and BGH1 use IMX299 which has also appeared in the consumer camera sensor portfolio but originally it was launched under Sony Surveillance category where this design is still listed as IMX294

Sony did already start production of that long awaited 8k MFT sensor last year and now it's even in their public portfolio under Industrial sensors as IMX492. Several rumours give different names for the consumer camera version but specs are nevertheless pretty much the same.

This is the sensor GH6 would have apprently used, had it been launched in May 2020 as originally planned (or so they say). Since we are yet to see any sign of GH6, chances are that panny realized how silly idea a tiny 47MP sensor really is and re-designed the whole thing around something better (like a Super 35 sensor with pro specs)

IMX492 is an "oversized" design which means that both 16:9 and 4:3 areas can be maximized so that corners touch MFT image circle but the tradeoff is that in m4/3 mode corners are not used at all and it's effectively a 41MP sensor despite having a total of 47MP (this is why some rumours talk about a new 41MP and others about 47MP sensor).
https://www.sony-semicon.co.jp/products/common/pdf/IMX492LLJ_LQJ_Flyer.pdf

I have never seen rumours about 8k Olympus camera or a 41MP still image-centric version for that matter so I have no clue about what was in their roadmap after IMX270 bodies. Maybe the decision to divest whole camera unit was made a lot earlier than publicly admitted and they simply didn't see any need to plan for life after 20MP? Since panny is using DFD they can essentially use any sensor (or center of a larger sensor) that fit's inside MFT image circle but Olympus must commission a custom MFT sensor with PDAF cells and that is outrageously expensive for small volumes if they are the sole customer.
 
Last edited:

whumber

Mu-43 Top Veteran
Joined
Jun 13, 2017
Messages
674
Location
Rutland, VT
IMX492 is an "oversized" design which means that both 16:9 and 4:3 areas can be maximized so that corners touch MFT image circle but the tradeoff is that in m4/3 mode corners are not used at all and it's effectively a 41MP sensor despite having a total of 47MP (this is why some rumours talk about a new 41MP and others about 47MP sensor).
https://www.sony-semicon.co.jp/products/common/pdf/IMX492LLJ_LQJ_Flyer.pdf
There was actually a separate 41MP sensor that Sony had listed for some time but seems to have disappeared from the public listing. The big difference from that sensor was that the maximum frame rate in all pixel drive mode was 120fps as opposed to 24fps for the IMX492.
 

BDR-529

Mu-43 Top Veteran
Joined
Jun 27, 2020
Messages
552
There was actually a separate 41MP sensor that Sony had listed for some time but seems to have disappeared from the public listing. The big difference from that sensor was that the maximum frame rate in all pixel drive mode was 120fps as opposed to 24fps for the IMX492.
I have seen only screenshots of this rumoured 41MP datasheet which has never been in the public portfolio but it looked like the very same 47MP design. The only difference was that it was listed as 4/3 sensor Instead of oversized "1.4" and this 41MP is indeed the maximum 4:3 aspect ratio area that fits inside MFT image circle.

I'm not sure which IMX492 datasheet you are reading because the official one behind the link lists 30fps frame rate for full 8k (17:9) at "Basic Drive Mode". It doesn't even list 4k or 6k frame rates and I'm absolutely certain that there is no consumer sensor that can read [email protected] Even [email protected] is still a tall order for full sensor width readout. Most new FF cameras have to fall back to APS-C mode for 60p.
 
Last edited:
Links on this page may be to our affiliates. Sales through affiliate links may benefit this site.
Mu-43 is a fan site and not associated with Olympus, Panasonic, or other manufacturers mentioned on this site.
Forum post reactions by Twemoji: https://github.com/twitter/twemoji
Copyright © 2009-2019 Amin Forums, LLC
Top Bottom