Epson is claiming its new Ultimicron series of compact, high-temperature polysilicon (HTPS) panels will allow electronic viewfinders to offer the 'resolution and fidelity' required to fully replace optical viewfinders on digital SLRs. The new panel, which has just gone into mass production, offers a similar 1.44MP resolution (800x600xRGB) to the class-leading viewfinders in Panasonic's DMC-G1/GH1, but uses a color filter to prevent color breakup when panning or shooting fast-moving objects. The poor performance of most existing EVF technology when compared to reflex viewfinders is a major barrier to the adoption of mirrorless interchangeable lens system cameras, and Epson obviously has high hopes for a market segment that's expected to grow significantly during 2010.

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Press Release:

Epson Starts Volume Production of Ultra-Compact, High-Resolution HTPS TFT Color Liquid Crystal Panel for Electronic Viewfinders


Optical viewfinder replacement enables smaller, thinner digital cameras

TOKYO, Japan, October 2009 Seiko Epson Corporation ("Epson", TSE:6724) today announced that it has begun volume production of a new high-temperature polysilicon (HTPS) TFT color panel for electronic viewfinders. Measuring just 0.47 of an inch (1.2 cm) diagonally, the new panels offer SVGA (800 x RGB x 600) resolution in red, green and blue for a total of 1.44 megapixels.
The new panels are targeted at camera manufacturers for use as electronic viewfinders in mid- to high-end digital single lens reflex (DSLR) cameras.

Competition in the digital camera market has reached a fever pitch. Companies are launching new products with higher resolutions and more features at even lower prices. In recent years, more and more consumers have been switching from compact cameras to SLR units in pursuit of better performance and image quality, driving the need for smaller and thinner DSLR cameras with video and other features.
Epson's new panels meet this need and open a whole world of possibilities for DSLR cameras.

Until now, no electronic viewfinder has been able to offer the resolution and fidelity needed to replace optical viewfinders and to focus the image. Epson's new panel, developed using HTPS technology, not only makes this possible but also uses an analog driver to recreate smooth gradations and a natural softness. This panel will allow camera manufacturers to eliminate the mirrors and pentaprisms needed for optical viewfinders, enabling much smaller and thinner camera bodies and letting users capture the image they see. In addition, the use of a color filter prevents the color breakup that tends to occur with other color systems when shooting fast-moving subjects and while panning.

Epson has long developed HTPS panels to meet the high-definition, high-resolution needs of its market-leading projector business. Using technology developed for projectors, Epson created this new product to meet the needs of the digital camera market.

This panel is the first in Epson's new "ULTIMICRON" series of compact, high-resolution HTPS panels that display full color on a single screen for electronic viewfinders and other compact displays. Epson will continue to offer new solutions for the growing DSLR camera market by expanding its lineup with higher resolutions, better image quality, and smaller sizes.

Features of the new panel
  • Compact
    Small 0.47-inch diagonal screen enables compact, thin cameras
  • High resolution
    High pixel density with SVGA resolution (800 x RGB x 600, 1.44 megapixels)
  • Color filter
    Not affected by color breakup that occurs with fast-moving subjects and panning shots when using a field-sequential color system
Advantages when used in a DSLR camera
  • High resolution enables easy focusing
  • Can capture images as they are seen
  • Viable alternative to optical viewfinder
    • Avoids the blackout of optical viewfinders when shooting video
    • Enables smaller cameras by eliminating need for mirrors and pentaprisms
    • Eliminates mechanical time lag caused by mirror

Panel specifications

Name L3F04S-80300
LCD type TN mode, organic alignment layer
Color display system Color filter (RGB stripe)
Effective pixels 800 x RGB x 600 (SVGA)
Panel size (diagonal)

0.47 inch (1.2 cm)

Pixel pitch 12 µm (4 x RGB) x 12 µm
Color space

92% of sRGB

Contrast ratio 280:1
Backlight

Yes

Surface luminance 460 cd/m2
Displayable colors

Approx. 16.77 million colors