Thoughts on an oversized sensor

Started Dec 26, 2012 | Discussions thread
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Mal_In_Oz
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Thoughts on an oversized sensor
Dec 26, 2012

There has been a lot of talk about a full-frame line of cameras from the Sony/Olympus alliance. As I have stated on another forum, I see this as a distraction and would prefer to see Olympus stay focused on just m43 and make that system as good as it can be.

The key to m43 in my opinion, is its size to quality performance. We all love the notion of a smaller system that can be taken anywhere in our pocket, but can produce DSLR performance in IQ, speed and handling when its needed.

So what could Olympus or Panasonic do to improve the system, reducing the gap between m43 format and FF to woo the professional or serious enthusiast away from FF or (perhaps more importantly) stop m43 users from having an inferiority complex?

Now that the alliance with Sony is official, and given the price of sensors is dropping, I think its time for the oversized sensor. That is, put in a sensor that completely covers the m43 image circle. And here is why:

1. We would not need a portrait grip. With a full square sensor we don't need to change the orientation of the camera. This saves on cost, space and inconvenience for anyone doing weddings or performances, so definitely something for the pros. I did a lot of shots recently at a dance performance and was sitting in the front row. I was very conscious of lifting my arm to do a portrait shot because it would have bothered people behind me and might even have been seen in the video.

2. We would get more performance from our current lenses. With the ability to utilise the image circle better, we can get wider wides and significantly more pixels in images that stray from 4:3. I personally like 1:1 images for portraits (just take a look at Kirk Tucks work on his Visual Science blog). Using the full image circle on a sensor of the same density as in the OMD, we would get 4072x4072 rather than the current 3456x3456. In actual sensor area, I believe this is better than what an APS sensor can do.

3. It would be possible to view a larger image than the captured image. This would provide a range-finder style of view that could help in framing. The view would be more circular (or perhaps the sensor could be even larger than the image circle),  but it would be possible to show the full image with the captured image shown with markings in the viewfinder. A quick turn of the dial and the marked image could be rotated or aspect ratio changed to make a better composition.

I realise that Panasonic have already tried this, and it did provide some benefits, but as discussed above there are more benefits to be had than what Panasonic provided.

I would like to hear what others think, so if anyone has an opinion on this then feel free to comment.

PS. I am very time poor so might not be back often to reply, but will do my best.

 Mal_In_Oz's gear list:Mal_In_Oz's gear list
Olympus OM-D E-M5 Olympus PEN E-PL5 Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 9-18mm 1:4.0-5.6 Panasonic Lumix G 20mm F1.7 ASPH Panasonic Lumix G 14mm F2.5 ASPH +5 more
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