In an unusually revealing and informative interview Olympus have indicated that they are in the process of making their 8 exposure, sensor shift, multi image way of creating 40MP files fast enough to be used hand held. This is quite remarkable news and if the sensor technology that allows Olympus to do this is patented could make them jump ahead in the mirrorless interchangeable marketplace.
Because, quite simply, it's a remarkable innovation which completely sidesteps all the issues about sensor size and pixel density. Just imagine if this actually happens.
'He went on to explain that he expected the R&D team to make rapid progress in the development of the High Res Shot feature and that in time Olympus will be able to create a system will take less than 1/60sec instead of the current time of about one second.
Mr. Kataoka says that the most important development of the OM-D E-M5 ll is not the High Res Shot mode itself, but the improvements that have been made to the 5-Axis image stabilization system that makes the High Res Shot function possible. The new system allows smaller and more accurate movements to be made to the sensor position so that it can be shifted by half a pixel in each direction to create the multi-sample image. He explained that the sensor has to be able to be moved and stopped so that each pixel is just 0.0002mm from its previous position – with a tolerance of +/-0.0001mm. Now that can be done, the next step will be to make the process of expose-shift-expose-shift happen more quickly.'
This pretty much changes everything. Talk about a completely unexpected way of increasing image quality, this is most definitely revolutionary and something that I doubt anyone would ever have predicted. It sounds complicated, but it does explain Olympus's concentration on their sensor shift technology. And can we expect to see it in other manufacturers products?
Again think of the implications. Significantly increasing files sizes and image resolution WITHOUT the need for higher pixel densities and therefore higher noise levels. It means that Olympus sensors (and others if this gets universally adopted) have no need to change. The 16MP sensor in Olympus cameras suddenly gets a lot more powerful in terms of the definition and detail it can capture.
It remains to be seen what kind of shutter speeds can be achieved, but even if it's initially only restricted to 1/60th. > 1/250th. sec say, then this is a quite remarkable and very impressive advance. If it does happen, then I imagine there will be an awful lot of head scratching in a lot of boardrooms and a desperation to get something similar ASAP. It changes everything and that's no exaggeration. Apart from anything else think of the implications for all sorts of sensors in all sorts of cameras. Could this technology be housed in a smartphone? A small sensor compact? What can be achieved with a FF sensor? If this technology is transferable then unbelievable levels of resolution can be achieved from already existing sensors.
Finally I find it fascinating that this is a mechanical solution to the problem of increasing image quality and resolution and who would have predicted that?