Thursday, May 5, 2011

Olympus Designing Their Own Sensor.

I like Olympus. They're the underdog. I mean, they're incompetent when it comes to designing a compelling product and marketing it, but their heart is in the right place.

As I've mentioned before, Olympus had a contract with Panasonic whereby any 4/3-sensored camera that they made had to have the sensor assembly be one of Panasonic's design and manufacture. In the grand tradition of monopoly behavior, Panasonic wouldn't give Olympus access to the newest generation of sensors, meaning that Oly had to make due with leftovers.

Even then, Olympus' implementation of the old sensors was vastly superior to Panasonic's. Truly, as far as noise went, the Olympus sensors were dancing with the big boys of APS-C territory. The GF1 and 2 can't say that. The E-PL2's noise levels are even comparable to the new GH2.

That contract ended a few months ago and we have yet heard nothing. This is the first rumbling that Olympus might be gearing up to produce a new sensor, and they're going to be dropping it into a pro-sumer oriented Pen camera. I'm very excited.

I am surprised to hear that Panasonic will be manufacturing it, though. I expected that Olympus would turn to Kodak, since they were one of the founders of the 4/3's standard along with Oly. I can only assume that it's because Kodak didn't have camera-ready products, whereas I assume that Panasonic could fire up a factory and get sensors out in a few months.

Still, this is good for the 4/3's system. It needs internal competition to get the companies to focus. And having one company beholden to the other won't do it.

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