Olympus & Panasonic could get Sony A7R resolution with new 47MP, 8K sensor

Olympus & Panasonic could get Sony A7R resolution with new 47MP, 8K sensor
(Image credit: Sony / Micro Four Thirds Group)

Sony has revealed a new high-resolution Micro Four Thirds image sensor, which would deliver 47MP shooting and 8K video to Olympus, Panasonic and other cameras using the standard. 

This would enable Micro Four Thirds cameras to shoot with more megapixels than most full-frame mirrorless cameras, bringing its resolution in line with hi-res models such as the Sony A7R series.

Fascinatingly, it also enables 8K video shooting – hot on the heels of the Sharp 8K Video Camera, which uses a proprietary 33MP sensor that was previously the highest resolution Micro Four Thirds chip available.

• Read more: The 10 highest-resolution cameras

The Sony IMX492LQJ sensor fact sheet, spotted by 43 Rumors, describes a 47MP Exmor R multi-aspect sensor, with 41MP resolution when shooting in a standard 4:3 ratio and 35MP in 17:9. 

It is capable of shooting 8K video up to 30 frames per second in 17:9 (matching the Sharp 8K Video Camera) and up to 25 frames in 4:3, with 10- and 12-bit on-chip digital output (exceeding the Sharp's 10-bit output). 

Micro Four Thirds sensors previously peaked at 33MP with the Sharp 8K Video Camera – but only for video

Micro Four Thirds sensors previously peaked at 33MP with the Sharp 8K Video Camera – but only for video (Image credit: Kinotika)

"The IMX492LQJ is a diagonal 23.1mm (Type 1.4) CMOS image sensor with a color square pixel array and approximately 47.08 M effective pixels. 12-bit digital output makes it possible to output the signals with high definition for moving pictures," reads the Sony flyer.

"It also operates with three power supply voltages: analog 2.9 V, digital 1.2 V, and 1.8 V for I/O interface and achieves low power consumption. Realizing high-sensitivity, low dark current, this sensor also has an electronic shutter function with variable storage time."

This new sensor could offer a fresh lease of life for the Micro Four Thirds standard, especially in terms of photography, that seemed to have plateaued at 20.4MP in stills cameras such as the Olympus OM-D E-M1X

The promise of 41MP imaging and 8K, 12-bit video would theoretically make an Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark III or Panasonic GH6 every bit as powerful as full-frame mirrorless cameras – something that seemed unlikely just a few months ago, with the megapixel gap seeming to widen insurmountably.

Read more: 

The best Olympus cameras in 2019
The best Panasonic cameras in 2019
What is 8K? And what does it mean to photographers and videomakers?

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James Artaius

The editor of Digital Camera World, James has 21 years experience as a journalist and started working in the photographic industry in 2014 (as an assistant to Damian McGillicuddy, who succeeded David Bailey as Principal Photographer for Olympus). In this time he shot for clients like Aston Martin Racing, Elinchrom and L'Oréal, in addition to shooting campaigns and product testing for Olympus, and providing training for professionals. This has led him to being a go-to expert for camera and lens reviews, photo and lighting tutorials, as well as industry news, rumors and analysis for publications like Digital Camera MagazinePhotoPlus: The Canon MagazineN-Photo: The Nikon MagazineDigital Photographer and Professional Imagemaker, as well as hosting workshops and talks at The Photography Show. He also serves as a judge for the Red Bull Illume Photo Contest. An Olympus and Canon shooter, he has a wealth of knowledge on cameras of all makes – and a fondness for vintage lenses and instant cameras.