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 (opens in new tab), which uses a proprietary 33MP sensor that was previously the highest resolution Micro Four Thirds chip available.

• Read more: The 10 highest-resolution cameras (opens in new tab)

The Sony IMX492LQJ (opens in new tab) sensor fact sheet, spotted by 43 Rumors (opens in new tab), 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 (opens in new tab) – 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 (opens in new tab) in 2019
The best Panasonic cameras (opens in new tab) in 2019
What is 8K? (opens in new tab) And what does it mean to photographers and videomakers?

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The editor of Digital Camera World, James has 21 years experience as a magazine and web 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 as diverse as 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, photographic and lighting tutorials, as well as industry analysis, news and rumors for publications such as Digital Camera Magazine (opens in new tab)PhotoPlus: The Canon Magazine (opens in new tab)N-Photo: The Nikon Magazine (opens in new tab)Digital Photographer (opens in new tab) and Professional Imagemaker, as well as hosting workshops and demonstrations at The Photography Show (opens in new tab). 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.