Wednesday, 4 March 2009

There is truth, after all!

I was so disappointed some months ago by the Panasonic G1 announcement. I predicted that there will be a wider sensor in it to allow switching between aspect ratios without loss of pixels. But G1 got the same dimension sensor like any other 4/3 camera, so the switching translates to simple cropping of the image in this case.

Panasonic has announced the GH1 on the day before yesterday, the new version of the G1 which can record HD movies. The video capability is the most important feature for most of the people, but not for me. There is another very good news. GH1 has been fitted with a sensor similar to what I have predicted. To see the point a little bit better, look at the following figure (the real size of the sensor area is a little bigger than the official size due to technological reasons):

As you can see, the sensor is hardly wider than its conventional 4/3 counterpart but the effect of this difference is very important. Just imagine: You can take portraits with 3:4 aspect ratio in vertical mode, but for landscapes 16:9 is also available without significant loss of quality. Let us calculate the advantage:

There is another very interesting question: Which image size will be recorded in RAW mode? If RAW images will be cut to selected aspect ratio, there is no surprise, but if whole sensor data is recorded, we have to face another possibility and a related problem as well. Most of zoom lenses can project larger image circle than official at longer focal lengths. The difference between the official and the image circle required by wider formats is very small, so these lenses can exploit the whole 14 megapixel (13 megapixels are used) sensor at almost any point of their focal range. The lens hood of conventional 4/3 lenses may cause a little vignetting if they are used with adapter on GH1-like mFT cameras at 16:9, but this is a minor issue and one can take care of it.

I hope that we shall see the same concept in dSLR cameras soon and that Olympus will use the same sensor in mFT bodies!

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