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Olympus multi-layered sensor patent spotted in Japan

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Olympus multi-layered sensor patent spotted in Japan

Olympus is experimenting with multi-layered image sensors as the company has just patented a two-layer sensor that provides high sensitivity as well as high color fidelity.

Sigma is the first company that comes to mind when it comes to multi-layered sensors. The company’s Foveon and Quattro sensors are offering great image quality, but other companies have chosen to stick with conventional one-layered image sensors.

The future may hold some surprises for photographers as Canon is just one company which has patented multiple sensors with more than one layer. It seems like Olympus is next in line, as the company has just been spotted patenting a two-layer RGBCMY sensor.

Olympus multi-layered sensor
Two different versions of the Olympus multi-layered sensor patent.

Olympus multi-layered sensor patent shows up in Japan

Olympus has patented a multi-layered sensor that consists of two different layers. Additionally, the patent is describing multiple versions of the sensor. The arrangement of the pixels is different on the top, where it is said that it can filter two or three colors.

The bottom layer also has a color filter, but only for one or two colors. Moreover, the second layer is providing a wider pixel pitch, unlike the top one. This means that the pixel count and the total resolution will be different, depending on the version of the sensor.

From the patent, it looks like Olympus is emulating both the Foveon and Quattro versions of Sigma’s sensors thanks to higher sensitivity and higher color fidelity. Nevertheless, this is just one patent and the technology could suffer changes by the time it is ready for mass production.

This could be Olympus’ back-up plan for increasing image resolution

The Olympus multi-layered sensor patent was filed on October 31, 2013. Its seal of approval was granted on May 7, 2015.

As usual, a patent does not necessarily mean that a product will be released on the market. However, it is an indication of a company’s direction.

It is quite hard to add even more pixels to Micro Four Thirds sensors, but Olympus and Panasonic must do something to offer higher-resolution photos to their fans. Olympus has already launched the OM-D E-M5 Mark II camera with a high-res mode, while Panasonic has not made a move in this direction, yet.

It will be interesting to see how this technology will evolve as well as if Olympus decides to take on Sigma sometime in the next few years. In the meantime, do not raise your hopes too high.

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Olympus multi-layered sensor patent spotted in Japan