Panasonic Develops 8K Global Shutter Camera Sensor

Posted Feb. 15th, 2018 by Daniel J. Cox

Panasonic Develops 8K Global Shutter Camera Sensor

Those of you who travel with us know I’ve been hinting about a Panasonic super-duper camera sensor that’s been whispered about for several years. Based on a recent press release by Panasonic, it seems the cat is officially out of the bag. A short backstory about why I’m so convinced Panasonic is the one to be with going into the future of creative stills and video.

When I was in Japan three years ago, I went to visit the Lumix engineers in Osaka. During the early part of the day, a couple of hours before our scheduled meeting, I was chauffeured around Osaka by a very nice young man from the Lumix team. He and I were riding in a cab and I asked him, “Why did Panasonic decide to go into the stills photography business?” His response was refreshingly simple, “Because it’s very difficult to do.” He went on to explain how Panasonic used to be a powerhouse in the manufacturing of televisions and that the ability to make a good TV was much easier than a great camera. He mentioned something to the effect that Panasonic decided many years earlier that it needed to put its vast stable of world-class engineers on projects that were not easy. In other words (my take on this) the Chinese and Koreans were killing them.

That was three years ago, and today Panasonic announced a digital camera sensor that incorporates technology that has been thought to be almost impossible: 8K Global Shutter. From the little that I know (I’m no engineer), the global shutter is the biggest deal. You can read more about global shutter here but below is an example of the issues all digital sensors suffer from.

Panasonic Develops 8K Global Shutter Camera Sensor

A comparison of Global and Rolling Shutter. Rolling shutter on left make the straight lines of a car look tipped. Global shutter on right shows lines straight as they should be.

The other great news is what seems to be tremendous dynamic range. Below is an image showing the DR and detail from an 8K frame grab.

Panasonic Develops 8K Global Shutter Camera Sensor

Notice the dynamic range in the shadows of the person sitting under the roof

Finally, here’s an image showing the amazing detail from this new sensor.

Panasonic Develops 8K Global Shutter Camera Sensor

A comparison of different resolutions. Panasonic already has 4k and 6K Photo Mode which allows frame grabs from video clips shot at 30FPS. Now 8K is coming which will give us 36-megapixel stills from video clips.

The writing is on the wall in my humble opinion. There will always be some uses for so-called Full Frame sensors, but for those who want a much bigger bang for the buck, without stringing your back, Micro Four Thirds is about to slam the door on those monster lenses needed for the traditional old DSLR’s. Kind of reminds me of the age of the dinosaur. Below is my final example of old and new technology.

Panasonic Develops 8K Global Shutter Camera Sensor

Freddy is just way to confident with his baby Lumix system, and Peter’s about ready to let him have a lens full. Oh, by the way, Freddy is shooting 840mm and Peter has 600mm. Cuiaba River, Pantanal, Brazil

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There are 13 comments on this post…
  1. Bill TylerOn Feb. 27th, 2018 (4 months ago)

    There’s one more thing about Micro Four Thirds. The long lenses typically focus far closer than equivalent FF teles. You can come close to macro work with subjects that would either be spooked or be dangerous with the shorter focal lengths you’d have to use with FF. As an example, the Canon 600mm f/4 lens gives a maximum magnification of 0.15x. The corresponding focal length Olympus 300mm f/4 yields 0.24x magnification, which, because of the smaller sensor size, would be 0.48x proportionally. That’s an image that’s three times bigger as a proportion of the frame than the Canon lens yields. At the same time, the weight is only 3.25 pounds as compared to 8 pounds, and a price difference of more than 4x for the Canon. I picked the Oly lens rather than a Panasonic, because it’s the closest comparable right now in M43. But it’s not alone the Panasonic 100-400 has similar advantages, as do all the M43 teles that I’m aware of.

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Feb. 27th, 2018 (4 months ago)

      Good info Bill. Thanks for adding all of this. Really grateful for your input.

  2. Mark VBOn Feb. 26th, 2018 (4 months ago)

    Hi Dan, liked your article but in a comment above you state that Panasonic will one day soon figure out how to provide full-frame quality in the micro 4/3’s sensor. I have to take issue with that, as given comparable technology, the full frame sensor will always provide better image quality than the smaller micro 4/3’s sensor. I think the real question is how much image quality is needed, or good enough.

    The quality achievable from the current generation of micro 4/3’s cameras is quite high, and no doubt comparable to what was possible from full-frame sensors only a few years ago. For most applications we probably have reached the point where the smaller sensor provides image quality that is sufficient for most people’s needs all (or certainly most) of the time. For some professionals and others, they will still have a need for a larger sensor, but for most people they probably don’t. The size and weight advantages of micro 4/3’s is certainly highly attractive, particularly for those doing extreme telephoto photography as demonstrated in your photo above.

    Indeed, I recently purchased a Sony RX 10 IV for travel purposes (mostly for my wife) and was quite impressed with the image quality this smaller than micro 4/3’s sensor is capable of providing (I did consider a Panasonic Lumix but ultimately wanted the 600mm equivalent field of view the RX10 IV provides). It obviously suffers at higher ISO’s but not as much as one might expect. Digital advances are no doubt changing the considerations we as photographers can make, and providing us with the type of options that were undreamed of years ago.

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Feb. 26th, 2018 (4 months ago)

      Mark, my point was and is that it won’t be long before we have equal or better image quality in a MFT sensor than what is currently possible in the best so called Full Frame sensors. I’m not so sure that MFT won’t eventually pass the quality of the larger full frame sensors. Why, because Panasonic is developing their own sensors and they’ve committed to the smaller form factor. That will inspire them to go even further than what is currently available in the full frame sensors. As we all know, everything electronic gets smaller, faster, and cheaper. I wouldn’t bet against MFT. Nobody in their right mind wants to carry or pay for the optics full frame cameras require.

  3. Beth DavidowOn Feb. 21st, 2018 (4 months ago)

    Having just sold my beloved RED camera, because, in part I couldn’t keep up with the $50,000 (you read that right!) upgrade to 8K, this is exciting news for me! It’s a pleasure to carry the smaller GH5 around and is perfect for the web video work I’m currently doing, but I miss the resolution, dynamic range, and still frame grabs of my now former 6K RED. Can’t wait to see the new Lumix 8K!

  4. Portrait of David and Shiela Glatz

    Dave GlatzOn Feb. 19th, 2018 (4 months ago)

    I don’t claim to completely understand the press release, which is almost incomprehensible to a non-engineer. But how does global shutter help anything other than video shooting? And from what I gather 8k amounts to roughly 36 MP (and as I understand it increased dynamic range associated with increased resolution). So now high MP/ high dynamic range is good not overhyped? I’m probably missing something here.

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Feb. 19th, 2018 (4 months ago)

      Hi Dave, Global shutter is actually a benefit to stills photography as well. When shooting the G9 in the Electronic Shutter mode, to get the 20FPS option, you can still get leaning straight lines if you’re panning quickly for example. You would get something similar to the examples you see in the post where the back of the car is leaning backwards. So global Shutter is not just a benefit to video shooters but stills shooters as well.

      You are correct that a sill image pulled from an 8K video file would be 36 megapixels. As far as high MP/Dynamic Range being possibly overhyped? I guess it depends. There is no doubt that as far as I’m concerned, the larger Megapixel cameras are overhyped, BUT there are some benefits, which I have acknowledged, if you’re willing to pay for the larger sensors and carry the larger lenses.

      In a perfect world we all have as many pixels as we might want but also have the ability to have less if we feel they are acceptable. This technology is what I’ve been predicting where all electronics get faster, better, smaller and less costly. Panasonic is going to eventually figure out how to give us the quality of full frame cameras in a Micro Four Thirds sensor. That’s going to happen and the iPhone having more power than the computers that took astronauts to the moon is great proof to that concept.

    • Portrait of David and Shiela Glatz

      Dave GlatzOn Feb. 20th, 2018 (4 months ago)

      Hey Dan thanks for the explanation. You should be writing press releases for all the camera companies! Your description of global shutter for stills use makes perfect sense. Interesting point about more vs. less pixels – at the option of the shooter. I hadn’t thought about that but agree it would be the best of both worlds.

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Feb. 20th, 2018 (4 months ago)

      Happy to help Dave. Thanks as always for going the conversation. There are exciting times ahead for all of us who love photography.

  5. Don A BarnesOn Feb. 16th, 2018 (4 months ago)

    Hi Dan, I liked your excellent pictorial technology comparison between the Canon DSLR camera with a 600mm telephoto lens and Freddy’s Micro 4 3rds baby Lumix system. Just as a point of clarification, wasn’t Freddy using a Panasonic GH4 camera mated to a Olympus 300mm f4 telephoto lens using an Olympus 1.4 Teleconverter to get the equivalent 840mm range?

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Feb. 17th, 2018 (4 months ago)

      You are correct Don. Thanks for the clarification.

  6. Louis BerkOn Feb. 15th, 2018 (4 months ago)

    The mind boggles at how this sensor will transform photography. What interests me most is the DR for stills photography. The new tweaks to the existing 20mpx sensor in the G9 are great – much better in terms of shadow noise at higher iso than before but the sample of the spectator in the sports stand is amazing. The photo above made me spontaneously, ‘lol’. As I keep telling people, my back is two years into its 7th decade of service – and I’m complaining – but I will never be able to lift a Canikon 600mm lens ever again. Good job that the 200/2.8 has dealt finally with my Canon-large-zoom-envy!

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Feb. 15th, 2018 (4 months ago)

      Agreed Louis. We’re in some exciting times in digital photography. The dynamic range is impressive. Here’s another frame from the original article showing an even more amazing dynamic range sample.

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