Advancing Technology for Amazing Image Quality

Advancing Technology for Amazing Image Quality

What is the Olympus Live MOS Sensor?

Olympus' Live MOS sensor is a 4/3 type image sensor that conforms to the Four Thirds/Micro Four Thirds standard.

The new Four Thirds/Micro Four Thirds standard, was created for the future of digital ILC cameras and adopted in anticipation of the changes coming to digital photography. This high performance format has been heralded the world over as a popular open standard.

Designed for Digital

To maximize an image sensor’s capabilities, the design must ensure that light reaches the edges of the sensor in virtually a straight line. However, maintaining a straight light path in lens design while using a traditional 35mm or APS-C size image sensor resulted in a complicated optical system.

To overcome this, Olympus calculated the optimal sensor size by starting with a maximum lens size that fulfilled size and straight light path conditions, yet was portable and provided excellent image quality. Based on this research, Olympus concluded that the 4/3 type sensor was the perfect format.

Optimal Image Quality & Light Telecentricity

The direct light path achieved with the Four Thirds/Micro Four Thirds System standard results in improved image quality that extends to the corners of the image. It also helps to reduce ghosts and flares.

In other formats, resolution is generally lost around the edges of the image, resulting in color bleeding and darkness in those areas. This is particularly prominent when using wide-angle lenses. Light reflecting off the surface of the image sensor can reflect again off the back of the lens causing ghosts, flares, and reduced image quality.

The Four Thirds/Micro Four Thirds System delivers light perpendicularly to the image sensor (telecentric design), resulting in sharp, clear image quality throughout the frame. This also makes it easier to control the light reflected from the surface of the sensor.

Compact Lens Design. Excellent Image Quality.

An exact physical principle exists between the light in the lens and the light coming out of the lens. This typically results in the size of the lens increasing in accordance with the size of the sensor. There are several possible methods to make the system smaller. For example, light can be significantly refracted by the lens, the flange back can be made shorter and the lens itself can be made more compact. However, forcibly making a lens more compact can result in insufficient light reaching the sensor and insufficient image formation – ultimately lowering image quality.

The Four Thirds/Micro Four Thirds standard was designed to create compact lenses without reducing lens performance. Additionally, when establishing the new Micro Four Thirds standard, special attention was given to optimizing the diagonal sensor length, flange back and back focus balance for enhanced performance. The result of striving for both good image quality and a compact size when establishing the format means that we do not have to sacrifice image quality, and can produce high-performance, compact lenses.

Maximizing the Possibilities of the Micro Four Thirds Sensor

In principle, because the capture speed of the 4/3-inch sensor is faster than that of a larger-format sensor, it is possible to make the electronic shutter speed and sequential shooting speed faster. Additionally, since the size of a sensor has significant impact on both the amount of heat generated from long exposures and battery power consumption, a smaller sensor has the advantage of creating less heat and using less power.

For these reasons, the Micro Four Thirds sensor is not only advantageous for capturing still images faster, it is also great for movies, making it a format that will lead the digital interchangeable lens camera market in the future.


Zuiko Lens System

Zuiko Lens System

What is the Zuiko Lens System?

The Four Thirds System was designed specifically for digital photography. It makes both high quality imaging and reduced size possible. The Micro Four Thirds System enables an even more compact design. The Olympus Zuiko Digital and M.Zuiko Digital lens lineup maximizes the benefits of these systems for both high quality imaging and compact size.

These lens systems were born from a fusion of manufacturing knowledge passed down in an unbroken chain, resulting in cutting-edge design and control technologies designed to provide amazing image quality and an unparalleled shooting experience for both still and video shooters.

Special Optical Materials & Lens Elements for Exceptional Image Quality

To achieve outstanding image quality, light must be controlled and concentrated on a single point. Because of this, a variety of lens shapes and materials must be combined based on optical design theory. Olympus has mastered creating diverse, high-quality optical lenses – excelling in developing lenses that are both compact and have excellent optical performance. Learn more about each of these lens types below:

  • DSA (Dual Super-Aspherical) lenses
  • Aspherical lenses
  • ED (Extra-low Dispersion) lenses
  • EDA (Extra-low Dispersion Aspherical) lenses
  • HR (High Refractive index) lenses
  • HD (High Refractive index & Dispersion) lenses

DSA (Dual Super-Aspherical) Lenses

Olympus was the first company in the world to succeed in the mass production of the glass molded aspherical lens. This lens type features an extremely large ratio of thickness between the center and periphery, with construction that efficiently corrects for aberrations and results in excellent image quality and a compact size.

It is very difficult to mold large-diameter lenses in this shape, as maintaining surface uniformity while preventing cracking is a challenge. However, mass production of this specially-shaped lens was successfully achieved through a variety of technologies. This includes mold polishing techniques made possible by skilled craftsmen, ultra high-precision molding machines equipped with extremely accurate temperature controls, and measurement and evaluation equipment with the world's highest precision measurements.

Aspherical Lenses

With normal spherical lenses, light passing through the area near the center of the lens and the edges of the lens does not form an image at a point. This can causes spherical aberrations.

To compensate for spherical aberrations, an aspherical lens shape is used. This lens shape gradually curves from the center of the lens to the far edges (as the ray height becomes higher). Using aspherical lenses rather than just spherical lenses to compensate for aberrations also results in fewer lens elements needed in the construction of the lens, contributing to an overall smaller lens.

ED (Extra-Low Dispersion) Lenses

The properties of the refractive index differ according to the wavelength of light. The wavelength in normal glass lenses results in a suboptimal location for image formation. As a result, chromatic aberration occurs, negatively affecting image quality.

ED lenses can reduce the differences in refractive index due to wavelength, thereby suppressing color bleeding and improving image performance. Super ED lenses equalize the refractive index even further than the ED lens, enhancing compensation of chromatic aberration.

Zero (Zuiko Extra-Low Reflection Optical) Coating

This anti-glare coating is an application of the state-of-the-art multilayer film disposition technology Olympus developed for microscopes. ZERO coating cuts the reflectance of wavelengths between 450 and 650 nm in half compared to our previous coating technology. It also helps maintain the lens' low reflectivity by preventing scratches and degradation due to the enhanced strength and durability made possible by vacuum deposition. This coating features high transmittance and minimizes hard-to-prevent artifacts such as ghosts and flares to ensure clear imaging performance even under unfavorable conditions, such as when shooting against the light.

EDA (Extra-Low Dispersion Aspherical) Lenses

The EDA lens is an aspherical version of the ED lens. This type of lens is effective in compensating for chromatic aberration of magnification that tends to stand out on ultra wide-angle lenses. It also thoroughly removes chromatic flare at the edges of images, improving image quality.

Though making the ED lens aspherical raised concerns about it becoming easily cracked or scratched, Olympus successfully addressed these issues by establishing high-precision cooling control technology and developing a dedicated cleaning device that does not scratch the lenses, making mass production possible.

HR (High Refractive Index) Lenses

High refractive power lenses have strong compensation for spherical aberration. Super HR lenses have an even higher refractive index.

HD (High Refractive Index & Dispersion) Lenses

HD lenses combine the benefits of both high refraction and high dispersion lenses to compensate for chromatic aberration.

Splash & Dust Proof Construction

Lenses equipped with Olympus' splash & dust proof construction are equipped with multiple layers of ring-shaped seals on the inside of the lens that prevent the ingress of dust and water.

A material that is both splashproof and breathable is also installed on the inside of the zoom ring for peace of mind and comfortable shooting in difficult conditions.

Watch how splash and dust proof construction enables reliable shooting in the rain and in extreme environments.

DUAL VCM Focusing System

The DUAL VCM Focusing System is the world's first focusing system that uses a floating system* with a linear motor actuator for autofocusing. By moving two lens groups simultaneously with the linear motor, speed and close-up performance is improved.

An extremely high level of control technology is required to instantly control two different lens groups based on constantly changing image information. On the M.40-150 PRO lens, the two lens groups are simultaneously controlled at a sampling interval of 1/10000 second.

*Floating System
Part of the lens is moved to match the subject distance, effectively preventing an increase in aberration. Additionally, because extremely short distances can be reduced for close subjects, this design is advantageous for a wide range of shooting.

The MSC Mechanism and Linear Motor Provides Fast and Quiet Auto Focusing

The MSC (Movie and Still Compatible) mechanism is the latest in optical design technology, achieving fast and silent focusing with a lightweight form with minimum number of lenses. The gears have been removed, eliminating operational noise. A sub-micron precision metal axis (shaft) and fast-moving linear motor drive system is used for direct driving of the focusing lens. This lens employs an inner focusing system that uses the MSC mechanism, and focuses using a compact, lightweight focusing unit consisting of two cemented lenses. This enables fast, quiet autofocusing. The AF system allows users to comfortably shoot both still images and movies.

MF Clutch Mechanism

On lenses equipped with a Manual Focus (MF) Clutch, pulling the MF Clutch mechanism toward you makes instant focus mode switching possible. By increasing the focus resolving power with the Snapshot Focus mechanism, smooth and fine focusing equal to traditional manual focusing is possible. There are stops at both the extreme close-up end and the infinity end of the focus ring to mirror the experience of using a traditional manual focus lens.

Snapshot Focus Mechanism

The Snapshot Focus mechanism and aperture value combine to form a function that makes pan focus shooting fun for snapshots. Sliding the focus ring toward you moves the focusing point to a specific distance, while rotating the focus ring moves the focus distance within the scale range indicated on the lens cylinder.


The diagonal size of the 4/3-type image sensor is approximately half that of 35mm film. Therefore, because the focal length for the same angle of view can be half that of a 35mm film camera lens, the optical system can be made significantly more compact. This means that 200mm lens when used on a camera with a 4/3 image sensor will provide approximately the same field of view as a 400mm lens on a 35mm camera.

The effective diameter is smaller at the same brightness, making it possible to produce an even brighter lens. The expectation of lens advancement in compact size and large diameter starts here.




The TruePic image processor brings out the best performance of Zuiko Digital and M.Zuiko Digital lenses. Images are processed according to lens characteristics for accurate reproduction of subject details.


Although optical filters were traditionally used to suppress false colors and moire, loss of resolution was one of the side effects, making it difficult to utilize the full potential of the lens. Olympus removed the optical filter (Anti-Aliasing Filter) thereby improving resolution, and suppressing false colors and moire with Fine Detail Processing on the TruePic image processor. While keeping resolution degradation to an absolute minimum, this makes it possible to reproduce images with undetectable moiré and false colors – testing the limits of lens resolution. Fine Detail Processing has evolved into Fine Detail Processing II on the TruePic VII engine. The camera uses lens and aperture information to apply just the right amount of magnification chromatic aberration correction and sharpness processing to draw out the full capability of the lens, resulting in natural and refined depiction and resolution.


By including new circuits that make extremely detailed fine-tuning of hue and color saturation possible, the camera can now reproduce previously difficult wide color gamuts. Emerald green and yellow that are difficult to reproduce in normal RGB are now also easier to reproduce. These are the fruits of years of Olympus' research into human vision characteristics, camera spectrum sensitivity characteristics and color reproduction.


The diagonal size of the 4/3-type image sensor is approximately half that of 35mm film. Therefore, because the focal length for the same angle of view can be half that of a 35mm film camera lens, the optical system can be made significantly more compact. This means that 200mm lens when used on a camera with a 4/3 image sensor will provide approximately the same field of view as a 400mm lens on a 35mm camera.
The effective diameter is smaller at the same brightness, making it possible to produce an even brighter lens. The expectation of lens advancement in compact size and large diameter starts here.


This function is perfect for scenes where you need a higher resolution in photos, such as shooting works of art and landscapes. The camera moves the sensor in 0.5 pixel increments, capturing 8 shots which it uses to generate a single 40M or 50M sensor equivalent high-resolution photo (depending on camera model).
The TruePic processor utilizes the duplicate image information when compositing multiple images and minimizes noise removal processing. This process not only improves resolution but color reproduction as well. Using the high resolving power of the M.Zuiko PRO or M.Zuiko PREMIUM lenses achieves the best results when using the High Res Shot mode.

Find out more about High Res Shot mode and learn how to activate this feature in your compatible camera.




Olympus’ image stabilization (IS) system compensates for a variety of camera shake and camera roll. It’s built into the camera body, ensuring that light is received by the sensor in stable form. Only by minimizing camera shake can the best image quality be achieved.

VCM (Voice Coil Motor)

The VCM (Voice Coil Motor) is an actuator that uses magnetic force to levitate and move the image sensor like a maglev train. Using the VCM results in high-speed, high-precision compensation for all types of camera shake. This feature achieves the world's best compensation performance (5 shutter speed steps) vs. other in-body IS systems.

Benefits of In-Body IS

This type of stabilization provides powerful compensation for types of blur that cannot be corrected by in-lens image stabilization – such as roll and shift – which tend to occur during macro shooting. This feature also lets you enjoy hand-held shooting without worrying – even in dark locations or during telephoto photography. Because the viewfinder image is stabilized on all lenses, stable framing is possible.

IS Settings

The Olympus image stabilization system has four settings to match the shooting scene. This makes it possible to match the ideal image stabilization setting based on how the camera is being held and the subject type.

IS-1 Image stabilization operates for all compensation axes.
IS-2 Only camera shake in the camera's vertical direction is detected and corrected. Because camera shake is not corrected in the horizontal direction, this function should be used for panning shots.
IS-3 Only camera shake in the camera's horizontal direction is detected and corrected. Because camera shake is not corrected in the vertical direction, this function should be used for panning shots when holding the camera vertically.
IS-AUTO In addition to applying image stabilization for all correction axes, the camera automatically detects panning. During panning, only camera shake in the direction perpendicular to the direction the camera is being moved is corrected.

IS History

The current IS system is supported by years of accumulated photo analysis data and continuously improved algorithms. Introduced in 2007, the E-510 was the first Olympus camera equipped with an in-body IS system. The system was developed by analyzing a massive amount of photos to build a control algorithm based on the precise camera shake information extracted from real shooting scenes, and then using that to identify the necessary specifications for an IS system. That algorithm serves as the foundation of the IS system found on our current compact system cameras, enabling their compact size and high performance.



What is “Fast AF”?

The FAST (Frequency Acceleration Sensor Technology) AF (Autofocus) system is an optimized combination of the Live MOS sensor drive speed, AF calculation processing speed, lens control, and system control.


The OM-D flagship E-M1 is equipped with On-Chip Phase Detection AF. DUAL FAST AF is made possible by Contrast Detection AF and On-Chip Phase Detection AF. On-Chip Phase Detection AF is used when a Four Thirds lens is attached, and both Contrast detection AF and On-Chip Phase Detection AF are used when a Micro Four Thirds lens is attached. This results in high-speed, high-precision autofocusing.

Both channels (R-Channel, L-Channel on the On-Chip Phase Detection sensor) are arrayed in a half pitch-shifted pattern for a design that results in a dense horizontal pitch when compared to a non-shifted pattern. This design results in higher AF precision.

To facilitate precise AF across a wide range, Contrast Detection AF provides 81 AF points, while On-Chip Phase Detection AF makes available 37 AF points. Small Target AF – which allows for pinpoint AF – and Group AF Target – which lets you specify an AF point across a wider area – are also supported for superb tracking performance so you can successfully capture shots of moving subjects.

Lens Mechanisms Supporting FAST AF

DUAL VCM Focusing System

Olympus equipped the M.Zuiko ED 40-150mm f2.8 PRO with the world's first floating focusing system (Dual VCM focus system) that uses a linear motor. By moving two lens groups simultaneously with two linear motors (DUAL VCM focus system), focusing is accelerated and performance is improved – especially for close-up shooting.

MSC (Movie & Still Compatible) Mechanism

Many lenses not equipped with the Dual VCM AF System include an MSC mechanism for high-speed AF. The MSC mechanism is an advanced version of the inner focusing system used on interchangeable lens for traditional SLRs that uses a screw drive mechanism to operate the lens. Because it provides lossless, direct, light focus drive for the lens, it enables quick, smooth, quiet, and high-precision autofocus.


Focus Modes, Focus Areas and Focusing Assist Functions

Olympus provides several focusing options and modes designed for a variety of subjects and shooting situations.

Focus Area Focus Mode Face/Eye Detection
All Target (81-area) Group Target (9-area) Single Target Small Single Target Single AF Continuous AF Mannual Focus S-AF + MF AF Tracking Touch AF Nearer-eye priority Right-eye priority Left-eye priority

Focus Areas by Type

All Target (81-Area) The camera automatically focuses using 81 AF points that cover virtually the entire shooting area.
Group Target (9-Area) This area consists of 9 AF points which are automatically selected according to the subject. It is particularly effective for moving subjects.
Single Target The camera focuses using a single AF point. This is effective for times when you want to give priority to the composition.
Small Single Target The camera focuses using a smaller AF Target than usual. This makes focusing even easier in situations when it is easy to focus on the background or the subject in the foreground.

Short Shooting Time Lag

To ensure you never miss the shot you're waiting for, Olympus has developed AF technology that drastically shortens the amount of time from when the shutter button is pressed until AF is complete (shooting time lag).
Since compact system cameras don’t have a mirror box, shooting time lag is similarly short when using the Touch AF Shutter feature to take a picture using the touch panel LCD screen found on most Olympus cameras. With this you can capture the perfect shot from high or low angles.



What’s Special About Olympus’ Electronic Viewfinder?

Olympus continues to innovate and improve the Electronic Viewfinder, developing technology to provide the visibility and response of an EVF with the comfort to focus on capturing photos.

Uncompromising Optical Design

To achieve vivid resolution and clear, sharp image quality in the EVF, Olympus cameras are equipped with uncompromising optical systems typical of an optics manufacturer.
Not only do aspherical lenses provide excellent resolution that extends to the edges of the image, their design ensures that color shifting and image distortion do not occur even when the optical system is not on the exact same axis as the eye. Coating and glass materials are also carefully selected to suppress internal reflections and aberrations.

What’s Special About Olympus’ Electronic Viewfinder?

Olympus continues to innovate and improve the Electronic Viewfinder, developing technology to provide the visibility and response of an EVF with the comfort to focus on capturing photos.

Advancing Digital Technology

A 100% field of view is difficult to achieve with traditional optical viewfinders such as those found in DSLR models. Thanks to the EVF, 100% field of view is available on all Olympus OM-D models.
The interactive EVF has other benefits over a traditional viewfinder, as well. Manual Focus Assist helps the photographer fine tune their focus by magnifying part of the subject. Creative Control provides complete freedom of control over color, tones, and aspect ratios, and Adaptive Brightness Control adjusts viewfinder image brightness according to ambient brightness, making exposure adjustment easier. This functionality helps the user to forget they’re looking through a viewfinder and instead focus on capturing images.

OM-Style Display Option

On Olympus’ film-based SLR OM series, there was a blue band featured across the bottom of the viewfinder. A viewfinder style reminiscent of that found on the OM can be selected in the OM-D's EVF. This feature has been incorporated so that OM users can enjoy shooting on the OM-D.

New Simulated Optical Viewfinder Mode

The new S-OVF mode reproduces the natural dynamic range and colors of an optical viewfinder. The high-speed TruePic image processor instantly captures and then merges multiple images at different exposures, displaying the images on the EVF with an expanded dynamic range in real time.

This new mode was developed so that those used to using a traditional OVF can enjoy using an EVF. It’s available on the E-M1 (with firmware v.4.0), E-M5 MarkII (with firmware v.2.0) and the E-M10 Mark II.