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Can Pixel Shift Give You the Best High Resolution Images?

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Olympus cameras, though micro four thirds, have a pixel shift mode seen in several other manufacturer’s cameras, and it allows to take higher resolution images despite a smaller and lower resolution sensor. But can it compete with genuinely high resolution sensors?

I’ve shot with all three cameras being compared here, but particularly with the GFX 100 and the E-M1 Mark III, as I was on press trips for the launch of both. The GFX 100 blew my mind when it came to resolution. I took a shot of the city from the highest building in Tokyo and then when I got back to my computer, zoomed in 100% or more; the detail was staggering. In real world applications, I’m not certain where it would be most useful, but it’s highly impressive nonetheless.

The E-M1 Mark III is a vastly different camera, pitched at a completely different demographic. There’d ordinarily be little point in comparing them (there may not even be here, really) but for Olympus’ Pixel Shift mode which allows you to take high resolution images on a pretty low resolution (20.4 megapixel) micro four thirds sensor. So, in this video, The Slanted Lens test to see how it fares against the GFX 100 and the Sony a7R IV to gauge the power of pixel shift.

The most interesting discussion to me is comparing the E-M1 III with the GFX 100 as the latter is nearly 5x the resolution of the former. Unsurprisingly, the results are softer from the Olympus with Pixel Shift and contain less detail. They are of course also longer to capture and slightly more difficult. What I would highlight, however, is nobody should be buying the E-M1 III for resolution; that’s not its demographic. So the fact that it can produce high resolution images that aren’t utterly horrible, is just a large boon with little to no downside.

Do you use Pixel Shift mode? What do you think?

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