Olympus NIR Sensor

An interesting article over at Amateur Photographer which picks up an Olympus press release about the development of an RGB/NIR sensor for use in consumer grade cameras. The use of digital cameras for NIR imaging (e.g. my dead leaf photo) has been common for many years and is achieved by having a longer exposure (as the sensor is less sensitive to NIR) and placing a NIR cut filter in front of the lens (e.g. Hoya 720). Specialists such as Advanced Camera Services will even convert your camera to IR by removing the internal IR filter. Sensefly use a modified Canon S110 for the eBee UAV which can image in RGB, NIR or red edge. Which is why the Olympus announcement is interesting (for the light weight/low cost UAV sector) as I’m not aware of a major manufacturer developing a single sensor for imaging 4 bands. A traditional approach is to use a bayer array over a sensor sensitive to RGB and then interpolate (demosaic) the image to three RGB layers. Olympus appear to have extended this to 4 bands by developing realtime demosaicing to support it. The sensor is probably a standard one, albeit perhaps more sensitive to NIR. Lead time could be awhile as this is in development but it clearly shows the direction of travel.

Olympus NIROlympus NIR