Photographer performs sensor surgery to turn his DSLR into a black-and-white only shooter
posted Thursday, August 15, 2013 at 2:13 PM EDT
Trying to get your sensor as sharp as humanly possible seems to be a major theme in photography these days. Manufacturers produce the likes of the Nikon D800E, with its removed anti-aliasing filter for sharper images, or the black-and-white only Leica M Monochrom. Photographer Lasse Beyer took a page out of Leica's book, and modified his old Olympus E-500 to give it a new, black-and-white sensor without a Bayer Filter, in the hopes of getting even sharper photos.
Beyer lays out the intricate process on his website. The eight-year-old E-500 is unusual because the monochrome version of its 8MP sensor is used in astrophotography, and fairly easy to track down. So Beyer was able to undertake the hair-raising process of opening up his camera, pulling the old sensor off its mounting plate, and putting a new one in its place. That's a task not many folks would be up for, and one that apparently wouldn't even work on many new cameras.
With the new sensor, Beyer saw a boost of about 1EV in sensitivity, but not much sharper images. He also removed the IR filter, which boosted his sharpness a bit, but at the cost of a nasty focus shift that meant he couldn't focus to infinity anymore, and autofocus wouldn't work.
Considering the relatively minor gains Beyer encountered, this modification probably isn't for most people. But it's intriguing to see what he did, and how it worked out for him.