43Rumors.com has uncovered an Olympus patent application that showcases a modular camera with separate components for lenses, bodies and sensor units.
The most intriguing element of the patent is a conversion optical system that
“. . . forms an intermediate image between the [body] and the [sensor].
. . . .
As a result, an element having a large light receiving section can be used as the imaging element. Even in an imaging optical system for an imaging device having a small light receiving section, a large subject image can be formed by means of the conversion optical system. This provides an advantage that an existing imaging optical system can be used.”
The “conversion optical system” appears to be a design for taking the smaller image circle produced by the Four Thirds and Micro Four Thirds lenses (i.e., the 2x crop factor format from the Olympus E-PL1) and enlarging that circle to cover a bigger sensor area (e.g., an APS-C or even 35mm full frame sensor).
So, it looks like Olympus may be working on something with a bigger sensor, yet it still wants the ability to use the existing Four Thirds and Micro Four Thirds lenses.