Nikon Files Patent for an Interchangeable Sensor Camera


The big camera companies get criticized fairly often for failing to innovate, but Nikon at least has been giving us a lot to write about recently in the patent department. Case in point: the Japanese company has just filed a patent for a camera that will allow you to swap out, not lenses, but sensors.

Of course, this isn’t a new idea. Medium format cameras have allowed photographers to switch out backs since the film days. What is new is that Nikon is thinking of doing this in a DSLR-style body if the diagrams are to be trusted:



By the looks of it, the back will open up and allow you to swap out a “sensor unit” of some sort. No need to DIY alter your sensor at home, you could just swap in a black and white sensor or IR sensor whenever you’re in the mood.

The patent was unearthed by the folks over at Nikon Rumors, who also made sure to point out that this isn’t the first time a Nikon patent like this has been filed. Back in 2010, two different patents (1 and 2) for similar innovations came up, although both seemed to be for mirrorless cameras.

For more details, you can read the full Google-translated patent over on Egami by clicking here.

(via Nikon Rumors)

  • Matt


  • ChristianRudman

    Thankful to see Nikon taking a step in this direction.

    Now to echo the sentiments of Zach Arias, it would be awesome to slap a 5D sensor in that slot and have the Nikon glass and ergonomics…

  • Modularity!

    I’d love to see this – modularity is a major thing for me, even just being able to buy a good body and putting in various levels of the components as per what you need. Hopefully this will incite a flooding of the marketplace with different sensors capable of different things: Canon’s low-light video sensor comes to mind. Personally, I like doing long-exposure, with high-resolution stills, and don’t need high ISO, so something like a FX version of a medium format digital back would be wonderful (eg. ISO 25/50-400 or so)

  • Matthew Rogan

    I think I would prefer it the other way around, 5D body and lenses with the D800 sensor

  • crummett

    Shut up and take my money!

  • Jonathan Maniago

    Damn. Sensors are the new lenses, eh?

    Who wants sharper black&white or infrared photos without any need for Bayer demosaicing algorithms? Astrophotographers would love this.

  • ChristianRudman

    I think the point for both of us is how great it would be to choose a camera built for us based off of components we liked for various reasons, bringing the modularity of older medium format cameras into the digital age. Even my Canon F1 set has an extremely modular system of components for its era.

  • RMJ

    For a long time there used to be rumour going around that D700 follower was
    going to be with switchable sensor. it was supposed to have high
    resolution color sensor and super sensitive lower resolution monochrome
    sensor. too bad it never happened… well, D800 came with the high
    resolution but the monochrome sensor never saw daylight (pun intended?).

  • Fernando Callo

    Doesn’t is this what digital Hasselblad and Mamiya have been doing all the time? Well that’s medium format, but come on! it’s almost the same in another format.

  • Adam Cross

    would be great to buy a new sensor in a few years instead of having to buy a whole new camera, as well as customers saving money it would save manufacturers so much in producering the thousands upon thousands of bodies every year

  • Cinekpol

    Most likely a patent just to block competition from doing it. Nothing more, nothing less. Nikon is well-known from such practices.

  • Bruno Inácio

    Wow. This will be also nice to change the sensor size depending the light conditions! If you need a lot of DOF on low light conditions we swap to a 1/3” sensor..

  • Bruno Inácio

    Maybe they are not working for that purpose (crop factor and lenses mount will be an issue..). Let’s see..

  • Leonardo Abreu

    I just want the D610!! XD

  • Matthew Rogan

    This is true. I think the photo industry could take a cue form the cinema camera industry, modularity. Buy the basic body with the particular sensor you like, and build around it. It could be as big or small as you like.

  • gumanow

    thought Olympus would do this before Nikon. Oly has always been an innovator. Still, happy to see this.

  • David_Evans

    It won’t be that easy. A significant advance in sensors will probably need new circuitry in the camera to take advantage of it. Now if they could make the circuitry exchangeable as well…

  • kassim

    Also nice. Built-in swap-able sensors.

  • Furunomoe

    I have one, and the sensor also act as a memory card. Too bad it only hold about 36 pictures per rolls.

  • Jake

    With only a minor $15,000 difference.

  • Fernando Callo

    Yeah I know, but patenting something that already exist in another format? IDK, that looks like Apple sh*t

  • greenarcher02

    I would love a GX7/NEX body with a bigger sensor. Is that even possible with this?

  • greenarcher02

    Wait, didn’t Ricoh release something similar to this? Besides, if you do change sensors, won’t you also have to change lenses? Or will they also have to develop adapters?

  • David Vaughn

    This is awesome. I hope they don’t sit on it, though. A lot of camera companies (especially Canon) seem to patent so many concepts that never actually get produced.