The consumer end of underwater photography is tricky. The pros have expensive underwater housings for their expensive DSLRs, but consumers are stuck with semi-affordable compacts that suffer from some glaring limitations, among them the ability to zoom.
Canon, it seems, is keen to fix this limitation with a newly-patented zoom lens for an underwater camera that will offer an impressive 45x optical zoom.
The patent detailed in the diagram to the right uses the same technology that Canon packed into its D-series cameras like the D20 and D30 (seen above). Basically, since the lens can’t extend straight out, it ‘folds’ the optics 90 degrees.
In the new patent, this technique is used to pack a 12 element (9 group) lens into a compact waterproof camera, yielding an equivalent focal length of 26-1170mm. The 45x zoom lens will have some severe limitations, however.
That extra zoom means the aperture will be a f/3.9-9, making it all but unusable on the tele end for multiple reasons. The camera will also only sport the standard 1/2.3-inch sensor usually found in these compacts, meaning image quality probably won’t be anything to write home about.
Still, progress is progress, and if all this patent does is encourage other companies to push the optical limits of their own underwater compacts, we’ll be happy with it. Head over to Egami (translated here) to read the whole thing for yourself, and let us know what you think in the comments down below.