Posts Tagged ‘patents’

Nikon and Tamron Patent Teleconverters with Built-In Image Stabilization

 

Canon might be rolling out a new Image Stabilized lens with a built-in teleconverter, but Tamron and Nikon seem to have image-stabilization/vibration-reduction tricks up their sleeve as well. Apparently in the early 2000s both Nikon and Tamron filed patents for teleconverters with image stabilization baked right in. Tamron’s was for a standard unit that sits between the lens and the camera body, while Nikon’s was for a unit that sits in front of the lens.
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Nikon May Use Fan to Cool Down Its Mirrorless Cameras

If computers can have fans, why can’t cameras? With recent Sony cameras running into unexpected limits due to the sensor overheating, Nikon may be looking to solve the problem with a good, old-fashioned fan. A recent patent filing by Nikon shows a mirrorless camera with a computer-style fan embedded into the circuit board.
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Nikon Looking Into Adding a Projector to DSLR Cameras

Having figured out how to embed a projector into the body of a compact camera with the S1000pj, Nikon is now apparently looking to do the same with DSLR cameras. A recent patent filing by Nikon in Japan describes a DSLR camera that has a projector function. The text reads,

[...] when the photographing instrument is set as projector mode, the light which supported reproduced image information is projected on the screen of the photographing instrument exterior via the eyepiece of an electronic view finder, and two or more persons can see the reproduced image simultaneously projected on a screen.

Tech blogs are reacting to the fact that the projection may be through the viewfinder, concerned that photographers would have their eyeballs accidentally burned out if the projector were to be accidentally turned on. An easy fix for that problem would be to use a proximity sensor to disable the projector mode if a face is pressed against the camera… if this technology ever graduates from being a patent and enters the real world.

(via Nikon Rumors)

Nikon Patents an Interchangeable Sensor System for EVIL Cameras

In the present day world of photography, “mainstream” digital cameras aren’t nearly as modular as desktop computers since components can’t easily be swapped in and out of the camera body. The future might look quite different, and Nikon is taking a step in that direction with a recent patent filing for interchangeable sensors on EVIL cameras. In addition to choosing a particular lens depending on the desired photo, photographers would be able to choose different sensors as well.
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Olympus Patents a Monocle Viewfinder

Olympus recently filed for a patent for this strange monocle-esque viewfinder system where the camera user dons a pair(?) of half-glasses. When the shutter is closed, the user is shown what’s on the LCD.

Seems like the kind of thing technology is moving towards, with augmented reality starting to become a big deal.

Camera Strap that Doubles as an LCD Screen Glare Shield

Now here’s a clever idea: Olympus has filed a patent in Japan that allows you to use your camera strap as a makeshift LCD glare shield, shielding your screen from direct sunlight.

(via Photo Rumors)

MIOPS: Smartphone Controllable High Speed Camera Trigger

MIOPS is a new smartphone-controlled camera trigger that combines all of the features photographers want in a high-speed camera trigger into one convenient device.

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Olympus Looking into Making Lens Shake a Useful Feature

Olympus recently filed a patent in Japan for a novel lens feature that shakes the front element in order to remove droplets of water.

Filters would obviously render the shaking feature useless on a DSLR system, but for a smaller compact camera designed to be waterproof and rugged, this feature would probably come in handy.

The patent also seems to indicate that the shaking would occur during autofocusing, so the lens would be cleared of water immediately before the camera exposes a shot.

What are your thoughts on this potential future feature?

(via Photo Rumors)

PMA 2010: Fujifilm Showcases Diverse Camera Line, from 3D to Medium Format

The vast range of the new Fujifilm camera lines might explain how Fujifilm, the imaging-specific company placed 19th on the list of top US patents filed in 2009.

In addition to its existing line of point-and-shoots and digital hybrid bodies, Fujifilm has also been developing a 3D camera paired with special 3D photo and video digital viewers, an improved instant photo line, and a new medium format camera. A booth rep said that Fujifilm’s major selling point is their “commitment to photography in all forms,” which resulted in their wide spectrum of cameras this year.

3D Imaging

Fujifilm’s FinePix REAL 3D W1 camera had a limited release on the Fujifilm store site in 2009, and carries a hefty price of $599.

I spoke to the 3D imaging product manager Jim Calverley at PMA, who said the reasoning behind the price was because Fujifilm wanted the product to be available for serious 3D photographers who would appreciate the functionality of the camera, and would be less likely to return the equipment. At the same time, Calverley said, “Don’t expect to film the next Avatar on this handheld camera.”

Nevertheless, this point-and-shoot sized camera can produce some pretty fascinating images and video — that is, if you’ve got an eye for what would work well with the 3D style. Calverley said that the 3D technique works best with images that have many layers of depth — not necessarily depth of field in photo terms, which is entirely different. Depth of field for traditional camerasrefers to the distance and section of a photograph that is in focus (like a single flower, sharp against a blurred field in the background), whereas 3D photographers shoot images that have multiple layers or depth in a compositional sense, layering  a flower in front, a person behind, and the field in the background.

The camera takes two images at a time, much like how the human eyes see images: with two separate lenses.

Images taken with the camera can be viewed in several different ways — and top of the price of the original camera:

  • The photos can be sent to Fujifilm’s print site, seehere.com, to be turned into lenticular prints for $6.99 each.
  • The camera comes with PC software so the images can be viewed on a computer, BUT they will only be in 2D. To enjoy the 3D, the photographer has to have 3D applications such as NVIDIA 3D Vision system, or software like Stereo Photo Maker. You’ll also need glasses. There is also a display that can be used with polarized glasses, much like the ones provided for 3D showings for Avatar and current 3D movies, but it’s pretty pricey for the average consumer as well.
  • Fujifilm has a special digital viewer, the FinePix REAL 3D V1, which allows the images to be viewed with the naked eye, but this gadget is almost as expensive as the camera, at $499.

The prices are pretty high since the use of the technology on a consumer level is new, but Calverley said,” We’re casting a wider net this year,” and that the products will be more widely available to see and test at local camera dealers.

New Instax Cameras

Back to a more practical and affordable consumer level, Fujifilm is also releasing new models of Instax, their instant camera line, which now includes the Instax mini 7s for around $99 and the smaller Instax mini 25 for about $119. There is also a new wide-format Instax 210.

The Instax mini 25 (pictured on the left) is especially geared for the youthful consumer; it comes equipped with a small self-portrait mirror next to the lens opening.

The Fujifilm reps said that the cameras, especially the wide image format, are popular in fashion photography, when quick images and headshots are demanded. Interestingly, another industry, so to speak, that the cameras are in demand  for is the law enforcement and crime scene investigators; these instant shots cannot be digitally manipulated and have a higher integrity and faster tangibility than digital or film.

Medium Format

fuji_mediumformat

For film fanatics, Fujifilm also boasts a new GF670 medium format camera for pros. The camera is projected to be released in April 2010 for an MSRP of $1995.

The camera features a folding 80mm Fujinon lens, which gives the camera a lightweight, compact feel and a nostalgic look. (Mouse-over the image to see the side view.)

It also has an electronic metering system and rangefinder, PC flash cord port, and up to 3200 ISO.  It can shoot in 6×6 format or 6×7.

Another breath of relief for film fans: the booth rep also said that any whispers or rumors about Fujifilm discontinuing any type of their film are rumors; they’re doing better than most film companies, he added.

In any case, it looks like a big year for Fujifilm.

Top US Patents Captured by Non-American Companies

Just as the Winter Olympics are heating up international competition in Vancouver this week, the U.S. has suffered a bit of a statistical loss to non-American companies on home turf: American-owned companies have captured far fewer U.S. patents from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in 2009. U.S. corporations hold about 49% of all U.S. utility patents in 2009, while non-U.S. firms hold the majority.

In a repeat of last year’s trend, major Asian companies, such as South Korea’s Samsung, Japan’s Canon, Panasonic, Toshiba, Sony and Seiko Epson have snagged a spot in the top ten in number of patents issued in 2009, according to the IFI Claims Patent Services ranking.

An interesting note: out of the top 10 on the list, many, such as Canon (viewfinder patent sketch featured above), Panasonic, are diverse companies whose products include printers and televisions, but have a notable stake in the consumer camera industry. Fujifilm, a Japanese-owned company dedicated to consumer camera products alone, placed 19th on the top 50 list as well.

Though the sheer number of patents does imply an accelerated growth and company innovation with an intent to bring the products to a consumer market, the press release notes that America has held its own considering the recession climate that still lingers:

Although the margin of patent dominance between U.S. and non-U.S. firms is slight and has been for several years, there is no uncertainty that foreign firms are adding patents at a frenetic pace.  “Interest in protecting corporate intellectual property has become intense both in the U.S. and abroad, and as a result we’re seeing an increased level of patent activity,” continued [general manager of IFI Patent Intelligence Darlene] Slaughter.  “The silver lining may be that the high priority foreign firms place on U.S. patents is a confirmation of the value and importance that the U.S. market represents.”

U.S. companies, IBM, Microsoft, Intel, and Hewlett-Packard held top spots on the rank as well, at 1st, 3rd, 8th, and 10th, respectively.

Canon Working on In-Viewfinder LCD and Sensor-based Stabilization

Based on patents recently filed with the United States Patent Office, Canon seems to be working on technologies that could have a huge impact on how you photograph.

Since these are simply patent applications, there’s no guarantee the technology will find its way into cameras anytime soon. However, it’s interesting to see what the camera corps are working on and what we might expect sometime further down the road:

Viewfinder LCD

One of the developments is the introduction of a small LCD screen in the viewfinder, separate from the live, optical view. In the images from the patent application shown above, you can see the LCD view above the traditional optical view and information bar on the right.

This means you can keep your camera pressed to your face while shooting, reviewing prior images on the in-viewfinder LCD rather than the LCD on the back of the body. If you constantly pull the camera away from your face to review what you just shot, this feature might give you an extra boost in productivity.

Sensor-based Stabilization

Another interesting thing found by Photography Bay in the patent application for the in-viewfinder LCD is the mention of an in-camera image stabilization feature.

This is interesting to note due to the fact that Canon and Nikon have long advocated image stabilization and vibration reduction built into lenses rather than camera bodies, even while other DSLR-makers (i.e. Sony) have offered stabilization built into bodies via sensor shift technologies.

Will we see Canon and/or Nikon introducing sensor shift stabilization soon? This would be a big deal, since it would instantly improve the performance of non-IS/VR lenses.

Your Thoughts?

You can learn more by reading the patents yourself here: 20100003025 and 20100002109.

What do you think of these two features? Do you want them included in Canon/Nikon bodies, or would cameras be better off without them?

(via Photography Bay)