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Catching up on the latest Nikon patents

Japanese patent application 2010-128374 is for a new Speedlight with video illumination and specifically a way to cool off the flash efficiently by adding a "heat radiating member":

"Problem to be solved: To efficiently cool an illumination device including a flash light source and a continuous light source.

Solution: The illumination device includes: a housing; a flash light source which is supported by the housing and generates flash light; the continuous light source which is supported by the housing and generates continuous light; and a heat radiating member which is supported by the housing, thermally coupled to both light sources in common and radiates heat generated due to the generation of the flash light from the flash light source and the generation of the continuous light from the continuous light source to the outside of the housing. The continuous light source can be supported by the housing, so as to be disposed in a direction where the continuous light illuminates the lower part of the housing, when the flash light source faces an object to be illuminated."

Nikon filed patent applications in Japan for two new macro lenses for their mirrorless camera - 40mm f/2.8 and 60mm f/3.8:

The patent application for the two lenses is 2010-204621 and it was filled on 02/03/2009. Note that the image circle is again 17mm, but as previously reported, Nikon could be obfuscating their lens design in some of the patents. The details:

40mm f/2.8 macro lens:

  • image circle: 17mm
  • focus distance: 40mm
  • back focus: 4.4mm
  • f: 2.86
  • angle of view: 24°
  • macro 1:0

60mm f/3.8 macro lens:

  • image circle 17mm
  • focus distance: 60mm
  • back focus: 0.5mm
  • f: 3.77
  • angle of view: 15.8°
  • macro 1:0

US patent applications 20100232776 and 20100215354 appears to be for a Plenoptic camera where the DOF can be changed in post processing:

"An imaging apparatus comprising: a light receiving element having a micro lens array provided with a plurality of micro lenses arranged two-dimensionally, and a plurality of photoelectric conversion elements provided for the plurality of micro lenses, and outputting a light receiving signal obtained by receiving a light beam from an optical system via the micro lens array; a detector that detects shift amounts of image plane by the optical system respectively for a plurality of focus detecting positions set at a plurality of positions in the image plane by the optical system; and a controller that determines a focus adjusting position for the optical system based on a plurality of the shift amounts detected respectively for the plurality of focus detecting positions and a range of the image plane where an image based on the light receiving signal is enabled to be produced, and obtains the light receiving signal at the focus adjusting position with the light receiving element.

The object of the present invention is to provide an imaging apparatus which enables to appropriately obtain an image in focuses on a plurality of subjects with different shooting distances even if the difference between shooting distances to subjects present in a certain imaging area is relatively large.

According to the present invention, it is enabled to designate as many subjects as possible to be image-synthesized in focuses based on a signal obtained through one time shooting when a plurality of subjects with different distances are present within a shooting range."

US patent application 20100201853 is referring to an improved low-pass filter. It seems that Nikon is going after a higher pixel density (reduced pixel pitch) but not at the expense of image quality (see last sentence):

"According to the present invention achieved by examining and analyzing the specific change in the effect of demosaicing processing executed on data obtained via a color filter array on spurious resolution•color artifacts, with respect to specific characteristics related to the pixel pitch dependency of lens groups used in the existing art, the utilization range of optical low pass filters is expanded over the related art and a specific operating range is clarified in correspondence to the optimal settings so as to provide a desirable demosaicing effect, assuring high image quality with a minimum of spurious resolution•color artifacts in conjunction with existing lens systems and to allow a further reduction in the pixel pitch at an image sensor that is still capable of providing a sharply focused, powerful photographic image."

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  • Char

    Hmmm. What would the focal lengths be if it is true that these are obfuscated?

  • jk

    I don’t know why but this makes me laugh: “heat radiating member”:

    • Martijn

      i think they ment: heat radiating membrane

      • Richard

        A heat sink? A radiator? Gee, what’s next, patenting gravity?

        • iamlucky13

          In general, patents don’t deal with fundamentals of world. They deal with the integration of those fundamentals into a functional whole in a way someone else hasn’t done before.

          Therefore, if no one has built an on-camera flash with a part specifically designed to radiate heat away, that flash design may be eligible for a patent, but not the heat sink itself.

          • http://www.bythom.com Thom Hogan

            This is where the current patent situation gets crazy. Patents are not supposed to be awarded to obvious inventions, and I’d judge that putting a heat sink on something that generates heat these days falls under the realm of obvious. Now if you could come up with a unique way to design a heat sink or a heat transfer mechanism based upon, oh, say, anti-Xenon (whatever that might be), then it seems like you should be able to patent that.

            • hah

              they are patenting a way to solve a problem using a combination of existing knowhow with design. that is and should be awarded a patent. to have the contrary point of view would be similar to saying no patents should be awarded for anything except if some kind of new element or law of physics is discovered. thankfully the patent system although flawed, it hasn’t reached the level of insanity you speak of thom.

            • iamlucky13

              “Non-obvious” is a judgment call, hence it can and does come up for debate, although the courts have tried to clarify it when they take on patent cases. As I understand it, these doesn’t mean so much that it takes a modestly smart person just to think of the idea, but more that a feature isn’t obviously recognizable as a derivative of something that already exists.

              Rather than attempt to clarify further in a single post something that gets debated for sometimes years at a time by lawyers with help from expert witnesses (engineers), I will leave it at that and my contention that while a heat sink/radiator is simple and common in other applications, it’s not necessarily within the definition of “obvious” as the term relates to patents.

            • VJ

              This patenting thing is actually going too far… I mean, they don’t even explain the “heat radiating member”. It could be anything from a simple heatsink to a peltier (thermo-electric device: run a current through it and one side heats up while the other cools down; it does consume a lot of power).

    • plug

      Stand up comedy?

  • Vladi

    Is there any other rangefinder digital interchangeable lens camera on the market apart from Leica M8/M9 at the moment?

    • Nikki

      no mirrorless cameras with full format, and no other digital rangefinder with any format either, afaik.

      rangefinder or not, i want a compact (i.e. mirror less) full format camera, with interchangeable large aperture prime lenses. a central AF point would be sufficient, possibly phase-detect, if a fixed mirror could be used for this (like in sony), or a contrast-detect AF, if they can make it fast enough.

    • BornOptimist

      We had the Epson R-D1, but that is probably discontinued now. Last year Epson announced the R-D1x for the Japanese marked.

  • http://avishaigilad.co.il avishai

    Epson R-D1
    ha ha

    • http://micahmedia.com Micah

      +1 !

      The M9 lacks the RD-1′s flip-able lcd. Can’t hide that it’s digital the way the Epson can. Plus the manual shutter cock is just badass. Like single action revolver.

      • Mock Kenwell

        Unfortunately, it’s pricetag-to-sensor ratio is also bad ass! ; )

  • http://products.plantae.sk miso

    and flash will be heavier and heavier as all of newly developed equipment…
    hope, yongnuo will improve some functions and i will not be forced to use nikon flash(-sinkstone).

    • Martijn

      can’t agree there.
      phones can do more and more, but if you look at the first phones they were huge and needed external batteries.
      i think they’ll stay around the same weight.

  • http://www.ze-pho-to.com Tomas

    “Damn, future cameras will be so awesome” – I thought to myself…
    …and then reloaded new film into my FE2… :)

  • http://micahmedia.com Micah

    HOLY CRAP! I’ve been dying to see the plenoptic camera realized! This is huge that Nikon is researching this! Google the videos of what it can do–just amazing potential. And this actually goes along the high resolution sensor patent in a way–higher resolution is needed for plenoptic designs, because you’re always through some of the image information away when you create a finished image. Truly revolutionary tech in the making…go Nikon. I hope more companies invest in this tech!

    • LGO

      Plenoptic camera is ok but post-processing images in the hundreds or even over a thousand after a night’s shot is night. There needs to be a way to get at least a set image captured even while it is possible to make revisions to this if necessary.

    • LGO

      Corrected Post:

      Plenoptic camera is ok but post-processing images in the hundreds or even over a thousand after a night’s shot is naught. There needs to be a way to get at least a set image captured even while it is possible to make revisions to this if necessary.

  • panfruit

    I’d love it if Nikon could do that cool swivel thing like Sony’s pricey flash. :D

  • http://www.truphotos.com gnohz

    Good to hear that Nikon is not sacrificing image quality for pixel density :)

  • Anonymus

    The DOF patent is a logical extension of current P+S technology. The camra can today find “faces” tomorrow it will make sure that all of them are in focus.
    Makes a lot of sense.

  • Mock Kenwell

    Wow. A 2.8 and a 3.8. Staggeringly fast.
    Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

    • BornOptimist

      This is macro-lenses. They are never “staggerlingly fast”.
      If this is what we can expect from normal primes – mehh, then I’m not interrested.

      • Mock Kenwell

        Nothing Nikon does is staggeringly fast.

        Do we really need dedicated macro lenses on a compact? They should be focusing on fast pancakes.

  • sgts

    its what you do with the heat radiating member that counts.

  • ranton

    The angles of view are the declared DX format

  • DFive

    Hmmmmm the SB-1000 is looking real good ;)

    ;)

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