Nikon’s latest patent: a rotating mount

Nikon filed a patent application in Japan for a rotating mount that will allow for a quick and easy switch between portrait and landscape mode. The camera body will basically rotate around the lens at 90°. It is not clear from the patent drawings above, but in order for this to work, the sensor must rotate with lens instead of the camera body, right? Not a bad idea!

Patent publication: 2010-271418
Published on: 12/02/2010
Filed on: 05/19/2009

This entry was posted in Nikon 1, Nikon Patents. Bookmark the permalink. Trackbacks are closed, but you can post a comment.
  • Alex Megremis

    I disagree.

    Rotating the sensor independent of the body would defeat the purpose of the entire design, bar the ability to hold the actual body in a different orientation.

    To achieve a more seamless portraitlandscape switch in your actual photograph, the sensor assembly should definitely turn with the body, with only the lens itself staying stationary in relation to your subject.

    • I think the whole idea is to keep the camera horizontal, since it is easier to hold – you can shoot in portrait mode and keep the camera horizontal only if you rotate the sensor, right?

      • GlobalGuy

        Agree with admin. This is genius. Has anyone seen that episode of Futurama where the professor’s cloned kid is trying to figure out how to go faster than the speed of light? He says something “Its impossibly difficult to get a ship to go faster than light — so I just had to figure out how to move space itself, rather than the ship!”

        I doubt Nikon would put this in a Nikon camera — but they might license it if someone wants to use the idea. Although, gee, why not just make square — or circular — sensors with varying crop modes…..

        • Currently the big pro Nikon lenses have a rotating tripod mount already, so I do not see this coming to a DSLR camera any time soon, but for the upcoming Nikon mirrorless – it will make sense, since they will probably be designing a new mount from scratch.

          • Alex Megremis

            That’s actually what I had in mind – the entire camera tripod-mounted from the lens mount.

            I hate rotating from the lens mount ring, so I guess I imagined the entire experience from the wrong way around. 😉

          • Segura

            So what happens with your landscape orientated mirror and prism. FAIL.

            • that’s why I mentioned in the comment above that this makes sense only for a mirrorless camera

            • Banned

              Like said above, much more sense to make a square sensor, at least no breakable moving parts or weird rotating switch forcing you to take cam away from eye. I don’t see this thing becoming real.

          • > that’s why I mentioned in the comment above that this makes sense only for a mirrorless camera

            Okay, let’s see if we can beat Nikon to the obvious next patent: you have to rotate the EVF, too. Otherwise you get that absurdly small cropped view that wastes monitor space.

            Combine those two, and you have brilliant. But…

            You could just do a 1:1 aspect sensor and crop at will for the user.

            • pixeldesk

              I think a square sensor for cropping would reduce the production yield, thus increase the cost.

        • +1 to circular sensor idea

          • D-RiSe

            indeed, use the entire image circle and crop to your liking, but i think a bigger square sensor would be easier to produce.

            • +1

              less moving parts increases reliability of the product

            • Vlad

              Absolutely. Much less waste.

        • Vlad

          Ok, I don’t see the point of this. More moving parts, probably will up the cost and what’s so useful about it, especially if it is a small EVIL? (that’s a honest question, btw, not just whining 🙂

  • Goose

    this would be like a rotating back of a medium format but the other way around lol

    • Dr SCSI

      Goose makes a very valid point about medium format. What if this patent is for a medium format camera and not a mirrorless system? Things that make you say, “hmmmmm”.

  • zzddrr

    Great, Nikon where is the D700 replacement? I think it is about time for Nikon to come out and show some kind of roadmap. Anyway, Nikon just screwed itself with the D7k since it is not widely available as body only. Good job Nikon for missing the Xmas shopping season. 🙂

    BTW, does anyone know what the big surprise from Nikon? Perhaps we may learn it sooner on WikiLeaks than from the Nikon execs. 🙂

    • Jason

      I dunno, we have been on and off a back order list, but we have been able to keep up with demand for D7000. I think they are doing just fine there.

      • zzddrr

        Good to hear that Jason. I guess I am not lucky to get hold of a body only. But thanks for Nikon I will not spend that grand + this Xmas. 🙂

        • baked bananas

          Release dates

          D4 – aug 2011

          D4h -(d700 replacement) sep 2012

          Date when baked bananas loses his mind and becomes a trolling psycho nut because he hasn’t received his d7000 from adorama- feb 2011

    • Anonymus Maximus

      The BIG BIG BIG surprise will be that in 2011 everything in the catalog will be actually in stock.

      At least that would be the biggest for me.

      • Anonymous

        I guess even Santa would be surprised if Nikon would have everything in stock.

    • Jem

      Is there a robot that adds a zzddrr D700 rant post for every rumor?

      • Mock Kenwell

        +1 LMAO!

      • yummy turd

        now that is really funny!

      • zzddrr


        No robot involved but a little trick….I have shortcut button that randomly generates a D700 rant for every new post. 🙂

    • yummy turd

      oh dear god!!!’ you need to can it zzddrr!

      • zzddrr

        yummy turd,

        At least I made your miserable day! 🙂

  • I don’t understand rotating the lens… Lenses produce an image circle, not oval… What will rotating the lens do (unless you have a circular polarizer…then you’d just mess it up…unless you re-compensated by turning it…)?

    Why can’t they just rotate the sensor independently of everything outside it (i.e. put the sensor on a sort of rotating plate and connect the sensor w/ SATA hard-drive-like cables inside the body so it isn’t attached….)?

    I must be missing something…

    • Panfruit

      Petal-shaped lens hoods?

    • The sensor must rotate too…

      • Dr SCSI

        Don’t assume the sensor needs to rotate…it could be a new design for a 60mm square sensor, AKA Medium Format.

    • Chr

      You would have to add some play on the sensor assembly in order to have it rotating in front of lense. So sharpness would be down thanks to assembly tolerances.
      Better to have a rigid assembly of lense + sensor and have no play between parts.

      Mechanicaly, best solution is to avoid motion of parts, so having a scare sensor would be best to avoid as much as possible tolerances and play between parts.

      • Anthony D’Atri

        My thoughts exactly

    • Darklight

      Please no sealed lens/sensor unit aka Ricoh!

      • Mikycoud

        I actually thought that was a great idea…
        No more dust
        No need to spend money on a new body
        Lets you use the sensor size that’s more adequate for the project at hand
        What don’t you like about the idea? (I’m curious)
        Even Thom Hogan has been on for ages about modular camera systems…

        • Manolito

          Yes, you can actually carry two different cameras with you (small sensor with zoom for causal shooting and big sensor with fixed and bright lens for more serious shooting) but sharing:

          Same battery…
          Same charger…
          Same EVF…
          Same flash…
          Same interface…
          Same custom settings…

          Yes, there some benefits in a modular system like the Ricoh’s, but for me Panasonic is very close with the LX5 and the GF2 (+ pancake) because they share many things (like the EVF and flashes).

          What Ricoh needs is to release a module with a lens mount, like Leica M or m4/3.

  • Segura

    Wont work on a DSLR since the mirror/prism is landscape only, unless the mirror and prism would be made to show the entire image circle. If you go this route, making a sensor in a cross pattern (horizontal and landscape combined) and have it selected through the camera which orientation. Much easier to fashion a cross pattern sensor than making a whole assembly move.

  • zzddrr

    This spinning thing rather reminds me a screwed up washing machine 🙂 At least we now know where we load it with pictures.

  • Anonymus Maximus

    It would be much easier to have a square sensor in the image circle and to allow the user to crop portrait or landscape.

    Oh Pants! Somebody had that idea already 100 years ago!

    • Mock Kenwell

      +1 for actually saying “Oh Pants.”

  • mshi

    This must have been designed for iPhone/iPad.

  • Ian

    I had this idea ages ago. Perhaps I should have patented it. Was a bit more advanced than just portrait/landscape flip. Automatic horizon level.

  • Nicolas
  • hybris

    they wantet to fool canon.
    NR. fell for it

  • VJ

    While a rotating sensor makes sense, I’m not too conviced about a rotating mount…

    Still, a square sensor would make more sense to me (circular sensors might be more difficult to make and yield a more complex read-out process).

    It is nice to see Nikon do some out-of-the-box thinking though…

  • Discontinued

    1. square

    No please. Even HB (THE square company) has turned its back on squares. Squares (if intended to be cropped anyway, which is almost always the case) are a huge waste of WA-lenses, image-diameters and sensor surfaces. HB has been (back in the film days) chosen and liked DESPITE its 6×6 format, never because of it. I am the despite-
    type of HB-shooter myself and know many photographers who used Pentax 67 or Mamamiyas for that Oh-NO-square-please-reason only.

    2. rotating mount
    What about the screen or the EVF?
    A lot of things to rotate and break. No please.

    • Absolutely agree with you. While square sensor on FF cameras can be only 30.6 x 30.6 one will lose lot of angle of view with ultra-wide lens. Maybe square sensor makes sense when you shoot with telephoto, but for architecture-shooter or landscaper such technology will limit them.

      • M

        Only if the shooter allows themselves to be limited. Many of the most famous landscape photogs shot 8×10, a lot closer to square than 35mm format.

        As to squares almost always intending to be cropped, that’s somewhat just a matter of preference. I shoot mostly square (MF) and have come to prefer it, even with wide angle lenses. There are certainly different use cases (Architecture, for sure, but I disagree on landscape, square opens up as many compositions as it closes for me when I shoot landscapes, they’re just a little less conventional)

        • You have the point and yes, there are tons of lovely captured photos in sqare.

          > Only if the shooter allows themselves to be limited.

          But let me ask: what about stunning Nikkor 14-24 f2.8? I’d prefer to use widest angle of view. This is impossible, if the sensor would be square. Or even if it will be stretched to true 36 x 36, what about corners, which wouldn’t capture any beam of light? If someone’s technical genius would struggle with these restrictions, I’d pray for him.

  • santela

    u don’t even need the lens to rotate then, just make a button for the sensor the rotate, the lens is circular anyhow.

  • elliot

    Sounds like a patent made for patent’s sake — something that just came out of research and playing around. (Companies do this all the time, builds up your patent portfolio, who knows if you can use it against a competitor later on.)

  • ys

    +1 for square sensors! Allow the user to switch between crop modes via manual dial on the body for ultra fast switching.

  • Ghosts shadow

    Rotating sensor make sense, sorta… but what’s the point of rotating the lens when the lens and image circle is already “circular”? It’s called a “circle” for circle’s sake.
    I just want to say have fun in mounting and un-mounting a lens on a rotating lens mounting… um… does it go clock-wise? Anti-clock-wise? A rotating mount will just rotate when you trying to rotate the lens…
    How about making a rotating sensor/ body, good news for left-hand people, like the limited run they did such as K R got on his website.

    • royalan

      KR just flipped the image of himself.

  • Hansel Adams

    Not to change the subject, but if the D800 were coming out in March or April, we’d know by now, right?

    • preston

      no, if i remember correctly the first real leak for the D700 came out just a couple weeks before it was officially announced.

    • yummy turd

      stating “not to change the subject” does not change the fact that that is a ridiculous question.

  • Ken Elliott

    This is a very interesting idea for portrait shooters. It lets you keep the camera controls “upright” but rotate the sensor. Sure you could simply rotate the sensor, but this has a few advantages. Once being the ability to use the lens body to rotate the sensor. If you only rotate the sensor (not the lens) then you need to add another control, and that gets pretty tricky.

    While I’d love to have a square sensor, you’d add 50% more area to the sensor, and that would cost a lot of money. Plus, you’d have lower yields with a larger sensor. For the D4x – maybe. I’d love to get a square raw file from a 36mm x 36mm sensor and crop later. Or not. But the added cost only makes sense on a pro body, and the rotating mount seems like a better solution for mirrorless cameras.

    • Anon

      Due to the image circle limitation of FF lenses, the sensor would need to be 30.6mm x 30.6mm.

    • SZRimaging

      If you didn’t do a square sensor, certain lenses (i.e. full frame fisheye) might require that the sensor be rotated with the lens. Just a thought.

  • FakeKenRockwell

    You don’t have to rotate the sensor. You just switch the orientation of the output image. The rotating ring gives you rotational control of the live preview image. This is for mirror less or point and shoots

  • Terry

    This will probably not be on a DSLR. Think of the lost revenues from not selling battery grips if there is no need to turn the camera.

    • Manolito

      Well, there is something in ‘battery grip’ that has nothing to see with orientation. Like you know… a battery.

      • SZRimaging

        And weight/balance. In in landscape orientation my D200 balances better with the grip.

  • RumpelHund

    May it be planned as an integrated wind machine for better portraits, now that we do have integrated beamers.

    Or may it be to rotate the dust off the sensor?

    Just some thoughts…

  • Drew

    I agree with this not looking like a DSLR or medium format item. I would imagine it would be used in something more compact with interchangeable lenses… such as Micro 4/3 system.

  • Peter Guerrini

    If the camera had a rectangular display on the back, a portrait photo would be smaller in that display… unless you tilted your head sideways. Perhaps this points to using this concept on cameras other than the “normal” DSLRs that we’re using.

  • Dweeb

    What BS. Just put a square sensor in (remember that Hasselblad thing?) and let me select the format. Why we’re locked into a format from Leica in the thirties is beyond me. These companies aren’t exactly lateral thinkers are they?

    • Astrophotographer

      Even Hasselblad abandoned the square format. Square format requires a bigger image circle. That means bigger, more expensive chips and lenses.

      • VJ

        I also forgot about the fact that it would indeed need a bigger imaging circle… But it may be viable for DX cameras (if you use an FX lens)…

        The more I think about it; the more the rotating mount makes sense. But the drawing on the patent is overly symplistic: rather than just rotate the sensor, why not rotate a part of the body with it? It would more be like rotating the grip and controls around a circular construction. It solves many connection issues, as the controls are just some buttons and a simple display with simple connections (compared to an imaging sensor).

  • SZRimaging

    So basically, the idea is the same as the rotating backs on 6×7, correct? If so, that would be awesome! You only have to make one set of excellent ergos and don’t need to worry about making that switch to the portrait ergos. Now the question is, how do you know what you are shooting in the viewfinder?

  • Jabs

    The first thing that came to my mind was – changing perspective from video (wide screen) to photography and back seamlessly.
    Maybe it is an engineering example looking for a product or use?
    I like the idea of rotating things but what would it accomplish unless it applies to how you view the image on the camera, as in viewing through an LED or LCD monitor only and it rotates with the view or position of the camera like how Apple and others now have a portrait and a landscape mode based upon how you rotate or turn your gadget.

  • SteveBoker

    The only reason I can see for this is if Nikon is moving into 3-D.

  • Simon G

    I believe it’s smoke. Unless there is a serial type connection from the sensor to the rest of the camera you have to have many connections, you want to do this reliably with a flexible PCB type material

  • Duiweeville

    Nice Idea Blah Blah Blah..
    Let’s put more fuel into the fire here and let’s talk about the upcoming Compact FX camera. The Nikon D800, I want to get a D700 but if the D700s/750/D800/D900/Ds is coming out in the next three months or so then I guess I will wait. So let’s face it, if it was announced on March of 2010 and it will. It will take at least a month to fulfill the first pre-order stage, and then maybe everyone can get their hands on one in the next month or two after.

    So here are the Spec:

    Nikon D800
    16.2 MP FX CMOS Sensor (Nikon Made)
    ISO – 100 to 12800 (Hi1 & Hi2 Expand) (it will be a stop behind the D3s)
    Video – Same as the D7000 with 1080p 25fps. (later on firmware update will increase the fps)
    6 frames per Sec.
    3in LCD screen
    Price: $ 3,199
    Made in Japan

    Nikon D310
    16.2 DX CMOS Senor (Sony Made) Same as the D7000
    All the feature will be the same as the D7000 just in a D300 body.
    Made in Thailand

    • Simon G

      Off topic and March 2010 is in the past.

  • kevin y

    awesome for an evil standpoint

  • broxibear

    What a stupid idea.

  • Mock Kenwell

    This smells very much like a solution looking for a problem.

    • Discontinued

      Best comment on this one.

  • Roger

    Wait – is switching the camera between portrait and landscape orientation too difficult now for you lazy ass people? 😀

    • broxibear

      What?…you mean you can physically turn the camera on it’s side lol ?

  • Sam

    As mentioned by someone

    This idea only makes sense if it is a 3D camera with twin lenses. Then Nikon would be constrained to doing this instead of just turning the camera.

  • JK

    I see no point in putting in a square sensor and provide landscape and portrait crop mode. Save the whole picture and crop in post production if you have to!

  • John2809

    I read most of the comments here and I have to say I see things a little differently.

    To my eyes this looks like a design that can be used in the assembly/production process.
    The idea to rotate the whole LENS MOUNT + SENSOR makes it easier to implement different BODY designs around the same lens+sensor system.

    The rotating option makes it easy to design, for instance, a LEFT HAND version of a camera, without having to re-design the whole body.

    • Discontinued

      “a LEFT HAND version”

      Very useful if your left hand is your only hand left.

  • hendrik

    its best when Nikon use this rotating thingie with high end (heavier) model such as Dx and Dxxx series. Or better if they create Medium Format camera (like mamiya rotating back series).

  • studbike

    This is definitely for either a medium format camera or a compact.. not an slr.. There are obvious issues with the prism/mirror, and if they were designing this to work with a zoom lens that is adjusted on the barrel, it would be confusing and awkward to do this with many large lenses while holding the camera to your face.. they probably would have chosen a lever on the side of the body that would rotate only the sensor and engaging alternate crop lines in the viewfinder, avoiding mechanical collision with the shutter mechanisms which would have to be redesigned to square instead of rectangle. It is probably for a camera system that uses interchangeable sensors, and perhaps those interchangeable sensors are mounted directly to the back of the lens, making it necessary to rotate the lens too.. I highly doubt this was designed for a camera with a permanent sensor in mind.

  • Joe

    Rotating sensor….pleeeeeeeeaaaaaaaaasssseeeeee!!!!!!

  • fakekenrockwell

    no sensors are being rotated in the process, you are just rotating the displayed image in live view when the switch is rotated clockwise or counter clockwise, its a good design – makes the image orientation independent of the sensor orientation. No more overpriced L-brackets.

  • baked bananas

    Ummm…so you re-engineer the whole darn camera cause:

    I’m to lazy to turn the camera 90 degrees

    My left arm was eaten by a shark

    I’m too cheap to buy a l-bracket.

    I’m with zzdr where’s my d700 replacement?

    Just kidding…thanx admin…your efforts are greatly appreciated

  • Good news for users of Tilt Shift lenses.
    Well, it still isnt the same as changing the orientation between the tilt and the shift, but at least it is something..

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