Nikon patents a lens that can be zoomed manually and electronically

The next interesting Nikon patent filed in Japan is for a zoom that can be controlled manually and through a zoom button on the camera body:

The idea is to use motorized zoom while video recording (for a smoother, controlled transition) and manual zoom for still photography. This patent could potentially be implemented in the upcoming Nikon mirrorless camera.

Patent Publication: 2010-281941
published on December 16, 2010
filed on June 3, 2009

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  • Matt



  • I thought you were on vacation? Anyway, great idea from Nikon. Motorized focus, why not motorized zoom?

    • yes, I am on vacation – this was a just a quick update 🙂

      • GlobalGuy


        Fun rumor.

      • Anonymous

        rumors don’t take a vacation

        • Yeah! Exactly. The days he is off he should pay us for our lack-of-rumors frustration! :p

    • If it’s to be as stupid and utterly ridiculous implementation as Minolta’s zooms in the film days then the engineers at Nikon have surely lost their minds. I hope it’s something completely different and that actually works.

      • Panfruit

        I would love motorized focus! Zoom, don’t care.

  • Ronan

    Fun 😀

  • NikonEVIL

    Will Nikon
    1) have a new series of lens for EVIL ? not FX/DX format lens ?
    2) for quick zoom for vidoe ?
    3) with a multi-touch zoom-in, zoom-out and point-n-focus for photo and video ?

    • NikonEVIL

      is this zoom-in, zoom-out by multi-touch also working with the patents of rotating mount ? (remember it)

      Looks Nikon EVIL will be strong on both photo + video camorder … will be a killing app from Nikon …
      still remember the Flash with Colling Fan ???
      remember the CompactFlash alliance of SanDisk, Sony and Nikon ???

      OUT ASAP !!!

  • Sounds highly plausible to be implemented soon. Might even be included in future dSLRs to improve the video function 😮

    • James

      Canon used to make a powerzoom lens back in the film days. It was not an inspiring piece of glass.

      • iamlucky13

        On a much bigger scale, the true “Bigma,” the Sigma 200-500 F/2.8, is electrically zoomed. It has it’s own battery pack to power this.

        Of course, that one weighs 35 pounds, and you’re moving a lot of glass when you zoom. I’d imagine doing it manually would be a recipe for a bad hand cramp.

      • PHB

        There was little point in powerzoom on a still camera. And a powerzoom on FX sized glass is going to be moving a lot of weight and have to be quite chunky so additional weight.

        It makes a lot more sense on a compact sensor EVIL format. The lenses are not going to be very big and so not much room for a zoom ring.

        Main point is going to be video though.

        • I can see other benefits of using electronic zoom/focus… for example, it’s much easier to move glass elements in a complex and precise way using motors than doing it entirely mechanically.

          But I personally prefer the mechanical method, whenever possible…

          • Drab

            Ignoring the fact motors are mechanical, and running with the belief you mean MULTIPLE motors are easier to synchronize than a nested set of helicoils, I simply ask for a real-world example.

  • Kevin

    now we bring AF-S to the zoom mechanism 🙂

  • The mirrorless Nikon is getting more and more interesting. I hope that it is positioned for both consumer and enthusiasts bracket. Merry Christmas and happy holidays.

  • Hendog

    I’d be really really surprised if the mirrorless camera was for anything but consumer/enthusiast market due to not having a proper viewfinder, little sensor etc… Personally I don’t really like the idea much. But everyone’s needs are different.

    On a completely unrelated note, I’m after an entry level FX nikon (ie. D700/replacement) OR a 70-200 2.8 VRII. Should I save my pennies in the hope that a D700 replacement may be announced within the next 5 months or so or is that unlikely?? NR admin? Any gut feelings? Should I just buy the 70-200 now for my lil D90? I seriously can’t make up my mind!

    • pyro2go

      Hendog, it’s always a great idea to buy new glass. Go ahead and get the lens. Whether or not the D800 comes out soon, you’ll have the lens to start playing with, and it might just hold you over long enough for the new camera.

    • Akira

      Second on a 70-200. I can’t live without that lens. I got it back when I still was shooting with a D40, and even then it was a good decision over a new body.
      I have the Sigma though, not the Nikon. It’s a great piece of glass for the price.

    • Hendog

      Very valid comments. I’ll get that lens – waiting forever on the D800 is pretty pointless, may as well get good use out of a great lens in the meantime. Thanks for clarifying my mind on the issue 🙂

      • Jimmy Lamont

        Maybe it’s just me, but I would split it dead even and buy an 80-200 2.8 and keep saving for that FX body. I hope to pick up a cheaper FX body sometime this coming year (sub-$3000), and if it has great ISO performance, I don’t really need VR.

  • hah

    this clearly is for video purposes and changes everything.

    • markus

      This Changes Everything … Again.


      seems like Nikon is planning sth big if all those patents come tgt in one piece, EVIL will kill all other mirrorless cameras instantly!

  • Pavlos H

    Pentax had power zoom as early as the 80’s (my dad’s Pentax SLR lenses had this feature) and I’m sure if they did it’s not that revolutionary especially for a patent… This rush to patent every idea only stifles innovation by causing the ‘little guy’ to not even bother considering the glut of patents.

    On my dad’s lens it was controlled by toggling the zoom ring between manual and power by pushing the ring forward and back. When in power mode rotating to the left or right zoomed in/out. Seems like that would be enough. Yet another dedicated set of buttons on our Nikon bodies isn’t the answer, we’ve got enough of those.

  • Akira

    I couldn’t care less about motorized zoom for video, because I don’t zoom in video. Now, controllable motorized focus on DSLRs? That would be exciting to me. As fun as it is to let companies like Redrock Micro and Zacuto charge obscene amounts for follow focus units, imagine having electronic focus control and being able to use a remote to pull focus without attaching a follow focus system or even touching the rig.

  • -()_

    I would have thought this would have already been done/solved on video cameras?

    Does not seem like anything new other than it is on a dslr?

  • Kevin Y

    Wow this would make vdslr with smoother video zoom. Interesting.

  • Meh.

    Pentax did that in the 80’s with the Powerzoom line, and it was a total failure.

  • Peter

    Only useful if remote/script controllable.

  • CamaJan

    Wonder how loud this will be combined with AF noise when picked up by the camera.
    They can call it what ever they want. Consumers are used to powerzooms and an will see them as natural thing to have… Like they compacts already do.
    Get rid of AF noise in movies, dont add more of it.
    …and i doubt this will be for FX/DX. how big woud these lenses be? Another 1cm wider?
    IMO, Nikons first EVIL looks like a bigger compact with m43 sensor at best as of now.

  • The invisible wife

    I’m back !
    (I hate that QWERTY english keyboard !)
    Merry Christmas everyone !

    • Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays everyone!

  • Ren Kockwell

    So what’s the release date on this puppy? Dec. 31, 2013. Glacial progress at Nikon. Meanwhile, much smaller companies like Sigma and Olympus are in their third & fourth generations…

  • Biziclop

    How about a motorized shutter release button? You press a dedicated button which in turn will activate a (silent wave) motor in the shutter release button and press it gently on your behalf.

  • MrClick

    LOL! Motorized shutter release button! That was a good one!

    On a more serious note… we already sort of have this, don’t we? The original shutter button itself is used to electronically open the shutter on many cameras. There is no physical mechanism other than an electronic signal being relayed by the shutter button.

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