Nikon patents update (half-mirror, flash with built-in bounce system)

Time for another Nikon patents update. The first patent 2011-28177 is for a Nikon's own "half mirror" with a mirror-up function:

This technology is similar to Sony's translucent mirror. Here is a quick comparison between both technologies:

source: egami

The combination of the moving half mirror and viewfinder lock create several different options for shooting stills and video:

  • During single exposure, the mirror is up and the OVF is closed. Composition can be done through the OVF or LCD.
  • During continuous shooting, the mirror is not up which will prevent the "black out" when pressing the shutter. This setup will decrease the image quality since part of the incoming light was redirected to the OFV. Composition can be done through the OVF or the LCD.

For video there are also two possibilities:

  • In the first one the mirror is up and the OFV is closed. Composition is possible only through the LCD screen. AF will be available during video recording.
  • In the second option the mirror is not up. Composition can be done through the OVF or the LCD. AF is still available during video recording. Decreased image quality because of the half mirror.

Next Nikon patent 2011-13589 is about a flash unit with a built-in bounce system that is created with with a curved surface mirror:

"An illumination-light study system which has a curved mirror which makes it reflect in a reflector formed in free sculptured surface form, and irradiates an irradiated plane with light from a field in which an image of a light source or said light source was formed."

The patent describes the following parts: lightsource (20), collector lens (31), "fly eye" lens (32), curved mirror (33), light scattering component (34).

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  • In-built flash is long overdue..

    • scurvy hesh


    • built-in flash even

      • bounce.. I give up.

        • scurvy hesh

          your right though

  • how about patent 3 layer RGB sensor with 24mp each one? or 6 layer RGB-RGB with three big photo sensors and three small ones to improve dynamic range?

    • Roger

      How about we stick with Bayer sensors considering there is nothing better today? 😉

  • john

    Thin in interesting, if it is build, how much reflect will the translucent mirror have?
    30%/70% like the sony system? Or will it go to 50%/50% an let the translucent mirror act also as a ND filter when down as today sensor can tolerate a higher ISO

  • Arthur

    I don’t get that mirror system for 100%, but I do love to keep the Optical VF! 😀 Can’t wait to see more details about this. Maybe in a D800?

  • I don’t understand the half mirror patent too 🙁

    • bob

      I think it’ll be a semi-translucent mirror in place of the regular mirror in a DSLR. The idea is that part of the light coming from the lens will go to the pentaprism/optical viewfinder, and the other part (probably 30% ala Sony) will go to the sensor for continuous AF operation.

      Advantage: optical viewfinder, continuous AF during video/liveview, and no increase of noise at high ISOs (Sony seems 1 stop noisier).

      Disadvantages: probably slightly dimmer viewfinder because of light loss.

      Looks like an elegant solution, assuming the VF isn’t horribly dark.

      • Please, no dark viewfinders! Photographic companies had never release anything better than sheer TV-set in small, compact SLRs of Olympus OM-system. Those were the film days, many years ago. Why not to release something like this? I believe that modern technologies have alot to offer.

        • Forgot to mention Minolta X700. Anyway. Big, bright, true optical viewfinder is miles better than those electronical innovative garbage. I would fall in love with digital camera which could offer 0.80x magnification and 100% field of view.

      • I see. Thanks for the explanation! 🙂

  • scurvy hesh

    This would be great for a consumer Lumix/Nex type camera.

    please keep this out of the d800.

    • Roger


    • Ignacio Menevichian

      nah, this is specially interesting in high end cameras (if you like high fps, that is)… think about it, not having to move the mirror up and down would enable the camera to take as much fps as the processing chip can handle. even better, because you can recompose while shooting, probably the sports photographer dream!

      not my cup of tea, but i dont really want a high end camera either… 😛

  • Chuck

    Oh yeah D400, D4 could be awesome or not for prime time like Sony system!

  • El Aura

    This is essentially combining the hybrid viewfinder of the Fuji X100 with the translucent mirror of the Sony A55. You get all benefits, no viewfinder lag during continuous shooting as with the A55, an optical viewfinder whenever you feel you prefer one and an electronic one, also whenever you want. And you get no light loss, whenever you can live with a short black out.
    Only if the mirror mechanics are dumbed down to not operate at 10 fps, would you be forced to the light loss at high frame rates.

    • Jason

      semi-fixed, semi-transparent mirror with semi-electronic viewfinder

  • Gareth

    so the flash bounces internally? i don’t seem how it increases the lights surface area, so what it the point?

    you use bounce to increase the size of the light source relative to your subject. This internal bounce doesn’t even change the direction of the flash. It’s only purpose seems to be to make the flash bigger.

  • TT

    Sony’s original patent (2009) also had mirror-lockup as an option. The only difference here is some weird OVF.

  • Amber Lamps

    The flash things looks like a good idea but… what about the heat?

  • Bratwurst

    But where is the AF-sensor?

    Is it item 212 in the sketch? A translucent phase-detection-AF-sensor?? Whoa.

    I deem it the crucial point of this concept.

    Otherwise, if the concept relied fully on contrast-AF, the concept would rather give faster continous shooting speed, as did the earlier Pellicle-Mirror bodies of the 70s-90s by getting rid of the mirror-mechanism. Like e.g. the Canon EOS1nRS.

    • Edgar

      You found the catch: there is no AF sensor. Item 212 is the imager. This camera would have to either rely on contrast-detection AF, or have one of those new sensors with embedded phase-detection pixels.

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