Nikon’s patent for electrically controlled optical low-pass filter


Nikon filed a patent in Japan (2013-156379) for electrically turning ON or OFF the optical low-pass (OLPF) a.k.a. anti-aliasing (AA) filter. Currently the Nikon D800E and D7100 do not have AA filters on their sensors. Nikon filed a similar patent back in 2011 which offered a mechanical ON/OFF solution. Another patent from last year suggested adding the OLPF inside the lens. Detailed description from the recent patent filing:

While ejecting the polarization direction of one of the object image ejected from the incidence side double reflex part which separates the object image which entered as one mode of the present invention according to a polarization direction, and the aforementioned incidence side double reflex part as it is, A light separation unit provided with the liquid crystal part which rotating other polarization directions by electric control from the outside switches whether lends and there is, and is ejected, and the injection side double reflex part which separates the object image ejected from the aforementioned liquid crystal part according to a polarization direction is provided. The outline of the above-mentioned invention is not what enumerated all the required characteristics of the present invention. The sub combination of these characterizing group can also be invented.


The above drawing is a mimetic diagram which describes the structure of the image sensor 330 notionally. A many photo detector is arranged in two dimensions in the imaging surface of the image sensor 330. A photo detector is formed of a photo-diode, a photo-transistor, etc., accumulates the electric charge according to the strength of incident light, and outputs it as an electrical signal.

Red and the color filter that transmits either green and blue put on the photo detector arranged in two dimensions. The one unit pixel 331 is formed combining four photo detectors located in a line with a square among these photo detectors. The unit pixel 331 is provided with the following. For example, it is one at a time about a photo detector which has a filter which transmits red and blue. Two photo detectors which have a filter which transmits green with human being's high light-receiving sensitivity. Such a square unit pixel 331 turns into a pixel in the case of carrying out color photography in the highest resolution in the image sensor 330. (machine translation via Egami and Japan Patent Office)

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  • RakSiam

    It’s a patent application, not a patent yet. It only becomes a patent when the patent office in question (the JPO in this case) actually issues the patent. There’s a difference.

    • Matthew Fleisher


    • MyrddinWilt

      It looks like a fairly solid idea and it makes complete sense for Nikon to want to provide a hybrid D800/D800E. This will be a very interesting feature regardless of whether a patent is issued.

      Sensor resolution is going to continue to increase and the OLPF is not necessarily what you want. But carrying two cameras around to do almost the same task is never what you want so it is a win to put them both in the same body. I rather doubt that there are many people with twin D800/D800E setups in their bag and those who do would probably buy multiple cameras in any case.

      What surprises me about all the D400 blather is that so few seem to have noticed that the lack of a professional CX body is a much bigger deal. The V1 was good for what it is and the V2 is OK ish but neither is a full on professional body with pro controls.

      Now that the F-mount lens series has been fully updated as far as the existing lenses are concerned I am more interested in CX lenses. They need a good wide angle for landscapes and a good macro lens or better a micro lens that goes better than 1:1 repro.

      • Jonas from Sweden

        A Nikon 1 body with full manual controls like a pro DSLR plus Nikon CLS, a real hotshoe mount, mic in, headphone out … HDMI out … could be a nice camera!

        • Jo

          With mechanical rangefinder and S-mount!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Nik

    I thought the D800E has an OPLF. In fact it has two to negate the effect of the OPLF. But it does indeed has an OPLF.

    • seekthedragon

      Optical Low Pass Filter, so OLPF. Not trolling just to be sure.

  • Mick

    It’s time for the D900 rumors.

    • decisivemoment

      Or maybe the replacement of the D800 and the D800E with a single body, the D800S

      • GG_Aca

        D4s, D800s, D600s, D300s. Unifying the lines with an OLPF switch.

        • GG_Aca

          I meant D400s of course.

    • cppguy16

      Man I’m without a camera, I wanted a D800 so bad, but now that it’s complete obsolete, an enormously long wait is ahead of us till the D900 is released. I wish I could finally go out and shoot. /s

      • Mick

        Man, I had a D700 from 2008.

        • umeshrw

          Which means 900 rumours would start in 2015 or 2016

          • Mick

            I think that D900 will came in stores in spring 2015.

            • umeshrw

              I have started saving . Just hope my 800 lasts till then.

  • Peter

    Announcement time? It has begun? We are almost entering September and all we see are more and more patents… 🙁

    • Nothing for now, not a single bit of information. Very strange. Someone out there must know something.

      • J. Dennis Thomas

        The D400!

        • AM

          It didn’t take that long for the D400 crowd to start whining.

          • J. Dennis Thomas

            That wasn’t whining. It was said in jest.

        • Aldo

          I hear the d400 filters bad photographs automatically and turns them into masterpieces!

          • Fred

            I hear the D400 filters bad photographers and sends them blind with a high discharge flash back through the viewfinder. 😀

      • Peter

        Do you think it has something to do with their revision of Nikon1 strategy? Nikon1 products should have been announced in August most probably…

        • I do thinks so. I don’t see another reason.

      • martinrock

        Nikon D4x is coming out.

        • Yes, it is coming but I think there will be something else before the D4x. Maybe D5300 and D610? I am still trying to clarify the details. Stay tuned, I should probably have a post on that by the end of the week.

          • Tom

            A D610 would be great, hopefully with a lot better autofocus system, no AA filter, EXPEED 4 that will enable more than 8 fps with a very large buffer, oh an better build quality.

            • I am still not sure – trying to get some more info before posting it online.

  • Rhys

    Pointless. Nikon would be better off adding a Fuji like colour filter.

  • Gly

    So many patents, so little time…

    • umeshrw

      So many patents, no outcome…….

  • n11

    The patent I’m waiting for (and more so for the actual product) is a focus system that tracks your eye and focuses on what you’re seeing through the viewfinder, no more messy AF system!

    • HotDuckZ

      Eye control? Canon have already abandon that.

      • jk

        I’ve never know that , thanks.

        • Neopulse

          Was made in the 90s though on a film camera. But controlling your AF with your finger while paying attention to composition seems best.

    • Julian

      One problem is that your eye makes lots of small movements that you’re not aware of. A mate of mine had the canon with this focusing system, I tried it a couple of times – but found it completely baffelling, it never seemed to do what I wanted.

    • mikegorton

      You’ll have to wait until Google Glass for that.

  • Klaus

    That at least keeps the competition from NOT using such a thing!

  • Henry

    Only the D7100 are entirely without the OLPF – the D800e has a quite weak one, but it is there 🙂

  • ola

    Excellent, if it works well, it will greatly improve DSLR video.

    • KnightPhoto

      Agreed, is really only worth pursuing for the video side, since on the stills side we are good these days without an OLPF. But on the video-side would be very useful.

  • jk

    honestly as a D800E owner shooting some fashion and event , I do not feel any need for this kind of tech , I seldom see moire pattern in my photos with that camera.

    I actually only once saw pretty terrible moire from my D800E NEF file, but that was I kind of intentionally shoot it at where most of cameras would produce horrible moire ,I guess I just wanted to see how it ‘d handle that particular scene..

    In fact, I think my normal D800 and D600 would have produced some annoying moire in that particular scene(I shot checked patterned ceiling in a subway ) too.

    so, I do not see moire is not a big issue for most of us(unless you are more into video than in still).

    • Marco V.

      “…hope next gen D800 will get EVF”

      Thanks, but no thanks.

      • HD10

        I am currently an owner of a D800E and D800. I would like the D800/D800E-successor to have the option of adding an articulating EVF while still retaining its OVF. Then the camera EVF should support image magnify and peaking for manual focus. Live View should also be improved. An articulating rear LCD screen would also be most welcome. With these improvements, I will not need to get a full frame NEX.

        • Calibrator

          What you didn’t include in your wishlist:
          – A livefeed to Google Glass
          – A periscope for taking images from under water
          – A Mars rover

          • HD10

            Nothing much to add huh?

          • Aldo

            It should also dispense a sandwich upon request.

    • ninpou_kobanashi

      “honestly as a D800E owner shooting some fashion and event , I do not feel any need for this kind of tech.”

      I think Nikon feels that THEY need this tech. Rather than manufacturing 2 different cameras, they can have a single SKU.

      • HD10

        As an owner of the D800E and a D800, I can say that Nikon can have just one SKU – the D800E. On the few times that moire shows on the D800E, moire also shows up on the D800.

        • ninpou_kobanashi

          I’m sure the world revolves around you, and your use cases!

    • Rhys

      If Nikon downsized the image in video rather than pixel skipped you wouldn’t need to worry about moire in video either (and you would have better video ISO performance).

      Nikon should be working on powerful/efficient image processor, not AA tech.
      Why Nikon just can’t change the colour filter array to something like Fuji’s and avoid the moire that way I don’t know.

      • HD10

        Downsizing an image from 36mp to 2mp and do these while at 24 frame per second to 60 frames per second is very difficult but would undoubtedly greatly improve the video quality. Another solution would be to undertake pixel binning.

  • wanna new dslr

    I thought in modern cameras, the optical low-pass filter was a combination of an anti-aliasing filter and a IR rejection filter? The D800E and D7100 do not have an anti-aliasing filter, but they do still have an IR rejection filter?

    So what is Nikon turning turning on and off, the moire filter, IR filter, or both?

  • Funduro

    So the new 24MP D700e will have that sensor technology ?

  • Noura

    NIKON please just surprise us wish a high level DX camera this september .

  • Neil

    I would rather see development of a full color sensor, dropping Bayer for good. Time to move beyond 40 year old technology anyway. Whoever gets a reliable full color sensor in a camera body that can hold up to expectations will have a big jump on what’s next.


    One for the D500s.


    One for the D500s.

  • Danonino

    Hm.. low-pass filter.. thats interesting.. NOT! Where is the Nikon J4 with the sony 1″ 20mp-sensor or something better?

  • JB

    How can it be things are so quiet at this time of year!!!! Man I miss a little excitement around here!

    • PeterO

      You want excitement? Go next door to Photo Rumors. The other brands are either announcing new stuff, doing teaser campaigns or providing their faithful with timelines to keep interest going. Over here at Cobweb Central, Nikon’s brilliant marketing dept. (otherwise know as “steady as she goes”) is keeping tight wraps on their new products so they can wow us with the latest iteration of something with one added feature: “Nikon is proud to announce the Dxxx with this exciting new feature (which the other companies had last year).

      • JB

        Great Job!!! Thank you Peter!!!

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