The latest Nikon lens patents (incl. 35mm f/2 full frame lens designed for a curved sensor)

It is time for another recap of the latest Nikon lens patents I have been collecting over the past few months:


The first patent (P2017-125904A) that was published today is the most interesting - it's for a 35mm f/2 full frame lens designed for a curved sensor. Please note that the patent does not provide sufficient technical information to determine if this is a mirrorless or a DSLR lens (Nikon had other curved sensor patents in the past).

More Nikon lens patents:


Front Nikkor wide lens converter patent for Nikon 1 water housing.



Another converter lens patent - probably for a fix lens camera.



Wide-angle Nikkor zoom mirrorless lens patent



Nikon 1 Micro NIKKOR VR 30mm f/2.8 lens patent



Nikon 18-55mm f/3.6-6 lens patent for APS-C based mirrorless camera



New Nikon 1 AW lens patents (filed February 9th, 2017) - lens groups are moved to switch from land use to underwater use:

  • 7-14mm/3.5-4.5 (air) which becomes 6-11mm f/3.5-4.5 lens underwater
  • 10-45mm f/4.5-5.4 (air) which becomes 8.3-30.4mm f/4.6-6.2 underwater
  • 10-100/4.6-5.8 (air) which becomes 9.5-38mm f/4.6-5.6 underwater

There are some other Nikon lens patents with weird focal lengths: 110-166mm f/3.7 - f/5.6, 85-183mm f/4.5-f/5.8 and 90mm f/4.

The patent for the recently announced Nikkor 8-15mm lens can be found here.

This entry was posted in Nikon Patents and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. Trackbacks are closed, but you can post a comment.
  • geofflivingston

    Lots of mirrorless activity here, which I find encouraging. You need the lenses for the camera.

    • Eric Calabros

      Why I can’t see this activity? Most of them are for abandoned CX and cancelled DL. The rest is bunch of 18-55ish kits for a larger mirrorless.

      • Semaphore

        …why do you think Nikon is filling patents if it’s “abandoned”?

        • Eric Calabros

          They are filled several months ago
          they can be useful for a premium P&S

          • Brent Rawlings

            Perhaps for the follow up to the cancelled DL lineup?

        • Nimloth

          Because if you have something patentable, you’ll patent it, if only to prevent any of your competitors from filing one of their own.

          One thing you can always be sure of when it comes to R&D is: If you’ve got an idea, someone else are working on the same thing based on the same idea, right now.

          • Semaphore

            That’s the point. The fact that Nikon has new patenable stuff means they have been working on it, hence it’s not abandoned.

      • Antonio Sánchez

        I dont see why CX is going to be cancelled. Even if there is a new full frame mirrorless, the CX format has his own market niche which is not covered by other Nikon cameras. And the J5 has been selling well. They might not be making big efforts developing it further, but I guess Nikon will keep it.

        • The only reason I can see for cancelling it, is if the system can’t fund itself, in which case it’s taking R&D and production money that could be better spent elsewhere.

      • geofflivingston

        If you look at the base lens for most ASC mirrorless cameras such as the Fuji XT, it is an 18-55 lens.

        • amaas

          Fuji’s kit lens is a 16-50, their 18-55 is a high-end lens comparable in performance to Nikon’s 16-85VR.

          Sony used to do an 18-55 kit lens, but replaced it with a 16-50 pancake

          • geofflivingston
            • amaas

              Umm, that’s not their kit lens

              The 16-50 f3.5-5.6 is (in the X-A3 kit):
              https://www.adorama.com/ifjxa3b.html, it’s also kitted on the X-T20 and in some markets on the X-T2 and X-Pro2

              The 18-55 f2.8-4 OIS is their premium amateur zoom, which they do kit on their flagship body, much like Nikon kitted the 16-85 on the D300(s) and now the 16-80 on the D500, neither of which is a kit lens

              https://www.adorama.com/ifj1855xfnk.html

            • geofflivingston

              Okie Dokie. All I know is what Adorama, B&H and Amazon try to sell me as the lens bundle when I price the X-T2. And it ain’t the 16-50. So I think we’re going to agree to disagree.

      • Please note that the patent does not provide sufficient technical information to determine if this is a mirrorless or a DSLR lens (Nikon had other curved sensor patents in the past).

    • Oh yes, a new mirrorless is coming for sure, Nikon confirmed it already: https://nikonrumors.com/2017/07/12/nikon-officially-confirms-they-are-developing-new-mirrorless-products.aspx/

  • Eric Calabros

    Everybody now has a lens patent for curved sensor. They know that sensor tech will come, they want to be ready. But don’t expect it in “interchangeable” camera and don’t expect it to be affordable.

  • manattan

    @Peter How do you know they are Nikon 1 patents?
    Can you tell if these could be for the larger rumored Nikon 1 sensor or for the original 1″ sensor?

    • Eric Calabros

      Usually from image circle size mentioned in the patent.

  • Michael Turner

    That 90mm f4 is new? That would be interesting. I would absolutely buy that if the price was right.

    • Sometimes patents have multiple optical calculations, this could as well be a 90mm f/2 or similar.

      • Michael Turner

        I was trying to read through it and I thought something like that might be the case. Thanks for clarifying. I’ve been dreaming of a portrait lens that can get both eyes in focus while all the way open.

        • TheInconvenientRuth

          “I’ve been dreaming of a portrait lens that can get both eyes in focus while all the way open.”

          Wut?

          What’s the difference between using an 85mm 1.8 at f/4 and using an 85mm 4.0 wide open? If anything the first will likely perform better at 4.0 than the second…

          • Michael Turner

            Some lenses are better all the way open, some are better closed up a little. You are correct that focus quality would probably be better in that case. I’m looking for that super round, all the way open bokeh quality but in a modern lens.

            • TheInconvenientRuth

              Ah, it’s about the aperture shape, got it, thanks.

            • TheInconvenientRuth

              If you are certain you’ll only ever use it at f/4, could you have a lens modified to replace the aperture with an aperture disc that’s perfectly round and gives you the equivalent of f/4?
              I’m fairly sure it wouldn’t be too hard for a qualified repair shop.

            • Michael Turner

              I just got an older nikkor 135mm f3.5 for a hundred bucks on ebay. it’s actually pretty amazing. It would be awesome if they made a new version at half the price as the newest 135mm.

            • TheInconvenientRuth

              Well, Leica made a gorgeous 100/4.0 R-mount that can be converted to F-mount AFAIK.
              I doubt Nikon will ever release any primes below 200mm that are 2.8 or less, nobody will buy them..
              I think there was also an Ai-s 105/4.0 Micro Nikkor, but again, old lens.

            • HD10

              The m43 have quite many options that allows me to do that. I particularly like using the Panasonic 42.5mm f1.2 and the Olympus 75mm f1.8 on 3:4 vertcal or portrait mode.

          • Michiel953

            Beat me to it by six hours…

        • Michiel953

          Why not an 85/1.4 (or 58/1.4) @4.0?

          Anyway, DoF depends on distance to subject anyway, and then the way the head is angled (if any) comes into play…

  • animalsbybarry

    I wonder how well the current dslr lenses versus then the new dslr/mirrorless lenses will work on the new mirrorless Nikon cameras

  • br0xibear

    There was also a Nikon patent published a few days ago about backside illumination image sensor, I’m not that great at reading into these patents so I’ll leave it to those who are…
    http://www.freepatentsonline.com/9704902.html

    • Thanks – yes, I have a few more patents that I will post in the next few days – this post was just to cover the latest lens patents.

      • Brent Rawlings

        Could one patent the way they post patents?

        • John Albino

          I believe that would be a Business Method Patent. Such a patent highly depends on where it is filed. In the U.S, the Supreme Court and various lower courts over the past 10 years or so have been increasingly wary of allowing such patents. One of the most famous recent cases is called the “Alice Case” (Alice Corp v. CLS Bank International –Google or Wikipedia it).

          • Brent Rawlings

            Very interesting. Thanks.

    • CaMeRa QuEsT

      Interesting patent. It’s a twist on the previously shown, two-layer, RGB/CMY, quad-pixel AF sensor patent, which also covered BSI and organic film implementations. This one is a single layer, RGB, quad-pixel AF sensor where one color pixel is split for horizontal phase detection and the next color pixel is split for vertical phase detection. This is a much more easier way to immediately implement quad-pixel AF since it can be done with current sensor and micro lenses architectures. The dual layer implementation, apart from having to deal with Foveon-like problems, also needs a second layer of micro lenses sandwiched between the 2 layers of photoreceptors so that the quad-pixel function can work properly.

      I do see a basic problem with this single layer, quad-pixel patents: you’ll have only green pixels seeing one PD direction and only red and blue pixels seeing the other PD direction. Canon’s Dual Pixel have all pixels colors seeing the same PD direction.

      .

  • Davo

    Does the lens for the curved sensor patent indicate ILC or could it fixed?

    • no

      • Davo

        Thanks. It’d be difficult to imagine curved sensors are ready for prime time ILC. I’d imagine the amount of curvature would differ for various lens designs. Unless they’ve figured out an implementation to vary the curvature and it could be ‘matched’ to the lens design.

        But something like that would warrant a new thin mirrorless FF mount and significantly differentiate it from the competition. A smaller mirrorless FF system could be possible with new made-for-curved-sensor lenses <85mm plus the possibility to use F-mount adapters for regular lenses too. Whilst F-mount mirrorless also forges ahead for long lenses where field curvature and camera body size are less of an issue. The large pro zooms and very fast aperture primes would also continue for F-mount.

  • CaMeRa QuEsT

    Picture height for the curved sensor: 21mm. That’s somewhere between FX and DX, though the reduced height compared to FX might also be because of the curvature of the sensor.

    • yes, that’s the height of a full frame sensor but we don’t know if it is a DSLR or mirrorless – for this I think we need the back focus (BF)

      • CaMeRa QuEsT

        The last picture on the patent shows the lens and the sensor housed together inside a single box, and none of the lens formulae (there are 5 pictured) show a mirror, so it must be a fixed lens mirrorless.

        • Or they just did no include the mirror in the drawings.

          • CaMeRa QuEsT

            I do find the backspacing rather long for a fixed lens camera, but the lens itself is also rather compact. I really doubt that they would do a curved sensor DSLR, as the current flat plane lenses won’t work correctly with a curved sensor, Nikon would basically have to do a complete lens system just for the curved sensor cameras, which won’t be able to take adapted lenses, either.

          • RC Jenkins

            See my post here:
            http://disq.us/p/1kpd2vr

            This patent is not for a single lens. It’s for multiple lense & sensor combinations, all of which are equivalent 35mm focal length. It essentially covers Full-Frame, APS-C, 1″, and mobile phone-sized sensors.

            They specifically talk about pairing the lens with the sensor and composing via rear LCD; but they do later suggest that this is not necessary and that this can be applied to DSLRs & mobile phones.

        • Isaac

          Fixed 35mm f2, FX back illuminated curved sensor. This would be an absolute game changer.

      • MB

        We do have enough information to approximate back focus at around 44mm …
        https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/8abf99dfa108d5e33f06c46557c408d2229c70e139d557ed8aac128cb5d0e616.jpg

        It suggests SLR lens but I really can not see Nikon making curved sensor DSLR …

        • RC Jenkins

          I think your maths is off….

          a full-frame image is not 21mm from the center to the image height.

          Let’s assume the image height/sensor is 24mm tall. The distance from the center to the image height would only be 12mm. So cut everything in half, and assuming your scale is correct, you’ve got a 22mm rear-element-to-sensor distance. Mirrorless. 🙂

          Also, see my post here:
          http://disq.us/p/1kpd2vr

        • Yes, that is a better drawing. If I remember correctly Nikon full frame DSLRs have 56mm backfocus, Nikon DX DSLRs have 26mm backfocus and Nikon 1 cameras have 13mm backfocus.

          • PhilK

            If backfocus is the lens flange to film/sensor plane distance, I don’t know how DX and FX cameras can have a different backfocus distance when lenses are interchangeable between the 2 formats without any focus changes.

            • Good point, maybe the 26mm BF was for a APS-C mirrorless camera.

          • Dmitry Anisimov

            Cameras don’t have backfocus, lenses do. FF DSLRs typically require BF>37 mm to avoid hitting mirror, crop about >32mm, but still all Nikon DX lenses have BF not shorter than FF lenses

        • Dmitry Anisimov

          But then, sensor curvature is very modest…

      • Because of the curve, does this mean new type of lenses? Basically un-do what the current lenses do, correcting the corners? …just asking (and I am not seeing mirror-less everywhere at all)

  • unimo36090

    whatever is in their new mirrorless they have to make their sensor consumer acceptable first.

  • felipeignacioortega
  • Ben

    The Nikon mirrorless suspense is killing me. I really believe it’s going to be their most important decision they have made in a very long time.

    • I agree. They are also keeping everything really tight. Everyone I ask knows that it’s coming, but nobody knows what is it going to be.

      • HD10

        NR’s effectiveness in the past surely contributed to Nikon’s tight security policy today. All will be known in 3-4 days.

        • Not only NR, Nikon changed their website and now leaks rarely happen. They also let go of many people and use less third party vendors – this all makes a difference.

          • HD10

            Washington could learn a thing or two about preventing leaks from Nikon. =)

            That said, NR remains a relevant forum where many can put forth their ideas and opinions that helps us better understand Nikon.

            • PhilK

              You fail to take into account that there is tons of intentional (but unofficial) leaking from politicians and other political players to either gauge public reaction to matters under negotiation or to manipulate the process.

    • Isaac

      I think this is the reason they cancelled the DL lineup, there just wasn’t anything new and exciting about them.

      If this one pans out, we could see an amazing camera.

      Fixed 35mm f2, FX back illuminated curved sensor mirrorless camera anyone?

  • Nikita

    Aw come on. I just want an UWA DX prime (10mm 2.8 – rectilinear).

  • felipeignacioortega

    The moving image compression apparatus, the Moving Picture decoding apparatus and program, patent from Nikon
    http://patent.conceptsengine.com/patent/grant/0006152642#more.

  • Azimuth1

    curved sensors will be the new revolution in digital photography … and probably it will forse all of us to change all our lenses! 🙁

    • peter w

      the curvation of the optimal image plane for a 500mm lens would be so different from the curvation of this 35mm that interchangable lenses… I’ll stick to a flat sensored dslr.

  • Davo

    What if the amount of curvature of the sensor could be on-demand? I got curious and a brief patent search revealed Microsoft seem to have something like that but I think it’s for small sensors.
    It doesn’t even have to be Nikon’s invention if the tech could be licensed. By waiting for this tech to mature enough before starting a new lens lineup could help Nikon leapfrog the competition even though they effectively started large sensor mirrorless ILC last.
    But Nikon are very traditional and a move like this is risky if other sensor tech improvements cannot be applied equally to a curved sensor.

    • Davo

      It seems Canon also have patent(s) for varying the sensor curvature on demand. My theory has consistently been if Canon’s doing it, so is Nikon.

  • CaMeRa QuEsT

    From DPReview this morning: “A new Nikon lens patent is causing quite a stir in the photo world today… as Nikon Rumors points out, “the patent does not provide sufficient technical information to determine if this is a mirrorless or a DSLR lens,””

    Peter, are you working as “editor at large” at DPReview? Cuz if not, you should be charging them for quoting you so often! What’s the going rate at AP for syndicated news articles?

    • Lol, no – but sometimes they “forget” to quote me 🙂

      • CaMeRa QuEsT

        This time around, they even have the nerve to say they got the news article “via” that despicable click and bait site which never ever quotes you, the name of which I am not bringing up here because I feel discusted by the mere mention of it!

  • Ben Cushwa

    Hypothetical: If Nikon were to release an F-mount mirrorless camera with a curved sensor, how hard would it be to coax good images out of current F-mount lenses (that are optimized for flat sensors) using software? I’m guessing hard because you’d only have a small portion of the image in focus at any one time, but maybe I’m missing something?

  • Off topic: Will this sensor be used on new Nikon cameras? It’s not a Sony. http://www.cmosis.com/products/product_detail/cmv50000

    It’s having 50 MP, 30 fps, Global Shutter.

  • Would the flange distance tend to indicate whether a design would be for mirrorless or SLR? In any event, introducing an SLR with a curved sensor would be pretty strange at this juncture.

    • RC Jenkins

      Not necessarily indicative, but possibly. Mirrorless can have any flange distance–including all SLR flange distances.

      But SLRs have minimum flange distance, depending on size of the image circle / sensor size.

      • Exactly. I would imagine that there’s good reason to minimize the flange distance for any new lens mount since this allows use of adapted lenses from other mounts. Nikon has been at a disadvantage for a long time because it has the oldest bayonet mount with the longest flange distance and the narrowest throat. But of course you can design a lens with a long air gap to the focal plane and still build it for a short flange distance mount.

  • RC Jenkins

    There’s an interesting twist: The patent has many lens-sensor combos, and specifically calls out ‘wide angle lenses’ multiple times, but only as pairs of lenses with sensors.

    I’d guess this is either a series of fixed-prime-lens cameras (eg. Sony RX1R, Fuji X100, mobile phones, etc.) or perhaps a camera where you swap a lens+sensor module together?

    In the diagrams & text, the following focal lengths were listed with their image heights:
    -35mm F/2.0; sensor height = 23.943mm (=full frame)
    -23mm F/1.8; sensor height = 15.576mm (= APS-C)
    -13mm F/2.0; sensor height = 8.913mm = (=1″)
    -6.5mm F/2.0; sensor height = 4.586mm = (=Mobile Phones)

    All are 35mm ‘equivalent’ focal length.

    No optical viewfinder. In the patent text, there is a section that reads:
    “The photographer decides the composition of the subject image while watching the liquid crystal monitor M…” [where “M” in the diagram is the rear LCD screen]. But later, they do appear to keep it ‘open’ to include everything from DSLRs & mobile phones, since the composure style is not necessary.

    Telling:
    “In the present embodiment, it is preferable that the imaging lens PL and the imaging element C are integrally formed.”

    “If the optical axis of the image pickup lens PL deviates from the rotational symmetry axis of the image pickup element C …image quality in the diagonal direction of the image captured by the image pickup element C is not good”

    (so definitely some form of paired lens-sensor combo).

    Source:
    http://ipforce.jp/patent-jp-A-2017-125904

  • RC Jenkins

    An interesting twist: The patent has many lens-sensor combos, and specifically calls out ‘wide angle lenses’ multiple times, but only as pairs of lenses with sensors.

    I’d guess this is either a series of fixed-prime-lens cameras (eg. Sony RX1R, Fuji X100, mobile phones, etc.) or perhaps a camera where you swap a lens+sensor module together?

    In the diagrams & text, the following focal lengths were listed with their image heights:
    -35mm F/2.0; sensor height = 23.943mm (=full frame)
    -23mm F/1.8; sensor height = 15.576mm (= APS-C)
    -13mm F/2.0; sensor height = 8.913mm = (=1″)
    -6.5mm F/2.0; sensor height = 4.586mm = (=Mobile Phones)

    All are 35mm ‘equivalent’ focal length.

    No optical viewfinder. In the patent text, there is a section that reads:
    “The photographer decides the composition of the subject image while watching the liquid crystal monitor M…” [where “M” in the diagram is the rear LCD screen]. But later, they do appear to keep it ‘open’ to include everything from DSLRs & mobile phones, since the composure style is not necessary.

    Telling:
    “In the present embodiment, it is preferable that the imaging lens PL and the imaging element C are integrally formed.”

    “If the optical axis of the image pickup lens PL deviates from the rotational symmetry axis of the image pickup element C …image quality in the diagonal direction of the image captured by the image pickup element C is not good”

    (so definitely some form of paired lens-sensor combo).

    Source:
    http://ipforce.jp/patent-jp-A-2017-125904

  • patents alone are hard to read, adding Google translation on top of it makes me to give up

  • here is another drawing from the 35mm f/2 full frame lens designed for a curved sensor:

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/f297d52b7974f596288d3b1ab2855d295a9209330366fd25bee439e4ef57d514.jpg

  • vwking

    There was a time when the Nikonos ruled the seas. It was seriously designed for ruggedness that became the camera of choice for pro oceanography as well as harsh land expeditions. Not sure if any digital camera can live up to be its successor. But a land-and-sea camera that produces decent enough photo image quality will have a following. The CX format is a cut above the 1/2.3 or even 1/1.7 consumer formats. But it does not compete with the APS-C, and definitely not with FF. The N1 J5 is “pretty good” for most people. Maybe, when you balance IQ against “easy to carry” there’s a market for a “seriously rugged” CX camera that can also double up for underwater photography?? I think the N1 AW1 is a pretty lame attempt at it. Nikon really needs to get a lot more serious if they want to reclaim the seas and oceans.

  • Back to top