In-Camera Warnings and Suggestions: What Do Users Want?

Nikon DSLR Patent

Many recent camera models feature “tips” or “suggestions” on shooting modes and camera operation.  Nikon filed a patent application in June 2011 that shows off more of these kind of helpful hints.

I don’t know that these new warnings and suggestions indicated in the patent offer much more than what we already see in the latest entry-level DSLRs.  However, it got me to thinking about what would be good ideas to implement in these tips or guide modes. [Read more...]

Canon In-Camera HDR Maps Single Exposure to Individual Pixels

Talk about changing the way HDR is done . . . .

A recently published Canon patent application (see USPTO Appl. No. 12/630,594) reveals a method for altering exposure values at the pixel level, which would allow Canon to produce a camera that captures a much wider dynamic range with a single image.

The lengthy patent application spells out a process whereby the camera captures a preliminary image with normal exposure values and then evaluates the exposure level across the entire image.  After creating an exposure map of the scene, the camera alters the exposure amount at the pixel level for the primary HDR image capture. [Read more...]

Canon DSLR Dual Image Viewfinder

Canon DSLR Dual Viewfinder

A pair of recently published Canon patents reveal a new viewfinder system for Canon DSLRs that will allow photographers to “chimp” their shots without ever taking their eye off the viewfinder.  The patent applications filed in the United States Patent and Trademark Office (“USPTO”) under application numbers 12/495,813 and 12/495,814 were each filed on July 1, 2009 and published by the USPTO on January 7, 2010.

The essence of the technology claimed under the patents is an advanced viewfinder system that uses a small backlit LCD or OLED inside of the finder to project previously captured images onto a mirror in the pentaprism, which in turn, is reflected toward the eye of the photographer.  As a result, the photographer sees two images in the viewfinder – the live optical image and the previously-captured image from the LCD.

The purpose of this invention, as stated in the patent, is to help the photographer be more efficient by keeping his or her eye in the viewfinder and not having to pull away from the action in order to check exposure, white balance, focus and so on. [Read more...]

Canon Fuel Cell DSLR Update

As you may recall, Photography Bay previously reported on Canon’s efforts to patent a method for using fuel cells to power your DSLR. A newly published patent application (US 2008/0180565) sheds a little more light on things to come with fuel cell powered DSLRs.

Canon continues to push its fuel cell development by devising a method for powering not only the internal DSLR body electronics, but also external components such as lenses and hotshoe flashes.

The present invention relates to an electronic equipment system having fuel cells, and more particularly, to a camera system in which fuel cells are provided to a camera body and a connection device connected to the camera body. [0001]

Say Goodbye to AA Batteries

Essentially, Canon wants its fuel cell to power everything you attach to your camera. That’s right. No more AA batteries to stuff into your camera bag.

. . . dual battery control of detecting a remaining amount of the battery in each of the devices and determining the state of each of the batteries to control electric power supply, which makes the battery control complicated. [0010]

The patent is a little long winded (as patents can be); however, the gist of it is to have a single power source (i.e., the fuel cell) and that source powers everything (e.g., hotshoe flash).

. . . an electronic equipment system in which fuel cells are provided to an electronic equipment body [ed., a DLSR body] and a connection device [ed., a hotshoe flash] connected to the electronic equipment body, and in which detection of a battery remaining amount and control of electric power supply can be performed under unified management [ed., one fuel cell], thereby enabling simplification of the electronic equipment system and improvement of power generation efficiency thereof. [0011]

The blissful absence of partially charged batteries and wonder whether the four batteries you stuffed in the side pocket last week were good or bad. No more battery chargers plugged into your kitchen outlets. Basically, the best invention since sliced bread . . . ok, maybe not, but it is interesting nonetheless.

What’s It All Mean?

MTI Micro Fuel Cell Battery Pack for Canon DSLRFirst of all, Canon’s always going to push digital imaging innovation to the next level. Clearly, the competition is too stiff to try to lay low now. Canon stays at the top of the patent filings charts due to this drive.

With this changing tech comes the new gear. In this case, fuel-cell DSLRs means a lot of new gear – maybe even a new system. At the very least, it calls for the purchase of new speedlights with your camera body. I suppose, however, that Canon could allow backwards compatibility of battery-powered electronic flashes with this fuel cell power source.

Finally, it should lessen our carbon footprint as photographers in the digital age. Many of us are starting to think real hard about environmental issues in this changing world climate and economy. How many fewer AA batteries would our landfills see if the every digital camera user suddenly switched to fuel cells? It’s a start.

If you want to read the whole patent, feel free to look it up on the USPTO website (patent application # US 2008/0180565) or follow this direct link.

Canon Working on Fuel Cell Powered DSLRs

A patent application, filed by Canon, reveals technology that would effectively incorporate fuel cell technology in DSLRs and other small consumer electronic devices.  The United States Patent Application Publication Pub. No. 20080081236 can be found here.

As Canon points out it the patent claims, fuel cell technology is a bit of a tough cookie for small electronic devices due to uneven gas densities and variances in load currents, among other things.  For example, the mirror operation in a DSLR can cause sudden fluctuations in the load current, which is problematic for fuel cells.  However, Canon claims to have overcome this barrier in its fuel cell power system, “which is capable of counteracting the instantaneous fluctuation of a load current and [is] designed as a smaller lightweight system.”

The patent doesn’t reveal the what the fuel cell system will look like when integrated into a DSLR.  Maybe we’ll see some sort of battery grip integration in the first iteration, like in the MTI Micro image above.

On a (perhaps) related note, MTI Micro recently announced a partnership with an unnamed Japanese digital camera manufacturer to evaluate the use of fuel cells in digital cameras.  (See this report on Engadget for more.)  I’m just reading between the lines here, but maybe Canon is that “someone special” for MTI Micro.

Nikon’s New Viewfinder Does Double Duty

Nikon has blown photographers away this past year with the introduction of the critically acclaimed Nikon D3 and Nikon D300.  Rumors abound of several new Nikon DSLRs in the works, including a D90 (update to the D80), D10 (mid-range full-frame camera) and a 24 megapixel D3X (leaked in a recent D3 firmware update).  We should know by the time Photokina 2008 rolls around which of these new cameras will come to fruition.

The technological advancements found in the D3 and D300 have pushed Nikon to the forefront of the DSLR market.  According to recently published patent applications, Nikon may have something special up its sleeve for its next generation of DSLRs. [Read more...]

Poll: DSLR Movie Mode

This week’s poll relates to Photography Bay’s recent article covering the DSLR Movie Mode Patent Application.  If you’ve not read the interesting technological developments, you should check it out.

We’ve seen and heard several responses from around the web expressing both joy and disdain for such a feature.  Let’s see how those numbers shake out in the poll below.  If you’ve got any additional thoughts on why you do or don’t want a movie mode on DSLRs then sound off in the comments below.

DSLR “Movie Mode” Patent

Mirror - SensorWith the pervasiveness of Live View modes from DSLR makers, it is only a matter of time before similar technology brings a “movie mode” to DSLRs.  While the ability to record video is a common feature among point & shoot cameras, technological challenges make the incorporation of a video recording more difficult in DSLRs.  A recently published patent application by inventor Hiroshi Terada may change all of this.  The patent addresses many of the technological hurdles that have prevented incorporation of a movie mode into DSLRs.

As we all know, DSLRs are designed for optimal performance in capturing still images – and DSLR manufacturers have truly raised the bar over the past couple of years.  Accordingly, DSLRs are specialist tools that have been optimized to have a very narrow focus tolerance and an ever-increasing auto-focus speed.  These features are not quite conducive to smooth video capture.  Additionally, the field-of-view changes, albeit slightly, during auto-focus operation.  Finally, fast and accurate hand-held auto-focus is dependent up accurate phase-difference AF evaluation, which requires a mirror to reflect the image to the AF sensor.

As you can see, getting live image to the image sensor and capturing smooth, in-focus video seems difficult to achieve without sacrificing some still image capture properties of DSLRs.  These obstacles, among others, are what Mr. Terada attempts to overcome in his patent application. [Read more...]