Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Will Nikon do a compact interchangeable lens camera?

This is not a rumor site, but I can't help but notice an interesting post in DPreview about a potential new Nikon compact type camera with electronic viewfinder and interchangeable lenses:
14x10mm sensor
16mm flang
36.8mm mount
107 x 65.8 x 32mm
collapsible lens (like the EP1 14-42)
Prime lens ~15% smaller than m4/3
EVF
with in the 1st year 5 lens 2 of them pancake primes. 
And this is followed by another post:
well there is talk that a few pixels will be used for focus. this would alow for extreamly fast AF and those few pixels would just need to be interpulated. 
Now this is extremely interesting because a number of Nikon patents of recent (see below) have been on the subject of implementing phase detection auto focus by utilizing some of the pixels in the imaging sensor to double up as focus sensors. 

SLRs use phase detection based passive auto focusing; compacts typically use contrast detection method. The former is faster because the subject distance can be calculated directly, whereas in the latter method, you have to focus from shortest to longest distance while looking for the best contrast. For more details of these methods, please look at the wikipedia article on autofocus.

As of today, all compact digital cameras use contrast detection method for auto focusing. This makes the AF slow comparatively. Implementing phase detection based AF must be hard otherwise we would have seen it by now. If Nikon does come out with a new camera that has this technology, in my view that will be a big breakthrough, and provided that image quality is not compromised, it is not hard to predict that this will eventually spell the end of SLRs.

Here are the patent applications I was referring to:



PUB. APP. NO.Title
1 20090295964 Image sensor and image-capturing device
2 20090278966 IMAGE SENSOR AND IMAGING APPARATUS
3 20090256952 Correlation calculation method, correlation calculation device, focus detection device and image-capturing apparatus
4 20090219423 Solid-state imaging device, electronic camera
5 20090213255 Solid-state imaging device and electronic camera
6 20090167927 Image sensor, focus detection device, focus adjustment device and image-capturing apparatus
7 20090140122 Solid-state imaging device, electronic camera
9 20090135289 Image sensor and imaging apparatus
10 20090135273 Image sensor and image-capturing device
11 20090128671 Imaging apparatus
12 20090122171 Solid-state image sensor and image-capturing device
13 20090096886 Image-capturing device, camera, method for constructing image-capturing device and image-capturing method
16 20080258039 Focus detection device, focus detection method and imaging apparatus
17 20080240701 Focus Detection Device, Focusing State Detection Method And Imaging Apparatus
18 20080143858 Image sensor, focus detection device and imaging device
19 20080112643 Correlation operation method, correlation operation device, focus detection device and imaging device
20 20080084483 Image-capturing device
22 20080074534 Image sensor and image-capturing device
23 20070269127 Correlation operation method, correlation operation device, focus detection device and imaging device
24 20070154200 Image sensor and image capturing device

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