As smartphone camera sensors get better and camera apps keep adding new features to process images, expect new and unique approaches to surface to set cameras apart from the current market. One area that could definitely be improved upon is optical zoom capabilities. To understand how limited things are now, just think of the market for clip on zoom lenses that exist right now. A new patent filed with the German Patent and Trademark Office reveals a new method Zeiss is working on to get around current limitations through use of a rotating lens system.
According to the patent document, Zeiss describes a “miniaturized zoom camera” that combines an image sensor, the normal fixed lens, and a second lens carrier equipped with several lens of different focal lengths that can be rotated into place. The key to the system is that the rotating lens carrier is very small and thin and could fit within a housing in a typical smartphone. By inserting this additional lens between the main lens and the sensor, new focal lengths and zoom levels can be created without resorting to the typical method of tacking on bigger equipment.
Some have pointed out that Zeiss and partner HMD Global, the successor to Nokia, may have even hinted at this system in a recent video released to announce their renewed collaboration on Nokia smartphones. The video appears to show the Zeiss and Nokia logos being brought into focus using a phoropter – the tool used by optometrists to determine prescriptions for corrective lenses. However, the rotating lens system described in the patent document would work in a similar manner.
Nokia smartphones to feature ZEISS optics. Together, we look forward to an exciting journey into the future of smartphone imaging. pic.twitter.com/GNWwuMAveK
— ZEISS Camera Lenses (@ZEISSLenses) July 6, 2017
Are you interested in better zoom capabilities for smartphone cameras?