New Sony patent shows a lens that lets you focus after you take the shot

Apr 22, 2020

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

New Sony patent shows a lens that lets you focus after you take the shot

Apr 22, 2020

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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Sony Alpha Rumours just spotted a patent (although they didn’t link to it so we can all have a read) showing a new “light field” lens for the Sony E Mount. Sony teamed up with the folks at Light (of Light L16 fame) just over a year ago with a deal that, at the time, appeared to primarily focus on Light’s multi-camera technology in smartphones.

It seems that this technology might be also coming to Sony mirrorless bodies, though, thanks to a new lens design.

The patent images that SAR posted show a potential E mount light field lens design mounted to what appears to be an A7 series body. The lens projects several views of the scene onto the sensor which would then allow you to adjust the focus distance in post using probably some proprietary Sony software, after you’ve taken the shot.

Light field photography has a couple of major drawbacks, though.

For a start, you’re not using the entire resolution of the sensor. As the sensor has to “see” multiple views of the scene, no single view fills the entire sensor. Each view is limited to a small section, so you lose a lot of resolution. Such technology could be why we’re seeing the megapixel race back on after a relatively stagnant 24-megapixel break.

It also requires a lot of computational power in order to do its digital magic and let you focus your shot in post. At least, it does if you want it to be more realistic than the fake bokeh photos we’re able to shoot with our smartphones. So, as the sensor resolutions increase to let you capture higher resolution final images, so will the demands on our computers to process them.

As with all patents, though, there’s no guarantee we’ll ever actually see a real product – as is often the case with camera-related patents. At least, not any time soon, anyway. But the fact that this technology is even being explored is quite exciting.

[via Sony Alpha Rumours]

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John Aldred

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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11 responses to “New Sony patent shows a lens that lets you focus after you take the shot”

  1. Paul Pelletier Avatar
    Paul Pelletier

    This will eventually work on sensors like the 600Mp Samsung sensor where each section would still get a decent resolution.

    1. Jolyon Ralph Avatar
      Jolyon Ralph

      Not likely – diffraction is gonna kill you there and sensor throughput will make you suffer slowly while that happens!

      The only sensible way to do this is with the way that Light are already handling it – with a dedicated smaller sensor for each lens.

      This is an interesting patent, but the chances of this making it into a real product are very slim.

  2. Mike Wilson Avatar
    Mike Wilson

    I wonder how it differs from the lytro illum

    1. Jolyon Ralph Avatar
      Jolyon Ralph

      Maybe it will have better than the 0.4 megapixel resolution the Illum had.

    2. John Aldred Avatar
      John Aldred

      Well, if they end up making it, the biggest difference is that you’ll actually be able to buy one. ;)

  3. Tudor Pantelimonescu Avatar
    Tudor Pantelimonescu

    Why bother going for a photoshoot when in 10 years camera will go alone and do the work insted :))

    1. John Aldred Avatar
      John Aldred

      They’re no longer selling cameras… so?

  4. Richard Doktor Avatar
    Richard Doktor

    How to do it easy:
    Shoot always at f16 or f18 and with an ultrasonic scan for every image. Using the scan for setting the focus at will.

    Problem to solve:
    Create a sensor that can handle f16/f18 in low light …

  5. Bob Belcher Avatar
    Bob Belcher

    Um. My phone does that. Take a photo then adjust aperture and focus point in post. Would have thought dedicated cameras would have had this years ago.

    1. pincherio Avatar
      pincherio

      If you bothered to read the article, you would have seen it mentioned that there are dedicated cameras that do it and Sony is working with one of them, and that this has been around way before your phone had it.