Apple patent application reveals new dual camera zoom lens system

“Apple has been working on a new zoom lens system for iDevices for some time now. In February we posted a report titled ‘Apple Reveals a Zoom Lens Breakthrough for Future iDevices,’ and in March we posted a granted patent report titled ‘Apple Granted a Major Camera Patent that could lead to a True Zoom Lens for future iDevices, Macs and TVs,'” Jack Purcher reports for Patently Apple. “Today, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office published a patent application from Apple that reveals their work on a new dual camera zoom lens system for future iDevices and beyond.”

“Apple’s latest zoom camera invention covers methods and/or systems for using multiple cameras to provide optical zoom to a user. Some embodiments include a first camera unit of a multifunctional device capturing a first image of a first visual field,” Purcher reports. “A second camera unit of the multifunctional device simultaneously captures a second image of a second visual field. In some embodiments, the first camera unit includes a first optical package with a first focal length. In some embodiments, the second camera unit includes a second optical package with a second focal length.”

“Under ‘multifunctional devices’ segment of the patent filing Apple notes that “In some embodiments, the device is a portable communications device, such as a mobile telephone, that also contains other functions, such as PDA and/or music player functions. Other portable electronic devices, such as laptops, cameras, cell phones, or tablet computers, may also be used,” Purcher reports. “It should also be understood that, in some embodiments, the device is not a portable communications device, but is a desktop computer with a camera. In some embodiments, the device is a gaming computer with orientation sensors (e.g., orientation sensors in a gaming controller). In other embodiments, the device is not a portable communications device, but is a camera.”

Read more, and see Apple patent application illustrations, in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Shoot video and photos simultaneously – both at high resolution. Automatic “two-camera” shoots. And many other possibilities. Looks like the fruits of Apple’s LinX acquisition are ripening nicely!

Apple’s LinX acquisition: The Israeli startup that will give iPhones SLR-quality photos – April 15, 2015
Apple buys Israeli 3D/multi-image camera company LinX Computational Imaging – April 14, 2015


    1. No, you wouldn’t be able to do this. The article makes a minor technical error in describing it as “zoom”. It’s actually adding a second lens that’s telephoto. Both lenses are fixed focal length (prime lenses), which means there would be no overlap.

      In layman’s terms, the patent describes a camera system using two different lenses, one that shoots an image that “looks close-up” and the other that “looks far away”.

      If you tried to combine them to make a 3D image, your left and right eyes would see very different things.

      “Zoom” means the lens doesn’t have a fixed focal length, and if at least one of the lenses could zoom and match the focal length of the other lens, you could have 3D photos, but that’s not what this patent describes.

      1. My thoughts exactly. A dual prime-lens system (optically much better than a miniature zoom). It could work brilliantly and certainly big step up in versatility from the single prime system. There are intriguing possibilities for combining the images digitally on the fly using the uniquely powerful iPhone processor.

        Could well the final nail in the coffin for compact cameras. (I often carry a Lumix-Leica 12 x zoom in my top pocket but only for the high-res telephoto-ing it affords).

  1. Yes! A telephoto prime option would be simply wonderful for nice depth of field control. My biggest gripe about the camera currently is the fixed wide lens as the only real choice (aside from cumbersome adapters).

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