Apple concept would improve iPhone camera quality with use of mirrors

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  • Reply 61 of 77
    wizard69 wrote: »
    That would be nice but I'd be shocked if they could produce a constant aperture zoom in such a small space. The tendency in most zooms is to increase the F ratio so I fear the loss of a couple of stops.

    My thought exactly after I hit the Submit button. Oh well, here's to wishful thinking.
  • Reply 62 of 77
    wizard69wizard69 Posts: 13,377member
    Marvin wrote: »
    The prism shown in the diagram would help with the sensor. They describe this in another patent:

    http://patents.justia.com/patent/20130063629

    Splitting the light with dichroic or trichroic prisms gets rid of the bayer filter ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bayer_filter ):

    "Three image sensors are also provided, where each sensor is positioned to receive a respective one of the color components that emerge from the respective face of the cube. The image sensors may be clear pixel array sensors that have no color filter array or color separation capabilities, making them relatively inexpensive yet more accurate (due to no color interpolation or demosaicing required). In such a color splitting architecture, the amount of light incident on each pixel is about three times greater than in a conventional Bayer-pattern color filter array (CFA) sensor. Also, the color splitting cube may essentially avoid the color-crosstalk that is typical of traditional Bayer-pattern CFA sensors."

    That is certainly one approach, I just caution that the labeling implies one image sensor.

    The photodetector sensors are monochromatic so they normally have to filter light through color filters, which absorbs a lot of the light. Splitting the light instead would let them get as much as 3x the light. Much better low light sensitivity, fewer color artifacts. They mention allowing infrared to be captured this way too so they can have night vision (other phones have this feature). This can help with depth or just edge detection for better accuracy in low light.
    It is interesting that to date the only option of note that is an alternative to Bayer filtering if the Foveon. If I got that name right. Here I'm thinking commonly available cameras.
    I'd like to see HDR video too. Other manufacturers alternate sensor gain at consecutive frames to do this. Given that the iPhone can do 240fps, maybe they can just do this too and manage at least 60fps HDR. If they switch it fast it would help minimize recombination artifacts. Another option would be that with the extra photodetectors, half can be set at a low gain, half at high gain and that way they can do HDR at 240fps and no alternating required.
    That would give the camera processor a work out. The current guesstimate is that the camera processor is still a good portion of the A8 series.
    The setup would be:
    - have the 90 degree mirror passing light down the length of the phone, this lets them get rid of the camera bulge and put optical image stabilization in the smaller iPhone 6
    Here is where I'm not convinced that the bulge will be reduced. You still hit the walls of physical reality with optics and as such folding this optical train isn't going to assure a thiner iPhone. I'm still thinking a tapered phone here, much like the MBA. Part of the problem is that the sensor chips are not that small, atleast not sensor chips with suitably large detector sites.

    In other words I'd hate to see Apple come up with a light path that delivers 3X more light, just to deliver that light to sensors no where near as effcient as today's detector.
    - have a series of movable lenses, allowing optical zoom
    - have a series of prisms that split the light colors onto at least 3 sensors allowing 3x more light than single sensor plus bayer filter
    - have the 3 sensors setup with dual gain photodetectors to allow HDR imaging in a single pass
    Man you want everything in one swoop! It is interesting that rumors indicate a camera overhaul in the 6S series. You have to wonder if it is this tech or something intermediate. Frankly I'd settle for any type of Zoom of decent quality.
    - optionally have a 4th IR sensor for added image processing

    Allowing shallow depth of field, optical zoom and HDR video would be decent improvements. I wonder if they'll leave it for the iPhone 7 or make this for the 6S. Fixing the bands and the camera bump plus improving the camera quality and having faster internals would push quite a few people to upgrade again.
    I know many see the camera bump as a negative but I see it as a feature. A feature Apple could enhance by placing some magnetic material there. It is a good way to center old fashion filters and the like. The problem with all things Apple is to get them of commit to a standard form for that ring.
    The mirror setup could also allow the front-facing camera to use the higher quality capture and zoom. It would need two mirrors for the front-facing one and it means you could only use one camera at a time but I'm not sure if any apps use both at once or would ever need to. It means high quality pictures for the selfie generation. Oooh night vision selfies. Celebs can tweet their 'makeup-free' asleep face and undercover sex tapes.

    Celebs? What about a Marvin tape!
  • Reply 63 of 77
    wizard69wizard69 Posts: 13,377member
    philboogie wrote: »
    My thought exactly after I hit the Submit button. Oh well, here's to wishful thinking.

    Seriously don't give up hope! Apple has rightfully stressed optical performance since day one so maybe they have something a little more advanced than a simple zoom. That being said there where few optical elements in that drawing.

    I'm sitting here remembering how massive my old 80-200 Nikon zoom was. This is one reason why I really hope that Apple would see reason and make the next iPhine tapered to allow for a little more packing space for that optical system. More so let's not save this for the 6 Plus, a camera this advance needs to be in an easily pocketed cell phone.
  • Reply 64 of 77

    Looks similar to HOYA's CUBE lens assemblyThis has been picked up by Asus for their coming ZenFone Zoom Android phone.

  • Reply 65 of 77
    muppetrymuppetry Posts: 3,331member
    wizard69 wrote: »
    muppetry wrote: »

    The patent certainly indicates separate sensors for each color, and so the beam splitter is not losing light - simply distributing it between the sensors.
    Look again, only one is labeled as an image sensor. That doesn't mean the other sensors aren't contributing to the image just that it isn't clear what they are all doing. I wouldn't be surprised at all to find at least one dedicated to stabilization.
    And since light intensity is not wasted on sensors that filter it out (e.g. red light falling on a blue sensor element) as happens in a conventional single-sensor system, this design is theoretically more light efficient.
    I suspect that the design is one of those win some, loose some designs. A larger optical path may lead to more light transmitted but with losses elsewhere.

    I think that you are misreading the label, or reading too much into its location. Three sensors positioned around a color splitting prism clearly implies separate color sensors. I don't know what you mean by "a larger optical path" in terms of that feature. The total amount of light in the system is determined by the numerical aperture. In a three-color sensor arrangement, an average of 2/3 of the light is lost at the sensor color filters. Splitting the light and removing the need for color filtering has to be more efficient, doesn't it?
  • Reply 66 of 77
    wizard69wizard69 Posts: 13,377member
    muppetry wrote: »
    I think that you are misreading the label, or reading too much into its location. Three sensors positioned around a color splitting prism clearly implies separate color sensors.
    You could be right there. I'm sitting here though imagining what a pain it would be to line up all three of those sensors on the prism. I susppose they could recombine the image in software. I do a lot of alignment of optical systems at work and realize just how tedious getting it right can be.
    I don't know what you mean by "a larger optical path" in terms of that feature.
    A folded lens should be able to support larger diameter elements and otherwise clear the optical path. If Apple has any sense at all they would focus on getting higher quality out of the optical system at the expense of a thinner iPhone. Even if thinner is still a goal they have far more space for the imaging hardware as opposed to an inline design.
    The total amount of light in the system is determined by the numerical aperture. In a three-color sensor arrangement, an average of 2/3 of the light is lost at the sensor color filters. Splitting the light and removing the need for color filtering has to be more efficient, doesn't it?

    This is the thing, I don't know just how effcient those splitters are. There is no free lunch in optics ordinary beam splitters loose a good portion of the light. Obviously prisms are different, I just don't know how effcient they would be.

    The interesting thing is that such a prism could combine three light sources to project an image. Imagine creating a camera that is also a projector.
  • Reply 67 of 77
    muppetrymuppetry Posts: 3,331member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by wizard69 View Post

     
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by muppetry View Post



    I think that you are misreading the label, or reading too much into its location. Three sensors positioned around a color splitting prism clearly implies separate color sensors.


    You could be right there. I'm sitting here though imagining what a pain it would be to line up all three of those sensors on the prism. I susppose they could recombine the image in software. I do a lot of alignment of optical systems at work and realize just how tedious getting it right can be.

    Quote:

    I don't know what you mean by "a larger optical path" in terms of that feature.


    A folded lens should be able to support larger diameter elements and otherwise clear the optical path. If Apple has any sense at all they would focus on getting higher quality out of the optical system at the expense of a thinner iPhone. Even if thinner is still a goal they have far more space for the imaging hardware as opposed to an inline design.

    Quote:

    The total amount of light in the system is determined by the numerical aperture. In a three-color sensor arrangement, an average of 2/3 of the light is lost at the sensor color filters. Splitting the light and removing the need for color filtering has to be more efficient, doesn't it?




    This is the thing, I don't know just how effcient those splitters are. There is no free lunch in optics ordinary beam splitters loose a good portion of the light. Obviously prisms are different, I just don't know how effcient they would be.



    The interesting thing is that such a prism could combine three light sources to project an image. Imagine creating a camera that is also a projector.



    OK - we are on the same page, to use a horrible cliché. Dichroic prisms are actually very efficient - not much light is lost.

  • Reply 68 of 77



    You are right. Years ago, 13 to be exact Minolta already employed this technology with their Dimage X line. They even call it the 'folded' lens design. This tech is not new and certainly not a concept develop by Apple. Frankly, I'm disappointed as I always have high regards for everything Apple.

  • Reply 69 of 77
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by TheWhiteFalcon View Post

     
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Ireland View Post



    Optical zoom and a better camera all while getting rid of that bump on the rear of the phone. I think they really need to get on with this ASAP.



    Is the camera lens really that big of a deal? It barely sticks out.


     

     

    It is to all those of us with good taste.

  • Reply 70 of 77
    iqatedoiqatedo Posts: 1,825member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Benjamin Frost View Post

     

     

     

    It is to all those of us with good taste.




    Please go elsewhere with this BS. What a joke.

  • Reply 71 of 77
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by melgross View Post

     
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Suddenly Newton View Post



    Apple should use TARDIS technology to make the inside of the iPhone bigger than the outside.




    I love Dr. Who, but I'm interested in more practical solutions. In my lab, we had a number of machines that used "bent" optics. It's not a new idea, but it's a good one. I've been pushing it here for years. It's good Apple now has the same idea. This would make a major improvement.

     

    "Bent" optics, huh?

     

    Guess that would fit in well with the bent iPhone 6 plus, heh.

  • Reply 72 of 77
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Fuzzypaws View Post

     
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by supersheep View Post

     

    Looks like an amazing idea. However, I don't see it built into an iPhone soon. Apple would have to either make the iPhone thicker to make room for the by 90° flipped sensor or make the sensor smaller. 

     

    By adding a zoom lens you lose light. Basic principle true for every zoom lens versus a fixed one. I see a whole chain of problems in this patent. On the other hand though, it's Apple. They have some pretty smart people working there and have a way of figuring out pretty clever solutions to problems of this kind.


     

    Let them make the phone thicker. It's not like the 5 or 5s were too thick, you could go back to that thickness and fill the extra space inside the phone with more battery. "Make the phone as thin as possible" is a weird and impractical fetish.


     

     

    Couldn't agree more.

     

    The iPhone 5 is easier to grip and plenty thin enough. Give me extra battery life over 0.00000000000000000000000001" extra thinness any day. 

  • Reply 73 of 77
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by McDark View Post

     
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Fuzzypaws View Post

     

     

    Let them make the phone thicker. It's not like the 5 or 5s were too thick, you could go back to that thickness and fill the extra space inside the phone with more battery. "Make the phone as thin as possible" is a weird and impractical fetish.




    But entirely within the Apple ethos; style over substance.


     

     

    Once, I would have disagreed with you, but after the Beats brouhaha, I'm inclined to agree. 

  • Reply 74 of 77
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by wizard69 View Post

     
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by PhilBoogie View Post



    My thought exactly after I hit the Submit button. Oh well, here's to wishful thinking.




    Seriously don't give up hope! Apple has rightfully stressed optical performance since day one so maybe they have something a little more advanced than a simple zoom. That being said there where few optical elements in that drawing.



    I'm sitting here remembering how massive my old 80-200 Nikon zoom was. This is one reason why I really hope that Apple would see reason and make the next iPhine tapered to allow for a little more packing space for that optical system. More so let's not save this for the 6 Plus, a camera this advance needs to be in an easily pocketed cell phone.

     

     

    Just bear in mind that a tapered iPhone could feel very odd to hold in landscape mode.

  • Reply 75 of 77
    wizard69wizard69 Posts: 13,377member

    Just bear in mind that a tapered iPhone could feel very odd to hold in landscape mode.

    Possibly, it really depends upon how mig the sensors are, which I would imagine are a limiting factor with respect to how far they could shrink things. I really don't know what the sensors dimensions are as far as what is used today, however on edge I would think that they would be a tight fit. As far as the optics go even a few mm could have a big impact on optical performance.

    Given all of that I wouldn't imagine the wedge would vary by more that 2-4 mm end to end, so I'm not sure many would eve notice. In the end by posting this thought I'm hoping somebody at Apple would realize that we don't want to see camera performance given up in favor of thinness.
  • Reply 76 of 77
    wizard69wizard69 Posts: 13,377member
    muppetry wrote: »

    OK - we are on the same page, to use a horrible cliché. Dichroic prisms are actually very efficient - not much light is lost.

    Horrible clichè? I always thought that was a good way to express thinking in a similar way.

    In any event these rumors are a good reason to hold off on the upgrade I was thinking about for 2015. Even a relatively simple zoom would turn this into a very nice update. Of course Apple needs to do something about photo storage, both local and cloud, that makes sense.
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