This Canon patent application delves into the operation of a motorized tilt-shift lens for what appears like the Canon RF mount.
Tilt-shift lenses have complicated and fragile mechanics, and removing some of the fiddly nature from these lenses would help in the field if the ergonomics of controlling the lens were fair.
From the patent application, Canon feels it would then be possible to remember positions and reset and go to remembered positions (perhaps saved as well on EXIF data I would imagine), so it's possible to look at a saved photo, and then decide you want to retake it with the same tilt shift settings, it's just a matter of clicking a button. Or if you have a favorite setting (for example atypically shifting 4.5mm to take photos of buildings), having a saved setting feature can completely optimize your time in using a tilt-shift. This seems to be the intent of the patent application which is to streamline the amount of time it takes to effectively use a tilt-shift lens.
Canon places the control of the tilt-shift either on the lens itself or in the camera. To be honest to me, it seems to be better suited to be in camera than on the lens. Bluetooth control would be swell too.
This patent could be expanded on and include some form of automation on shift that would look at your perspective distortion and shift until it's gone automatically. It could also lead to Canon doing an “auto-stitch” which is to shift the lens or instance all the way to the right, take a picture, center, take another picture, and shift all the way to the left and take the final image and combine them together.
Now that could all be me because I've used shift lenses through the years far more than tilt-shift, so I immediately thought about the practicality of the shift mechanism on what a full camera-controlled shift lens could do if Canon put their minds to it.
Outside of removing the manual nature of tilt, I could see it having a finer control and possibly some interesting video usages as you move from 0-degree tilt to miniaturization in a smooth movement as another potential benefit. Tilt I think is the hardest aspect to grasp, so to be able to watch the back LCD, control the tilt, and watch the effect could be a bonus. Also if you are using tilt to take photos with a much deeper plane of focus, the camera could automatically adjust the tilt until foreground and background elements are in the plane of focus.
Craig was personally excited to have something that didn't break as often in the field. Apparently, that was a big problem when he was renting out lenses.
This was a patent application where at first, I was “meh, I guess it's cool.” and then got more excited as I wrote this up. That happens sometimes. Oh and if someone from Canon reads this and it gives them ideas for a future patent application … I do accept cheques and paypal ;)
As with all patent applications, this may never lead to an actual patent or a product. However, it does certainly give us ideas about what Canon is researching.