Patent Madness
This is why patents drive me crazy, I need to hire a technical interpreter.

The main point in the patent is the hybrid viewfinder (108,132,154 and 179). Neither the beamsplitter/pellice (182) display (185), nor IS, GPS, Wireless, RGB Flash, are important in this patent.

A simple version of this hybrid viewfinder can be included in a consumer camera. And this is already coverd by claim 1 of the patent. Everything else is a goodie or, more likely, a red herring.

Fig. 17 does show a hybrid viewfinder without the pellicle. But the same brightness adjustment as the Fig.3 viewfinder.

All claims of the patent reference the hybrid viewfinder of claim 1.

So a camera with a pellicle, GPS, built-in printer, Wireless, a LED RGB flash-unit, remote-controll of cameras, Sensor IS WITHOUT the hybrid viewfinder is not covered by this patent.

Seeing that there are several implementations of the hybrid viewfinder shown in the patent, it is clear that they already experimented a lot with its implementation. Also the shown automatic brightness adjustment (156 in Fig.3) shows that this is already somewhat matured. I suspect that this is to be built in one of the next models.

They also have a means of showing live view through the finder while still using the phase detect AF sensor.

This is not at all covered by the patent and actually this would require a beamsplitter between the lens and the sensor. This is not even mentioned in the patent maybe I should patent this myself :-)

thanks HRB


  1. If your application was published in Europe before the US patent was submitted, your submission invalidates their patent, because you disclosed the invention first. So their patent would be worthless.

    If your application wasn’t public before they submitted, then they have scuppered you.

  2. “Seeing that there are several implementations of the hybrid viewfinder shown in the patent, it is clear that they already experimented a lot with its implementation”

    Not necessarily – they are just making sure the patent covers all possible implementations. Doesn’t mean they have experimented with them, just that they don’t want someone to be able to avoid the patent with a particular implementation that wasn’t mentioned.

  3. If that’s true about the patent.. doesn’t really sound that amazing.. it’s nice but that’s all.
    I really thought the feature of the 60D could be GPS. That would have really been great. But with this patent, chances are slim..


  4. Grummbeerbauer on

    While I have some knowledge about the DSLR segment of the photography market, my knowledge about what is available at the higher-end segments of e.g., the video camera market is next to nil. So please tell me where hybrid viewfinders are actually used today.
    With hybrid I mean a viewfinder that gives me the choice of either getting the direct view through the lens using the usual pentamirror/prism design, and optionally to switch to a fully electronic viewfinder, similar to that found in µ4/3s cameras.
    That would a very cool feature indeed, giving the benefits of an optical viewfinder where they are needed, like no lag, not being limited by an EVF’s resolution, and including the ability to use phase-detect AF, and at the same time giving the benefits of an EVF, like the ability to get an electronically amplified viewfinder image, the ability to do an image review without taking the camera of the eye, all kinds of superimposed information etc.
    And if all this came without sacrificing the quality of the OVF and the EVF (and was affordable for mere mortals), that would be really cool. I would like to buy a camera like that.

  5. Grummbeerbauer on

    Well, the information in today’s viewfinder is only in addition to the optical image, it never replaces the optical image entirely. That’s a big difference. You can do a lot of nice gimmicks, many of which are actually beneficial with a good EVF implementation, just read one of the many Panasonic G1 or G2 reviews (e.g. at to get an idea what you can do with a good implementation of an EVF.
    What I like most about the EVF of the Panys (and I think of some Oly µ4/3s as well) is the automatic magnification of the image (IIRC the area under the current focus point) when turning the lens’s manual focus ring. This is a really great feature, in particular when considering how hard it is to precisely manually focus ultra-large aperture lenses with an optical viewfinder without a split prism. Just imagine that you could have the lag-free, high-res, bright normal viewfinder image, and once you turn the focus ring the EVF would take over and superimpose the enlarged image. Or configure the camera that once light levels drop below a (configurable) threshold, the EVF would take over and show an amplified image. Way cool!

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