Canon Patent: Imaging Sensor Protection Mechanism

Canon Patent

Here is an interesting Canon patent: a mechanism to protect the sensor from dust and dirt while no lens is attached.

Canon patent application P2021-103248A discusses a technology able to protect the imaging sensor of a camera from dust and dirt when no lens is mounted (e.g. while changing lens). From the patent literature:

PROBLEM TO BE SOLVED: To provide an image pickup apparatus with a barrier mechanism capable of being arranged in a small space while avoiding interference with components other than the barrier mechanism.

When the interchangeable lens is removed from the interchangeable lens type image pickup device (camera), dust may enter the camera through the opening of the mount and adhere to the image pickup element. Therefore, the image pickup device may be equipped with a barrier mechanism that protects the image pickup element by closing the opening of the mount. Patent Document 1 discloses a barrier mechanism configured such that a barrier closes an opening of a mount when the lens is not attached and the barrier is opened by rotation when the lens is attached.

As rightfully notices, the patent is not for a “compact shutter unit”, as wrongfully stated by some sites:

Some overseas information sites misrepresent it as a “compact shutter unit”, but it is just a shutter mechanism for “sensor protection” and a technology to prevent dust from adhering to the sensor when changing lenses. is. The compact sensor barrier seems to be a space-saving design that suppresses interference with other parts.

More Canon patents are listed here. Some particularly interesting patent applications we think might get into production are these:

Canon develops groundbreaking image sensor, calls it eye of the future

Image Sensor Eos R

Canon published a technical article about the world’s first 1-megapixel SPAD image sensor. A groundbreaking image sensor and distance measurement sensor that will be the eyes of the future.

The advanced technology discussed in the Canon article is for applications involving augmented and virtual reality, ultra-high frames-per-second shooting speeds, robot automation, computer vision, and driverless vehicles. Here are some excerpts from the article:

Both SPAD and CMOS sensors make use of the fact that light is made up of particles. However, with CMOS sensors, each pixel measures the amount of light that reaches the pixel within a given time, whereas SPAD sensors measure each individual light particle (i.e., photon) that reaches the pixel. Each photon that enters the pixel immediately gets converted into an electric charge, and the electrons that result are eventually multiplied like an avalanche until they form a large signal charge that can be extracted.

[…] it was considered difficult to create a high-pixel-count SPAD sensor. On each pixel, the sensing site (surface area available for detecting incoming light as signals) was already small. Making the pixels smaller so that more pixels could be incorporated in the image sensor would cause the sensing sites to become even smaller, in turn resulting in very little light entering the sensor, which would also be a big problem.

[…] Canon incorporated a proprietary structural design that used technologies cultivated through production of commercial-use CMOS sensors. This design successfully kept the aperture rate at 100% regardless of the pixel size, making it possible to capture all light that entered without any leakage, even if the number of pixels was increased. The result was the achievement of an unprecedented 1,000,000-pixel SPAD sensor.

image © Canon
image © Canon

Canon sees many applications for their new and revolutionary image sensor:

In the fields of AR (augmented reality) and VR (virtual reality), which involve superimposing virtual images on top of real ones, being able to use the SPAD sensor to speedily obtain accurate three-dimensional spatial information enables more precise alignment of positions in real time. There are also high expectations for the application of SPAD sensors in solving one of the greatest challenges in designing driverless vehicles: the measurement of distances between a vehicle and the people and objects in its vicinity.

The article is very interesting and if you are into these technologies we recommend you give the article a try. The whole thing was spotted by Image Sensors World. More tech stuff is listed here.

Did Canon Make The EOS R3 Sensor, Or Did They Not?

Eos R3

Some questions arose after Canon UK made a small change to the wording for the EOS R3 sensor presentation on their homepage.

Spotted by DC Life, the small change seems to mean something. As you can see in the image on top, Canon UK stated that the EOS R3 sensor was “designed and manufactured by Canon“. Canon USA and Canon Japan just stated the sensor was “developed by Canon“. A small but indeed significant difference. The best part: Canon UK changed their wording shortly after the presentation, and now it’s on line with the other Canon sites. According to DC Life the change was made on April 24. See image below.

eos r3
Canon UK’s wording after the change

So, without starting wild conspiracies: what’s the reason for the change in wording? What immediately comes to mind is that it might be a sensor developed by Canon and manufactures by Sony, as for instance Nikon does. Or it means Canon makes just a part of the sensor which is then assembled with parts manufactured by others. Or it might just mean nothing, a glitch in the text that has been corrected to align it with other Canon sites.

I am pretty skeptical that Canon did not made the EOS R3 sensor in house, i.e. on their own. They have the skills and capabilities. As far as I know, only certain PowerShot cameras have imaging sensors not made by Canon.

What are your ideas on this? Just a glitch, or did Canon not make the EOS R3 sensor and doesn’t want to make too much noise around it? Let us know.

P.S.: you can get notified when the Canon EOS R3 will be available for preorder.

canon eos r3 specifications
The upcoming Canon EOS R3

Industry News: Sony Set To Release a 128MP Imaging Sensor With Global Shutter

Global Shutter

Sony is set to release another innovative imaging sensor, with 128MP resolution and global shutter.

Canon is also rumored to work on an entirely new sensor. Sony, so it seems, will release its imaging sensor before Canon..

Sony press release:

Sony to Release Large Format CMOS Image Sensor with Global Shutter Function and Industry’s Highest Effective Pixel Count of 127.68 Megapixels

Delivering Increased Pixel Count, High-Speed Imaging Performance, and Contributing to Solutions in the Field of Advanced, Diversified Industrial Equipment

Tokyo, Japan — Sony Corporation announced today the upcoming release of a large format 56.73mm diagonal CMOS image sensor “IMX661” for industrial equipment with a global shutter function and the industry’s highest*1 effective pixel count of 127.68 megapixels.*2

This product features an increased pixel count that yields an optical size nearly 10 times larger than the common 1.1-type image sensor corresponded to the C mount*3 for industrial equipment. It also features Sony’s original global shutter pixel technology “Pregius™”, which enables capture of motion distortion-free images. Furthermore, the Sony’s original device configuration and interface technology employed enable high-speed image readout at a data rate nearly four times faster*4 than conventional products.

Sony expects that the new sensor, when used in industrial equipment cameras for a wide variety of applications, will help to solve a variety of complex challenges, thereby contributing to the development of industry.

  • *1Among CMOS image sensors equipped with a global shutter. According to Sony research (as of announcement on March 9, 2021).
  • *2Based on image sensor effective pixel specification method.
  • *3The joining mechanism between lens and the camera body.
  • *4Compared to Sony’s “IMX253” 1.1 type, 12.37 effective megapixels CMOS image sensor equipped with a global shutter function.

Model name Sample: IMX661 3.6 type (56.73 mm diagonal) 127.68-effective-megapixel CMOS image sensor
Shipment date (planned)*5: April 2021(*5 The dates given for sample shipment date (planned) are for the color model. Black and white model samples will be available for shipment approximately one month later.

Needs for automation, labor-saving and other benefits of digital transformation continue to grow in recent years in various fields of industrial equipment. This has accelerated the adoption of cameras for a wide variety of applications, driving demand for CMOS image sensors with higher imaging performance.

The new product couples Sony’s Pregius technology with the 3.6-type (56.73mm diagonal) large optical size, delivering an increased pixel count and motion distortion-free imaging. The original device configuration, which employs a chip-on-wafer process, together with Sony’s original interface technology, enables high-speed readout nearly four times faster than conventional products*4 in full-pixel readout mode. This design delivers highly efficient imaging that captures a wide viewing angle with no motion distortion in a single imaging operation. It also improves recognition precision thanks to the high-resolution imaging and delivers a high level of processing performance. It can contribute to solutions for a variety of industrial equipment applications, for example, inspection processes for production of displays and electronic substrates, wide-area monitoring, and aerial photography, where its improved precision and quicker readout will help meet the need for a high level of productivity.

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Canon Patent: Quad Pixel Autofocus Imaging Sensor

Quad Pixel

Dual Pixel AF was true innovation when first launched by Canon on the EOS 70D. It’s just common sense to assume Canon will develop it further. Welcome Quad Pixel AF.

Here is a Canon patent for a Quad Pixel AF imaging sensor, and it is not the first we spotted. Canon patent application 2020-171060 (Japan) discusses the technology. It’s hard to say when we will see the first commercial Quad Pixel AF sensor. But we know it is coming.

More Canon patent applications are listed here. Some particularly interesting patent applications we think might get into production are these:

Canon Announces The Release Of A New 250MP APS-H Sensor

250mp Aps-h Imaging Sensors

A new super-specialised 250MP APS-H sensor from Canon is coming soon. Canon itself announced the release.

Canon Japan confirmed the market launch of this new sensor in late October 2020. The 250MP APS-H sensor will be available in both color and monochrome versions. The new sensors are named LI8020SAC (color) and LI8020SAM (monochrome). Typically, this kind of sensors are employed in scientific applications.

Canon has a long history in making multi-purpose or otherwise highly specialized cameras. It seems two more are going to be added. A few days ago two Canon multi-purpose cameras showed up at a Russian certification agency: the ML-100 and the ML-105. I wonder if this sensor will be featured on the ML-100 and the ML-105. Chances are good, in our opinion.

Presentation of the new sensor:

Here is the machine translated text from Canon Japan:

Main features

The new product is an ultra-high resolution CMOS sensor with approximately 250 million pixels, which enables you to capture detailed information in an image while shooting a wide range. In addition, by setting the pitch of one pixel to 1.5 μm (micrometer), we have achieved approximately 250 million pixels in APS-H size, making it possible to use it for various purposes. It can be used for various purposes such as FPD (flat panel display) inspection, which has become higher definition due to the development of 4K / 8K video technology, industrial inspection, video production, digital archive, wide area surveillance, microscope, etc. Meet the needs of users.

Get detailed information even in a wide range of shooting with ultra-high resolution of about 250 million pixels

The new product is capable of imaging at ultra-high resolution of about 250 million pixels, which is about 125 times that of full HD (1,920 x 1,080 pixels) and about 30 times that of 4K (3,840 x 2,160 pixels), and can be taken in any shooting range. Sufficient resolution can be obtained by trimming the area and enlarging it with an electronic zoom.

Achieves ultra-high-speed signal reading of approximately 1.25 billion pixels / second

With CMOS sensors, the amount of signal increases as the number of pixels increases, causing signal delays and slight timing deviations. The new product has an ultra-multi-pixel structure of approximately 250 million pixels, but by refining the circuit and advancing signal processing technology, it has achieved an ultra-high-speed signal readout of approximately 1.25 billion pixels per second. This enables ultra-high resolution imaging at a speed of approximately 5 frames / sec even when all pixels are read out.

Supports data output according to user needs with “ROI read function” etc.

The new product is equipped with a “ROI (Region of Interest) read function” that selectively reads only an arbitrary area. If you want to read only a specific area at high speed, you can use the “ROI read function” at 24 fps for 8K (7,680 x 4,320 pixels), 30 fps for 4K (3,840 x 2,160), and 60 fps for full HD (1,920 x 1,080). Video recording is possible. It also has a “thinning out reading function * ” that thins out the entire image area in the vertical direction to read out, so you can select the data output method that suits your needs.

  • *4 patterns of thinning are possible. 1/3 is about 15fps, 1/5 is about 25fps, 1/7 is about 35fps, and 1/9 is about 45fps.