Associates awarded patent for optical design of native Smartphone zoom
allow Smartphones to have at least
3x native optical zoom capability, yielding stunning improvements in
long range and portrait photography.
CINCINNATI, OH --
Melvyn H Kreitzer and Jacob Moskovich, principals
of Opcon Design Associates, LLC (
http://opconassociates.com ), and holders or co-holders of
US and international patents
in optics, received a patent for the optical design of a
constant f-number zoom lens
suitable for incorporation into a Smartphone. The company believes that
this is the first such optical design that satisfies all aspects of
delivering high quality zoom lens picture taking with a Smartphone,
without compromising any aspects of Smartphone function, appearance and
Modern Smartphones are capable of astounding picture
quality but are invariably limited to fixed focal length cameras lenses.
This not only limits the ability to take high quality images of more
distant subject matter (sports and wildlife photography, for example),
but also makes for unsatisfactory portrait photography, as it requires
the camera to be too close to the subject, yielding unpleasant
The digital zooming capabilities that are currently
available on Smartphone cameras result in the employment of fewer and
fewer image pixels as the zoom increases.
A 2x digital zoom, for example, employs only 25% of the original
pixels and consequently delivers an image that is 25% of the original
image quality. Optical
zooming, which uses all the imager pixels throughout
the zoom range, however does not preclude digital zooming.
This means that incorporating a 2x digital zoom with a 3x optical
zoom would yield a 6x zoom effect with the same quality of a 2x digital
zoom in today’s Smartphones.
One of the current Smartphone
suppliers has included a 3x optical zoom in one of its models. However,
it employs a variable f-number (f/2.7-4.8), resulting in an inherent
loss in image quality due to diffraction and to a higher noise level at
the long end of the zoom range. Others have
provided two discrete 1x and 2x lenses, each
with its own sensor, as opposed to a true optical zoom that that would
offer a continuous range of focal lengths from 1x to at least 3x.
Nevertheless they refer to an “optical zoom”, reinforcing the extent to
which a true optical zoom capability is desired amongst consumers and
Opcon set the following criteria for a suitable
Smartphone zoom lens:
The lens should be capable of remaining entirely
within the Smartphone through all aspects of operation and should not be
of a size so as to materially affect the size and appearance of a
typical modern Smartphone.
Image quality throughout
the zoom range should be comparable to that of current Smartphone
F/number throughout the
zoom range should be constant with zoom and at least f/2.8 or faster.
This requirement was the most difficult challenge because allowing the
f/number to get slower with increasing focal length, as is often the
case with modern digital camera zoom lenses, is usually the easy way to
minimize size and maintain image quality. However, Smartphones function
with tiny pixels in the 1-2 micrometer size range and operate near the
diffraction limit of image quality. This means that f/numbers slower
than about f/3 will progressively destroy image quality because of
Ideally the lens design
should result in a fixed, non-moving front optical group positioned
in a similar location as a current non-zoom Smartphone lens. The
aperture stop should be of constant diameter and within a non-moving
rear optical group. The moving zoom groups would be internal to the
As defined above, the optical
design problem is formidable and until now, although attempts have been
made, no satisfactory solution has been proposed.
Camera functionality is often a determining factor in
consumer purchasing decisions. As such, Opcon will look to partner with
a leading Smartphone manufacturer to bring its patented design to
The US Patent 9,479,686 can be viewed either on the
USPTO or the
Patents web sites.
Opcon Design Associates is a consulting and optical
design company based in Cincinnati, Ohio.
Its principals, Melvyn H Kreitzer and Jacob Moskovich are both
well known in the field of consumer optical design and are holders or
co-holders of over 100 US
and international patents. Their experience extends from the
design of interchangeable camera lenses (particularly zoom lenses) in
the 1970s, to the first widely used motion picture zoom lenses for the
Panavision Corporation in the 1980s and 1990s, and for the design of
projection lenses for the first generation of big-screen home television
sets until the advent of lensless flatscreen sets. In addition to a
number of professional conference presentations and publications,
Kreitzer and Moskovich are also two of the three co-authors of the
Camera Lens Section of the Handbook of Optics, the premier optics
publication of the Optical Society of America. Details of the company
and its principals can be found at
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