Olympus patents six seriously bright lenses, including 12mm and 14mm f/1.0 for Micro Four Thirds


posted Saturday, February 22, 2014 at 2:04 PM EST


It looks like Olympus is about to set a new benchmark in bright, wide-angle prime lenses, if a patent application uncovered by Japanese engineering blog Egami is anything to go by. And when we say bright, boy do we ever mean it! All six of the optics described in the patent filings have a maximum aperture in the neighborhood of f/1.0.

Of the six lens designs, four look to be aimed at Micro Four Thirds bodies. According to Egami, their designs are conducive to autofocus, unlike Voigtländer's similarly-bright-but-rather-less-wide Nokton 17.5mm f/0.95 optic. Two of the designs in the patent have a 12.7mm focal length with maximum apertures of f/1.05 and f/0.95 respectively; the other two are in the region of 14mm with an f/1.0 maximum aperture. (To be precise, they're listed as 14.27mm and 13.99mm.)

The 12.7mm f/1.05 and 14.27mm f/1.0 designs each feature 12 elements in 10 groups, while the 12.7mm f/0.95 and 13.99mm f/1.0 designs are slightly more complex, with 13 elements in 11 groups. According to Egami, all four will have significant distortion and chromatic aberration, requiring software correction for a good result, but that's often the case, especially for wide-angle lenses.

Following below are the optical formula diagrams for all four lenses, as shown in the patent application:

Design for a 12.7mm f/1.05 lens suitable for a Micro Four Thirds camera.

Design for a 14.27mm f/1.0 lens suitable for a Micro Four Thirds camera.

Design for a 12.7mm f/0.95 lens suitable for a Micro Four Thirds camera.

Design for a 13.99mm f/1.0 lens suitable for a Micro Four Thirds camera.

Also shown in the patent filing are two further bright prime optics that are intended for smaller sensor sizes. The first is a 9.05mm optic for a 1-inch type sensor, which is the same size used in Nikon's 1-series interchangeable-lens cameras, as well as the Sony RX10 and RX100 cameras. Given the 2.7x focal length crop of the size, that translates to around a 24.5mm-equivalent f/1.0 prime. The final lens is intended for 1/1.7-inch sensors, as used in enthusiast compact cameras like the Olympus XZ-2. With a focal length of 5.46mm, this would equate to a 25.5mm f/0.95-equivalent prime.

Diagrams for these final two lenses follow below. Note that at this time, Olympus has not indicated any intent to commercialize any of these lenses, nor has a final patent been granted. Still, the patent filing indicates that exciting things could be on the way from Olympus, both in its Micro Four Thirds format and on the fixed-lens compact front!

Design for a 9.05mm f/1.0 lens suitable for a 1-inch type sensor.

Design for a 5.46mm f/0.95 lens suitable for a 1/1.7-inch type sensor.

(via 4/3 Rumors)