Olympus awarded patent for f/1.0 compact-cam lens

by Liam McCabe

posted Thursday, April 10, 2014 at 11:06 AM EDT


How bright is the future for Olympus compacts? It could be f/1.0 bright, if we’re talking about lens specs.

Olympus was given a patent last month for a 50mm-equivalent, f/1.0 lens, designed to be used with a 1/1.7-inch sensor—the same size used in the Stylus enthusiast-compact line. It’s built from 9 elements in 7 groups, including a number of aspherical elements. According to the blog that found the patent, the lens is a bit thicker than 3.2 centimeters, which is somewhat larger than the glass on most compacts, though not significantly. It could easily fit into a pocketable camera.

If this ultra-fast lens does end up in a real-life camera—and there’s no guarantee that it will—it’d be the brightest lens on a compact camera. It’d improve low-light performance, and make it easier to get a bit of background blurring, especially with a longer focal length than most enthusiast compacts at their widest apertures. It's still tough to pull off nice bokeh with a small sensor, though. The Panasonic Lumix LX7 is the brightest compact right now (f/1.4 max aperture) and can pull off a bit of subject separation in the right circumstances. But it's an incidental upside, not a prevailing reason to buy the camera.

Bokeh example with Panasonic LX7, shot at 90mm, f/2.3.

Bokeh or not, this Olympus lens design is impressive on paper. We'll see if it ever becomes real glass.

(Via 43 Rumors)