Canon planning to replace focus rings with touch panels on the lens?

Tips & Techniques

Canon has filed a pretty interesting looking patent at the Japan Patent Office. I’m not entirely sure how I feel about it yet, but it replaces the focus ring on the lens with a touch panel which would let you control the lens with your thumb as you handhold it.

On the plus side, it’d make people start to hold their cameras properly, but it does seem like it’d be a bit of a pain for a lot of photographers, particularly those shooting on tripods – like landscape or product photographers. It does offer a lot of potential for cool features, though.

I have to admit, I’ve got a couple of Micro Four Thirds lenses that don’t have focus rings and they really annoy me. To the point where neither of them has been used in at least the last three years. I would get rid of them, but they’re not worth much and in an emergency, they’d be able to do the job (while I moaned and complained). But given the choice, I wouldn’t get them again.

Can a little touch panel replace a focus ring, though? Issues of tripod users notwithstanding (and I’m sure Canon would figure out a way to solve their issues), it does offer some interesting possibilities. Like, as Canon News mentions, the ability to choose your AF location.

It may potentially also allow you to control the zoom function as well as focus. After all, a number of zoom lenses out there already can have their focal length adjusted by the camera body rather than by rotating a ring, so using a touch panel on the lens itself to change the focal length isn’t much of a stretch.

It may also potentially act as an alternative to back button focus, too, when autofocusing. Instead of tapping the back button, you tap the touch panel on the lens with your thumb. Or the opposite, as an AF lock button for when you’re shooting in auto full time but occasionally want to lock the focus temporarily.

As always, it’s a patent and there’s no guarantee that Canon will ever pursue it, but the general idea of it does sound quite intriguing. What features would you want quick access to on a lens touch panel?

[via Canon News]

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