Apple Patents Reveal a Camera with Folded Optics that Apple states could apply to a Telephoto Lens and more
On January 28, Patently Apple posted an IP report titled "Apple invents Future iPhone Periscope Camera for Superior Zoom Capabilities." Today the US Patent & Trademark Office published a patent application from Apple that relates to a camera with folded optics. There are several entries in the patent filing clearly stating that "the camera (#100) may be a telephoto lens camera." Plain and simple, Telephotos make subjects appear closer to the camera as illustrated in the photos below where the telephoto lens shot is seen at the bottom.
What Apple doesn't confirm in today patent revelation is a particular range of the telephoto lens, such as 70-200mm or super telephoto which is longer than 300mm. Today's iPhone 12 Pro offers a 65mm camera which is on the low end. Cameras on smartphones from Huawei and Samsung offer superior telephoto cameras due to the use of a periscope lens (folded camera) system. Applying Apple's folded camera (periscope style) to a future iPhone will likely allow Apple's telephoto capabilities to greatly increase and be closer to the 200mm range. Could this arrive on 2021 or 2022 iPhones? Only time will tell.
One of Apple's inventors is a former Optical design engineer at Konica Minolta Optics. Hideki Tanka has been with Apple as a Camera HW Engineer for close to 5 years.
Apple's patent application that is titled "Aperture Stop for Camera with Folded Optics," covers camera components and/or optical components that are shaped to enable a size reduction of an imaging system.
For example, a camera may include a folded optics arrangement and an elongated aperture stop. In some examples, the folded optics arrangement may include a lens group between prisms (one or more of which may be elongated prisms). The elongated aperture stop may allow light to pass to at least a portion of the folded optics arrangement, and the light may pass through the folded optics arrangement and to an image sensor.
Apple's patent FIGS. 1A-1B below illustrate a perspective view and a side view, respectively, of an example camera that includes a folded optics arrangement and an elongated aperture stop, e.g., to enable a height reduction of one or more components of the camera.
Apple's patent FIG. 14 below illustrates an example of a dual-fold light path through a camera that includes a folded optics arrangement and an elongated aperture stop (e.g., a rectangle-ellipse hybrid aperture stop).
Apple's patent FIG. 15 above illustrates an example of a single-fold light path through a camera that includes a folded optics arrangement and an elongated aperture stop (e.g., a rectangle-ellipse hybrid aperture stop).
If you happen to be a camera buff/hobbyist or a camera engineer, then you may enjoy the finer points of patent 20210041765. Considering that this is a patent application, the timing of such a product to market is unknown at this time.
Camera with Bumper for Cushioning Lateral Movement
In a second camera related patent published today, Apple reveals that beyond optical image stabilization (OIS) mechanisms, future cameras for the iPhone could include camera bumpers.
Apple states in their filing that some embodiments include camera equipment outfitted with one or more bumper features that may be used to cushion lateral movement of a moveable platform of the camera. In some examples, the bumper(s) may be used to cushion lateral movement of the moveable platform before the moveable platform reaches a lateral end stop defined by a stationary structure of the camera.
Additionally, or alternatively, the bumper(s) may cushion lateral movement of the moveable platform as the moveable platform approaches the stationary structure. The bumper(s) may prevent an undesirable collision between the moveable platform and the stationary structure (e.g., as a result of a drop event) that may damage the camera, negatively impact camera performance, and/or negatively impact user experience. In some instances, an undesirable "clicking" sound may be produced if the moveable platform collides with the stationary structure.
The bumper(s) may provide acoustic mitigation to prevent or lessen such unwanted acoustics. Furthermore, in some examples, the bumper(s) may be used to reduce or limit an amount of electrostatic charge accumulation on the moveable platform and/or the stationary structure.
Apple's patent FIG. 1A illustrates a view of an example camera #100 for an iPad or iPhone having an example bumper arrangement for cushioning lateral movement of a moveable platform of the camera. FIG. 1A shows a perspective view of the camera and a detail view of component(s) of the bumper arrangement.
(Click on image to Enlarge)
For finer details, review Apple's patent application 20210044727.