Let’s start with the bad news first. The same sources that told us that Olympus was working on a modular camera now told us that Olympus is keeping on hold the project. Olympus is focusing their resources on the development of new Micro Four Thirds cameras and lenses. The good news is that we can finally show you a REAL proof that our sources were telling us the truth. Olympus filled a new patent (Click here to read it at freepatentsonline) that shows 8 different modular bodies! Every single concept has three different parts (camera body, sensor unit and lens). It looks like a more advanced concept compared to the Ricoh GXR design were lens and sensor do part of a single unit.
Let’s start with the official patent description:
“There is known a camera capable of exchanging an imaging element with another imaging element of a different size according to the purpose (refer to Patent Document 1). This camera has a horizontally-long box-like camera body and a photographing lens for silver salt single-lens reflex camera. As the camera body, a camera body for silver salt single-lens reflex camera is used without modification. As a back lid, one for silver-salt camera and one for digital camera are prepared. When the back lid for digital camera is attached to the camera body, this camera can be used as a digital camera. Further, this camera has a configuration allowing exchange of a CCD substrate and thus different types of digital cameras can be realized by one camera body.”
One of the most interesting apsects of the patent is the “conversion optical system” (On picture the part number 4): “The conversion optical system is an optical system that forms an intermediate image (primary image). Thus, even when a subject image is enlarged, an aberration-free image can be obtained.”
The third modular camera variant (Figure 3) shows “the optical unit 21 includes an imaging optical system 22, the optical path division means 8, and the moving mechanism 9. The optical unit 211 through the attachment/detachment portion 2 and thereby a subject image is formed on the imaging element 3 through the imaging optical system 22 and the conversion optical system is connected to the imaging body 4“
Feel free to add your thoughts about the patent by commenting on this post. As usual keep in mind that patents are not a guarantee that there will really be a product like that.