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Olympus patent discloses variable exposure time for different imaging areas.


Egami spotted a new “holy grail” alike Olympus patent :)

Olympus is working on a technology that permits to have different exposures time  for different image areas. A bright sky for example will have a shorter exposure times than a darker ground. Sounds a bit like science fiction but I am sure this kind of tech will be ready within a couple of years. And we will have no more over- or underesposure problems!

  • Mr.Chainsaw

    With a global shutter and fast processing this is totaly possible. It’s like HDR in one image.

    • In fact I was thinking more of Oly’s Auto Gradation, which is really an evening out of brightness.
      It would be different to expose each area separately, and involve some psychological decision i.e. how you must see a landscape.
      As admin says it’s the Holy Grail, but I am sure that the decision on how to expose the separate areas would be left to you.
      Mind, this you could do even a century ago when printing by using your hands to screen separate parts from the enlarger’s light.
      LightZone was attempting something similar, but all is in the pre-processing instead of the post-processing.

  • MarcoSartoriPhoto

    Aren’t we going so far that the satisfaction and pleasure of taking a good photo will be missing?

    • Mr.Chainsaw

      Why, it is just a different approach to increase DR.

    • DonTom

      Composition and an eye for an image will always be needed Marco…

      • MarcoSartoriPhoto

        That’s true, but sometimes I think there will be a time when people, looking at Moonrise photo by Ansel Adams won’t see anything special in it. Or better, they won’t understand how he did it.
        I know it’s a plus to have, and if it’s “just” a way to increase DR, then to me it’s ok. Though sensors are getting better and better at it.

        • Bob B.

          People “may” look at Moonrise Over New Mexico…but they won’t think any thing because they will be busy texting on their phone and think they are multi-tasking…but really they are doing a whole lot of nothing except just being an addict… :-)

  • Mercurio

    Even though is not the same, a feature that existed with the OM4 was the average multiple spot metering, something that the new systems don’t offer anymore.

    • DonTom

      Surely this is similar to today’s averaged metering?

      • Jouko

        No and yes… With OM4 (and OM3) the photographer could measure multiple (9?) spots from the area and the exposure was calculated from them. There was (and is, my Om4 works fine) even settings for highlight and deep shadow corrections with just one button. Nowadays cameras measure multiple areas automatically and do a very good job, but they don’t know where the photogrpher want’s the main exposure to be. Altough the photographer should think that by him/herslef anyway… An make some adjustments if needed.

        Main poin is, that the multi spot metering in OM4-cameras was very well thought and made, and it’s a pity there is not anything like it in these modern cameras.

        Also the flash TTL-measurement from the filmplane without any preflash was something they should have kept.

        But back to the topics… This seems to be a very interesting patent, especially for landscape photographers. Maybe also area-depending iso value could be aplied to fullfill the control?

  • Metalaryeh

    This looks awesome. Might take a lot of processing power…
    It would be nice to get rid the ND grads…

  • DonTom

    It’s worth reading the link, as the system is about zone exposure in bulb mode, rather than an automated variable exposure for general photography. Areas would be selected via the touch screen.

  • zensuni

    I think could be more easy different ISO’s for different image areas.

    • libertarian

      That would be very interesting if you’re trying to minimize shutter time.

  • Uberprutser

    With 2 shutter curtains where the one overtakes the other you could realize different exposures for the sky and landscape. No more ND graduated filter needed. But it would not be of much use in portrait mode. It will also be to expensive and obsolete when global shutter become the standard. But i do like the idea :)

  • Bob B.

    Now you are talking….finally using technology to fine-tune the dynamic range that you need for a given situation and creating great images with just one click.
    This is exciting!!!!!!

  • LovinTheEP2

    I don’t get why this is such an issue that needs to be addressed! Even the human eye can’t expose every part of an image. What’s wrong with some dark areas or blown out parts! Pretty soon we’ll just do away with shadows completely.

    Talk about unnatural looking images. For me, major thumbs down. How about olympus improve their iso 800-3200 significantly and address video specs or even work out better ways of getting rid of CA at capture vs. Software removal..

    • deadlock

      Human eye is actually very flexible and adjusts “exposure” in real time. This is apparent e.g. during sunset. A camera would capture linear decline in light intensity but our eyes are able to see “light” much longer – we then experience a sudden drop in intensity. HDR + tonemapping is a technique that mimics this behavior in much more limited dynamic range. I agree with you though that as soon as you are able to consciously register it, it means it’s overdone.

  • Wing

    Pretty cool. Smart exposure for perfect exposure. Another useful photographic tool. Don’t they already have something like this in the new e-m10? Live composite? It’s supposedly for long exposures so the camera will automatically stop exposure in one area to not overexposed and continue exposure in other areas and combine all to make 1 perfectly exposed image. I’d love to see a firmware update to add this feature to my e-m1.

  • deadlock

    This is great news. I think conceptually it’s something like a monochrome LCD screen in front of the sensor. This way they can selectively dim various parts of the image – like a dynamic ND filter. The holy grail is a sensor with unlimited dynamic range but until then, this will rock.

  • This could be HUGE for changing photography for both professionals and hobbyists alike – I wonder how it could work in commercial photography applications (i.e. whether there’d be tradeoffs with other aspects of the file quality).

  • guest

    no one here include admin ever bother to read the patent?
    It is not different exposures time for different image areas.

    It is patent for implement of digitally adjust brightness by zones in camera instead of in your photoshop software.

    • balthier bunansa

      thanks to Google translate, you are not reading the patent correctly . it says “adjusting brightness” but it’s done by adjusting exposure on parts of the image

  • Sumchot

    This might give about 15-16 stops of dynamic range in one single exposure. WoW!

  • Well, Olympus, please an electronic shutter first. :D

  • alouette

    Sounds nice.
    However I’m wondering, why nobody already offers a technology that permits to have different ISO sensivities for different image Areas?
    With live view I can already see if areas are under or overexposed.
    If the implementation works, a bright sky would offer a lower sensivity than a darker ground.
    And the good Thing: I still can chose the aperture and the exposure time, with my preferred settings.

  • as long as the exposure looks still pleasant to the eyes. not hdr style i mean which i dont like at all when looking to long at it.

  • Mundstrom

    I’m not an HDR-hater – I use it a lot, but I would agree that it is waaay overused by tasteless people. Also I think it’s time for many of you to go out and learn the difference between “exposure fusion” and “tone-mapping” which are both part of HDR processing, because most HDR haters have looked at, and liked, many HDR images without even knowing it. Exposure Fusion is the first stage of HDR and tone-mapping is optional. It’s the lack of self-control in the tone-mapping stage that often makes HDR look like… painted shit. I was certainly guilty of it when I first learned how to do it.

    The problem with exposure-fusion happening in-camera as the image is taken, is that you’re taking the human element out of the equation. At least when I’m working with multiple exposures, I can judge if the lighting looks too unrealistic for what I intended. However – maybe the resulting image will be some special kind of 32-bit RAW file that allows you to back off the variable exposure? If that is the case… then I approve.

    • James70094

      This isn’t about HDR. I sometimes run ihnto situations where exposure can not be correct. I had a situation where the background was white and is was very bright sunlight. If I had exposed for the background, my subject in the foreground was severly underexposed and if I exposed for the foreground, the background was blown out. I used two images. Took the background from one and the foreground from one. It wasn’t HDR, I had to use two images with different exposure to make the one image. This would change that, it would allow me, in similar circumstances, to take one image and get the shot, perfectly exposed.

      • Mundstrom

        So you basically did an exposure fusion the old-fashioned manual way. You combined (fused) two separate exposures. Don’t get fooled by “High Dynamic” because the end image does not have a higher dynamic range, it’s the same bit-depth as a normal photo. High Dynamic Range applies to what you have to work with, not what you output.

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