Patent: Konica Minolta 12-42mm MFT lens.

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Egami (translation here) spotted another Konica-Minolta patent describing a normal 14-42mm or (as variation) 12-42mm lens. The interesting news here is that the lens is made to cover a Four Thirds sized sensor. And as you may recall there already is another patent for a 43mm f/1.4 MFT lens from Konica-Minolta (43rumors article here). I haven’t heard yet about a possibility that Konica-Minolta may join the MFT system. But it’s interesting to see that they are patenting MFT lens designs. Where there is smoke there is fire or not?

Reminder:
Konica and Minolta have a long history of lens design for rangefinder cameras. Konica designed the Hexanon M-mount Lens series (here on eBay). That includes the superb Hexanon 50mm f/1.2 (here on eBay). Minolta made the famous Rokkor M-mount lens series (here on eBay). That includes for example the 40mm f/2.0 pancake (here on eBay). This is just to say that Konica-Minolta would add a very high value to the whole Micro Four Thirds system! Here are the images of the 40mm lens (left) and 50mm Hexanon (right):

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  • Mister_Roboto

    I would love a µ4/3 rangfinder (well… at least the idea of it).

    Weird thing is- I thought they quit the camera business due to massive losses in their camera dept?

    • OKY, If rangfinder, the need have firm lens so not can change and not zoom like XA have.

  • kev

    I’m confused are Konica Minolta not Sony? Didn’t know they still existed

    • Only DSLR department so be sell to Sony.

      • Kjetil

        More precisely, KMPI – Konica Minolta Photo Imaging – was sold to Sony. The copier business stayed KM. This patent would have to have been submitted 6-7 years ago.

        • Twaddler Belafonte

          Supposedly they still make some lenses for Sony, like the 70-200 f/2.8 and the 300mm f/2.8. They’re definitely not out of the optics business yet.

        • Twaddler Belafonte

          Supposedly they still make some lenses for Sony, like the 70-200 f/2.8 and the 300mm f/2.8. They’re definitely not out of the optics business yet.

  • Miroslav

    It is possible that Panasonic or Olympus have had some lenses designed and made by Konica Minolta in the same way that 25mm F1.4 was designed by Sigma.

    • WSG123

      Do you mean Leica?

      • clengman

        Nope. He means Sigma.

        • Fish

          Yup, even the 70-300mm Zuiko looks to be an identical design to the Sigma.

          • Miroslav

            If I remember correctly, 18-180 mm 4/3 Zuiko was a Sigma as well. Even focal lengths are more suitable to APS-C.

        • norman

          Are you sure he meant Sigma?

          • A few days ago, here on 43 rumors, a Sigma patent for a 25mm 1.4 m43 lens was shown. Guess what. It was almost identical to panaleica 25mm 1.4. A lot of people got very suspicious that, in fact, maybe the panaleica is in fact a sigma-designed lens…who knows…

            • Fish

              Yes, that was an interesting patent and would make for quite a backstory. Designed by Sigma… approved by Leica… and sold by Panasonic :)

              • norman

                To clear this up:

                1 – Leica would not ‘approve’ a Sigma patent – a patent is granted by a countries patent office after they have been satisfied that the patent meets their patentability requirements. This includes thins like being novel, useful and original.

                2 – Patents on optics in similar FL’s are likely to bear a striking resemblance to each other. A camera lens can be only be put together using any combination of the six simple lens types, to achieve the same outcome it is likely that different design groups will end up with similar solutions to the problem.

                • yeah i was thinking that too, if you look at gauss type designs from different brands, they many times look similar, prob because you cant mess with the basic design.

                  • adaptor-or-die

                    exactly, light and physics causes lens groups to resemble one another, unless you come up with a completely new groups design? Most will rely on time tested formula … change coatings, change element content, add specifics such as AF electronics, IS, etc. but saying a element group demarks a company … ?

              • Twaddler Belafonte

                Leica wouldn’t have to approve it, they would just have to license their name to be used on the lens.

            • Rutrem

              who cares……if the Sigma lens would be as good and cheaper! welcome Sigma!
              even if would not be as good,if the quality would match the Panasonic 20mm f1.7 it would be great.
              anyway another fast prime like that is always welcome…and Sigma have donne very good work with the 19mm and 30mm, so we could expect similar image quality or better i think

        • WSG123

          Oh I see, we’re jumping to wild conclusions and asserting them as fact.

      • Garypen

        Just about the only thing actually designed by Leica on any of the Panasonic/Leica co-branded products is the word “Leica”.

      • Miroslav
  • Fish

    Heck yes, bring back some of those hexanon lenses. Make them smaller for the m4/3 sensor, update them with modern coatings, but keep the magic.

    • Rutrem

      +1!
      absolutlly! just hope that this is a new start in the photo industry for Konica-Minolta!

  • adaptor-or-die

    You’ve have to hope these old legacy optics makers would have some warehouse of stockpile elements … and get the brilliant idea they could bring out some bright primes in mFT …

  • W. C.

    Konica Minolta is a merger between Konica and Minolta. They stopped making cameras but they are still involved in making optics and medical imaging technology. KM is a significant electronics and industrial company in its own right. The camera division assets were sold off to Sony. Sony rebranded and reworked a lot of their designs.

    They are best known now for making business grade printers and MFCs. Have you not seen a Konica Minolta office printer somewhere? They are some of the best high grade business printers around. They also make colour laser printers for the consumer and small business market.

    Read more here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Konica_Minolta

    Interestingly, about half-way through the article, in Section 2.2

    “KONICA MINOLTA OPTO, INC. has been developing optical components, units, and systems for various application, and has been supplying to the many customers in the world.”

    • I think they refer to the lenses in business equipment. Not camera lenses.
      Ref “KONICA MINOLTA OPTO, INC. has been developing optical components, units, and systems for various application, and has been supplying to the many customers in the world.”

  • hlbt

    According to Konica Minolta’s financial statements, Konica Minolta retains the IP rights to Sony-sold lenses. According to Egami’s other entries, they’ve also designed lenses for some recent Nikon lenses. It’s a complex world out there!

    • W. C.

      That’s why fanboyism is stupid and laughable. Several companies could be involved in making a product. In today’s modern industrial technological age, it’s more often the norm rather than the exception. There are very few companies who completely design, engineer and manufacturer their own products. Everything is outsourced to some degree. Rebranding/rebadging is common. It has been an accepted practice in industry for years. Companies may also do one-off or planned collaborations, even though they may be direct competitors. Direct competitors buy components from each other.

      Consider a power board or power cord. One company was responsible for the cord, another for the wiring, another for the plastic housing, another for the metal prongs, another for the switches, another for something else. It’s a multi company effort to make almost any product.

    • lorenzino

      It is complex especially in Japan, where everyone has shares of everyone else, and nobody ever gets bankrupted because the other “competitors” come and help…

    • There would probably have been a time period. Following the sale of the camera business to Sony, during which KM was not permitted to engage in any camera or lens businesses. Sony would have been very keen on this, it is also normal business practice.
      It may well be that the time period is up and some long term KM people think it time to dip their toes into the world people pool of photographic imaging
      I certainly hope so. I loved my Rokkor lenses back in the 60s

  • ZOID

    First of all, the old 14-45 is still pretty hard to beat. After getting the 12-35, which really isn’t much bigger than the 3.5-5.6 lenses – not counting the collapsable ones- I can’t see a market for another slow kit zoom. I had Minoltas back in the late seventies and they were good, but not any better than the rest, so I guess I just don’t think this is a big deal. It sounds more like the Kodak/Poloroid tag-along and look for scraps thing.

  • Tohru

    I think this patent had been provided to Panasonic.
    So Egami mentions to PZ14-42mm, they are very similar.
    And 43mm f/1.4 may be panasonic 42.5mm f/1.2…

  • Flash

    Maybe,they are designing the new “Kodak” mft lens. I hope someone good is.

    • lorenzino

      this could be a good thing, if true. But I cannot see a Japanese lens-maker developing lenses for an American brand purchased by Chinese owners. It just doesn’t work this way…

      • W. C.

        Kawai of Japan makes pianos for Steinway of USA (and Germany) under the Boston brand. Samick of Korea has a 33% controlling share of Steinway stocks. Pearl River in China makes pianos for Steinway under the Essex brand. There are thousand of examples of this worldwide, in just the piano industry alone.

        Companies do what they can to survive in a cut-throat world. Centuries old prejudices and cultural barriers sometimes have to be overlooked. Then again, maybe people actually grow up and get along. It would be nice to think so. Or maybe that’s too naive and money is the real motivator, after all.

        • lorenzino

          I don’t know the example you are referring to. At a first glance it looks quite different. The kodak-branded m43 camera will be a Chinese product as much as Lenovo (former IBM) is Chinese. All Japanese companies are now disinvesting from China as much as possible, given the political crisis between the two countries. This means: some of them simply can’t change the current production status, as the economical crisis in Japan is striking hard, but future plans will involve much more other countries (such as Vietnam or Indonesia).
          I would add to this that photographic gear is a market of which Japanese brands, but also common people, are very proud of. The very fact that in Japan Samsung equipment is not being sold, if not in very peculiar “kind-of-alternative” stores, should be an obvious hint of this.
          A Chinese start-up having the glass produced by a veteran Japanese brand is something we will never see, at least not on these terms.
          The World is changing? Maybe, but not everywhere at the same pace. I guess it would be enough to spend a couple of weeks in Tokyo to realize how much international politics, and any kind of prejudices against the non-Japanese, influence high-level business decisions here.

  • How about the re-creation of Hexanon and M-Hexanon lenses such as the 1.2/50mm and the 4/200mm with an 0.6 focal reducer built into the lens.
    Or a Rokkor 1.4/58mm also with a 0.6 focal reducer.
    Yes, nice idea but! And, why 0.6? Because 0.71 works for metabones, but 0.6 fits M43 better (my opinion and I am writing this). But it gives odd focal lengths! So!! Who cares. Most lenses are not what they have stamped on them anyway.
    Ahh well dream on, now what was the subject? Yes KM lenses, Hexanon and Rokkor.

    • Yes, Jim this is an interesting idea for reviving oldies but goodies, which focals would be otherwise uninteresting.

      By what I read here 0.5x cannot be done within the adapter thickness, but even 0.7x would help.

      If Metabones licensed its focal reducer/speed adapter to old lens makers they would be in business again, although perhaps with MF lenses only. Or Metabones could choose to make the adapter for a whole range of mounts.

      Actually the few reviews I read are v. positive, and the execution is paramount for its success. In the APS format some already say: ‘the poor man’s Full Frame’, but m4/3 has other advantages, like sharpness across the frame.

      • I think Metabones limit of 0.71 was set by physical factors governing reducer adapter sizes. Maximising working with a range of lenses and camera mount throat diameters. Hence the maximum gain in light and such.
        If old lenses were revived with their own built in focal reducer the same limitations imposed on metabones may not apply as a lot more ‘tailoring’ could apply. Also lenses could be selected on the suitability for this purpose with ‘now’ technology. Wwhile we await the almost infinitely variable water bubble lens with 100% light transmission, and f stops controlled by variable alignment of shaped solids in suspension which also have the ability to change background blurr to the uses desires.

        • What happens if one takes apart a x 1.4 teleconverter reverses the lens block and reassembles it?
          Does one have, a working focal reducer? The need to make adjustments to the block position to make it work? A working focal reducer that produces a sensor crop factor (maybe 4/3 size with original adapter)? Or just a non working telecoverter?

        • Well, apparently you are the optical engineer, not I. My approach is more general. If a ‘cropped’ sensor can have the resolution of film, or even like old digital Full Frame, then the Metabones approach opens a whole new market, with no need of costly redesigns.

          As always it could be an intermediate step, before redesigning from scratch. What matters is that resolution is not lost, while eq. FOV is preserved.

          • I was just going from write ups of the device. It looks very interesting. It is both liberating and restrictive. Liberating, by allowing a third party lens system to be used natively on a nominated smaller format body and even improved upon. Restricting because it requires one for each type of system lens used per body.
            Fine if one has a box of xyz system lenses and a Nex, but, requires a second adapter to use a Fuji and a third to use a!!! Well you get the drift.

  • Alma

    What about the news from a few days ago about the cooperation of Olympus and Sony.

    • admin

      few days ago? it’s months ago :)

      • W. C.

        I think in reference to Olympus making FF lens for Sony FF mirrorless camera.

  • It’s funny, my current favorite lens for my M43 cameras is a Minolta–an old-school MF 50mm f1.4 that’s literally as old as I am. Takes beautiful food photos, nice and sharp at f2, and has a pleasant, dreamy look wide-open.

    It’d be really cool to be able to get a modern Minolta lens.

  • DingieM

    Faster glass please!!

  • Art

    I use a Fotodiox MFT adapter on my OM-D with my Hexanon film SLR lenses and use the key line filter for focusing. This combo takes great photos. The 50MM f/1.7 shot wide open, takes lovely portrait shots. I would welcome some Konica MFT fast high quality primes.

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