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Patent: Olympus working on “Liquid lens” technology.


The japanese blog Egami (Click here) found a new Olympus patent desciribing the new “Liquid Lens” technology. I saw similar patent from Sony and Samsung in the past that’s why I can tell you the advantages of such lenses:

-non-movement glasses for zoom or AF
-less glasses inside the lens
-faster electrical response
-non-motor on the glass
-silence AF mode

In summary you can make much smaller lenses (perfect for pancakes) with ultra fast and silent AF. I hope Olympus will release such lenses as soon as possible!

  • YES! Finally!!

    OK, that’s not as cool as using EM/whatever field to bend the light (*), still a huge step forward to smaller optics.

    (*) – seems for that we would have to wait much longer. But at least one thing is clear: as soon as we get anti-gravity cars, we can also expect lens-free lenses ;)

  • Brod1er

    I was told Fuji are patenting an ultra cool retro lens technology which promises to further simplify lens design and reduce the weight of optics. The new system is called “pin-hole” and apparently it works seamlessly with leather camera cases and pipe tobacco.

  • Alexander

    better yesterday than tomorrow ! Yeahh

  • Miroslav

    Nice, such lenses must be weather sealed ;).

    • Frederic Hew

      Yeah, otherwise it would be dripping all over the place. Nice one :)

  • Yun

    A breakthrough from Olympus finally !
    Pity it is not from Panny , surely no IS . Pana cam users suffer again .
    Olympus , please consider other MFT users , they are not your rival but partner .

  • Yeehoo! 25 mm 1,4 pancake priced € 299,00 please!

  • Bob B.

    There has to be a downside to the tech. …but if not..I will take the Saki model! :-)
    (may be for soft-focus portraits only).

  • It’s an old idea. This patent seems to focus on an algorithm which enables the use of liquid lenses on existing bodies.

  • This is actually a very interesting development. For those of you who have not heard of liquid lenses. Many years ago, maybe 8-10, NASA announced they would be licensing technology they developed for producing liquid lenses. In the newspaper article I read it mentioned that all the big camera manufacturers had signed up such as Nikon, Canon, Olympus, etc. to license this technology. One of the big advantages they mentioned in the article, that wasn’t’ mentioned above, is liquid lenses offer a huge advantage in weight and size reduction. I seem to remember 40% size reduction and 30% weight reduction. I may have those turned around but suffice it to say that from what the article discussed, NASA had created some amazing technology. Every time I haul out my Nikon 600mm F/4 I dream of liquid lenses coming true.

    Daniel J. Cox

  • observer

    I suppose it is only a matter of time, everyone else can get into the act. It is a simple technology.

    BUT the focus is all AF — lots of Luddite photographers here insist on MANUAL FOCUS or nothing — they will keep harping on their 10 thousand reasons not to change…blah blah…

    Then again Oly won’t last to be around to implement it.

    There lies the rub.

    • Bob B.

      The Luddites can buy the SLR Magic 12mm f/1.6 ..we got them covered. :-)
      ..for the rest of us….Let’s Step Into Liquid!!!!!

    • RW

      A lot of the world’s best lenses are manual focus – but of course that doesn’t mean anything to the “point and shoot” crowd. Maybe Olympus will also implement an automatic photo sensing technology that decides when it should take a picture and then just does it automatically. That will show the Luddites!!

      Don’t worry – there are hundreds of full-auto point and shoots out there to choose from, if that makes you feel more *technical*.

      • Bob B.

        What the matter with both?

        • RW

          You’re asking me? Seems to me that it was observer and you having a laugh about “Luddites” that wanted that option in their cameras…

          Reminds me of another thread where somebody said that it was “dinosaurs” that wanted an EVF rather than simply composing in the LCD – like the LCD was some sort of technological improvement on a viewfinder…

          • Bob B.

            Maybe you took it personally…we are ALL Luddites at some time on any given day.
            I agree with you there..with the VF…GOTTA have a viewfinder in my world…otherwise …you are just making monkey shines. Silliest thing I have ever heard of or seen(especially outdoors in the sun where most people take their photos)…TOTALLY rediculous…..but then…so is someone in the middle of the supermarket isle talking on their cell phone. That is called progress. LOL!

            It is a proven fact…that with a decent autofocus system and the ability to use it …you get waaaaaaay more keepers…unless you are doing architecture with a tripod…etc..etc..blah..blah..blah…but then I am going to use a DSLR anyway. For me…that is not what MFT is all about. Its about small size, quickness and allowing me to interact with my surroundings in a more spontaneous way…

  • Igor

    Well, the current liquid lenses are still to be seen even for camera-phones (1/4” and 1/3” sensors), see for example or . It would be much harder to design a larger tunable lens of adequate quality.

  • Narretz

    Guys Patents, not real products. It’s coincidential, but patents sounds a lot like patience.

  • Bu

    Liquid lenses? My first thought is that they could come in handy when out in the field and thirsty :p But how would that impact the photographs, maybe now a different aperture? :p

  • observer

    There is a million different ways to do a fully liquid lens.

    So maybe it will be implemented in stages. First step possibly a hybrid glass and liquid lens system.(Have to reduce infinity to a manageable size and that requires lots of R&D still)… then comes other competing innovations like curved sensors that do not need complicated lens designs…

    Lots of fun to come but certainly not for the Luddites.

  • gravityloss

    The biggest advantage is that you can change the focal length of a single lens element. This enables things like large apertures over a wide zoom range, very compact lenses, simple etc etc.

  • Lulu

    Don’t they already do that for reading glasses in Africa?

  • mahler

    It is one of numerous patent, of which nobody knows, when they will enter real world products, and where the downsides are. Also, it is not known, for which lens sizes this patent is applicable.

  • Josh

    Could this patent apply to liquid lenses for people to wear as glasses or contact lenses rather than liquid lenses for cameras? Olympus are into medical products as well.

  • Ben Y

    This can double as an emergency water supply if you ever get stranded. Good thinking Olympus.

  • Rob

    This is a good complement to the liquid accounting they’ve been doing.

    • photohounds

      They just the only ones CAUGHT OUT – by a Pommy boss ..
      The others have Old boy local bosses who know keep their traps shut and save face.
      Make of that fact what you will

  • No Name

    Would it freeze in the Arctic?

    • photohounds

      It won’t be water :)

  • SLO

    Oh yes Oly and liquidity…

    • Bob B.


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