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Sony patents lock-up mechanism for translucent mirrors

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Sony patents lock-up mechanism for translucent mirrors

Sony has patented a new semi-translucent mirror sensor that features a lock-up mechanism, allowing more light to reach the sensor during exposure.

In recent times it has been rumored that the Sony RX2 camera will feature a curved image sensor that almost doubles light sensitivity. This would become world’s first consumer camera with a curved sensor and proves that the company has not stopped innovating.

Although in terms of camera sales it does not rank first, Sony is currently one of the largest image sensor suppliers in the world. When it comes to sensors, the PlayStation maker knows what it is doing and it has just patented a new system that is directly linked to its proprietary image sensor.

The latest Sony image sensor design is based on the same technology found in the company’s A-mount cameras. A semi-translucent mirror sits in front of the sensor, allowing some light to pass through to the sensor, while some light is rerouted to the autofocus sensor.

Sony’s translucent mirror is currently fixed. However, the newest patent reveals that it could become movable as the design sports a lock-up mechanism for the mirror.

Sony lock-up mechanism
Sony lock-up mechanism for semi-translucent mirrors. It is now patented and in the future it would allow the mirror to flip-up and permit all light to pass through to the image sensor.

New Sony patent for a lock-up mechanism aimed at semi-translucent mirrors discovered in Japan

The new Sony sensor patent describes a semi-translucent mirror that is capable of flipping up and remaining in such fixed position while exposing.

This is big news because the translucent mirror blocks some light from reaching the sensor. If the mirror goes up during exposure, then it will allow more light to reach the image sensor.

Sony’s A-mount cameras come packed with electronic viewfinders, providing Live View support and Phase Detection AF simultaneously. However, some light gets lost on the way.

As stated above, the most important feature provided by the locking mechanism consists of the fact that it will offer Live View and Phase Detection AF concomitantly without any light loss.

The technology looks perfect on paper, but it may never be implemented

The new system is enough to get photography fans all excited, but it may never be implemented. It would be far too early for it to make it into the Sony A77II or Sony A99 replacement, while the company’s future DSLR-like cameras may switch to mirrorless technology.

The rumor mill has said in the past that the next-generation Sony A-mount cameras will become mirrorless.  Now, this thing is also possible because the image sensors found in the Sony A7, for example, which sports Phase Detection AF pixels, eliminating the need of semi-translucent mirrors.

As usual, patenting a technology is one thing, while implementing it is totally another story. The idea of semi-translucent mirrors is quite new on the market, so it remains to be seen whether Sony will kill it so soon or not.

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Sony patents lock-up mechanism for translucent mirrors