Skip to main content

Ahoy Captain! New periscope lens design for Canon compact cameras

Ahoy Captain! New periscope lens design for Canon compact cameras
(Image credit: Simpsons / Canon)

Canon has recently filed a patent application for a periscope styled lens to upgrade Canon compact cameras with a fresh new design. While unusual, a periscope lens isn't a totally new concept, as camera phones have been using them to provide a telephoto lens without increasing the thickness of the phone body. 

However, as far as we know, this is the first time we've seen them being used in dedicated camera bodies, which makes this patent particularly interesting. 

• Read more: Best compact cameras

Rumor website Canon News notes, "It's kind of an odd patent application, because the lenses described in the patent are telephoto primes, and not zooms. However, to be fair to the patent author, the focal length equivalents are quite large. I could see, as this patent mentions, the value of making a small compact surveillance camera using these lenses as well." 

The lens designs are for a 57.20mm focal length (effective focal length of 412mm), 72mm (519mm) and 85mm (612mm). 

Canon have applied for a patent for periscope lenses for compact cameras

Canon have applied for a patent for periscope lenses for compact cameras (Image credit: Canon)

So which of the Canon compact cameras could be receiving a periscope upgrade? The designs are for a 1/3" sensor, which is actually a little strange. A 1/3" sensor is what camera phones tend to use, and there doesn't seem to be any compact cameras that use a sensor this size. 

This likely means that Canon are experimenting with a 1/3" sensor to fully understand the technology before they adjust the designs for a 1/2.3" sensor (which are commonly used for compact cameras). However, there's also the possibility that Canon are creating a compact camera with a 1/3" sensor (although, we would be surprised if this was the case).

As a total curveball, it's not completely outside the realm of possibilities that Canon could even be producing its own camera phone! However, this is admittedly even less probable than a 1/3" sensor compact camera. 

No matter how these periscope lens designs manifest themselves (if they even do - Canon are notorious for filing patents and then never actually creating finished products for them), it's certainly an interesting train of thought Canon have wandered down. 

Read more

Best APS-C compact cameras
Best full-frame compact cameras
Best mirrorless camera in 2019: we pick the best compact system cameras

Louise Carey

With over a decade of photographic experience, Louise arms Digital Camera World with a wealth of knowledge on photographic technique and know-how – something she is so adept at that she's delivered workshops for the likes of ITV and Sue Ryder. Before joining the site, her formidable hands-on abilities served her well as features editor for Practical Photography. A freelance photographer in her own right, she is a proud Nikon DSLR shooter.