Déjà vu: Canon recycles camcorder tech for mirrorless cameras

Canon tilting EVF patent
(Image credit: J-PlatPat/Canon)

Canon has designed a space-saving, tilting electronic viewfinder. As far as we can tell, the patent is not to cover the whole principle of tilting EVFs (which has been done many times before) but the use of a design that reduces the extra size of these tilting displays.

Either way, could we be seeing this revisited viewfinder technology in the best Canon cameras going forward? This information comes from Canon Rumors, and references an article on the J-PlatPat website (via computerized translation), an online resource for patent information.

The fact that Canon has registered this patent does not indicate for certain that this EVF will appear in a camera but, as Canon Rumors points out, the level of detail suggests it's more than just an idea.

We're used to seeing tilting viewfinders on some of the best camcorders, but they are relatively rare on regular cameras – though the Panasonic Lumix GX9 and Fujifilm GFX100 are examples. What's significant here is that Canon's supporting diagrams clearly show its use on an EOS R-style mirrorless camera body.

Canon's patent describes a space-saving pull-out-and-tilt EVF design. (Image credit: J-PlatPat/Canon)

The patent details describe a three-part mechanism for what appears to be a pull-out-and-tilt action. This would enable the viewfinder to push in to the camera body for compactness, and then be pulled out for tilting. 

A tilting EVF might sound like a pretty unnecessary complication, especially if it's on a camera that already has a vari-angle screen. You only have to use one a couple of times, though, to realize how useful they are. 

You get the convenience of a lower camera angle, with the bracing effect of keeping the camera close to your body. Tilting EVFs are especially useful in bright light, where rear screens are often swamped by glare.

There are plenty of rumors swirling around over a new Canon EOS R5 Mark II, though the timing doesn't necessarily tie in as patents often appear long before any related products – so there's no definite indication that the EOS R5 II would have this. Still on the rumor front, though, it's believed that the Fujifilm GFX 100 Mark II will again have a tilting EVF. 

What's old, it seems, is new…

As far as resolution goes, the best EVFs in the business are those on the Sony A1 (review) and the Sony A7R V (review), which boast 9.44 million dots apiece. A number of cameras feature 5.76 million dots, though, including the Canon EOS R5, Leica SL2-S, OM System OM-1 and Fujifilm X-H2

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Rod Lawton

Rod is an independent photography journalist and editor, and a long-standing Digital Camera World contributor, having previously worked as DCW's Group Reviews editor. Before that he has been technique editor on N-Photo, Head of Testing for the photography division and Camera Channel editor on TechRadar, as well as contributing to many other publications. He has been writing about photography technique, photo editing and digital cameras since they first appeared, and before that began his career writing about film photography. He has used and reviewed practically every interchangeable lens camera launched in the past 20 years, from entry-level DSLRs to medium format cameras, together with lenses, tripods, gimbals, light meters, camera bags and more. Rod has his own camera gear blog at fotovolo.com but also writes about photo-editing applications and techniques at lifeafterphotoshop.com