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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 (opens in new tab)

Rumor website Canon News notes (opens in new tab), "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. 

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Louise Carey
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 at which she is so adept that she's delivered workshops for the likes of ITV and Sue Ryder. Louise also brings years of experience as both a web and print journalist, having served as features editor for Practical Photography magazine and contributing photography tutorials and camera analysis to titles including Digital Camera Magazine (opens in new tab) and  Digital Photographer (opens in new tab). Louise currently shoots with the Fujifilm X-T200 and the Nikon D800, capturing self-portraits and still life images, and is DCW's ecommerce editor, meaning that she knows good camera, lens and laptop deals when she sees them.