Editor’s Note: (Wednesday, December 30, 2020 at 1:13 PM): The original version of this article stated these were patents for a DJI Osmo Pro-style gimbal. This coverage was based on the limited information we found at the time. The article has been re-written after poring over the actual patent documents we weren’t aware of at the original time of publishing.
A new series of patent applications from Canon shows the company has put a great deal of thought into developing a rather unique pan/tilt mirrorless camera that’s attached to a grip with a built-in display for composing shots.
Initially believed to be a Osmo Pro-style gimbal camera, we have since been able look over the patent applications (specifically JP 2020 – 205481A) and are now able to confirm there is no gimbal-style stabilization functionality present in the device.
Instead, the pan/tilt head will only be used for rotating and tilting the lens. Controlling the pan/tilt functionality would be done with a touchpad on the rear of the grip while a trigger on the front could be used to set the camera at pre-determined points, not unlike popular gimbals such as DJI’s Ronin series. There are also two buttons on the rear of the device used for starting and stopping capture as well as an image review button.
|Illustrations from the patent applications showing how the camera’s head would be able to tilt almost 270-degrees.|
Any stabilization in the system, aside from electronic stabilization, will be provided via the attached lens The patent application’s illustrations suggest the pant/tilt head would be able to pan a full 360-degrees and rotate at least 270-degrees or so (meaning you could rotate the camera to face you for vlogging-style content).
Inside the main camera unit would be a CCD or CMOS sensor with a low-pass filter. Canon doesn’t specify in the patent applications what size of sensor it would use, likely on purpose to allow for many different implementations.
While it’s clear Canon could make use of its extensive line of EF and EF-S, as well as its newer RF lenses, the documents note the rig would be able to drive zoom functionality of a lens, suggesting newer lenses with a built-in zoom motor would be required for such functionality. This, of course, is on top of support for driving autofocus, image stabilization, electronic aperture control, EXIF data transfer and more.
Canon further elaborates on possible lens use in patent application JP 2020–204655A. In it, the text and illustrations explain how an add-on piece for the grip could be used in conjunction with an adapter to support larger, longer lenses. As you can see from the above illustration, this would limit the pan/tilt functionality of the device, but it would still allow for use of adapted lenses, including both optical and digital image stabilization.
Canon spends a great deal of time in the text of the patent applications highlighting how the device would be able to automatically detect the positioning of the camera and adjust the display and capture mode accordingly. For example, if the lens is rotated 180-degrees backward towards the user for vlogging-style content, the camera would automatically flip the image. Likewise in the event the device is rotated 90-degrees for recording vertical footage.
The device would also feature a hot shoe mount for attaching accessories, such as microphones, lights and more.
Aside from being unlike anything Canon has showed off before, these patent applications are interesting for the sheer level of detail included in them. The descriptions span across five different patent application documents and there are over two dozen detailed illustrations of the device, suggesting a decent amount of research and development have already gone into a concept that’s never been so much as rumored before.
Of course, even with the level of detail these applications go into, there’s zero guarantee we’ll see such a product from Canon. Canon is consistently among the top patent filers and there are plenty of patents we’ve seen over the years that remain little more than descriptions and illustrations.
Editor’s note: Thank you to Richard of Canon News for making us aware of the patent documents, which we weren’t aware of at the time of publishing the original version of this article.