Olympus Patent Imagines Variable Exposure Over Single Photographs

There's an obvious weakness to the way that all modern cameras work: open the shutter to start an exposure, close it to finish, but whatever you do, the entire frame is bathed in light for the same length of time. Not if Olympus has anything to do with it, though.

In a patent unearthed by Egami, Olympus describes how it could—or at least, should—be possible to provide different exposure times over a single image. So, imagine you were taking a photograph with dark foreground and bright background: your camera would use long exposure for the darker regions, while reigning it in for the brightest areas. The result, a perfectly exposed photograph.

Sounds ambitious—because it is. Indeed, it's worth not getting too excited about just yet, as it's an insanely tough engineering problem. Likely Olympus would have to develop a whole new kind of shutter to actually facilitate the technique, using a matrix of switchable elements—perhaps some kind of LCD—to allow light through to certain parts of the sensor and not others. That's difficult, but fortunately not impossible.

Of course, whether the idea is ever likely to progress from patent to working concept is in the lap of closed-door R&D labs. But if it does happens, you might never need to worry about taking an over-epxosed photo ever again. [Egami via Peta Pixel]