Stereoscopic Low-Light Lenses - Newest Development
Apparently they have developed small lenses with a focal length of about 22mm that can be remotely controlled to change their shape to focus on close objects. An electrical signal is fed into the lens and the actual curvature of the lens can be changed. This will eliminate the need for manual focussing helixes or stepping motors in the application.
The lenses are currently limited in their aperture range from about f:2.1 to f:8.3, though one researcher says that the maximum aperture is closer to f:3. The lenses are being paired with dual-element sensors that can be dialled up to a considerable ISO. Unfortunately when the ISO approaches the maximum the colour information is switched off. So far the maximum resolution of the experimental sensor is only 5 megapixels but this may be increased - it is understood that funding is being sought from private investors to do this.
Up until now the maximum shutter speed of the test rig has been about 1/50 of a second.
Apparently there is a 20-stop dynamic range with the sensor, but the monochrome limit applies at the lowest light levels.
One interesting thing I saw in the photos of the test rig was the automatic tracking mechanism that allows the cameras to go from a straight lock for infinity to a slight inward tilt for closeup objects. This can give a sort of three-D effect.
So far these lenses and sensors are in a developmental stage but already the marketing boys are adding their input - the iris diaphragms come in grey, green, blue, and brown.
Note: apparently they are also thinking of equipping each lens/ sensor assembly with automatic covers that close over them for about 8 hours out of 24.