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Canon Patents New Star Tracking Tech for Astro Photographers

By Anthony Thurston on December 22nd 2014

Stunning images of the stars are easy to take for granted when you see them all the time like I do. But it has to be said that a good night sky or astro-landscape image is one of the most beautiful images one can make.

Canon seems to have caught on to the popularity of these astro-lanscape images and a newly discovered patent seems to point to the idea that they are developing features specifically for that purpose.

Canon Star Tracking Patent

According to a new report over on Canon Watch, a new patent was recently uncovered which details a new technology Canon is working on which would allow for the camera to track the stars. This would make the process of capturing tack sharp star images, even at longer exposures, a piece of cake.

Unfortunately, due to the patent being in Japanese and it being somewhat detailed, Google translate doesn’t do it justice. So the actual process is somewhat hard to figure out. But from what I could gather, the camera would take several images and at the end of the process, you would end up with sharp stars. Now if that hardly makes any sense to you, join the club, and try reading the google-translated patent below:

“A first detection process concerns the landscape in the test image, first detection data is produced. A second detection process detects the star from the test image in accordance with the first detection data and obtains second detection data.

The exposure condition setting section obtains a first image by the imaging section with a first exposure condition which is set in accordance with the first detection data, controls the imaging section with a second exposure condition which is set in accordance with the second detection data, and obtains a second image.

A first synthesis corrects a luminance value of the star to a prescribed luminance value in the second image data, and sets it to be a first synthesized image. A second synthesis synthesizes the first synthesized image and the first image, and generates a second synthesized image.”

60d-a

Regardless of how the tech is working, it’s cool to see Canon working on such a project. Though, due to the specific niche of this feature, I would be surprised to see it in the market, unless Canon does another astro-specific Camera like the 60D-a.

What are your thoughts on this patent? Did you understand a word of it? Would you like to see some advanced astro-landscape features like this make it into your camera? Leave a comment below and let us know what you think! 

[via Canon Watch]

Anthony Thurston is a photographer based in the Salem, Oregon area specializing in Boudoir. He recently started a new project, Fiercely Boudoir to help support the growing boudoir community. Find him over on Instagram. You may also connect with him via Email.

6 Comments

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  1. Rob Wahl

    “Did you understand a word of it?”
    The Camera detects two focal points of which to determine exposure levels: (1.) landscape and (2.) sky
    Exposure for each point is set to a different luminescence level.
    A final merged image is captured from multiple images with exposures set for (1.) landscape and (2.) sky…

    …Would be my guess :)

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  2. stephen gore

    I was under the impression that getting sharp, bright star shots involved tracking the subject, which is only possible with a specialized mount. Maybe this is really just software that stacks images, or judges the time needed for good sharp star points before getting star trails.

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  3. Rafael Steffen

    This is great News for photograhers who live in places that are amazing to shoot stars.

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  4. Stan Rogers

    This is specifically aimed at producing pictures with fixed landscape elements along with fixed stars (no trails) in a single “user” exposure. (That is, the camera does multiple images, but the photographer doesn’t have to care much about how it happens or need to composite a good landscape with a good sky shot in post.) The landscape image is made first, at a relatively low ISO, and whatever is visible in the sky (which probably won’t be much) is used as landmarks for alignment and to determine the background character of the sky (how black it is, whether there are colour gradients present or not, etc.). An additional image (or images) of the sky alone, taken with a much higher ISO, are then overlaid on the landscape image, with the stars as they appear in the landscape image acting as a guide for position, and the high-ISO sky picture acting as a guide for intensity and apparent size. It is not at all clear from what has been posted (mostly due to the difficulty of making a machine translation between languages that are so different in structure and what is implicit and explicit as English and Japanese) whether or not the system will be able to “dig out” anything like the sort of sky detail you would normally only expect from an equatorial tracking mount AND high ISO, but it looks a little like the system is only designed to pay attention to things that are statistically more likely to have been stars than noise in the initial (landscape) image. In other words, it seems more like a friendly consumer feature than a serious astronomical one.

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  5. Bill Bentley

    So they are developing something like the Star Stax software and working it into the firmware. This is probably not too far off from the multi-image noise reduction process that they have already. I doubt the final quality will rival what is currently being done by some fabulous astro-landscape photographers but hey you never know.

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  6. Ian Sanderson

    I like astrophotography, I’m quite surprised a camera manufacturer hasn’t done this already!

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