Digital diaphragm for optical lenses

In photography most optical lenses use mechanical diaphragms for aperture control. They are traditionally manufactured from metal blades and works quite good. However metal blades exposes some disadvantages:

  • mechanical parts will sooner or later fail
  • the cheaper forms give strong diffraction spikes
  • manufacturers need more metal blades for a round iris, which is expensive
  • a metal blade with its sharp edges give artefacts, which are visible in out of focus regions.
  • but, contrast is very high by using opaque metal

In order to obtain a better bokeh, some lenses are equipped with apodization filters. Those filters work mostly for fully open arperture and are very specialised and thus relatively expensive.

A digital arperture build as a transparent display with enough spatial resolution can not only improve the shape of the diaphragm. It could feature as a apodisation filter, if it supports enough gray levels. And it can change its form programatically.

Two possible digital diaphragm forms:
Kreise

  • leverage existing display technology
  • better aperture shape for reduced artefacts
  • apodisation filter on demand for best bokeh or faster light
  • programmable or at least updateable aperture pattern (sharp/gausian/linear/…)
  • no metal blades or other mechanical parts to fail
  • over the years get cheaper than mechanical counterpart
  • reduce number of glas to air surfaces in optical lens design
  • integratable aperture into lens groups
  • display transparency increases quickly and is for OLED at 45% by 2016, which means at the moment just one f-stop
  • mobile demands high display resolutions anyway

The digital arperture can easily be manufactured as a monochrome display and be placed traditionally between two optical lens groups, where today the diaphragm is located. Or it is even possible to optically integrate the aperture into one lens group, without additional glas to air surfaces, as is needed with moving blades. Once the optical quality of the digital filter display is good enough a digital diaphragm can be even cheaper than a high quality mechanical counterpart.