Login| Sign Up| Help| Contact|

Patent Searching and Data


Title:
FILM AND DIGITAL CAMERA COMBINATION
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2001/051988
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
A combination of a digital camera (22) and a film camera (12) into a single operational unit (10), such that the operation of a single mechanism (20) by the user causes a photographic image to be captured by both cameras simultaneously. The photographic image is captured onto an electronic memory component of the digital camera and onto film of the conventional film camera. The photographic image can then be downloaded to a computer from the memory component of the digital camera, for example in order to view the digital image on the computer monitor or other associated display screen. In addition, the photographic image can be produced when the film of the film camera is developped. Thus, the same or substantially similar photographic image can be reproduced in either medium from the cameras of the combined operational unit (10).

Inventors:
Hofstetter, Brian (12180 Alba Road Ben Lomand, CA, 95005, US)
Heiman, Arie (45 Yehuda Halevi Street Raanana, 43555, IL)
Application Number:
PCT/US2001/000073
Publication Date:
July 19, 2001
Filing Date:
January 02, 2001
Export Citation:
Click for automatic bibliography generation   Help
Assignee:
NOGATECH LTD. (3 Gavish Street Kfar Saba, 44444, IL)
Hofstetter, Brian (12180 Alba Road Ben Lomand, CA, 95005, US)
Heiman, Arie (45 Yehuda Halevi Street Raanana, 43555, IL)
International Classes:
H04N5/225; H04N5/77; (IPC1-7): G03B17/38; G03B29/00; G03B41/00; H04N7/18
Foreign References:
US2529905A1950-11-14
US2609738A1952-09-09
US3045573A1962-07-24
US4488794A1984-12-18
US5546121A1996-08-13
US5777667A1998-07-07
US6014165A2000-01-11
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Friedman, Mark M. c/o Castorina (Anthony Suite 207 2001 Jefferson Davis Highway Arlington, VA, 22202, US)
Download PDF:
Claims:
What is claimed is:
1. A single operational unit for capturing a photographic image, the unit comprising : (a) a film camera for capturing the photographic image onto film, said film camera comprising: (i) a film camera aperture for receiving light for exposing said film; (ii) a film camera shutter for alternately covering said film camera aperture for preventing said light from exposing said film and for uncovering said film camera aperture for exposing said film to said light; and (iii) a film camera switch connected to said film camera shutter such that when said film camera switch is depressed, said film camera aperture is uncovered by said film camera shutter; and (b) a digital camera for capturing the photographic image, said digital camera comprising: (i) an electronic memory component for receiving the photographic image; (ii) an electrical triggering signal for activating said electronic memory component; (iii) a digital camera aperture for exposing said electronic memory component to light; and (iv) a digital camera switch for triggering production of said electrical triggering signal, said digital camera aperture and said film camera aperture being oriented such that the photographic image is captured by both said digital camera and said film camera; and (c) a connecting mechanism for connecting said film camera switch to said digital camera switch, such that when said film camera switch is depressed, said digital camera switch is operated to produce said electrical triggering signal.
2. The single operational unit of claim 1, further comprising: (d) a detachable attacher for detachably attaching said digital camera to said film camera, such that said digital camera is alternately attached to, and detached from, said film camera.
3. The single operational unit of claim 2, wherein said detachable attacher is a rubber gasket.
4. The single operational unit of claim 2, wherein said detachable attacher is a screw.
5. The single operational unit of claim 1, wherein said connecting mechanism is a connecting bar, said connecting bar being connected at a first end to said film camera switch, and said connecting bar being connected at an opposing end to said digital camera switch, such that said film camera switch and said digital camera switch are operated simultaneously.
6. The single operational unit of claim 5, wherein said connecting bar features a slot at said opposing end for receiving said digital camera switch, such that when said film camera switch is depressed, said connecting bar is shifted, thereby shifting said digital camera switch to produce said electrical triggering signal.
7. The single operational unit of claim 6, wherein said digital camera further comprises: (iv) a digital camera microswitch for producing said electrical triggering signal, such that when said digital camera switch is shifted, said digital camera microswitch is depressed.
8. The single operational unit of claim 1, wherein said connecting mechanism further comprises a frame for connecting to said digital camera, such that said frame is detachably connected to said film camera for adapting said film camera to form the single operational unit.
9. The single operational unit of claim 1, wherein said film camera further comprises a film camera lens for being placed external to said film camera aperture and for covering said film camera aperture for focusing said light onto said film, and wherein said digital camera further comprises a digital camera lens for being placed external to said digital camera aperture and for covering said digital camera aperture for focusing said light onto said electronic memory component.
10. The single operational unit of claim 9, wherein said film camera lens and said digital camera lens are each a universal focus lens.
11. The single operational unit of claim 1, wherein said film camera is a disposable camera.
12. The single operational unit of claim 1, wherein said film camera is a video camera.
13. The single operational unit of claim 12, wherein said digital camera is a video camera.
14. The single operational unit of claim 12, wherein said digital camera is a still camera.
15. A single operational unit for capturing a plurality of photographic images, the unit comprising: (a) a video camera for capturing the plurality of photographic images onto a video medium, said video camera comprising: (i) a video electronic memory component for receiving the plurality of photographic images; (ii) a video electrical triggering signal for activating said video electronic memory component; and (iii) a video camera switch for triggering production of said electrical triggering signal; and (b) a digital camera for capturing at least one of the plurality of photographic images, said digital camera comprising: (i) an electronic memory component for receiving said at least one photographic image; (ii) an electrical triggering signal for activating said electronic memory component; (iii) a digital camera switch for triggering production of said electrical triggering signal; and (iv) a digital camera aperture for exposing said electronic memory component to light, said digital camera aperture and said video camera aperture being oriented such that said at least one photographic image is captured by both said digital camera and said video camera; and (c) a connecting mechanism for connecting said video camera switch to said digital camera switch, such that when said video camera switch is depressed, said digital camera switch is operated to produce said electrical triggering signal.
16. The unit of claim 15, wherein said digital camera is a still camera.
17. The unit of claim 15, wherein said digital camera is a video camera.
Description:
FILM AND DIGITAL CAMERA COMBINATION FIELD AND BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION The present invention relates to a digital camera, and in particular to a combination of a film camera, such as a disposable camera, and a digital camera, which allows a photographic image to be taken by both cameras substantially simultaneously.

Digital cameras are electronic devices which are operated in a similar manner to conventional film cameras, except that the photograph is captured onto a flash memory component or other electronic memory component. When the digital camera is placed in communication with a computer, for example through a cable or infrared connection, the captured photograph can be downloaded to the computer and displayed on the computer monitor. Since the captured photograph is a digital image, it can be manipulated and stored like any other such digital image data.

A clear advantage of a digital camera is that it has a high memory capacity and does not require any film, so that more photographic data can be captured by such a digital camera than by a conventional camera. Also, digital camera images, once displayed on the computer, do not necessarily require any further processing, while the film of conventional cameras requires extensive processing before the images can be viewed. On the other hand, such digital cameras are more expensive than conventional cameras.

Furthermore, the use of film in conventional cameras gives a different quality to such photographs than to the digital images captured by digital cameras, particularly since film cameras have a much higher sensitivity and resolution than typical digital cameras. In order for a digital camera to achieve the resolution of a film camera, the required memory and CCD (charge-coupled device) array render the digital camera prohibitively expensive. In addition, when photographic film is developed, the resultant image is on a high quality medium which itself has certain characteristics. These characteristics affect the appearance of the image. Digital image data, whether displayed on a computer

screen or printed onto paper, does not have such characteristics, particularly given the previously described problem of resolution of the digital camera.

Also, most home users do not have access to a high quality medium onto which the digital images can be printed, such that the printing of such images onto regular paper is not necessarily satisfactory.

Since digital cameras and conventional cameras each has certain useful characteristics, a more favorable solution would combine a digital camera and a conventional camera into a single operational unit. A photograph taken by this operational unit would be captured simultaneously both by the electronic memory of the digital camera, and by the photographic film of the conventional film camera. Therefore, the user could optionally view photographs on either regular film media, after processing, or on a computer monitor or other digital medium. As the digital camera images would not require film processing to be viewed, the user would have the additional advantage of being able to immediately view these images, upon connection of the digital camera to a computer with a monitor. Unfortunately, such a solution does not exist.

There is thus a need for, and it would be useful to have, a combination of a digital camera and a conventional film camera into a single operational unit, such that the operation of the unit would cause the digital camera and the film camera to simultaneously capture the same photograph onto their respective image capturing media, which could then be viewed on a suitable display medium for the particular camera.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION The present invention is of a combination of a digital camera and a film camera into a single operational unit, such that the operation of a single mechanism by the user causes a photographic image to be captured by both cameras simultaneously. The photographic image is captured onto an electronic memory component of the digital camera and onto film of the conventional film camera. The photographic image can then be downloaded to a computer from the memory component of the digital camera, for example in order to

view the digital image on the computer monitor or other associated display screen. In addition, the photographic image can be produced when the film of the film camera is developed. Thus, the same or substantially similar photographic image can be reproduced in either medium from the cameras of the combined operational unit.

According to the present invention, there is provided a single operational unit for capturing a photographic image, the unit comprising: (a) a film camera for capturing the photographic image onto film, the film camera comprising: (i) a film camera aperture for receiving light for exposing the film; (ii) a film camera shutter for alternately covering the film camera aperture for preventing the light from exposing the film and for uncovering the film camera aperture for exposing the film to the light; and (iii) a film camera switch connected to the film camera shutter such that when the film camera switch is depressed, the film camera aperture is uncovered by the film camera shutter; and (b) a digital camera for capturing the photographic image, the digital camera comprising: (i) an electronic memory component for receiving the photographic image; (ii) an electrical triggering signal for activating the electronic memory component; (iii) a digital camera aperture for exposing the electronic memory component to light; and (iv) a digital camera switch for triggering production of the electrical triggering signal, the digital camera aperture and the film camera aperture being oriented such that the photographic image is captured by both the digital camera and the film camera; and (c) a connecting mechanism for connecting the film camera switch to the digital camera switch, such that when the film camera switch is depressed, the digital camera switch is operated to produce the electrical triggering signal.

According to another embodiment of the present invention, there is provided a single operational unit for capturing a plurality of photographic images, the unit comprising: (a) a video camera for capturing the plurality of photographic images onto a video medium, the video camera comprising: (i) a video electronic memory component for receiving the plurality of photographic images; (ii) a video electrical triggering signal for activating the video

electronic memory component; and (iii) a video camera switch for triggering production of the electrical triggering signal; and (b) a digital camera for capturing at least one of the plurality of photographic images, the digital camera comprising: (i) an electronic memory component for receiving the at least one photographic image; (ii) an electrical triggering signal for activating the electronic memory component; (iii) a digital camera switch for triggering production of the electrical triggering signal; and (iv) a digital camera aperture for exposing the electronic memory component to light, the digital camera aperture and the video camera aperture being oriented such that the at least one photographic image is captured by both the digital camera and the video camera; and (c) a connecting mechanism for connecting the video camera switch to the digital camera switch, such that when the video camera switch is depressed, the digital camera switch is operated to produce the electrical triggering signal.

Hereinafter, the term"computer"indicates any type of electronic device which is capable of performing computations, including, but not limited to, personal computers (PC) having an operating system such as DOS, Windows, OS/2 or Linux; MacintoshT" computers ; computers having JAVATM-OS or BeOS as the operating system; thin client computers; and graphical workstations such as the computers of Sun Microsystems and Silicon Graphics, and other computers having some version of the UNIX operating system such as AIX"or SOLARIS of Sun MicrosystemSTM ; a PalmPilotT"", a PilotPC, or any other handheld device, portable device for data processing such as a PDA (personal data assistant), or embedded system or device; or any other known and available operating system and computational device. Hereinafter, the term"WindowsTM"includes but is not limited to Windows95, Windows 3. XTM in which"x"is an integer such as"1", Windows NTTM, Windows98TM, Windows CE and any upgraded versions of these operating systems by Microsoft Corp. (USA).

Hereinafter, the term"digital camera"refers to a portable electronic

device which is capable of capturing a photographic image onto an electronic memory component, such as a CCD (charge-coupled device) array for example.

Hereinafter, the terms"film camera"and"conventional camera"both refer to a camera which captures a photographic image onto a photographic film of some type.

Hereinafter, the term"film camera"also refers to a video camera having a cassette for recording (to be played in a conventional VCR).

Hereinafter, the term"disposable camera"refers to a single use film camera, such that after the film has been exposed to light and the user wishes to develop the resultant photographic images, the camera itself is disposed after the film has been developed.

Hereinafter, the term"single operational unit"refers to the functionality of the unit, which can be operated through a single action of the user, rather than to the physical appearance or physical characteristics of such a unit.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS The present invention will be understood and appreciated more fully from the following detailed description, taken in conjunction with the drawings in which: FIG. 1 is an illustration of a frontal view of the combined digital camera and film camera as a single operational unit according to the present invention; FIG. 2 is an illustration of a top view of the single operational unit of Figure 1 according to the present invention; FIG. 3 is an illustration of a back view of the single operational unit of Figure 1 according to the present invention; and FIG. 4 is an illustration of a side view of the single operational unit of Figure 1 according to the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF A PREFERRED EMBODIMENT The present invention is of a combination of a digital camera and a film camera into a single operational unit, such that the operation of a single mechanism by the user causes a photographic image to be captured by both cameras simultaneously. Optionally and preferably, the combination is obtained through the provision of a special assembly featuring a digital camera, which is then added to a regular film camera, for adapting the film camera to produce the single operational unit of the present invention. The photographic image is captured onto an electronic memory component of the digital camera, such as a CCD (charge-coupled device) array for example, and onto film of the conventional film camera. The photographic image can then be downloaded to a computer from the memory component of the digital camera, for example in order to view the digital image on the computer monitor or other associated display screen. In addition, the photographic image can be produced when the film of the film camera is developed. Thus, the same or substantially similar photographic image can be reproduced in either medium from the cameras of the combined operational unit.

One example of a method of use of the present invention would be to capture one or more photographic images with both the digital camera and the conventional film camera. Next, these images could be previewed by downloading the images from the digital camera to a computer. Selected images could then be developed from the film of the film camera as desired.

Thus, the single operational unit of the present invention provides flexibility for viewing and displaying photographic images on different image media.

Optionally and preferably, the single operational unit of the present invention features a digital video camera attached to a film video camera. The mechanism of such a combination is similar to that for the still picture camera combination, except that such a mechanism would be adapted to the requirements for video cameras. For example, a single trigger, such as a button, is optionally and preferably employed in such a combination to cause both video cameras to begin filming.

Alternatively, a digital still camera could be combined with a video camera to form a single operational unit according to the present invention.

The video camera could be a film video camera or a digital video camera, both of which are known in the art. Such a combination is currently only available in a specialized, expensive single unit, while the present invention enables a single operational unit to be constructed from inexpensive components to form a much less expensive but still functional product.

One advantage of the present invention is that digital camera images can be quickly obtained, even at a relatively low resolution. These rapidly obtained but optionally low resolution images are then optionally used to select the high resolution, but relatively slow to develop, film camera images. Thus, without necessitating a highly expensive digital camera with high resolution, the user can enjoy the benefits of the quickly obtained digital images with the higher resolution of film camera images.

The principles and operation of a combination of a film camera and a digital camera according to the present invention may be better understood with reference to the drawings and the accompanying description, it being understood that these drawings are given for illustrative purposes only and are not meant to be limiting.

Reference is now made to Figure 1 which is an illustration of a frontal view of the combined digital camera and film camera as a single operational unit 10. As shown, a film camera 12 features a film camera aperture 14 through which light is admitted in order to capture the photographic image.

Typically, film camera aperture 14 features a film camera lens 16 of some type which is preferably a universal focus lens, such that within a particular range of distances from film camera 12, the light is automatically focused in order to capture a focused photographic image. Such a universal focus lens also obviates the need for separately focusing the digital camera, as described in greater detail below.

Film camera aperture 14 also features a film camera shutter 18 for preventing light from entering film camera aperture 14 prematurely and

exposing the film, before the photographic image can be captured. Film camera shutter 18 is operated by a film camera switch 20. When film camera switch 20 is depressed, film camera shutter 18 is opened for a short period of time, on the order of seconds or a fraction thereof, and light is admitted through film camera aperture 14 to capture the photographic image on the film of film camera 12 (not shown).

Single operational unit 10 also features a digital camera 22 as shown.

Digital camera 22 also features a digital camera aperture 24 with a digital camera lens 26 for focusing the light when the digital image is captured. Digital camera lens 26 is preferably a universal focus lens, such that within a particular range of distances from digital camera 22, the light is automatically focused in order to capture a focused photographic image. As previously described, such a universal focus lens also obviates the need for separately focusing the respective lenses of digital camera 22 and film camera 12.

Rather than being protected by a digital camera shutter, digital camera aperture 24 preferably is able to receive an electrical signal for commanding the electronic camera memory to capture an image.. The production of this electrical signal is preferably triggered through an action of a digital camera microswitch 35, which in turn is triggered by a digital camera switch 20, as explained herein below.

As shown, film camera switch 20 is connected to digital camera switch 30 by a connecting bar 32. Furthermore, digital camera switch 30 is placed somewhat higher than film camera switch 20 by a block 34. Connecting bar 32 features a slot 36 through which digital camera switch 30 is connected to block 34. Digital camera switch 30 is also connected to the mechanism for operating digital camera microswitch 35.

As shown in greater detail with a top view of single operational unit 10 in Figure 2, when film camera switch 20 is depressed, connecting bar 32 is pulled rightward. This in turn causes digital camera switch 30 to be pulled rightward and to depress digital camera microswitch 35, which in turn causes the electrical triggering signal to be produced. The electrical signal then

activates the electronic memory component of digital camera 22 to capture the image. The electronic memory component could be a CCD (charge-coupled device) array, attached to an electronic memory device, such as a flash memory device, as is well known in the art.

Now a photographic image is captured simultaneously by digital camera 22 and by film camera 12, as film camera shutter 18 is operated simultaneously with the production of the electrical triggering signal through the action of the user when depressing film camera switch 20.

Figure 3 shows a back view of single operational unit 10, showing the back of digital camera 22 and film camera 12. Film camera 12 features a viewing window 38 through which the user can view the area to be photographed. Digital camera 22 may optionally but not necessarily feature such a window (not shown), since film camera aperture 14 and digital camera aperture 24 are arranged such that substantially the same area is photographed and substantially the same image is captured when film camera switch 20 is depressed as previously described. Digital camera 22 also preferably features a screw 40 for attaching digital camera 22 to film camera 12, although alternatively a rubber gasket or other attaching mechanism may be used to attach digital camera 22 to film camera 12 (not shown).

Figure 4 shows a side view of single operational unit 10, showing the side of digital camera 22 and film camera 12. Again, film camera lens 16 and digital camera lens 26 are shown. In addition, digital camera switch 30 is shown, raised above film camera switch 20 by block 34. Screw 40 is also shown.

Clearly, the combined digital camera and film camera of the present invention have a number of advantages. First, both cameras capture the same or similar photographic images simultaneously through the operation of a single mechanism by the user. Second, the digital camera can then be used to preview and select photographic images for processing with the film of the film camera. Third, the film camera can be a disposable camera, such that the single operational unit can be made inexpensively. Fourth, optionally the digital

camera can be prepared with a special mechanism, in order to be attached to a regular film camera which has not been specially prepared for forming the single operational unit of the present invention.

One of ordinary skill in the art can easily build an adapter, such as a frame, which would be attached to the digital camera. The film camera would then snap into the frame. The frame would feature a mechanism which is similar to the bar of the previous embodiments. The digital camera is also preferably altered to capture only one image for each triggering of the electrical signal, such that each film camera image corresponds to a single digital camera image.

It will be appreciated by persons skilled in the art that the present invention is not limited by what has been particularly shown and described herein above.