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Nikon patent suggests password-based security system for lenses

By dpreview staff on Apr 15, 2013 at 18:53 GMT

Nikon has filed a patent covering the idea of a password-based security system for lenses. The patent lists the high value of lenses as a reason for the innovation - the camera would refuse to shoot with a lens unless the correct password was entered. This is an attempt by the the company to prevent resale of stolen gear. 

Nikon Rumors has extracted this (Google translated) passage from the patent:

'Conventionally, the imaging device provided with the security function is known. In such an imaging device, the technology which makes photography impossible until the password set up previously is entered, in order to prevent a theft and a mischief'.

Another line in the patent is intriguing, where Nikon states: 'provided that impossible for imaging the light shielding unit, blocking the light beam'. It's difficult to glean exactly what this might signify, but it seems to hint at a physical modification to lenses, as well as a software fix.

Nikon's patent suggests passcode protection for  lens-body combination, possibly involving a
physical means of blocking the light path from a stolen lens, making it impossible to use.

Putting aside complications regarding the buying and selling of used equipment, this is an interesting idea, and one that in principle makes sense - you register your lenses with your camera, and if someone steals your gear, they can't use it. What do you think?

Comments

Total comments: 146
12
Deleted pending purge
By Deleted pending purge (10 months ago)

Check out the http://preyproject.com/ - it is so much better concept. It offers you some chance to see your equipment again (as opposed to the one discussed here).

0 upvotes
Octane
By Octane (Apr 18, 2013)

Apple has filed a patent that disables the camera part of cell phones all together based on location. U.S. Patent No. 8,254,902

0 upvotes
qBart
By qBart (Apr 18, 2013)

Actually, it doesn't work with a password but with iris detection. Also, once your iris is linked to a lens, it will be forever and you won't be able to resell it. This will of course only be available for the most high-end lenses. It is to prevent theft.

0 upvotes
LensBeginner
By LensBeginner (Apr 20, 2013)

What if you shoot with liveview? :D

0 upvotes
Ian Baker
By Ian Baker (Apr 17, 2013)

Would be interesting to hear the stats regarding the ratio of photographers who have lost gear to those who haven't - if there are any. If it's very low which I suspect it will be then we must question whether it is a ruse to shut Tamron, Sigma, Tokina et all out of the market:very silly and likely to come back and bite them on the foot.

As mentioned earlier, unless awareness is raised significantly so thieves realise pinching a Nikon lens is pointless, the outcome will still be the same for the photographer who won't give a monkey's whether the bloke who pinched it can use it or not. Will it change the cost of insuring Nikon gear I wonder? Yeah right...

0 upvotes
alpha90290
By alpha90290 (Apr 17, 2013)

Another password to remember, adding to a long list of passwords that people need to remember. If frustrated users set all their password to 123456. It would end up defeating the purpose of having a password. This idea is not really good.

1 upvote
TheWoodMaven
By TheWoodMaven (Apr 17, 2013)

I truly believe that some bright young MBA at Nikon came up with this scheme and sold it to management by touting it's "virtue" of making reselling of lenses just a bit harder. I have bought lenses on eBay and can just imagine the seller giving you the wrong code so you have another thing to complain to eBay about. What happens to guys like me who own half a dozen lenses? This has got to be a boondoggle.

Comment edited 55 seconds after posting
3 upvotes
servic
By servic (Apr 20, 2013)

I am sure you are a smart kid, you'll find a way to manage your passwords by writing them down.
If you see you're no good at managing passwors- just leave it empty.

Did I solve your problem?

Comment edited 48 seconds after posting
0 upvotes
Alan Williams ZA
By Alan Williams ZA (Apr 17, 2013)

A great way to prevent you from buying anything but a Nikon lens. Great one, Nikon! Think I'll give it a miss.

3 upvotes
Mike Strong
By Mike Strong (Apr 16, 2013)

Breathtakingly ridiculous! I cannot imagine who came up with that one. Maybe Nikon lost all of its photographers (kind of like Microsoft seems to have lost its core programmers). You, know, people who actually use the product. I can just see trying to login as I pull my camera up for a "fast" shot.

We used to call the old "ever-ready" camera cases "never-ready" cases because it always took so long to drop the front and open the camera. Password input would be far worse or any kind of biometric ID device (gloves in winter, bloodshot eyes, different hold or tripod mounted, etc.).

If a password-protected device is stolen it is more likely to land in some dumpster out of frustration on the part of the thief instead of finding its way back to me.

More cynically, maybe this is just a way to control your hardware so that is it never really yours. Not so far from the recent trends to rent you a license for software (i.e. cs6) at roughly 5.5 times what it usually costs me to upgrade.

1 upvote
servic
By servic (Apr 20, 2013)

I don't know the details, but I would imagine you won't be required to enter a password every time. If the lens recognizes a camera, you won't be required to enter it.

I'd guess setting a password is also optional. So why complain?

0 upvotes
AbrasiveReducer
By AbrasiveReducer (Apr 16, 2013)

The problem with all these schemes is that the guy who steals your camera/computer/stereo doesn't know he needs a password.

4 upvotes
Pat Cullinan Jr
By Pat Cullinan Jr (Apr 16, 2013)

Haw haw! That spoils everything!

0 upvotes
Steve69
By Steve69 (Apr 16, 2013)

unless, Nikon decides to etch or engrave password warning in capitals on the side of the lens. but then again, assuming thief knows and can read English...

0 upvotes
servic
By servic (Apr 20, 2013)

Well, It is good enough for me that a thief can't live off my lens. Otherwise, this is an additional benefit to recognize your own lens wenn found.

0 upvotes
LensBeginner
By LensBeginner (Apr 20, 2013)

The thief will only get less money when he sells it, then the fence hacks the lens and bypasses the password protection thus increasing his profit considerably, since he paid the thief less and there are less lenses on the (black) market because not anybody knows how to bypass the limitations.
Thief: -1
Fence: +2
Buyer of stolen goods: -1
User: =
</tongue in cheek>

Comment edited 12 seconds after posting
0 upvotes
TWIZEEL
By TWIZEEL (Apr 16, 2013)

Good idea but could be not good implementation. I have so many trouble with those passwords over internet, feels not so...

1 upvote
GradyPhilpott
By GradyPhilpott (Apr 16, 2013)

So much negativity over something no one knows anything about.

You can cut the cynicism here with a knife.

Like another here, I can put a password on my phone, but I only do so when I think there is a need.

It has no bearing on the operation of the device whatsoever, except as it provides a measure of security at my discretion.

Comment edited 24 seconds after posting
1 upvote
Dan4321
By Dan4321 (Apr 16, 2013)

What is more likely is a scheme to prevent the resale or used sales of lenses. Or a subscription system to bring in additional revenue after the sale of a lens (in exchange for continued use). At the end of the day, companies really only care about the 'bottom line' or another way to make money.

2 upvotes
Mike Strong
By Mike Strong (Apr 16, 2013)

Yeah, my thought too. It is such a ridiculous obstacle to shooting, especially quickly, that if there is any rationality to it, it must be some scheme to keep any of us from any sort of real ownership of our own equipment. Officially-created theft, so to speak.

I was going to make a joke about internet-subscription and connection authorized clothing but maybe not. Can you imagine buying clothing and having the authorization lose the WiFi connection in the middle of a big party? Silly example, I know, but think again. We are already doing that with "the cloud" and with CS6 subscriptions, etc. It all becomes us then to become a serf class, looking for permission to the owners. Sooner or later, pay-per-breath! Coming to the feudal castle near you.

0 upvotes
Jack Simpson
By Jack Simpson (Apr 16, 2013)

another factual rumour or a rumoured fact :D

0 upvotes
mfineman
By mfineman (Apr 16, 2013)

Also, all antitheft stuff does on car radios is get additional damage done
to the vehicle or driver due to angry thiefs.

1 upvote
servic
By servic (Apr 20, 2013)

If you were thinking of terrorists would you oppose them? It just makes them angrier, right?

0 upvotes
mfineman
By mfineman (Apr 16, 2013)

If your gonna have passwords you have to have at least
2 different types of passwords:
Type 1: controls if a password is needed to use the device
and set passwords.
Type 2: used to access device

Also need a way of unlocking the thing if Nikon goes out of business,
to all the password reset hardware and software needs to be put in escrow.

0 upvotes
brujo74
By brujo74 (Apr 16, 2013)

this could prove wrong and have a major impact on their sales as many ppl buy canikons thinking of coutless solutions offered by the used (sh) gear market.

0 upvotes
Hugo808
By Hugo808 (Apr 16, 2013)

I guess it's a 21st century equivalent of missing the shot because you left the lens cap on.

3 upvotes
Steve69
By Steve69 (Apr 16, 2013)

Nikon does not say the password would be mandatory. Anyone who do not want to use it may probably skip it. But for those who might feel this would give them advantage, password option could come handy.
It's little like with cellphones. Most of people do not even bother with protecting its content against being used fraudulently. But they should. Not because their phones get stolen often but lots of user just loose it.
The validity of patenting password protection for lenses is another story. US patent law execution is just ridiculous. IT allows you to patent "wheel" again if it used for specific purpose or application. But that is just system gap that have been created to feed greedy patent seeking business entities, not true inventors.

1 upvote
cplunk
By cplunk (Apr 16, 2013)

I have a password on my cell phone that I use to protect the information on it. I have no illusions that someone stealing the hardware can crack it, but I assume they will have to wipe the phone to do so (deleting all the info). This keeping my information private. It does nothing to keep someone from stealing my phone.

Comment edited 26 seconds after posting
0 upvotes
Jeffcs
By Jeffcs (Apr 16, 2013)

There is too many work-around ways for passwords
I love my Nikons body's & lenses I will not purchase new equipment with passwords and guess I will not be updating firmware
I like the idea sr numbers be made required on used equipment selling sites
Than diligent equipment owners record all sr numbers and forward to Nikon as stollen gear
Please Nikon don't make me remember more passwords for something most people love to do shoot photos
Jeff

0 upvotes
magneto shot
By magneto shot (Apr 16, 2013)

hmm nikon. my best camera is a nikon, the d4. my worst camera is also a nikon, the nikon 1, v1. love them , hate them. is this their latest innovation...

0 upvotes
harrygilbert
By harrygilbert (Apr 16, 2013)

This has got to be nipped in the bud. Next step will be a lock that prevents the camera from taking photos wherever a government or commercial entity doesn't want you to take pictures.

1 upvote
Octane
By Octane (Apr 18, 2013)

Apple was actually working on that. The idea was to disable the camera in a cell phone in areas where no cameras are allowed.

0 upvotes
cplunk
By cplunk (Apr 16, 2013)

So instead of reusing your stolen lens it get a quick bash with a hammer and tossed in the garbage.

It's not going to save anyone from having there gear stolen. If a thief has the opportunity to take it they will. If it has a password on it making it unusable, they aren't going to then return it.

1 upvote
JaFO
By JaFO (Apr 16, 2013)

it's either that or the thief cracks the password in mere seconds while legit users have to deal with yet another reason why their gear doesn't work ...

3 upvotes
servic
By servic (Apr 20, 2013)

There are rare occasions of the stuff being found. Thieves are also different. Some of them may not damage it. Anyway, if I don't get my lens back, I'd prefer it rather being damaged than to support a thief.

0 upvotes
Kabe Luna
By Kabe Luna (Apr 16, 2013)

In twenty-plus years of shooting, I've only suffered theft once–and it was by far because of my own carelessness. I don't need (or want) Nikon or Canon or any other manufacturer to protect me from myself or any potential miscreants because, honestly, what are the chances that the thief will know (or care) that all my gear is "registered" and, therefore, unusable to anyone but him. Likely by the time that happens, it's already been stolen (and maybe I've been assaulted in the process). So, other than the inconvenience of yet another password to remember (and/or forget), what *really* does this gain me?

And let's be honest–what electronic security systems can't be defeated by a knowledgeable and motivated enough person?

Yet another reason to stay away from further investment in Nikon gear.

1 upvote
Ed Gaillard
By Ed Gaillard (Apr 16, 2013)

Obvious attempt to break the used lens and third-party lens markets. Oh well, it's not like I needed more reasons not to buy Nikon.

5 upvotes
tabloid
By tabloid (Apr 16, 2013)

Pleeese not another password.I think that we are all suffering from "password fatigue'.

1 upvote
KennyXL
By KennyXL (Apr 16, 2013)

I wonder how they're going to force this upon people who use adapters on other brands of cameras. Oh, they're going to wipe out that market...? I can see people never buying another Nikon lens after the first time this happens.

1 upvote
JaFO
By JaFO (Apr 16, 2013)

As if boycotting corporations ever worked.
There'll be plenty of blind fan boys and uninformed consumers that will ensure that fails.

0 upvotes
KeeChiuPeng
By KeeChiuPeng (Apr 16, 2013)

Can root or jailbreak to bypass the security code?

0 upvotes
Deleted pending purge
By Deleted pending purge (Apr 16, 2013)

Probably not. After three wrong passwords entered, or if the camera senses software being tampered with, the blades spring out and slice the thieving fingers off. And the next model will probably detonate the lens mount bolts... :-)

3 upvotes
JaFO
By JaFO (Apr 16, 2013)

Anything made by man can be unmade.
The better question is how many days after initial release this 'protection' will last ....

0 upvotes
danijel973
By danijel973 (Apr 16, 2013)

I see no advantage of this method compared to registering your equipment on manufacturer's website for reference in case of theft.

1 upvote
JaFO
By JaFO (Apr 16, 2013)

that's because it is not meant to help users.
It is meant to help the manufacturer protect its market share from imaginary threats.

2 upvotes
brujo74
By brujo74 (Apr 16, 2013)

True!

0 upvotes
DMJones
By DMJones (Apr 16, 2013)

Nice idea. Simular to the chip & pin on credit cards

1 upvote
designdef
By designdef (Apr 16, 2013)

What a silly idea, trust Nikon to 'sign in' to this. Now if Nikon were really on the ball, they would push forward with their wi-fi enabled systems, add a chip / link in the new lenses so that an owner could check online where a camera and lens combination was being used at any time and in any location. Would make more sense?

1 upvote
Jahled
By Jahled (Apr 16, 2013)

Nice idea, but as others are saying, hassle and hardship in the real world

1 upvote
Zerblatt
By Zerblatt (Apr 16, 2013)

Oh, my password is incorrect I can't take any pictures but Nikon will give me a new one within three weeks

4 upvotes
sonhn
By sonhn (Apr 16, 2013)

Waiting for Nikon's password protected Speedlight !

1 upvote
panteraaa
By panteraaa (Apr 16, 2013)

So every Nikon camera's gonna get firmware upgrades?

0 upvotes
gefrorenezeit
By gefrorenezeit (Apr 16, 2013)

Its going to prevent you from working if it does not work like its supposed. Don't like that. Encryption everywhere......but not where it would make sense for the ordinary beeing (email).

5 upvotes
Ganondorf
By Ganondorf (Apr 16, 2013)

Sounds like a good idea to me, and if you don't want the feature you should be able to disable it anyway.

0 upvotes
Timmbits
By Timmbits (Apr 16, 2013)

1. If the lens is stolen along with the body, it will work fine. (as I doubt that a camera that forces you to enter a password each time you start it up would even sell).

2. I trust the stolen goods market will figure out the workaround to reset it (just as you can on computers by pulling the RTC battery or setting a DIP switch on the motherboard if you forget the setup or startup password).

3. it will either increase the cost of already expensive Nikon lenses, or reduce Nikon's profit margins should they not increase their prices.

For these reasons, I feel that it's pertinence and viability are in question.

Comment edited 4 times, last edit 6 minutes after posting
6 upvotes
Spectro
By Spectro (Apr 16, 2013)

not sure about this, but I wished ebay would make everybody that sell used gear to show the serial number, I know some sellers do. Also people can look up stolen camera gears on nikon site and compare. Craigslist forget about being honest there.

1 upvote
Pat Cullinan Jr
By Pat Cullinan Jr (Apr 16, 2013)

Sh]t on that.

0 upvotes
shutterdragon
By shutterdragon (Apr 16, 2013)

I'm sure this feature is being developed in response to some needs, but it better not malfunction.

0 upvotes
digitallollygag
By digitallollygag (Apr 16, 2013)

I think the folks at Nikon simply do not understand the mindset of thieves. They could post a warning in twelve different languages on the camera or lens that that particular unit has theft-deterrent features, but that wouldn't stop a thief who doesn't know how to read or is incredibly smart at finding a hack to circumvent the security password/features.

2 upvotes
digitallollygag
By digitallollygag (Apr 16, 2013)

Wasn't Nikon suing Sigma recently for some sort of patent infringement? As others have suggested, this could be a way for Nikon to lock third-party manufacturers quite literally OFF their lens mount.

My life is overwhelmed with passwords. One reason I pick up a camera is to escape the tedious of passwords and security questions. I'd rather see Nikon come up with a compelling mirrorless system than give us this boondoggle.

6 upvotes
Joe Wiegman
By Joe Wiegman (Apr 16, 2013)

This is a cool idea, but it needs to come with the option to disable this feature by the owner so you could share lenses with friends.

4 upvotes
Jahled
By Jahled (Apr 16, 2013)

Oh god this. Virtually all of us spend half our lives sharing lenses at a moments notice to our mates, what a way to miss shots fumbling in passwords as we exchange glass.

0 upvotes
JaFO
By JaFO (Apr 16, 2013)

if it can be disabled it will be absolutely useless in its supposed 'primary' function.

0 upvotes
Frank C.
By Frank C. (Apr 16, 2013)

waste of time

1 upvote
lenseye
By lenseye (Apr 16, 2013)

Is this really necessary? The whole world is drifting more and more toward Gestapo like behavior...

I wish they'd put their energy more into developing better and more innovative gear...

Comment edited 24 seconds after posting
5 upvotes
Mark1952
By Mark1952 (Apr 16, 2013)

I bet lens and camera rental company are happy about it.

0 upvotes
JaFO
By JaFO (Apr 16, 2013)

I wonder how happy they're going to be if a user changes the password of their lenses ...

0 upvotes
Mark1952
By Mark1952 (Apr 16, 2013)

Best time for Canon to make appropriate announcement

0 upvotes
3enson
By 3enson (Apr 16, 2013)

this idea is useless, what for? password for lens? so you cant share lenses? or you want to get hold of the brand nikon, maybe afraid of some third party lens company to soon have their own brand of camera, just like nikon did.

you should add another slogan like "We make simple things - Stupidly Difficult + complicated - that's how we understand innovation"

7 upvotes
Shamael
By Shamael (Apr 16, 2013)

the only reason for this is big brother trying to watch you.
But imagine what would happen if we all say NO to that, and leave it in the stores. Think about it, no one can do anything to you that you don't want.

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 2 minutes after posting
5 upvotes
Shamael
By Shamael (Apr 16, 2013)

and 3 days later, you find a hack for this on every torrent engine or specialized sites. Nikon sucksssssss.
It reminds me the scam with DVD protection in zones, or Epson and HP system to sell ink cartidges in other parts of the world with different coding, so you can not use them on your printer.

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 2 minutes after posting
2 upvotes
Total comments: 146
12