Shocking insight: AF is not a closed feedback loop!

Started Jul 18, 2003 | Discussions thread
OP Mishkin™ Contributing Member • Posts: 917
Godspeed, Mike

I gave a little food to us hungry measurbators, we need a constant supply, you're our next savior!

Thanks for the tip about Canon patents. That's where I'm looking at right now

Mike. wrote:
To scope the lens contacts and see what data is being exchanged
between the lens & body.

its on my "to do list" just as soon as I finish building a piezo
digitizing probe for my cnc

Check canons patents with regard to the two issues, AF and IR cut &
"blur" filter.

-Mike.

Mishkin2 wrote:

And THAT and only that can explain why some lenses consistently
front/back focus even if camera is well-calibrated.

Take a look at this illustration from Canon Camera Museum
( http://www.canon.com/camera-museum/tech/room/f_index.html ):

There is a device in the lens named "Drive quantity detector". As
far as I understand from the diagram, the signals from this
detector and from AF processor are sent to some digital comparator
(triangle).

Why would this detector be needed in closed feedback loop? In
closed loop, the AF processor will send the signal to the lens
until the image is perfectly in focus. There's no need to measure
lens displacement and compare it to the signal from AF processor.

Now let's turn our measurbating brains to U.S. Patent 4,078,171 by
Honeywell (thanks to tawen mei who pointed me to it).

http://patft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=PTO1&Sect2=HITOFF&d=PALL&p=1&u=/netahtml/srchnum.htm&r=1&f=G&l=50&s1=4078171.WKU.&OS=PN/4078171&RS=PN/4078171
For those having trouble with QuickTime, here's the screenshot of
the illustrations:

Here's an exerpt from the patent:
"FIG. 3 shows a digital automatic focus system which may be used in
photographic equipment such as a still or movie camera. The system
includes a digital focus module 50, which preferably is apparatus
like that shown in FIG. 1. The output of digital focus module 50 is
a first digital word which is used to control a position of a
primary optical means 52 such as the taking lens of a still or
movie camera. A lens position encoder 54 provides a second digital
word indicative of the position of optical means 52 with respect to
film 56. Digital comparator 58 compares the first and second
digital words. The position of optical element 52 is determined by
motive means 60, which is controlled by motive means control 62.
The output of digital comparator 58 is connected to motive means
control 62 so that the position of optical means 52 with respect to
film 56 is controlled by the comparison of the first and second
digital words.

In the system shown in FIG. 3, the first digital word from digital
focus module 50 represents the desired position of optical means
52. When the position of optical element 52, as represented by the
second digital word, is identical to the first digital word, the
system is in focus. In the case of a still camera, the motion of
optical element 52 is stopped at this point."

IOW, digital comparator (the triangle in Canon's diagram) compares
"the desired position" of lens (which is determined by AF processor
by measuring the shift between signals on AF array half-pairs as I
described in my 1st post) to the actual position of the lens as
reported by "Drive quantity detector" (or "Lens position encoder",
in Honeywell's terms). When they match, the lens stops.

Bingo!

No closed feedback loop. AF just tells the lens: move 10 units
closer and STOP. (what these units mean, is programmed into lens'
own processor; AF processor in camera doesn't have to be concerned
with these low-level lens-specific details). Actually, this
comparison of the signals can be performed several or many times
during focusing (to rectify the signal and make sure the first
command was not a mistake), but it's still NOT A CLOSED FEEDBACK
LOOP.

This explains everything. Some lenses have miscalibrated "Drive
quantity detector", that makes them stop not there where they
should (while camera&lens happy thinking the focus is perfect).

That also explains why some lenses jump so much when trying AF many
times on the same subject. Their "Drive quantity detector" does not
have steps fine enough to match the signal from AF processor
precisely and consistently. When two steps are equidistant from the
desired position, the lens will focus one time at one position,
another time at another position. That explains why several of my
24-70's are focusing so inconsistently especially in the 24-35mm
range. It's focusing group moves too little in this range to have
fine steps. A small miscalibration of my camera (not noticeable
with other 4 lenses, which have different optical construction)
might be "helping" this, too.

That also explains the words heard many times from Canon tech guys
that lenses can be "tightened up for 1.6x crop". They adjust the
"Drive quantity detector" digitizer to output finer steps.

It's all by design, folks. "Learn not to worry and love the Bomb."

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Mishkin

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