An illustration from the patent application filing that details the closed (left) and opened (right) states of the lens cap.

If there’s one thing you can count on as a photographer, it’s that you will, at some point in your career, lose a lens cap—or three. This issue has been addressed over the years through both first-party and third-party solution, but Canon seems interested in creating its own solution, according to a recent patent application.

Japanese Patent Application 2019-113645 details a barndoor-style lens cap that folds open when shooting and collapses shut when the lens isn’t in use. As translated in the patent application:

The present invention works as a lens hood function at the time of shooting and as a lens protection function at the time of non-shooting, thus eliminating the need for lens cap attachment/removal and barrier opening/closing operations.

The design, of course, has its trade-offs compared to traditional lens caps. While it would make it all but impossible to lose a lens cap, the small gaps in the design could still allow for dust, dirt and moisture to get in and the design would all but eliminate the option to use filters on the front of the camera.

An exploded view of the individual components used to make up the lens cap.

Based on the patent application, it also appears as though Canon’s proposed lens cap would only work with lenses that have extending barrels. Whether or not this particular design could work with existing lenses or would rely on entirely new lens designs remains to be seen, but it doesn’t look like internal zoom/focus lenses would work with this particular design.

A close-up look at the mechanism that opens the four doors when the lens barrel is extended and closes them when the lens barrel is retracted.

It’s also worth noting that although the illustrations in the patent show what appears to be a generic DSLR design, Canon only ever says ‘digital camera’ in the translated patent text. So it’s very possible this would only ever make its way to Canon point-and-shoot cameras, most of which rely on a leaf-style shutter as it stands.

Of course, it’s always possible Canon is just covering its bases with a new design with no definitive intention of bringing it to market. After all, Canon did take the third spot in worldwide patents in 2016, according to research firm IFI Claims Patent Services, behind only Samsung and IBM, respectively.