Digital Camera Patent

Digital camera having an electronic zoom function

Digital Camera Patent Abstract

A determination is made as to whether or not the magnification set for image sensing is greater than the upper limit of the optical finder. When the set magnification is greater, the original image is subjected to a thinness process, the LCD is automatically turned ON, and the image is displayed. When using electronic zoom, an image of the photographic object corresponding to the effective image sensing magnification is displayed on the LCD 10, thereby avoiding impairing the compactness of the digital camera allowing easy confirmation of the photographic object, and allowing easy framing without providing a large optical finder.

Digital Camera Patent Claims

What is claimed is:

1. A digital camera comprising: an optical finder for optically viewing a photographic object; an electronic finder for electronically displaying a photographic object; an operation member for performing an electronic zoom; a switching member for switching between an activated state and a deactivated state of the electronic finder; a zooming lens for image sensing; and a controller for setting the electronic finder to the activated state forcedly when an effective magnification of one or both an optical zoom of said zoom lens or said electronic zoom is less than a minimum or more than a maximum possible magnification of said optical finder.

2. A digital camera as claimed in claim 1, wherein the controller sets the electronic finder to the activated state forcedly, even if the electronic view finder had been manually turned off.

3. A digital camera as claimed in claim 2, further comprising an indicator for indicating a warning when electronic zoom is performed.

4. A digital camera as claimed in claim 3, wherein said indicator is provided at a position that is viewable when the photographer is looking in said optical finder.

5. A digital camera as claimed in claim 3, further comprising a zooming lens for image sensing, and said indicator indicates the warning when an effective magnification of one or both an optical zoom of said zoom lens or said electronic zoom exceeds a magnification range of said optical finder.

6. A digital camera as claimed in claim 1, wherein said controller maintains the state of said electronic finder even when said effective magnification is changed to more than a minimum and less than a maximum possible the magnification of the optical finder.

7. A digital camera comprising: an optical finder for optically viewing a photographic object; an electronic finder for electronically displaying a photographic object; an operation member for performing an electronic zoom; a switching member for switching between an activated state and a deactivated state of the electronic finder; a setter for setting a magnification for image sensing when the digital camera is activated; and a controller for setting said electronic finder to the activated state when said magnification is determined to be outside a magnification range of the optical finder, wherein said magnification range extends from a minimum to a maximum magnification of said optical finder.

8. A digital camera as claimed in claim 7, further comprising a memory for storing a magnification for image sensing when the digital camera power source is turned OFF, and said setter is set to the magnification stored in the memory.

9. A digital camera comprising: an optical finder for optically viewing a photographic object; an electronic finder for electronically displaying a photographic object; an operation member for performing an electronic zoom; a setter for setting a magnification for image sensing when the digital camera is activated; and an indicator for indicating a warning when said magnification is outside a magnification range of the optical finder, wherein said magnification range extends from a minimum to a maximum possible magnification of said optical finder.

10. A digital camera as claimed in claim 9, further comprising a memory for storing a magnification for image sensing when the digital camera power source is turned OFF, and said setter is set to the magnification stored in the memory.

11. A recording medium contains a program to be executed by a digital camera having an optical finder for optically viewing a photographic object, an electronic finder for electronically displaying a photographic object, an operation member for performing an electronic zoom, and a switching member for switching the electronic finder between an activated state and a deactivated state, said program implementing: performing the electronic zoom by said operation member; and setting said electronic finder to the activated state forcedly when an effective magnification of one or both an optical zoom and an electronic zoom is less than a minimum or more than a maximum possible magnification of said optical finder, even if the electronic view finder had been manually turned off.

Digital Camera Patent Description

This application is based on Patent Application No. 11-354565 filed in Japan, the content of which is hereby incorporated by reference.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The present invention relates to a digital camera provided with a zoomable optical finder and electronic finder having an electronic zoom function. The present invention further relates to a recording medium for recording programs readable by the digital camera.

2. Description of the Related Art

Most digital cameras have a finder for electrically displaying an image via liquid crystal device (LCD) or the like (hereinafter referred to as "electronic finder"). However, in such digital cameras, the electronic finder juxtaposed with an optical finder is optionally turned ON/OFF via a switch in order to prevent battery power consumption.

Digital cameras are known which are provided with a electronic zoom function of about 2.times. without deterioration of image quality in order to enlarge a photographic object while maintaining the compactness of the camera. Since the field of view of the optical finder does not match the actual photographic range during electronic zooming, a field of view frame is displayed in the optical finder during electronic zooming.

Although it is possible to associate the field of view of the optical finder with the actual photographic range in this way, a disadvantage arises in that it is difficult to confirm a photographic subject simply by displaying the photographic range with a simple field of view frame because the subject cannot be optically displayed in enlargement.

Japanese Laid-Open Patent Application No. H6-189173 discloses a digital camera wherein a finder optical system zooms in response to electronic zooming. This application discloses a digital camera provided with an actual zoom function of up to 6.times. by using together a 3.times. optical zoom and a 2.times. electronic zoom, thereby having an optical finder with a 6.times. zoom ratio corresponding to the combined 6.times. zoom ratio.

According to this art, however, although the photographic subject is easily confirmed and framing is easily accomplished, the optical finder is provided a zoom function corresponding to the effective zoom function. Accordingly, the optical finder is larger and heavier, and disadvantageously interferes with the compactness of the camera.

An object of the present invention is to eliminate the disadvantages of the conventional art by providing a digital camera and recording medium allowing easy confirmation of a photographic object and easy framing without interfering with the compactness of the digital camera.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

These objects are attained by the digital camera of the present invention comprising: an optical finder for optically viewing a photographic object; an electronic finder for electronically displaying a photographic object; an operation member for performing an electronic zoom; a switching member for switching between an activated state and a deactivated state of the electronic finder; and a controller for setting the electronic finder to the activated state forcedly when the electronic zoom is performed by the operation member.

These objects are further attained by another digital camera of the present invention comprising: an optical finder for optically viewing a photographic object; an electronic finder for electronically displaying a photographic object; an operation member for performing an electronic zoom; a switching member for switching between an activated state and a deactivated state of the electronic finder; a zooming lens for image sensing; and a controller for setting the electronic finder to the activated state forcedly when an effective magnification of one or both an optical zoom of said zoom lens or said electronic zoom exceeds a magnification range of said optical finder.

These objects are further attained by another digital camera of the present invention comprising: an optical finder for optically viewing a photographic object; an electronic finder for electronically displaying a photographic object; an operation member for performing an electronic zoom; a switching member for switching between an activated state and a deactivated state of the electronic finder; a setter for setting a magnification for image sensing when the digital camera is activated; and a controller for setting said electronic finder to the activated state when said magnification is determined to be outside a magnification range of the optical finder.

These objects are further attained by another digital camera of the present invention comprising: an optical finder for optically viewing a photographic object; an electronic finder for electronically displaying a photographic object; an operation member for performing an electronic zoom; a setter for setting a magnification for image sensing when the digital camera is activated; and an indicator for indicating a warning when said magnification is outside a magnification range of the optical finder.

These objects are further attained by A recording medium in which a program to be executed by the digital camera having an optical finder for optically viewing a photographic object, an electronic finder for electronically displaying a photographic object, an operation member for performing an electronic zoom, and a switching member for switching between an activated state and a deactivated state of the electronic finder is recorded and which can be read by a computer, said program implementing: performing the electronic zoom by said operation member; and setting said electronic finder to the activated state forcedly when the electronic zoom is performed.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

In the following description, like parts are designated by like reference numbers throughout the several drawings.

FIG. 1 is a front view of a digital camera of an embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 2 is a back view of a digital camera of an embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 3 is a side view of a digital camera of an embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 4 is a bottom view of a digital camera of an embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 5 is a block diagram showing the internal structure of the digital camera of an embodiment of the present invention;

FIGS. 6(a) and 6(b) show the internal structure of the optical finder;

FIG. 7 is a block diagram showing the structure of the image processor;

FIG. 8 shows the condition of the electronic zoom process;

FIG. 9 is a flow chart showing the processing sequence from power ON to power OFF;

FIG. 10 is a flow chart showing the initialization process sequence;

FIG. 11 is a flow chart showing the zoom process sequence during the photography standby;

FIG. 12 is a flow chart showing the process of LCD automatic display control;

FIG. 13 is a flow chart showing the LCD ON/OFF control process sequence;

FIG. 14 is a flow chart showing the warning LED control process sequence; and

FIG. 15 shows a modification of the warning means.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

The preferred embodiments of the present invention are described hereinafter with reference to the accompanying drawings.

FIGS. 1 through 4 respectively show a front view, back view, side view, and bottom view of a digital camera 1 of an embodiment of the present invention. FIG. 5 is a block diagram showing the internal structure of the digital camera 1.

The digital camera 1 comprises a box-like camera body 2, and a rectangular image sensing unit 3 (indicated by the thick lines in