Nikon patent suggests password-based security system for lenses


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?



Uhhh so… just put the stolen lens on an older body?


I see this having lots of potential for more bad than good. Integrated cameras that can be shut down is not good. If your camera can be remotely shut down by the state that can control it via wireless I see that as bad.


That’s just a patent, Nikon won’t implement it.

As otherwise, they would already have done the simple and obvious: write lens serial no. into EXIFs and make NX crosscheck against a Nikon-supplied blacklist server.


I like this idea considering I just had my D300 and 17-55 f/2.8 stolen.


Wow!! If this is true, it’s GREAT news!
It’s something I have been arguing for for years.
I think it outrageous that our expensive camera gear has zero anti-theft features.
When in the U.K. the Home Secretary (Interior Minister in other countries) threatened the mobile phone industry with a law to compel them to introduce anti-theft measures on their products, it was quite interesting to see (1) how quickly they came up with a solution when prior to the threat they were making out it couldn’t be done and (2) how the number of thefts/muggings of mobile phones plummeted.
As for those whining about having to remember passwords, well I am sure they have passwords on their mobile phones, PIN numbers for their credit/debit cards, and hey they even have one if they are members of this site. It’s no big deal having to remember a password (just make it the same as your DPReview password or your bank card).

Of course my joy at this news is dependent upon how well it is implemented.

Gordon W

Wow, what genius came up with this idiotic concept? Just what we need…more passwords.


So if I forget the password because I haven’t use the camera for a while, then what? I have to enter the camera input my email address and click reset password, which is then emailed to me? I have to phone Nikon and get charged $50?

Sounds like a rights grab and lockout.

Alexis D

I suppose you can choose not to use a password, or have a blank password.


Nop, you need to use a piece of Scotch® to isolate some newly added contacts and make lens usable again! 😉


They’ll start releasing Regional lockout to stop people buying grey imports soon…..


There’s a hack for that (or there soon will be…)


The nikon D5 will always have to be online for it to take a picture


SimCity player, eh?


And when the new model comes out the D5 will stop working!


What this is, ladies and gentlemen, is the perfect way to enforce DMCA and similar worldwide laws into third party lens makers, the security protocol will be “secret” and copyrighted to nikon, so whoever does use it must have a license from them, so bye bye sigma, and whoever brakes it will be against the law, reverse engineering is not a valid excuse anymore.

I guess they don’t like the success of sigma’s 35mm, 85mm, 50mm and many other great lenses. I will surely switch to a camera system that gives me the option of third party lenses if this happens.


On the bright side, companies frequently patent things that they end up never using. This sounds like a good candidate for that. 🙂


Great, DRM applied to hardware.

Won’t stop theft, people will just have their camera body and lenses stolen together.

But seriously impacts second hand resale of the hardware, and will probably inconvenience more rightful owners of the gear than it benefits them.


Very immature and poor direction of prevention to take on and such a shallow minded concept!


aaaaand Nikon jump the shark

second hand market? if you can reset it then it can still be stolen and used.


Eventually, there will be a better solution than passwords. I really want passwords to go away. I’d much rather have a wrist band or smart watch or smart phone that automatically transmits a low powered wireless signal that can automatically submit an electronic “password” any time I want to use something that is password protected. But frankly, I don’t think we really need passwords to allow lenses to work with cameras. Yes, I want cameras to become more connected (wifi, gps, cellular, bluetooth), which can potentially offer their own systems of theft protection, theft detection, and location detection in case equipment is stolen. But to have to have a password so a particular lens works with a particular body seems unnecessary and annoying.

Low Battery

Or Fingerprint Recognition…..

Roberto Giaccio

With internal focus lenses you could leave clear fingerprints on the lens front element, and the camera would recognize them.
This could be easily extended to to protect the camera body by leaving fingerprints directly on the sensor.


Unfortunately, this is really just a marketing ploy for security-conscious buyers. The reality is that there will be a work-around for any password-protected lenses, and the thieves will find it just by googling it. For those who actually own the lenses, it will just be another step to take a picture after changing a lens.


Yes; because that’s what the world needs, even more passwords…

it photo

Welcome to the beginning of the end of photography. Cameras will merge with videocameras and phones and PC’s. Buying a Nikon you will first need to install Windows (with a code of course), then login with your username (or if you let your wife use it she will login with her own password and have her own personalized menus) . Then you will install your lenses, then the filters and finally the… camera strap (because it will also have something proprietary built-in). Built-in GPS and WiFi will transmit photos to the cloud. This is not photography, this is COMPUTING!


You sound like a technophobic, out-of-touch, fear-mongering old man that is blowing things out of proportion. You probably still think that “photography” is a roll of film and a wet dark room with the smell of chemicals. It’s not. Those days are past. Relax. Stop with the “end of photography” histeria. People like yourself were saying the same non-sense when digital photography was first becoming popular. “It’s the end of photography!” Well, photography is alive and well, flourishing, and more people are taking pictures than ever before in the history of mankind. So much for “the end of photography!” LOL.


“It photo” doesn’t sound like a technophobe. Instead you sound naive regarding the appropriate application of technology. In addition, your attack of someone you nothing about weakens your argument considerably.


@Nexguy – no, “it photo” clearly sounds like someone blowing things out of proportion with is “the beginning of the end of photography” nonsense. Look around you. People are taking more pictures than ever before. And they are being shared and reaching greater audiences, more quickly, then ever before. Cameras now (or soon will) allow us to shoot images, review images, process and edit images, tag exactly when and where the images were taken, then send these images anywhere in the world within minutes of them being captured. Many of us photographers see this as an enhancement and advancement in the field of photography (not only for amateurs, but also for photojournalists, and the new breed of citizen photojournalists)…whereas narrow-minded curmudgeons like “it photo” only see this as “the end of photography.” Clearly, advancements in technology and integration of this technology into cameras has not ended photography!


BTW, re: it photo’s comment “This is not photography, this is COMPUTING!”, back in the film days of film processing involving all kinds of chemicals and timers and temperatures, one could just as easily look back at those days and say, “That is not photography, that is CHEMISTRY!” And that statement would be just as absurd as his assertion that today’s photography is not photography, it’s COMPUTING! Ultimately, whether you’re in the days of CHEMICAL-based photography or COMPUTER-based photography, it’s still photography.

it photo

This is getting interesting… I use digital cameras since 1999 (Sony DSC-S70 3.3m), digital videocameras (Sony HDR-SR1E, the first HD Sony camera with HDD) and a number of DSLRs and compacts I can’t even remember). I also have 3 PCs & notebooks for digital image processing. In the past (yes, I admit that…) was shooting film (mainly B&W). So, I consider myself as photo-enthusiast as well as a technology literate person. However, I do not wish to see ourselves someday entering a password to being allowed to shoot a damn photo!
BTW, if I liked chemistry I would be still shooting film… If I liked computing I would use an iPad camera, so I can have the pleasure of tapping passwords and see in large screens what I’m shooting. Instead, I love my (Nikon) DSLR, WITHOUT passwords or whatever else the future is going to impose to us. Oops, I need to log-off now.


Is lens theft that big of a problem to implement something like this?


Worst idea ever.


why ?


Does this mean you have to enter a password every time you change the lens? Or will the passwords be stored in the camera (in which case there is no protection if the camera is stolen together with the lens)? How can the password be entered (are we going to have cameras with fold out keyboards :)?

Also, how will lens rental work with a system like this?

I can see the advantage from the camera manufacturer:
– control which lenses can be used with which camera bodies
– be able to charge more for a lens if it’s to be used on a pro body
– be able to limit the number of bodies that can be used with a lens (e.g. you’ll need to pay to use it on a second body)
– click charge, so that the lens only includes 100 shutter clicks per month, and you’ll pay per click if you exceed this

Endless possibilities :S


My combination is:

Right to 35mm, Left to 50mm, Right to 24mm, Focus to infinity, and then switch to MF to enter.


A simple optional(!) 4 digit PIN protection sounds nice.


Would you have to enter the password every freaken time you switch lenses? that would be asinine for anyone who needs to switch lenses and get the next shot immediately… give them credit for thinking outside the box but maybe this one needs some more thinking.


that would be unlikely. First time on the body, you enter the PIN and voilà, you can use the lens for lets say, a year until you need to enter it again. I think its a great idea.

Michael de Ruijter

A jet does a flypast… 5 minutes later, you get the shot!
I’d understand an automated bio-sensor, or use the microphone to do a voice match.


Dopes at work. Is this all they can do?


This doesn’t stop thieves from stealing your equipment. What are they going to do, ask “is this lens password protected, ’cause if it is I will just not bother stealing it”…


wow, that was a clueless comment.

Michael de Ruijter

You are correct. In my former country of residence, theft is so rampant that most thieves take it first, then try to figure it out later. If it doesn’t work for them, they trash it and/or dump it. It’s not a deterrent. Do passwords prevent laptops from being stolen?


Right back at ‘ya “Essai”. 😉


This also scares me as it could easily be a way to prevent 3rd party companies from making lenses for their cameras.

To me, there is too much hassle involved in this, i.e. do you want security or freedom and I would rather have freedom. Sure, it sucks to have a lens stolen, but when it prevents you from shooting it is even worse.

Has anyone here ever had a Honda? Ever unplugged the negative cable and not been able to find your radio code? Really sucks.

Rickard Hansson

It does not mean that you NEED to enter a password for the lens.
It might be an system that gives you the possibility to password protect the lens, probably with an turn on/off function for the feature.

Example: you are travelling and shipping your lenses in a box, you do not wish to box to be stolen and sold, so while travelling you enter passwords for the lenses and if all goes well, when you arrive at destination you can “unlock” them again.
Just an example.


a little bit paranoid IMO. Are you also a member of the NRA ?


Hansson- So your thinking is if someone steals your lens they will return it to you because it’s password protected? When it’s stolen, no password can help bring it back. By the time this technology hits the market, somebody will be waiting to hack it.


Hmmm. Sounds like DRM to me. Your lens will only work while connected to the internet…. Oh, and you don’t actually own the lens, you only have a license to use it….


This is like the stupid car keys. $100-300 for a replacement key instead of $2.99 at the hardware store. I often wonder if the total combined cost of anti-theft measures to the consumer exceeds the total theft losses.

Kinematic Digit

An interesting idea…I certainly hope they open this up to licensing. Would be nice if it could be added via firmware to those lenses that are currently out there.

I always appreciate the ability to disable technology via countermeasures like this when lost or stolen.


I wonder if Nikon will guarantee fail-safe operation, and accept liability if its lens-lockout “feature” prevents the legitimate use of the lens for an important job.

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