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Camera lens
A camera lens (also known as photographic lens or
photographic objective) is an optical lens or assembly of
lenses used in conjunction with a camera body and mechanism
to make images of objects either on photographic film or on
other media capable of storing an image chemically or
electronically.

There is no major difference in principle between a lens used


for a still camera, a video camera, a telescope, a microscope, or
other apparatus, but the detailed design and construction are
different. A lens might be permanently fixed to a camera, or it Different kinds of camera lenses, including wide
might be interchangeable with lenses of different focal lengths, angle, telephoto and speciality
apertures, and other properties.

While in principle a simple convex lens will suffice, in practice a compound lens made up of a number of optical lens
elements is required to correct (as much as possible) the many optical aberrations that arise. Some aberrations will be
present in any lens system. It is the job of the lens designer to balance these and produce a design that is suitable for
photographic use and possibly mass production.

Contents
Theory of operation
Construction
Aperture and focal length
Number of elements
Lens mounts
Types of lens
"Close-up" or macro
Zoom
Special-purpose
History and technical development of photographic camera lenses
Lens designs
See also
References
Sources
External links

Theory of operation
Typical rectilinear lenses can be thought of as "improved" pinhole "lenses". As shown, a pinhole "lens" is simply a
small aperture that blocks most rays of light, ideally selecting one ray to the object for each point on the image sensor.
Pinhole lenses have a few severe limitations:

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A pinhole camera with a large aperture is blurry because each pixel is essentially the shadow of the aperture stop,
so its size is no smaller than the size of the aperture (third image). Here a pixel is the area of the detector
exposed to light from a point on the object.
Making the pinhole smaller improves resolution (up to a limit), but reduces the amount of light captured.
At a certain point, shrinking the hole does not improve the resolution because of the diffraction limit. Beyond this
limit, making the hole smaller makes the image blurrier as well as darker.
Practical lenses can be thought of as an answer to the question: "how can a pinhole lens be modified to admit more
light and give a smaller spot size?". A first step is to put a simple convex lens at the pinhole with a focal length equal to
the distance to the film plane (assuming the camera will take pictures of distant objects[1]). This allows the pinhole to
be opened up significantly (fourth image) because a thin convex lens bends light rays in proportion to their distance to
the axis of the lens, with rays striking the center of the lens passing straight through. The geometry is almost the same
as with a simple pinhole lens, but rather than being illuminated by single rays of light, each image point is illuminated
by a focused "pencil" of light rays.

Principle of a pinhole camera. Light rays With a large pinhole, the image spot is
from an object pass through a small hole large, resulting in a blurry image.
to form an image.

With a small pinhole, light is reduced and With a simple lens, much more light can
diffraction prevents the image spot from be brought into sharp focus.
getting arbitrarily small.

From the front of the camera, the small hole (the aperture), would be seen. The virtual image of the aperture as seen
from the world is known as the lens's entrance pupil; ideally, all rays of light leaving a point on the object that enter
the entrance pupil will be focused to the same point on the image sensor/film (provided the object point is in the field
of view). If one were inside the camera, one would see the lens acting as a projector. The virtual image of the aperture
from inside the camera is the lens's exit pupil. In this simple case, the aperture, entrance pupil, and exit pupil are all in
the same place because the only optical element is in the plane of the aperture, but in general these three will be in
different places. Practical photographic lenses include more lens elements. The additional elements allow lens
designers to reduce various aberrations, but the principle of operation remains the same: pencils of rays are collected
at the entrance pupil and focused down from the exit pupil onto the image plane.

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Construction
A camera lens may be made from a number of elements: from one, as in
the Box Brownie's meniscus lens, to over 20 in the more complex zooms.
These elements may themselves comprise a group of lenses cemented
together.

The front element is critical to the performance of the whole assembly. In


all modern lenses the surface is coated to reduce abrasion, flare, and
surface reflectance, and to adjust color balance. To minimize aberration, The zoom lens assembly of the
the curvature is usually set so that the angle of incidence and the angle of Canon Elph
refraction are equal. In a prime lens this is easy, but in a zoom there is
always a compromise.

The lens usually is focused by adjusting the distance from the lens assembly to the image plane, or by moving elements
of the lens assembly. To improve performance, some lenses have a cam system that adjusts the distance between the
groups as the lens is focused. Manufacturers call this different things: Nikon calls it CRC (close range correction);
Canon calls it a floating system; and Hasselblad and Mamiya call it FLE (floating lens element).[2]

Glass is the most common material used to construct lens elements, due to its good optical properties and resistance to
scratching. Other materials are also used, such as quartz glass, fluorite,[3][4][5][6] plastics like acrylic (Plexiglass), and
even germanium and meteoritic glass.[7] Plastics allow the manufacturing of strongly aspherical lens elements which
are difficult or impossible to manufacture in glass, and which simplify or improve lens manufacturing and
performance. Plastics are not used for the outermost elements of all but the cheapest lenses as they scratch easily.
Molded plastic lenses have been used for the cheapest disposable cameras for many years, and have acquired a bad
reputation: manufacturers of quality optics tend to use euphemisms such as "optical resin". However many modern,
high performance (and high priced) lenses from popular manufacturers include molded or hybrid aspherical elements,
so it is not true that all lenses with plastic elements are of low photographic quality.

The 1951 USAF resolution test chart is one way to measure the resolving power of a lens. The quality of the material,
coatings, and build affect the resolution. Lens resolution is ultimately limited by diffraction, and very few
photographic lenses approach this resolution. Ones that do are called "diffraction limited" and are usually extremely
expensive.[8]

Today, most lenses are multi-coated in order to minimize lens flare and other unwanted effects. Some lenses have a
UV coating to keep out the ultraviolet light that could taint color. Most modern optical cements for bonding glass
elements also block UV light, negating the need for a UV filter. UV photographers must go to great lengths to find
lenses with no cement or coatings.

A lens will most often have an aperture adjustment mechanism, usually an iris diaphragm, to regulate the amount of
light that passes. In early camera models a rotating plate or slider with different sized holes was used. These
Waterhouse stops may still be found on modern, specialized lenses. A shutter, to regulate the time during which light
may pass, may be incorporated within the lens assembly (for better quality imagery), within the camera, or even,
rarely, in front of the lens. Some cameras with leaf shutters in the lens omit the aperture, and the shutter does double
duty.

Aperture and focal length


The two fundamental parameters of an optical lens are the focal length and the maximum aperture. The lens' focal
length determines the magnification of the image projected onto the image plane, and the aperture the light intensity
of that image. For a given photographic system the focal length determines the angle of view, short focal lengths giving

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a wider field of view than longer focal length lenses. A wider aperture, identified by
a smaller f-number, allows using a faster shutter speed for the same exposure.[9]

The maximum usable aperture of a lens is specified as the focal ratio or f-number,
defined as the lens's focal length divided by the effective aperture (or entrance
pupil), a dimensionless number. The lower the f-number, the higher light intensity
at the focal plane. Larger apertures (smaller f-numbers) provide a much shallower
depth of field than smaller apertures, other conditions being equal. Practical lens
assemblies may also contain mechanisms to deal with measuring light, secondary
apertures for flare reduction,[10] and mechanisms to hold the aperture open until
the instant of exposure to allow SLR cameras to focus with a brighter image with
shallower depth of field, theoretically allowing better focus accuracy.

Focal lengths are usually specified in millimetres (mm), but older lenses might be
marked in centimetres (cm) or inches. For a given film or sensor size, specified by
the length of the diagonal, a lens may be classified as a:

Normal lens: angle of view of the diagonal about 50° and a focal length
approximately equal to the image diagonal. Large (top) and small
Wide-angle lens: angle of view wider than 60° and focal length shorter than (bottom) apertures on the
normal.
same lens.
Long-focus lens: any lens with a focal length longer than the diagonal measure
of the film or sensor.[11] Angle of view is narrower. The most common type of
long-focus lens is the telephoto lens, a design that uses special optical
configurations to make the lens shorter than its focal length.
A side effect of using lenses of different focal lengths is the different distances from which a subject can be framed,
resulting in a different perspective. Photographs can be taken of a person stretching out a hand with a wideangle, a
normal lens, and a telephoto, which contain exactly the same image size by changing the distance from the subject. But
the perspective will be different. With the wideangle, the hands will be exaggeratedly large relative to the head. As the
focal length increases, the emphasis on the outstretched hand decreases. However, if pictures are taken from the same
distance, and enlarged and cropped to contain the same view, the pictures will have identical perspective. A moderate
long-focus (telephoto) lens is often recommended for portraiture because the perspective corresponding to the longer
shooting distance is considered to look more flattering.

The widest aperture lens in history of photography is believed to be the Carl Zeiss Planar 50mm f/0.7,[12] which was
designed and made specifically for the NASA Apollo lunar program to capture the far side of the moon in 1966. Three
of these lenses were purchased by filmmaker Stanley Kubrick in order to film scenes in his movie Barry Lyndon, using
candlelight as the sole light source.[13][14][15]

An example of how lens choice affects angle of view. The photos were taken by a 35
mm camera at a constant distance from the subject.

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28 mm lens 50 mm lens 70 mm lens

How focal length affects photograph


composition: adjusting the camera's
210 mm lens distance from the main subject while
changing focal length, the main
subject can remain the same size,
while the other at a different
distance changes size.

Number of elements
The complexity of a lens — the number of elements and their degree of asphericity — depends upon the angle of view,
the maximum aperture, and intended price point, among other variables. An extreme wideangle lens of large aperture
must be of very complex construction to correct for optical aberrations, which are worse at the edge of the field and
when the edge of a large lens is used for image-forming. A long-focus lens of small aperture can be of very simple
construction to attain comparable image quality: a doublet (two elements) will often suffice. Some older cameras were
fitted with convertible lenses (German: Satzobjektiv) of normal focal length. The front element could be unscrewed,
leaving a lens of twice the focal length, and half the angle of view and half the aperture. The simpler half-lens was of
adequate quality for the narrow angle of view and small relative aperture. Obviously the bellows had to extend to twice
the normal length.

Good-quality lenses with maximum aperture no greater than f/2.8 and fixed, normal, focal length need at least three
(triplet) or four elements (the trade name "Tessar" derives from the Greek tessera, meaning "four"). The widest-range
zooms often have fifteen or more. The reflection of light at each of the many interfaces between different optical media
(air, glass, plastic) seriously degraded the contrast and color saturation of early lenses, particularly zoom lenses,
especially where the lens was directly illuminated by a light source. The introduction many years ago of optical
coatings, and advances in coating technology over the years, have resulted in major improvements, and modern high-

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quality zoom lenses give images of quite acceptable contrast, although zoom lenses with many elements will transmit
less light than lenses made with fewer elements (all other factors such as aperture, focal length, and coatings being
equal).[16]

Lens mounts
Many single-lens reflex cameras and some rangefinder cameras have detachable lenses. A few other types do as well,
notably the Mamiya TLR cameras and SLR, medium format cameras (RZ67, RB67, 645-1000s)other companies that
produce medium format equipment such as Bronica, Hasselblad and Fuji have similar camera styles that allow
interchangeability in the lenses as well, and mirrorless interchangeable-lens cameras. The lenses attach to the camera
using a lens mount, which contains mechanical linkages and often also electrical contacts between the lens and
camera body.

The lens mount design is an important issue for compatibility between cameras and lenses. There is no universal
standard for lens mounts, and each major camera maker typically uses its own proprietary design, incompatible with
other makers.[17] A few older manual focus lens mount designs, such as the Leica M39 lens mount for rangefinders,
M42 lens mount for early SLRs, and the Pentax K mount are found across multiple brands, but this is not common
today. A few mount designs, such as the Olympus/Kodak Four Thirds System mount for DSLRs, have also been
licensed to other makers.[18] Most large-format cameras take interchangeable lenses as well, which are usually
mounted in a lensboard or on the front standard.

The most common interchangeable lens mounts on the market today include the Canon EF, EF-S and EF-M autofocus
lens mounts, the Nikon F manual and autofocus mounts, the Olympus/Kodak Four Thirds and Olympus/Panasonic
Micro Four Thirds digital-only mounts, the Pentax K mount and autofocus variants, the Sony Alpha mount (derived
from the Minolta mount) and the Sony E digital-only mount.

Types of lens

"Close-up" or macro
A macro lens used in macro or "close-up" photography (not to be confused with the compositional term close up) is
any lens that produces an image on the focal plane (i.e., film or a digital sensor) that is one quarter of life size (1:4)to
the same size (1:1) as the subject being imaged. Magnification from life size to larger is called "Micro" photography
(2:1, 3:1 etc.). This configuration is generally used to image close-up very small subjects. A macro lens may be of any
focal length, the actual focus length being determined by its practical use, considering magnification, the required
ratio, access to the subject, and illumination considerations. It can be a special lens corrected optically for close up
work or it can be any lens modified (with adapters or spacers, which are also known as "extension tubes".) to bring the
focal plane "forward" for very close photography. Depending on the camera to subject distance and aperture, the
depth-of-field can be very narrow, limiting the linear depth of the area that will be in focus. Lenses are usually stopped
down to give a greater depth-of-field.[9][19]

Zoom
Some lenses, called zoom lenses, have a focal length that varies as internal elements are moved, typically by rotating
the barrel or pressing a button which activates an electric motor. Commonly, the lens may zoom from moderate wide-
angle, through normal, to moderate telephoto; or from normal to extreme telephoto. The zoom range is limited by
manufacturing constraints; the ideal of a lens of large maximum aperture which will zoom from extreme wideangle to
extreme telephoto is not attainable. Zoom lenses are widely used for small-format cameras of all types: still and cine
cameras with fixed or interchangeable lenses. Bulk and price limit their use for larger film sizes. Motorized zoom
lenses may also have the focus, iris, and other functions motorized.

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Special-purpose
Apochromat (apo) lenses have added correction for chromatic
aberration.
Process lenses have extreme correction for aberrations of geometry
(pincushion distortion, barrel distortion) and are generally intended for
use at a specific distance.

Process and apochromat lenses are normally of small


aperture, and are used for extremely accurate
photographs of static objects. Generally their
performance is optimized for subjects a few inches from
A tilt/shift lens, set to its maximum
the front of the lens, and suffers outside this narrow
degree of tilt relative to the camera
range.
body.
Enlarger lenses are made to be used with photographic enlargers
(specialised projectors), rather than cameras.
Lenses for aerial photography.
Fisheye lenses: extreme wide-angle lenses with an angle of view of up to 180 degrees or more, with very
noticeable (and intended) distortion.
Stereoscopic lenses, to produce pairs of photographs which give a 3-dimensional effect when viewed with an
appropriate viewer.
Soft-focus lenses which give a soft, but not out-of-focus, image and have an imperfection-removing effect popular
among portrait and fashion photographers.
Infrared lenses
Ultraviolet lenses
Swivel lenses rotate while attached to a camera body to give unique perspectives and camera angles.
Shift lenses and tilt/shift lenses (collectively perspective control lenses) allow special control of perspective on
SLR cameras by mimicking view camera movements.

History and technical development of photographic


camera lenses

Lens designs
Some notable photographic optical lens designs are:

Angenieux retrofocus
Cooke triplet
Double-Gauss
Goerz Dagor
Leitz Elmar
Rapid Rectilinear
Zeiss Sonnar
Zeiss Planar
Zeiss Tessar

See also
Anti-fogging treatment of optical surfaces
Large format lens
Lens (optics)
Lens hood
Lens cover
Lenses for SLR and DSLR cameras

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Teleconverter
Teleside converter
William Taylor (inventor)
Optical train

References
1. If the object is at a distance, one can assume the light rays will arrive
perpendicular to the plane of the lens, and thus converge at the focal
point. Collapsible Leica rangefinder lens
2. "PhotoNotes.org Dictionary – Floating element" (https://web.archive.or
g/web/20140810223927/http://photonotes.org/cgi-bin/entry.pl?id=Floati
ngelement#). photonotes.org. Archived from the original (http://photon
otes.org/cgi-bin/entry.pl?id=Floatingelement) on 2014-08-10.
Retrieved 2014-10-25.
3. "Ultraviolet Quartz Lenses" (http://www.ukaoptics.com/uvquartz.html).
Universe Kogaku. Retrieved 2007-11-05.
4. "Technical Room – Fluorite / UD / Super UD glass Lenses" (https://we
b.archive.org/web/20090530072058/http://www.canon.com/camera-m
useum/tech/room/hotaru.html#). Canon. Archived from the original (htt
p://www.canon.com/camera-museum/tech/room/hotaru.html) on 2009-
05-30. Retrieved 2007-11-05.
5. "Lenses: Fluorite, aspherical and UD lenses" (http://cpn.canon-europe.
com/content/education/infobank/lenses/fluorite_aspherical_and_ud_le
nses.do). Canon Professional Network. Retrieved 2008-10-04.
6. Gottermeier, Klaus. "The Macrolens Collection Database" (http://www.
macrolenses.de/objektive_sl.php?lang). Retrieved 2007-11-05.
7. Cavina, Marco (August 25, 2006). "Fuori banda: gli obiettivi per
fotografia multispettrale della Asahi Optical Co" (http://www.luciolepri.i
t/lc2/marcocavina/articoli_fotografici/articolo_obiettivi_uv.pdf) (PDF) (in
Italian). Retrieved 2007-11-05. "Rank Taylor Hobson IRTAL II 100mm
f/1.0, an example of specific target for recovery in the IR spectral
range of 2000 nm with lenses made of Germanium, transparent these
wavelengths extremely high but completely opaque to visible light. ...
In the'50s A swarm of iron meteorites impact to states in the Northeast
USA; It was pallasiti, or beautiful Aeroliti metal that hard crystalline
nuclei, usually Peridot or olivine say that we want (a mixture
Isomorphic with nesosilicato iron bivalent and nesosilicato magnesium
which must be green, in fact, the iron In the first component, called
fayalite, borrowed from the matrix ferrous), but the exceptional of
these meteorites Was that the crystal nuclei were fully incorporated
transparent and free of impurities as the best glass Optical; Mr..
Wollensak was aware of this curious anomaly, and I think immediately
to exploit this "glass" Achieving: purchase a large quantity of these
abnormal pallasiti, extracting and testing the crystalline material
Transparent; Immediately he realized that it was amorphous quartz
and devoid of negative characteristics of Earth's natural crystalline
material (polarization, birifrangenza, etc.). ; Surveys
spectrophotometry Evidenziarono that the quartz alien sent well
frequencies of ultraviolet deep, beautiful beyond the threshold 320 nm
granted by conventional optical glass, providing partial transparency to
the fateful threshold of 200nm!"

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3/7/2019 Camera lens - Wikipedia

8. "Understanding Lens Diffraction" (https://web.archive.org/web/201410


25223233/http://www.luminous-landscape.com/tutorials/understanding
-series/u-diffraction.shtml). luminous-landscape.com. Archived from
the original (http://www.luminous-landscape.com/tutorials/understandi
ng-series/u-diffraction.shtml) on 2014-10-25. Retrieved 2014-10-25.
9. Kingslake 1989,
10. "Canon EF 20-35mm f/3.5~4.5 USM – Index Page" (http://www.mir.co
m.my/rb/photography/hardwares/classics/eos/EF-lenses/EF2035mmf3
545USM/index.htm). mir.com.my. Retrieved 2014-10-25.
11. Ray, S.F. (2002). Applied Photographic Optics: Lenses and Optical
Systems for Photography, Film, Video, Electronic and Digital Imaging
(https://books.google.com/books?id=cuzYl4hx-B8C). Focal. p. 294.
ISBN 9780240515403. Retrieved 2014-12-12.
12. "Mutable Conclusions: World's fastest lens: Zeiss 50mm f/0.7" (https://
web.archive.org/web/20090309005033/http://ogiroux.blogspot.com/20
08/06/worlds-fastest-lens-zeiss-50mm-f07.html). web.archive.org.
Archived from the original (http://ogiroux.blogspot.com/2008/06/worlds
-fastest-lens-zeiss-50mm-f07.html) on March 9, 2009. Retrieved
2014-12-12.
13. Guy, 2012, p 43.
14. "Hollywood, NASA, and the chip industry put their trust in Carl Zeiss"
(http://www.zeiss.com/C12567A8003B58B9/allBySubject/B5283AEBB
B27ADA3C1256A2B0037E175). zeiss.com. Retrieved 2014-12-12.
15. "Dr. J. Kämmerer «When is it advisable to improve the quality of
camera lenses?» Excerpt from a lecture given during the Optics &
Photography Symposium, Les Baux, 1979" (https://web.archive.org/we
b/20030624111149/http://www.contaxinfo.com/pdf_files/When_is_it_ad
visable_Zeiss_1979.pdf#) (PDF). Archived from the original (http://ww
w.contaxinfo.com/pdf_files/When_is_it_advisable_Zeiss_1979.pdf#)
(PDF) on 2003-06-24. Retrieved 2012-10-27.
16. Suess, B.J. (2003). Mastering Black-and-White Photography: From
Camera to Darkroom (https://books.google.com/books?id=7LaRPNIN
H_YC). Allworth Press. ISBN 9781581153064. Retrieved 2014-10-25.
17. Guy 2012, page 53
18. Guy 2012, page 266
19. Lens work, Canon Inc. 1992, Japan

Sources
Kingslake, Rudolf (1989). A History of the Photographic Lens. Boston: Academic Press. ISBN 978-0-12-408640-
1.
Guy, N. K. (2012). The Lens: A Practical Guide for the Creative Photographer. Rocky Nook. ISBN 978-1-933952-
97-0.

External links
Photo.net Lens Tutorial (https://web.archive.org/web/20080121183110/http://photo.net/learn/optics/lensTutorial)
optical glass (http://www.asap.unimelb.edu.au/bsparcs/exhib/omp/bgrnd/glass.htm)

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