MIT researchers are at it again: the university’s latest research project to receive attention from tech blogs the world over is their new self-cleaning, anti-glare, fog-resistant glass. They’re calling it “multifunctional” glass, and by using a nano-textured surface it eliminates glare and fogging entirely, essentially making it invisible.
As an added bonus, water droplets “bounce” off of this type of glass like little bouncy ball. As of right now the process involved in making the glass is complicated and would be too expensive to implement on a large scale, but the researchers have both hope and ideas for how to make this a reality. When that happens, photographers can cross their fingers that we’ll start seeing lenses made of this special glass. We certainly hope it happens: no dust, no fog, no glare… yes please!
Want to see how high end camera lenses are tested for durability? Here’s a video in which Carl Zeiss researcher Norbert Wittekindt shows off the various tests lenses are subjected to, ranging from temperature tests to mechanical vibrations.
After images started leaking last night, Canon today officially announced three new lenses for the EF lineup: the 24-70mm f/2.8L II, 24mm f/2.8 IS, and 28mm f/2.8 IS. Compared to the first version, the new 24-70mm weighs 100 grams less (it’s 850g), costs $1,000 more, still doesn’t offer IS, uses 82mm filters (instead of 77mm), extends at the telephoto end (instead of the wide end like the previous version), features a zoom lock, and connects with the hood at the extension. As we noted yesterday, the 24mm and 28mm are the first non-L series EF prime lenses — and the first wide angle ones — to have image stabilization built in. The IS provides four stops of stabilization.
The 24-70mm will be available starting on April 17th with a price tag of $2,300, while the 24mm and 28mm will be available in June with price tags of $850 and $800, respectively.
If you’re curious as to which prime lenses Canon has marked for refreshing, recently filed patents may hold the answer. The lineup consists of a 50mm f/1.4, 85mm f/1.2, 85mm f/1.8, 100mm f/2.0, 135mm f/2.0, and 200mm f/2.0. There are also rumors that a 35mm f/1.4 Mark II is already floating around in the wild, which suggests that it will be officially announced in the near future.
As you might know, different copies of the same lens can vary in quality, and some people go as far as to purchase multiple copies to pick the sharpest one before returning the others. Roger Cicala over at LensRentals wanted to quantify exactly how much variation actually exists between copies of the same lens, so he subjected some to Imatest quality tests:
[...] while the Canon 100mm f/2.8 IS L lens is a bit sharper than the other two on average, not every copy is. If someone was doing a careful comparative review there’s a fair chance they could get a copy that wasn’t any sharper than the other two lenses. I think this explains why two careful reviewers may have slightly different opinions on a given lens.
That’s interesting to think about. Two highly objective reviews of the same lens could come to different conclusions about relative sharpness compared to other lenses, simply because there are differences among copies of that lens. Too bad reviews are usually based on a single copy of a lens, rather than the average performance of multiple copies.
Canon has long offered its telephoto L lenses in white in order to keep the lens cooler under sunlight, but did you know that certain Nikon lenses can be found in “white” as well? The lenses were officially called “light gray”, and can be purchased for pretty reasonable prices on eBay — the AF-S ED 70-200 f/2.8G VR seen above was sold a couple days ago by eBay seller shrewd25 for $1,999.
Today Panasonic unveiled a new line of Lumix X lenses for Micro Four Thirds cameras, introducing two new zoom lenses: the 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 and the 45-175mm f/4-5.6. What’s unique about them is that they’re both power zoom lenses, meaning the focal length is controlled electronically using a rocker on the side of the lens. The 45-175mm also has standard zoom and focus rings, but these are electronic controls as well. Read more…
Rather than being built from scratch with new designs, new camera lenses are designed by taking existing lens designs that work well and then improving on them. As a result, virtually every lens design can be traced back to one of six basic lens designs developed in the early 1900s (shown above). Roger Cicala of LensRentals writes,
Those original lenses in their pure form each had strengths and weaknesses. Modern lenses derived from them have ‘inherited’ those same underlying tendencies. Many of the complex technologies used in a modern lens are put there to correct the underlying problems of the original design.
Head on over to his post to learn about lenses derived from the first three of these designs.
Here’s a neat image showing the different field of views offered by focal lengths ranging from 16mm to 200mm. It’s not simply lines overlaid on a single photo — the different focal lengths were actually used to capture what the scenes looks like through the lenses.
Vimeo recently partnered up with photographer Vincent LaForet for a new educational series called Behind the Glass. If you’re just getting into photography, the videos are great primers on the subject of camera lenses.