optics

Hypercentric Optics: This Camera Lens Can See Behind Objects

Engineer and YouTuber Ben Krasnow over at Applied Science has put together a fascinating little optical demonstration that explains the physics behind 'hypercentric' optics and how they allow you to see around and behind objects. He even shows you how to build your own.

Reaching the Megapixel Limit (for 35mm Camera Scanning)

Since I first started camera scanning, I've always advocated using the highest resolution camera you can get ahold of. (My first camera scans were with the 1.3-megapixel Nikon E2n, so it's been a long road.) That advice is changing.

Perfect is Boring: Lens Makers Need to Loosen Up and Have Fun

Over the past few years, I've experienced a number of lenses that were optically stunning. Near-perfect examples of optical technology, lenses like the Sony 135mm f/1.8 (which I reviewed and loved) and 24mm f/1.4 (also loved) along with the Canon RF 28-70mm f/2 or their RF 50mm f/1.2 all exhibited these traits of pushing towards "perfection."

A Simple and Inexpensive Schlieren Optical System Using a Fresnel Lens

Schlieren imaging is a fairly standard optical technique for visualizing heat, sound, or pressure differences in air. Technically, a schlieren system is able to see clear disturbances in air due to slight differences in the speed of light in the air. The technique can be sensitive enough to see the heat rising off a human hand at room temperature.

A Crash Course in 100 Years of Nikon Lens History

Well-known (and controversial) photographer and gear reviewer Ken Rockwell recently put together a fascinating video that is probably best described as a crash course in Nikon lens history. The video covers 100 years worth of Nikon's optical heritage, from the company's original rangefinder glass all the way to the latest lenses for the brand new Z-mount.

Behind the Scenes: Visiting the World’s Largest Digital Camera and Optical Lens

A couple of weeks ago, we shared some photos of the world's largest optical lens, which had just been shipped to the SLAC laboratory in Menlo Park, CA, where it would be joined with the world's largest digital camera. Unfortunately, we obviously weren't actually there for the reveal of this record breaking lens, but YouTube channel Physics Girl was.

Goodbye Aberration: Physicist Solves 2,000-Year-Old Optical Problem

When you look through your viewfinder and things seem a little bit blurry or lacking definition, it's probably because you are using an “el cheapo” lens. So you read reviews and buy a much more expensive lens, and what do you do next?

Schlieren Photography Lets Us See an Invisible World

Have you ever wondered what a gale-force sneeze would look like if you could see air currents, temperature gradients, and differences in pressure and composition of the air? Or, less disgustingly, the strike of a match? This fascinating 6-minute video demonstrates Schlieren photography, which makes the invisible visible.

How to Get a 35mm f/0.9 Lens for Just $350: Speed Boosters Explained

You would think the physics of lenses and light are pretty set in stone—and yet, somehow, people still get really twisted around when it comes to things like crop factor, depth of field, and speed boosters. Hoping to end (or at least quiet) this debate, photographer Jimmi Kai created this very informative, easy-to-understand video.

A Simple Explanation of How Lenses Work

Canon just released this 3.5-minute video that explains how lenses work. We learn about focal points, spherical aberration, chromatic aberration, and how multiple lens elements are used together for aberration correction.

The Problem with Modern Lenses

When talking about the right kind of lenses, there are some characteristics that people should not be buying for most photographic practices. In this post I'll be discussing the problem with modern lenses.

Sony Unveils Its New G Master Line of Flagship Lenses

Sony today launched an entirely new brand of interchangeable lenses: the G Master. This line will represent the best of what Sony has to offer in terms of optics.

The brand will launch with 3 new E-mount lenses: the 24-70mm f/2.8, 85mm f/1.4, and 70-200mm f/2.8.

Samyang Announces Rokinon 50mm f/1.2 and 21mm f/1.4 For Multiple Mounts

Samyang Optics has announced two new lenses due out this October under their Rokinon branding. The first piece of glass announced is a 50mm f/1.2 lens, while the second is a 21mm f/1.4. Both products are compatible with Canon EF-M, Fujifilm X, Micro Four Thirds, and Sony E mounts. The lenses are entirely manual focus but feature aspherical elements, with the 21mm housing an extra-low dispersion element, for increased image clarity.

MTF Testing the Canon 11-24mm f/4L, the World’s Widest Full Frame Rectilinear Lens

Editor's note: If you're unfamiliar with how to interpret MTF charts, you can find a primer here.

I'll be honest. I'm pretty excited about the Canon 11-24mm f/4 L lens. I love shooting ultra-wide and the chance to shoot this wide with a rectilinear lens on a full-frame camera has me pretty excited. But I'm also very aware of how near-impossibly difficult designing a lens this wide would be, so my expectations were tempered a bit.

There's a reason I'll often stitch together a couple of 24mm shots for a landscape rather than take one 16mm shot. OK, there are several reasons, but image quality is high among them.

This New Flat Lens Captures Perfect Colors Without Chromatic Aberration

A team of researchers at Harvard are trying to revolutionize the world of optical lenses. Instead of traditional curved lenses that suffer from various optical flaws, they are working on a completely flat and ultra-thin lens that overcomes age-old problems and pushes optical quality to the limits of the laws of nature.

Comparing the Optics of the $40 Yongnuo 50mm f/1.8 and the $125 Canon 50mm f/1.8 II

I recently did a simple review that compared Yongnuo's new $40 clone of the Canon 50mm f/1.8 II. Today I will dive a little deeper into how the two lenses stack up optically.

There’s only so much that can be tested in home without fancy gear (MTF charts and the like) so I did a few tests that gauge common aesthetic qualities, using techniques that are often recommended for testing at home.

Video: Fascinating ‘Lens Design 101’ Interview with a ZEISS Master

Dr. Hubert Nasse has been working in optics for almost 30 years. A ZEISS master, many of us dream of sitting down with a man of his optical know-how and just having a conversation in which he enlightens us (pun intended) on the basics of lens design.

Fortunately, photographer and photo educator Matt Granger is making that dream come true for us today with his video interview with Dr. Nasse from Photokina.

NASA Packs 17-Ton Telescope in a Boeing 747 to Solve Catch-22 of Astrophotography

NASA is known for using some impressive optics for its telescopes. But with amazing optics come some logistical limitations.

Ground-based lenses used by NASA can be as massive as needed, but are limited due to atmospheric distortion. Those used in space-based telescopes such as Hubble, on the other hand, must be much smaller, capable of being launched into space and fixed on-the-fly. This leaves NASA with a little Catch–22.

A Catch-22 they’ve managed to find an answer to in the form of SOFIA (Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy): a Boeing 747 with a 17-ton telescope packed inside.

Diving Into the Tech Behind the Lytro Illum and Its Impressive 30-250mm f/2.0 Lens

Lytro came into the photography world not only to create a novelty product, but to fundamentally change how we approach image capture. Because despite light field photography being around for over a century, it’s only with the latest technology that the company is able to exploit what it is a camera is truly capable of doing.

We recently spoke with Lytro about its upcoming Illum camera a bit, diving into the technology behind the specs and revealing how Lytro's approach is allowing the company to not only step, but leap into the future.