Please wait, authorizing ...

Don't have an account? Register here today.


Technological evolution of lenses

From a tool for creating images, lenses have become a powerful means of manipulating the image to increase the strength of storytelling. Progress in the fields of electronics and in the knowledge of the optical properties of crystals and lens groups have contributed to this. This article reveals the latest developments.

In this article we take a look at the progress in lens technology and how advances have enabled greater productivity and ease of use for camera operators. It is important to understand that lenses have evolved very rapidly over the past two decades. What began as a fundamentally optical tool to create images that we could appreciate in real time, then became a tool for capturing images. Along the way, the ingenuity of countless practitioners shaped this optical tool and turned it into a mechanism for creative intervention. So the lens not only creates the optical image of the presentation but has become a powerful means of manipulating the image to increase strength in the art of storytelling. In this process, the lens became the powerful interpreter of the imagined scene.

As the lens is the first component to affect the video, the improvements we choose will impact everything that can happen to the image from then on. Therefore, deciding what improvements to make – and when – is a great responsibility. In many cases, features start with the most common requests from users. With that in mind, lens manufacturers are looking to progress consistently on two fronts: the electronics that control the operation of lenses, and the optical properties of crystals and lens groups. Let's look first at the electronics of the lens, because here the most noticeable changes can occur, due to the rapid advances in the capabilities of microprocessors, evident in all fields.

Lens electronics: from analog to digital
The area where the most drastic improvements have been presented has been in the transition from analog to digital electronics. This change began in the mid-nineties and today covers all lenses manufactured for HD or SD applications. The change has not happened in the professional segment yet, partly due to the fact that this segment must have prices adjusted to its market. Adding digital electronics to these lenses would significantly increase production costs and leave target users out of the price range.

In state-of-the-art lenses, digital electronics incorporate microprocessors – miniature computers – that reside in the lens case. These minicomputers simplify the life of the camera operator and allow for greater creativity. At Canon, for example, our Enhanced Digital Drive system provides an in-lens display that allows the operator to visually access lens memory and multiple other benefits. Its menu system can be easily viewed and it is extremely easy for the operator to navigate through the visual options on the screen to enable or disable certain features.

For example, today's lenses provide a memory function called "Frame Preset" that can memorize a frame at a certain focal length. With the push of a single button, cameramen can move the lens to a frame position and make the lens move at the memorized speed. In addition, the lens will be in focus when it reaches that position.

This can currently be done with two memorized zoom and focus positions, unlike the first generation of digital lenses, which had a single memory position for zoom and none for focus. This feature has its advantages in studio productions, such as dramatized in which the cameraman must zoom in to the same position a large number of times, for multiple shots of a scene, in order to get the same look over and over again.

On the other hand there is the Shuttle Shot, another advantage of the lenses that the current digital electronic technology makes possible and refers to the possibility of establishing a certain focal length in the memory of the lens. Cameramen can press a button and zoom in to that position. If the focal length is that of a telephoto position, camera operators can use that function to quickly check if they are in focus and then return to the original frame.

Other fascinating possibilities with digital electronics, which have become a reality recently, include the ease of limiting the amplitude or focus length of the telephoto for some applications – a very convenient feature for operators who do not want to go over the stopping point f or have a greater amplitude than what a matte box would allow them to zoom. -. Moreover, camera operators now have the ability to control the zoom reaction by changing the zoom curve. With this property, the parameters of a zoom, such as the way the movement begins and the speed of acceleration or deceleration, give a special shape to the movement or the recorded image. In addition, it is now possible to have direct control and access to lenses through a PC, providing skills to solve complex problems on site.

It is worth mentioning that although there were considerable differences between the digital controls available in ENG/EFP versus the box-style lenses, today both categories present the same possibilities of high performance. Whether you're talking about portable or studio lenses, one thing is for sure: lenses, today, possess features that weren't available, and weren't even thought of five years ago.

Advances in lens optics: the key to image quality
One of the interesting aspects in the development of lenses is that research and development in optics operate on a different agenda from electronics. The change in electronics comes to market quickly, while influencing the change of optical design is a very complicated science. This is because there are many different types of crystals and coatings that interact to produce the images in the lenses, in addition to the complexity of optical designs.

Nothing affects image quality more than optics. The precision and quality of the elements in the lenses and their coatings ultimately determine the overall performance.

Now let's take a look at some developments in lens elements, starting with the type of glass used. The recent introduction of Hi-UD crystal (high index and ultra-low dispersion) makes it possible to reduce chromatic aberrations. These occur due to dispersion (the property that the refractive index of the crystal differs with the wavelength). Hi-UD crystal has a high refractive index and a low dispersion rate that decreases chromatic aberrations.

It is also important to understand the role of fluorite when talking about chromatic aberrations. Researchers realized, long ago, that if they could produce artificial fluorite crystals and apply them to the lens manufacturing process, they would decrease chromatic aberrations. Today, flourite is an essential part in the production of high-quality lenses. However, only a few companies in the world produce it. Canon affiliate Optron is one of the industry's leading producers.

Another key advance in optics has been the advancement in the quality of coatings to eliminate reflections. Coatings are thin, transparent films on the surface of lenses, which essentially use interference to reduce reflection and increase transmission. For example, a material used for
Coating is magnesium fluoride. Coatings are very important for image quality because between 4% and 10% incident light can reflect all elements of a lens. Lens manufacturers, such as Canon, use multi-layer coatings that prevent reflection more effectively than a single one.

The design of the lenses is also critical. At Canon we use a design called Element X and the Power Optical System to achieve the highest specifications and decrease size and weight. Additionally, Canon uses 3D CAD/CAM programs to speed up the design process and effectively deliver lenses with the highest possible quality.

On the other hand, the quality conditions under which the lenses are developed are as important as advances in technology and design. Canon consistently avoids the use of any material or substance that may pollute the environment. Optical elements should be made of lead-free glass and designed in such a way that they are completely harmless; the mechanical parts, on the other hand, should also be free of products harmful to the planet such as cadmium, PBBS (polybromo biphenyl), PBDPE (polybromo diphenyl ether) or mercury.

Finally, the development of the lenses seeks to achieve the highest quality in the image, taking into account the overall production system and budget constraints. If you are an optical manufacturer you will never want to stagnate, on the contrary, you will always have to look forward. Fortunately, when it comes to the development of electronic and optical lenses, there is no end in sight.

No thoughts on “Technological evolution of lenses”

• If you're already registered, please log in first. Your email will not be published.

Leave your comment

In reply to Some User
Suscribase Gratis

Visita a MEDIA5 durante NAB SHOW Las Vegas 2023

Entrevista con MOISES MARTINI Empresa: MEDIA5 Realizada por Richard Santa Evento: NAB SHOW Las Vegas Abril 2023

Visita a LIVEU durante NAB SHOW Las Vegas 2023

Entrevista con JOSÉ LUIS REYES Empresa: LIVEU Realizada por Richard Santa Evento: NAB SHOW Las Vegas Abril 2023

Visita a LEYARD durante NAB SHOW Las Vegas 2023

Entrevista con DIMAS DE OLIVEIRA - CAMILO MADRIGAL Empresa: LEYARD Realizada por Richard Santa Evento: NAB SHOW Las Vegas Abril 2023

Visita a LAWO durante NAB SHOW Las Vegas 2023

Entrevista con Noach Gonzales Empresa: Lawo Realizada por Richard Santa Evento: NAB SHOW Las Vegas Abril 2023

Visita a IGSON durante NAB SHOW Las Vegas 2023

Entrevista con IGOR SEKE Empresa: IGSON Realizada por Richard Santa Evento: NAB SHOW Las Vegas Abril 2023
Load more...

Ultimo Info-Boletin