Imaging lenses are part of complex optomechanical assemblies that produce images. A camera sensor can focus and create the image, or the lens can produce it for the human eye to view. Some imaging lenses allow users to adjust the field of view, magnification, or focal length. Some, like telecentric imaging lenses, eliminate parallax.

JML Optical designs, develops, and manufactures different types of imaging lenses. Learn more about the different types, applications, and design considerations.

Specs and Material Types

In imaging lenses, one of the most important properties is the focal length, which determines magnification and field of view for a given object distance. At JML Optical, we offer the following two general types of imaging lenses.

Fixed Focal Length Lenses

Fixed focal length lenses come in a wide variety of options. Some of the most common examples include:

  • Machine vision lenses
  • Factory automation (FA) lenses
  • Prime lenses for cinematography and photography

Zoom Lenses

Zoom lenses allow the operator or operating system to change the effective focal length of the lens. Elements of the lens assembly can move along the lens’s optical axis, thereby changing the focal length, magnification, and field of view. The elements can be moved by hand or by motor, depending on the design. A continuous zoom lens remains in focus throughout the zoom range. An alternative that is simpler to design and build is a zoom lens that moves between two or more discrete focal length settings, while not necessarily remaining in focus between those settings.

Applications and Industries

Imaging lenses are designed to meet the needs of unique applications and industries. The application may dictate, for example, resolution, field of view, exposure time, and maximum size. To meet these varying demands, optical lens designers control multiple design parameters.  Some of the key factors that go into designing the right lens for a given application include:

  • Aperture: The aperture controls the amount of light gathered by the lens and brought to a focus.  Aperture, along with focal length, determines the f-number, or optical speed of the lens. A “faster” lens – one that has a larger aperture, other factors held equal – will have higher resolution and will have shorter exposure times than an otherwise equivalent  slower lens.
  • Focal length: Focal length together with sensor size determines field of view. Focal length also affects magnification and, as stated above, optical speed.
  • Resolution: Resolution is the ability to discriminate small features in the object. Generally, the larger the field of view and the faster the lens, the more difficult it is to design and manufacture a lens that maintains high resolution over the entire field of view.

Environmental factors associated with specific applications also play a role in determining which lens is best. Telephoto lenses, for example, are often the superior choice when the camera or imaging system has to be far away from the target subject. JML Optical’s imaging lens design experts can help you determine the right lens for your specific needs.

Why JML Optical

JML Optical is a leading provider of specialty lenses and optical components. We have produced more than 400 lens assemblies for aerial imaging systems, as well as over 14,000 F/2.0 imaging lenses for general applications. In total, our lenses have been responsible for capturing more than 700 million images and over 3,500 terabytes of image data from various ground and air optical systems.

When you need a world-class optical lens production team that can meet or exceed the unique demands of your project, turn to JML Optical. Contact us today to learn more about our capabilities in designing and producing imaging lenses and other optical systems.

Design Hits New Performance Heights

An international aerial imaging company needed a new lens assembly concept that required design and fabrication expertise.

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