Thursday, August 14, 2008
How Camera Lenses Are Made
I'm an optical engineer who works with optical design software, though most of the optical systems I have ever designed have been for training or software testing purposes - nothing I've ever designed has been built. I have gotten to tour a lot of optical shops and factories over the years, including a fairly large one in China a couple of years ago. They had a lot of people and machines making very tiny lenses for mobile phone cameras.
The video clip above is from the Discovery Channel. It shows the largely manual manufacturing steps for a pretty large lens for a video application. High quality, low volume optics are still manufactured this way, though large volume fabrication in Asia is typically much more automated than this (but there are still a lot of people involved). Canon has a great "Virtual Lens Plant" site if you want to learn more about optical fabrication.
For more information on what optical engineers do, watch this career-oriented video (about 15 minutes, in two parts).