Future of lens technology

Started Apr 4, 2013 | Discussions
mobi1
Forum MemberPosts: 65
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Future of lens technology
Apr 4, 2013

I wonder what will be future trend for lens development.

I guess superzooms will be the most popular. People like one stop solution (e.g. smartphone = phone, organizer, camera(!) etc.).

Improvement in lens technology (optics, materials etc.) means zoom lenses will be lighter and more compact as well as better optics leading to better image quality.

Vibration Control, high ISO improvement etc. will possibly make low light shooting easier without expensive larger aperture lenses??

I understand that primes and larger aperture lenses will always produce better quality pictures, but probably the gap will become narrower (compared to modern consumer zooms).

What do you think?

Guidenet
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Re: Future of lens technology
In reply to mobi1, Apr 4, 2013

mobi1 wrote:

I wonder what will be future trend for lens development.

I guess superzooms will be the most popular. People like one stop solution (e.g. smartphone = phone, organizer, camera(!) etc.).

Improvement in lens technology (optics, materials etc.) means zoom lenses will be lighter and more compact as well as better optics leading to better image quality.

Vibration Control, high ISO improvement etc. will possibly make low light shooting easier without expensive larger aperture lenses??

I understand that primes and larger aperture lenses will always produce better quality pictures, but probably the gap will become narrower (compared to modern consumer zooms).

What do you think?

I'm not sure how far left there is to go with any relationship to current technology and lens development. Sure, camera and sensor technology can move quite a bit forward, but lenses are a differrent story all together. Lenses don't contribute to high ISO perfromance for example.

In-lens vibration reduction will certainly improve, hopefully by quite a lot, maybe with hybrid systems combining phase detection, contrast detection and sensor movement to go with even better optical corrections. This isn't really an optical improvement though.

I think we only have so far to go when dealing just with the lens. I mean, how much more transperent can the glass be with modern coatings. Nikon's Nano Crystal coating really makes it about as clear as it can be. Others have similar things in the wings. We already have extremely low distortion glass and flourite materials. The more heavily use of these in consumer glass might be closer.

Cheap aspherics have become routine in the past 20 years, not needing to be hand ground by using molded glass and other inexpensive production methods. That might get cheaper and there might become a cheaper way to grind it as well. I don't kow. Ground aspherics are the best, but still very expensive.

We already use huge computers to design our optical formulas today. I'm not sure that can be improved in design. It could be faster to create with bigger computers, but the designs seem to be about to the point of minimum improvement gained over previous year's formula.

It seems to me additional improvements in glass, optical formula, coatings and manufacturing are at the point where advances will be somewhat trivial without some breakthrough in materials or methodology. I think what we'll see is optimization in our ability to do it cheaper and amortize these advances so it's available on more consumer level gear. Just my guess and I'm not a optical engineer. My friend Lenard Migliore would have a better guess, I'm sure.

Good question. Take care.

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mobi1
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Re: Future of lens technology
In reply to Guidenet, Apr 4, 2013

Do the lenses prices reflect how complex to manufacture them?

or it is based on profitability and supply-demand analysis?

For example, 18-55 F/3.5-5.6 lenses are good yet cheap.

But 16-85 (same aperture) is far more expensive.

35 F/1.8 is cheap but 28 F/1.8 is way more expensive and so on.

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Wally626
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Re: Future of lens technology
In reply to mobi1, Apr 4, 2013

mobi1 wrote:

Do the lenses prices reflect how complex to manufacture them?

or it is based on profitability and supply-demand analysis?

For example, 18-55 F/3.5-5.6 lenses are good yet cheap.

But 16-85 (same aperture) is far more expensive.

35 F/1.8 is cheap but 28 F/1.8 is way more expensive and so on.

Lens prices are based on how hard it is to make the lens, how expensive the materials used and the quality control used. If every lens is checked for optical and mechanical performance at several steps in the manufacturing process that adds a lot of cost compared to setting up a manufacturing line and sampling the occasional unit.

As you get a way from normal lens sizes, like 30 mm on a APS-C or 50mm on a FF then lens designs get more complex, longer zoom ranges also are more complex, larger apertures are more complex and require larger pieces of glass. The area the lens has to cover is also a consideration, a cell phone lens covers a very small image circle compared to a FF lens or medium format lens.

The 16-85 is both wider and longer than the normal kit lens at 18-55, this makes it more expensive, there is also the issue that many fewer are made so the parts used in it are going to cost more to manufacture. The manufacture may also use more quality control on non-kit lenses.

35 f/1.8 is a normal lens is made in reasonable quantities so is not going to be real expensive for APS-C, the same lenses for FF bodies tend to be more expensive. The 28 f/1.8 is potentially not real expensive to make on a APS-C camera but is harder to make for a FF. The market for 28mm APS-C lenses is pretty small as most kit lenses are not much slower at this focal length and have decent quality.

The final determination is what does the company think they can get people to buy the lens at. There are development and manufacturing costs for a lens, the profit on a lens has to cover this. This is also why older lenses are replaced with much more expensive lenses sometimes, the development costs were paid for long ago on the old lenses but need to be paid for on the new ones.

Modern lens development and manufacturing systems can reduce costs of lenses and we have seen some really good reasonably priced lenses lately. As long as the companies think they can sell enough of a particular design, that is not unreasonably complex or expensive to manufacture the prices can be pretty fair. So you can see a good cheap 35 f/1.8, but your are unlikely to see a good cheap 200 f/2.

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