Dozens of different lens types exist, so how do you know which type you need? One way to visualize the various types of lenses is to plot them on a chart of f/# versus field of view. Credit for this idea goes to Warren Smith in his book, Modern Optical Engineering, which we highly recommend. This chart differs from his in several aspects, but Warren’s insights are greatly appreciated.

Lens capability chart

The half field angle (or Half Field of View) is normally used because rotational symmetry guarantees that the other half will be identical. A lens’s f/# measures how much light it can collect. Perversely, the amount of light increases as the f/# decreases. The cost and complexity of a lens also typically increase as f/# decreases.

In the chart, the purple ovals are used for telescopes, the blue for microscopes and the green for camera lenses. There are so many lens types that it is difficult to condense descriptions of all of them onto a single page, so please choose from the list below for more information.

There are also types of lenses that are not on the chart. Here are a few:

    We have designed lenses in each of the above categories, including most of the varieties on the chart. We would be happy to work with you to design and manufacture the best type of lens for your product. Please use our contact us form to learn more.