A Mexican Physicist May Have Just Solved a Problem That Could Lead to Cheaper (and Sharper) Camera Lenses
Camera lenses aren’t cheap. They’re fragile, wonderful, interesting pieces of technology that allow us to capture the world around us. They’re also not perfect. The edges of your images are always notably soft, and the reason is light. Light enters the curved edge of your lens, but it refracts differently at the edges, and doesn’t make it to the place you need the light – the sensor.
This results in softer, less accurate photo edges; it’s why many photographers will tell you to shoot large and wider, then crop in for the best and sharpest images. The phenomenon is called spherical aberration (fancy name, huh?), and it’s been around for thousands of years.
Now it seems, one physicist is finally putting a pin in it:
“Rafael G. González-Acuña, a doctoral student at Mexico’s Tecnológico de Monterrey. After months of work, he managed to come up with a mind-melting equation that provides an analytical solution for counteracting spherical aberration, which had been previously formulated back in 1949 as the Wasserman-Wolf problem which stumped scientists for decades.
To the average person, that equation is probably just more confirmation that a career in physics and mathematics wasn’t for them. But for lens makers, it can provide an exact blueprint for designing a lens that completely eliminates any spherical aberration. It doesn’t matter the size of the lens, the material it’s made from, or what it will be used for, this equation will spit out the exact numbers needed to design it to be optically perfect.” (Gizmodo)
This is a gamer-changer for photographers, but also for users of telescopes and microscopes. Image quality will vastly improve when it comes to sharpness, and could possibly lead to new discoveries. Additionally, companies will be able to design simpler lenses with fewer elements – hopefully meaning cheaper prices for consumers, while offering higher-quality images. This applies to everything from pro-grade cameras down to smartphone lenses.
Are you an avid photographer? Love posting your pics on Instagram and similar platforms? Share your thoughts in the comments below on the story, and whether it’ll make much of a difference in the way you photograph or how much money you invest in the art.