A file exchange site for lens designs

A library of lens designs is helpful for the optical engineer.  Tasks that can benefit from such a library include choosing a starting point for a new design, finding benchmarks for an existing design, and assessing design targets.  Many optical engineers have spent significant time building their own individual libraries; these individual libraries are instructive to the designer but are necessarily limited in scope and unlimited in time demands.  Other libraries are for sale.  These commercial libraries can be quite comprehensive, but the designer misses out on the lessons learned from building the library himself.

This site is intended to build a better design library, by building on collaborative efforts of its users.  A large library can be built by making the site collaborative; users can learn from others' efforts via discussions and release notes.  Please participate in this collaboration.

All designs are in the public domain, either in patents or publications.  All design files submitted to the site must also be in the public domain.

This site is owned and operated by Daniel J. Reiley, Ph.D.  You can contact me on my gmail account: dan dot reiley, my LinkedIn account, or in the Comments section.

November 10, 2019 - 73 models posted from the Handbook of Optics

The Handbook of Optics, from the Optical Society of America, is a tremendously valuable resource for all optics practitioners.  Each chapter is a great introduction for a specific optics subspecialties.  Chapters relevant to lens design include Doug Goodman’s chapter on Generic Principles of Geometric Optics, Glenn Boreman’s chapter on Transfer Function Techniques, Barry Johnson’s chapter on Lenses, and William Wetherell’s chapter on Afocal Systems..   Of particular interest to this site are Betensky, Kreitzer, and Moskovich’s ’s chapter on Camera Lenses and Lloyd Jones’s chapter on Reflective and Cataadioptric designs.  Both of these chapters are primarily comprised of prescriptions for a wide variety of lens designs.  Each chapter also includes some insightful text to explain the designs and place them in context.  Models posted to the Primes page, the Zooms page, and the telescopes page are constructed from these prescriptions.  For the most part, I’ve avoided sharing insights into these designs; to get this insight, please buy the book.

August 15, 2018 - 17 Gabor variants posted

              A recent David Shafer article in Optical Engineering contains schematics of 17 variants of Dennis Gabor’s catadioptric telescope from a 1941 British patent (#544,694A).  Zemax models of most of these schematics are posted on the Telescopes page.

November 28, 2017 - 47 Nikon camera lenses posted

    Today I posted some analysis of what seems to be some actual Nikon lenses, as described by some Nikon optical designers on a Nikon fan site.   Check them out on the Primes page., 

March 8, 2017 - 38 prime lenses posted, mostly wide-angle

     Check them out on the Primes page., 

February 8, 2017 - 59 zoom lenses posted, including 5 by Obama

     Akihiko Obama, that is - he's a lens designer at Nikon.   Check out the new zoom lenses on the Zooms page.

     This posting puts the total number of files over 1000.  Please join the conversation by contributing your files, thoughts, or requests.

February 2, 2017 - More instructions on downloading and using files

              Most of the comments have been from people having difficulty using files downloaded from this site.  I believe most of the problems are with browser settings and .zmx file structure.  Visit the page on loading files for details.        

January 26, 2017 -  40 models for smartphone lenses posted 

              I think the correct term is “mobile imaging,” but it will always be a phone to me, even if it has a great camera.  I posted the files on the Primes page.

January 24, 2017 -  13 new files posted 

              I made initial postings to the endoscopes page and the telescopes page.   The endoscopes are random, the telescopes are mostly unobscured reflectors.  I also added six files to the eyepieces page.

October 12, 2016 -  46 telephoto lenses posted

              Today I posted 46 lens files for telephoto lenses.  You can find the design files and a little explanation the page for Prime lenses.

September 14, 2016 -  19 fisheye lenses posted

              Today I posted 19 lens files for fisheye lenses.  You can find the design files and a little explanation the page for Prime lenses.

April 8, 2016 -  55 zoom lens designs posted.. 

              Today I posted 56 zoom lens files.  All are for folded zooms, which provide an interesting study.  As I described in a paper at the 2014International Optical Design Conference, this class of optics is interesting be they are of a reasonable complexity that the designs are likely to be instructive, they offer a small range of design constraints because of the standardization of CMOS imager sizes and the mechanical constraints imposed on DSC cameras, and there is enough recent activity in awarded patents that a representative sample of contemporary designs can be collected.  You can find the design files and some analysis on the page for zoom lenses.

October 28, 2015 -  95 full frame photographic objectives posted.. 

    These lenses all have a 42mm image circle, fitting the full-frame images found on high end photography cameras.  Focal lengths range from 15 to 925mm.  I find them interesting because they tend to achieve excellent image quality without heavy use of aspheres, making them good benchmarks for other custom optical systems.  Analysis on the primes page also shows the distribution of glass types and paraxial properties for these lenses.

April 25, 2015 -  45 eyepiece designs posted today. 

    My recent addition of design files from Cox included many eyepiece designs, the newest of which was published 50 years ago.  Today's posting broadens this sampling to include modern designs, too.  The older designs compare surprisingly well.

February 28, 2015 - 32 new files submitted by Steve Eckhardt

  These files include 12 projectors and 18 prime photo lenses.  He has also submitted a scan lens and a spectrograph, spurring me to add pages for these categories.

  Steve Eckhardt is president of Eckhardt Optics LLC, which he describes as “your ODM partner for optics.  Our custom lenses are designed in the US and manufactured in China.  We deliver prototypes optics with related metal parts in four weeks and production quantities in eight.  Our rigid quality control provides the reliability you need for success.”  Please visit http://www.eckop.com for more information.

January 21, 2015 - 25 design files for microscope objectives added

              These files represent a wide variety of objectives, typical 40X objectives, high-magnification immersion objectives, low magnification objectives for inspection microscopes, and some unusual catadioptric objectives, too.  YOu can find them, as well as a little summary, on the page for Microscope Objectives.

November 19, 2014 - Major update: more than 500 new files added

              There’s a major update today - the addition of over 500 files based on the design examples from Cox’s “A System of Optical Design.”  300 files are in Oslo format, submitted by Michael Gauvin from Lambda Research Corporation.  227 are files that I built independently in Zemax format.  Most of the files are photographic primes, so I put a little summary there.  65 files are eyepieces, so I placed them on that page.

September 15, 2014 - New section on IP, plus 24 projector design files posted

  Two updates today:  First, to clarify the IP status of posted material, I’ve added a page with some links describing IP issues, as well as my understanding of how these issues relate to me.  Second, I’ve uploaded 24 projector design files to the projectors page, showing a variety of projector types.

September 5, 2014 - 25 Double Gauss designs posted

              For the first posting to this site, I’ve chosen double-gauss designs, posted to the Photographic Primes page.  These Zemax models are all based on patent literature; they include the original patent, from 1897, modern patents, from 2013, and a nice sampling from in-between.