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Lens elements

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The individual pieces of glass that form the overall optical construction. Most lenses have between four and eleven elements to bend the light rays to ensure a perfectly formed image appears on the light sensitive surface, such as a film or CCD. The elements are arranged in groups and may be seen in specification sheets as, for example, 6 elements in 4 groups. That configuration may have two single elements and the other four grouped in pairs.

Related Terms

This is technically known as a catadioptric lens and has an unusual construction of mirrors and lens elements. As well as glass elements there are mirrors at the front and rear to fold the light as it enters the lens. Although this results in a body that's a little wider than normal, advantages are: 1. The lens is usually only half the physical length a regular lens of the same focal length would be, and 2. It's much lighter. Disadvantages are: 1. There is no adjustable aperture, so the user is forced to take all of his photos at a permanent aperture setting, usually f8, but sometimes even f11, which means you need plenty of light for taking photos; 2. Practically all mirror lenses use manual focus; 3. Highlights that are out of focus are, in some situations, shown as doughnut shapes (although some actually like this characteristic and consider it an advantage, not a disadvantage).
Transparent coated on lens elements that helps reduce reflections and flare to improve image contrast.
(Not be confused with Fixed focus lens!) A lens that only has one focal length (as opposed to a zoom lens). A fixed focal length lens (also called 'prime lens') will often have good brightness, contrast, and be optically well-corrected. For that, it doesn't need any special glass or aspheric lens elements. Fixed focal length lenses are always superior to zoom lenses if they're made with the same optical materials and standards. They usually offer a wider maximum aperture than zoom lenses. They're often preferable for indoor shooting, but are also favourite choices as long telephoto lenses used for wildlife, sports and news photography.
A technology found in some camcorders, camera lenses and binoculars to help produce a steadier image that's free from camera shake. It uses special optical designs with some lens elements floating in fluid to reduce the movement caused by our inability to hold things rigid by hand.