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New technology introduced to the development of lenses for digital SLR cameras and Nikon 1 advanced cameras with interchangeable lenses

September 17, 2013

Nikon Corporation (Makoto Kimura, President) is pleased to announce the development and deployment of OPTIA*1, a new measurement device that is able to measure all forms of aberration*2 in interchangeable lenses for cameras, as well as a dedicated image simulator.

  • *1Optical Performance and Total Image Analyzer
  • *2Aberration occurs when light from one point of an object does not converge into a single point after transmission through an optical system, causing image "bleed" or "blur". Aberration may also cause the image of an object to be formed in a differ shape from that of the object.

Nikon has spent decades researching and developing ultra high-performance, ultra-precise projection lenses for IC steppers and scanners, as well as means of evaluating their optical performance. Currently, Nikon is one of only two companies in the world manufacturing and selling the latest ArF (argon fluoride) immersion scanners, and the only Japanese company doing so. For OPTIA, a means of measuring aberration originally developed for IC steppers and scanners has been further developed for use with camera lenses.

While the light used for exposure with IC steppers and scanners is of a very narrow band of wavelengths, light used by camera lenses covers a wide band of wavelengths that includes the entire visible range. What's more, the amount of aberration that occurs with camera lenses is significantly greater. OPTIA is equipped with a brand new aberration measurement sensor that responds to these characteristics of camera lenses, making it a ground-breaking device capable of measuring nearly all aspects of optical performance for a wide variety of camera lenses.

In addition to resolution, camera lens performance is indicated by such characteristics as blur (as known as "bokeh"), reproduction of textures, and sense of depth (these characteristics combined are referred to as "lens characteristics"). The application of OPTIA's aberration measurement to Nikon lenses, which have always had a very high reputation, enables clarification of the correspondence between lens characteristics and aberration.

The image simulator (software) developed alongside OPTIA enables simulation at the design stage that is equivalent to actual photography with lens prototypes. Therefore, by utilizing the correspondence relationship between lens characteristics and aberration clarified with OPTIA, lenses can be developed with greater control over not only resolution, but also a wide variety of lens characteristics.

Adoption of the new design concept formulated with the use of OPTIA and the image simulator will enable more effective development of high-performance lenses with unique characteristics, and allow Nikon to provide customers with interchangeable lenses that offer new forms of value never before seen.

Development Background

  • Development of OPTIA (hardware) was completed in May 2012. Development of related software, inspection and evaluation of camera lens performance initiated.
  • Full deployment of OPTIA with the use of the new image simulator initiated in September 2013.

  • The information is current as of the date of publication. It is subject to change without notice.

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