What is a Lens? Learn All About Lenses, and Watch the Creation of a Nikon Nikkor

Not all glass is created equal. Some is shaped into things you drink out of. Some becomes windows, windshields, and portholes. And some become the tools you use every day to create beautiful images. Something as insanely resolute as 4K (or even 8K) broadcast and stereoscopic 48fps can only look so good with a junk piece of glass placed between the medium and the image -- which can also work great if that's the type of look you're going for. Given all this, the birds and the bees of how lenses are made -- and function, down to the basics -- is definitely something many of us take for granted.

What a Lens Is, What It Does, and How It Works

You may find some of these a bit dry, and what they cover may already be known or even obvious to many of us -- the thing about non-camera-specific sites regarding this type of material is really a double-edged sword: they assume we as viewers know basically nothing of lenses (or shooting, film, and the like), so they treat us as though we as viewers know nothing of lenses (or shooting, film, and the like). This, however, is great for beginners -- and certainly as a refresher, which I'm always keen on. These videos cover a lot of the basic questions you may have as a budding shooter, including the principles behind telephotos, zooms, macros, fisheyes, tilt-shift devices by Lensbaby, and of course, the universals like exposure and focus.

If you'd like to see the whole series from Butterscotch.com, click to start here. Here's another breakdown of telephotos:

The Birth of Nikon Nikkors

With thanks to Nikon Rumors for the find(s), here's a rather elegant look at how one of the leading lens manufacturers -- Nikon -- puts together some of the devices that grant us the power to do what we do. First, of course, comes the glass itself, followed by its integration into the lenses with which we're very familiar.

According to Nikon Rumors, these videos were fittingly shot on the Nikon D800 (and probably not with Canon glass). Obviously a major lens manufacturer like Nikon isn't going to get super intimate with 'behind the scenes' diaries (trade secrets, perhaps?) -- but it's still fascinating to see an assembly line creating such technical and artistic marvels.

If none of this has been news to you (or all of it has), don't worry -- we'll be featuring some additional and more advanced material regarding lenses soon. In the mean time we hope you found the videos useful to whatever extent!


[via Nikon Rumors, Nikon Rumors]

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Your Comment


" can only look so good with a junk piece of glass placed between the medium and the image" Junk, really? Better to touch on the precision of optics, maybe including reticle shape and circles of confusion. Dryness would then disappear.

February 5, 2013 at 7:16PM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM


Looks like "ThunderBolt" has a personal problem with one very lucky NFS writer :)

February 5, 2013 at 9:51PM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM

Dave Kendricken

Looks like Nikon got jealous of that wonderful Leica video. Leica wins.

February 6, 2013 at 1:07AM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM


Wow...this is a PHENOMENAL post! A ton of information packed into the space. I'm going to start watching these videos with breakfast.

February 6, 2013 at 6:32AM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM



February 6, 2013 at 1:00PM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM


Every time I see a video about lens manufacturing I am in awe at how this is even possible.
You appreciate the price for a good lens a lot more when you see how they produce these impossibly accurate instruments!

February 8, 2013 at 4:03AM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM