The history of the lens

When was it invented, the little piece of glass that would change the world? No one knows for sure. By Peter Hennig

The Lens When was it invented, the little piece of glass that would change the world? No one knows for sure. By Peter Hennig In Ancient China, Greece, and Rome, they probably used 'magnifying-stones' of polished rock crystal, but it was not until about 1000 that the principles of the lens were properly described by an Arabic physicist, Ibn el-Haitam. His was not only the first correct account of how light is refracted by a lens, but also of how the eye functions in principle.

The microscope and the telescope
By the end of the sixteenth century it was known how a microscope worked. The basic model consisted of two positive lenses at a certain distance from each other, the one in front being small and strongly magnifying. It is a design that is not difficult to come up with if you sit experimenting with different lenses. Nor was the microscope seen as having any great significance to begin with. It was a curiosity that might entertain for a while, a 'flea-glass' that could turn the tiniest insect into terrible monster.
Even the telescope may have been discovered more or less by chance, although one version of the story credits its inventor with a more deliberate approach. It is said that in 1608 a Dutch lens maker, Hans Lippershey, received an order for two lenses. One was to be slightly larger and weakly convergent, the other to be smaller and concave, in other words a diverging lens. When the customer came to collect them, he held the lenses at arms' length from each other, smiled happily, paid, and left.
Lippershey was perplexed, and found no peace until he had cut two more lenses so that he could see what was going on for himself. To his amazement he found that a distant church tower appeared so close that he could see the weather vane quite clearly. News of the invention spread quickly, and only a short time later in Italy, Galileo Galilei began his pioneering study of celestial bodies.

A new world view
The human eye is quite weak in comparison with the eyesight of many predators. Yet we can see more than any other creature because we have supplemented our eyes with extra lenses.
During the seventeenth century, the lens started a formidable revolution in our ability to explore our surroundings and increase our knowledge, and gradually made it possible to alter our circumstances in a positive way.
The new optical instruments brought rapid improvements in navigation, with dramatic results for trade and shipping. Telescopes scanned the heavens - and the old world view died. Microscopes sought out the smallest details - and a whole new world was revealed that we had had no inkling of before.
This was a completely new branch of the tree of knowledge, and it changed our lives in many ways. New instruments that provided new information were fundamentally to change our way of looking at the world, but the lens also contributed change in less dramatic ways.
When it comes to gathering information and assembling knowledge at an individual level, the longer one can continue the better the results. Until the seventeenth century, most specialists ceased their active working life in their forties or fifties when deteriorating eyesight made any detailed work impossible. Once simple spectacles came within their means it meant there was something of a trade revolution, because they could stay active for another fifteen to twenty years. This era marks the beginning of the rapidly accelerating accumulation of knowledge that was to become the technical basis of the industrial revolution in the eighteenth century.

The elusive lens picture
Even the ancients knew that you could project a picture onto a wall when light shone through a little hole into a darkened room. Such large-scale pinhole cameras were in use in the fifteenth century. Sitting inside one, you could draw from the surprisingly bright images. When in the 1550s the hole was replaced with a lens, the brightness and definition increased so much that it became much more useful. In the seventeenth century portable camera obscura were constructed that employed the reflex mirror principle.
Of course people dreamed of being able to capture the 'pictures from nature' that the lens showed so beautifully, and there was an eager search for materials that reacted to light and could be used to record the images.

The discovery of the century
It is usual to date the birth of photography to the introduction of the Daguerreotype in 1839, but it could be said to have been essentially a reinvention - most of the technique was already known. The lens was known, the camera was known, and the reaction of silver salts when exposed to light had been known for a hundred years. What made it new was that everything was brought together, while the problem of making the silver salts sufficiently sensitive to light was solved, and a method was found of fixing the pictures so that they did not darken further when exposed to more light. If you tried to patent this under today's rules, it would be a matter of arguing for a second class patent, or a patent on a new application of an already known technique. Still, contemporaries saw photography as the invention of the century, a reasonable view considering the role photography would come to play.

The importance of the picture
Before photography's breakthrough, pictures were rare and exclusive. When King Gustaf III of Sweden employed Pehr Kraft the Elder to paint the portrait of Bellman, his pay was the equivalent of the price of a luxury car today. Accurate portraits and other sophisticated pictures were reserved for the upper classes.
I was reminded of the real importance of this when studying some eighteenth-century texts a couple of years ago. One text I read was a will with an explanatory letter, written by a well-educated, wealthy farmer. I can clearly recall from memory the ceremonious introduction: 'Now I have grown old, and the days of my life are drawing to a close...' He then wrote of his happy childhood and his strong, loving 'lady mother' who, as it was to turn out, set him on the right path in life. Then came the passage that almost made me drop my pen: 'I have come to realise that I can no longer see my mother's face.' He could no longer remember what his mother looked like; can the importance of the lack of visual information be expressed more clearly?

The image society
Through its accessibility and immense ability to convey information, the photograph has become all-pervasive. At the same time, it has become so obvious that we do not always appreciate its value - we cannot see the wood for the trees. The photograph has become one of our most important sources of information, used from morning until night in a never-ending flow. Modern information technology would certainly collapse without easily used imaging techniques.
In addition there are all the other areas where image-creating lenses are at work. Today we have telescopes that orbit the Earth equipped with powerful lenses that provide us with solid facts about events that could only be guessed at before. The last hundred years of microscope technology have been of vital importance to advances in medical science.
You can go on, listing field after field where image-creating lenses have been the cornerstone of our ever-increasing knowledge. It is not only that you can almost hear the wings of history as you focus your lens; you are, after all, using a technique that is on a par with fire and the wheel.

By: animesub 145 days ago
By: jakdown 26 days ago
The web site is lovingly serviced and saved as much as date. So it should be, thanks for sharing this with us. betting offers
By: dongdong32 22 days ago
20150406wengdongdong
louis vuitton handbags
beats solo
michael kors outlet online
coach outlet store online
oakley sunglasses
coach factory outlet
hogan shoes
cheap jordans
michael kors outlet
tory burch outlet
hermes birkin
tory burch outlet online
louis vuitton outlet stores
ray ban glasses
ray ban sunglasses sale
oakley sunglases
hollister clothing
coach factory outlet
chanel handbags
celine outlet
christian louboutin
retro jordans
cheap oakley sunglasses
michael kors
mulberry handbags
lebron james basketball shoes
oakley sunglasses wholesale
burberry outlet online
michael kors handbags
ray ban sunglasses uk
jordan 6 cigar
coach outlet online
burberry outlet
christian louboutin
abercrombie
tods shoes
michael kors purse
coach outlet
ralph lauren outlet
burberry outlet online
cheap jordans
abercrombie outlet
louis vuitton handbags
ray ban sunglass
oakley sunglasses wholesale
ray ban sunglasses
michael kors
coach outlet
michael kors outlet
coach factory outlet
ray ban uk
coach purses
oakley sunglasses
coach outlet
coach factory online
louis vuitton
kate spade outlet
louis vuitton outlet
louis vuitton outlet online
michael kors handbags
coach outlet
michael kors handbags
ray ban clubmaster
louis vuitton outlet
toms outlet
oakley sunglasses outlet
michael kors uk
michael kors
ray ban sunglasses
ray ban glasses
hollister clothing
prada uk
tory burch outlet
coach outlet store online
michael kors handbags
nike outlet
tory burch sale
michael kors
kate spade
michael kors
coach outlet store online
insanity workout
oakley vault
michael kors watches
michael kors uk
retro jordans
oakley sunglasses sale
michael kors
lebron james shoes
coach outlet
prada shoes
michael kors watches
louis vuitton
jordan 4
kate spade outlet
christian louboutin
coach outlet stores
ralph lauren
michael kors outlet
coach factory outlet
ray bans
coach outlet store online
nike air max 90
ray ban sunglasses
christian louboutin outlet
kate spade outlet
oakley sunglasses outlet
michael kors outlet online
burberry outlet
michael kors
tory burch outlet online
air max 2015
michael kors bags
michael kors canada
michael kors
coach factory outlet online
jordan 13
cheap jerseys
louis vuitton outlet
michael kors outlet
true religion
abercrombie and fitch new york
jordan 11 concord
toms shoes
timberland boots
gucci outlet
michael kors handbags
adidas outlet
mont blanc pens
coach factory outlet
coach outlet store online
louis vuitton handbags
cheap toms
true religion outlet
jordan 11 gamma blue
mont blanc pens
ray ban aviator
marc jacobs
abercrombie
hollister clothing store
mulberry outlet
michael kors outlet online sale
p90x workouts
michael kors outlet online
air jordan 13
fitflops clearance
louis vuitton
gucci outlet
christian louboutin sale
hollister
cheap louis vuitton handbags
christian louboutin shoes
michael kors outlet
louis vuitton outlet
louis vuitton
louis vuitton handbags
ray ban outlet
beats by dr dre
ray ban glasses
michael kors handbags
juicy couture
louis vuitton outlet stores
michael kors outlet
concords 11
coach factory online
ray ban eyeglasses
celine
louis vuitton
louis vuitton outlet
coach factory outlet
coach outlet store online
michael kors outlet
michael kors outlet
kevin durant shoes
adidas shoes
abercrombie store
oakley sunglasses
michael kors uk
toms shoes
cheap jerseys
oakley sunglasses
michael kors outlet online
oakley sunglasses wholesale
coach factory outlet online
louis vuitton
oakley sunglass
cheap lululemon
ray ban sunglasses
ray bans
michael kors
replica watches
michael kors outlet online
jordan 8
ray ban sunglasses
true religion jeans
hollister co
pandora charms
louis vuitton
oakley galsses
hollister
oakley sunglasses cheap
polo ralph lauren
oakley sunglasses cheap
coach factory outlet online
coach outlet
hollister outlet
jordan 13
ralph lauren outlet
louis vuitton uk
gucci outlet
coach outlet
gucci handbags
celine outlet
mulberry uk
polo ralph lauren home
christian louboutin
pandora jewelry
louis vuitton
true religion
louis vuitton handbags
jordan 11 gamma blue
coach outlet store online
chanel bags
burberry outlet
burberry scarf
lululemon
cheap nfl jerseys
michael kors watches
coach factory
coach factory
abercrombie & fitch
ray ban sunglasses
michael kors outlet
true religion
coach factory outlet online
abercrombie kids
coach outlet
michael kors
timberland boots
marc jacobs
coco chanel
chanel handbags
coach factory
coach factorty outlet
polo ralph lauren
nike air max
michael kors outlet online
gucci shoes
michael kors outlet
hollister kids
abercrombie
oakley sunglasses outlet
michael kors outlet online sale
coach canada outlet
coach outlet
air jordan 11
oakley sunglasses
fitflops
louis vuitton purses
michael kors outlet online
polo ralph lauren
louis vuitton handbags
coach factory
michael kors outlet
ray ban wayfarer
cheap jordans
christian louboutin outlet
ray ban sunglasses
true religion jeans
louis vuitton
dior handbags
pandara jewelry
black timberland boots
kors outlet
jordan concords
cheap nfl jerseys
cheap jerseys
kate spade
abercrombie & fitch
michael kors uk
coach factory online
chanel handbags
coach factory outlet
tods outlet
cheap ray bans
ray ban sunglasses uk
jordan 8s
oakley sunglasses outlet
toms outlet
fitflop shoes
kobe shoes
abercrombie fitch
gucci outlet
timberland boots
cheap jordans
michael kors uk
lebron james shoes 2015
nike shoes
jeremy scott adidas
ralph lauren polo shirts
ray ban aviators
black timberland boots
tory burch outlet
jordan 11s
coach outlet
tod's shoes
chanel handbags
toms outlet
louis vuitton outlet
gucci outlet
coach handbags
ralph lauren sale
michael kors outlet online
toms outlet
michael kors
abercrombie and fitch
christian louboutin sale
coach outlet store online
christian louboutin
louis vuitton handbags
jordan 11
true religion
chanel outlet
fitflops outlet
louis vuitton outlet
hollister
ray ban outlet
oakley sunglass
jordan 3
abercrombie
michael kors canada
jordan 6
michael kors outlet
louis vuitton outlet
michael kors
north face outlet
abercrombie
christian louboutin shoes
jordan 4
the north face
abercrombie
coach outlet
michael kors canada
coach outlet store online
michael kors outlet online sale
ray ban sunglasses outlet
jordan retro
louis vuitton
coach factory outlet
hollister
louis vuitton outlet
ghd hair strighteners
michael kors handbags
football jerseys
cheap jerseys
michael kors
coach factory outlet
oakley sunglasses wholesale
michael kors outlet online
christian louboutin
tod's shoes
louis vuitton handbags
pandora charms
fendi outlet
coach factory
michael kors handbags
soccer jerseys
abercrombie store
louis vuitton handbags
michael kors outlet online
gucci shoes
ray ban sunglasses
oakley sunglasses
jordan 13
coach outlet
louis vuitton outlet
www.louisvuitton.com
louis vuitton outlet
michael kors
lebron james shoes
gucci uk
jordan 11 low
ralph lauren
yoga pants
michael kors outlet
rolex watches outlet
jordan 11 low
timberland earthkeepers
michael kors outlet
louis vuitton
kobe bryant shoes
michael kors outlet online
oakley vault
michael kors outlet
christian louboutin outlet
michael kors bag
hollister clothing
ralph lauren uk
louis vuitton handbags
christian louboutin
timberlands
coach outlet store online
michael kors handbags
prescription sunglasses
louis vuitton outlet
ray ban outlet
prada outlet
jordan 4s
abercrombie
louis vuitton handbags
ray ban watyfarer
michael kors outlet
celine
kate spade handbags
michael kors outlet
coach outlet
true religion jeans
coach factorty outlet
chanel uk
michael kors handbags
coach outlet
michael kors outlet online
louis vuitton
michael kors outlet online
chanel outlet
coach outlet
coach outlet store online
red christian louboutin
kate spade handbags
christian louboutin sale
jeremy scott shoes
christian louboutin outlet
michael kors outlet online
jordan shoes
jordan shoes
abercrombie
michael kors outlet
christian louboutin sale
louis vuitton outlet
louis vuitton handbags
jordan 11s
fitflops
gucci
mont blanc
red heels
hollister clothing
fitflop footwear
louis vuitton
ray ban canada
coach factory outlet
michael kors
coach factory outlet
nike roshe run
chi flat iron
michael kors uk
jordan 3s
mont blanc
coach factory store online
jordan 11
michael kors handbags
micahel kors outlet
cheap nfl jerseys
replica watches
copy watches
louis vuitton handbags
oakley sunglasses
jrodan retro
louis vuitton outlet
hollister clothing store
www.louisvuitton.com
louis vuitton handbags
michael kors bag
gucci uk
michael kors outlet
coach factory outlet
marc by marc jacobs

Add your message

Login required
Please login here or if you've not registered, you can register here. Registering is safe, quick and free.

photodo Stats

1102 lenses
428 MTF tests
74 in-depth        photodo reviews
100+ users join each day

Help the lens community by reviewing or rating a lens today via our lens search