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EPPHYS152 Physics Essentials

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Camera Lens Research Project

This project’s main purpose is to perform a research on the application of lenses in the field of photography. Principles of physics and properties of light such as reflection, refraction and diffraction that explain the operation of lenses are taken into account. The research is also aimed at giving an insight into the future application  of camera lenses.


Scientifically light is a form of electromagnetic energy that the human eye detects thus enabling sight. The energy travels in an electromagnetic spectrum through space to the earth. Light can either be natural or man made. Natural sources of light include the sun, fire, the moon, the stars, lightening among others. Man made source of  light are very numerous for example light bulbs, torches and many more. They could be several types of light but the most common one is white light which is made up lights with different wavelengths. This different wavelengths imply different colours that are not visible to plain eyes but a device like rectangular prism can be used to  separate these different colours. Light exhibits several properties like reflection, refraction, diffraction, dispersion, scattering among other properties. 

Characteristics of Light

Light has several characteristics and the most fundamental characteristics of light are colour, brightness and temperature. Colour 
Light is a form of electromagnet radiation that the eye can detect. It is made up of different wavelengths that are known to be of different colours. White light is made  up of different wavelengths which are not easily visible to the human eye however the colours can be separated by a glass prism. Colour red has the longest wavelength while violet colour has the shortest wavelength with the other colours lying in between.


This is a characteristic that gives the eye the ability to see a source reflecting or radiating light energy. 


When an object is heated to a particular temperature it emits light energy that has a particular colour cast regardless of the material the object is made from. 
Another important characteristic of light is it speed. Light travels at a very high speed of 300000000m/s through space.
Light also carries light energy in the form of electromagnetic waves. Light also travels in a straight line unless an obstacle is placed on its path and it strikes the obstacle to form a shadow on the opposite side of the obstacle.
Design Of A Camera Lense

Sources of Light

Sources of light are divided into natural and artificial sources. Natural Sources are those sources of light that occur naturally. They include:


It is the largest source of natural light. It is a luminous body since it can produce its own light. The sun also produces heat energy in the process. Light radiates from the sun and radiates in all directions.


The moon is also a source of natural light only that it does not produce its own light. It reflects light from the sun to the earth at night to improve sight. Other natural sources of light include lightening, stars and fire. Lightening is normally accompanied by thunder which is heard after light proving that light travels faster  than sound. Fire on the other hand is accompanied by heat energy. Artificial sources of light include light bulb, Candles, projector lamps, flash lights among others. These are man made source of light. Artificial light is as a result of  batteries or electricity.

Operation of a camera lens

The converging lens collects the light that is reflected from the object and directs the light to the focal point where the image is formed. The aperture controls the amount of light entering into the camera. This helps in white balancing so as to come up with the perfect  image. The focusing screw is used to focus on the object so as to produce clear images that are not blurred. Blurred images may be caused by movement of the object or change in position by the camera thus a focusing screw is used to make sure images produced are clear. At the focal point an inverted image is produced that is electronically captured by the photosensitive surface in the case of a digital  camera or the film in an analog camera. The shutter regulates the amount of time taken to expose the image to the film frame or to the photosensitive surface.

How Light is used in Camera Lenses

The object being captured reflects light into the lens through the aperture. The lens, normally convex bends this light and at the same time slowing its speed since there is a change in medium. The light is focused at the focal point where an image is formed. The image is then transferred to the film frame or photosensitive surface. The light is refracted to reduce the size of the image since the film frame is usually small in fact very much smaller than the object. The reflection of light from the object and refraction by the lens aids in precisely recreating the image to correctly resemble the object.

Reflection of light

This is the bouncing of light off a surface normally a shiny surface. Light respects the laws of reflection which state that:
i. The angle of incidence is equal to the angle of reflection.
ii. The incident ray, the reflected ray and the normal all at the point of incidence lie on the same plane.

Refraction of light

This is the bending of light at a boundary as it moves from one medium to another. Refraction obeys Snell’s law where n1θ1=n2θ2
The Future of Camera Lenses In the future it will be possible to capture objects in 3D, the capturing and analysis of videos for the purpose of virtual reality and augmented reality, but again with the emergence of smartphones the use of cameras could soon be a thing of the past since current smartphones have very good cameras with better lenses and facial  recognition software and dedicated selfie modes.

The Future of Camera Lenses


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Chicago: Rocky Mountain Forest and Range Experiment Station, Forest 
•Gessner, Wolfgang. 2014. Advanced Microsystems for Automotive 
Applications . Berlin : Springer .
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•Valldorf, Jürgen. 2015. Application of light in camera . London : CRC.
•Wunsch, Donald C. 2011. Advanced Intelligent Computing Theories and 
Applications. Manchester : Springer .
•Zanuttigh, Pietro. 2016. Time-of-Flight and Structured Light Depth 
Cameras: Technology and Applications. London: Springer
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