12 Great Sources For Learning Lens Design

by | FAQ, lens design consulting, optical design, Zemax


Lens design is a complex and challenging field of study. To become a great lens designer takes years of  practical experience. Fortunately there are a wide variety of sources to help designers jump start their education. In this post we will review textbooks, online tutorials, discussion forums and software training programs to help engineers learn lens design from basic concepts to advanced techniques.


Here is a list of sources that you may want to use to learn lens design



A quick search on google will give hundreds of titles, so it can be a little intimidating to pick the right textbook.  These are just four of the books that I have personally used.


Lens design Fundamentals (Rudolf Kingslake)

 Rudolf Kingslake’s book covers topics such as imaging principles, optical design equations, ray tracing, optimization techniques, and tolerancing. It is an invaluable reference for understanding the basics of lens design, including detailed descriptions of the different types of lenses and their properties. The book also contains many useful examples that illustrate key concepts in an easy-to-understand way.


Overall, Rudolf Kingslake’s classic book on lens design is a timeless resource that is still relevant today. It provides the foundational information needed to understand the field, while also offering a comprehensive look at its historical development.


Modern Lens Design (Warren J. Smith), 

This comprehensive guide to the intricate art and science of lens design, updated with the latest advancements, is an essential reference for optical engineers, providing a comprehensive overview of all forms of lenses and optical systems.

12 Great Sources For Learning Lens Design 1

Figure 1.  Cover of Warren Smith Modern Lens Design (3ed).


Optical system design (Robert Fischer)

This updated version of the 2000 version text will introduce the concepts of optical design and engineering to readers of all backgrounds in an friendly manner. Utilizing simple graphics and comprehensible explanations, this book is perfect for program managers, seasoned optical designers and engineers, mechanical engineers, and electrical engineers alike.


Blogs/ on-line forums

A pencil of Rays:  

This a great blog, with valuable information that go from simple doublets to zoom, and free-form lenses . The blog provides a comprehensive overview of the different types of lenses and their uses, as well as tips and advice on how to choose the right lens for your specific needs.. The blog is written in an easy-to-read format that makes it accessible.  Overall, this blog is a great resource for anyone interested in lens design.


ELE Optics Community

A community to discuss and learn about all things optics.  This community provides an opportunity for enthusiasts and professionals to discuss the various aspects of optics, including its history, theory, applications, and the latest research in the field. Members can share their knowledge, ask questions, and learn from each other. Discussions may include topics such as optical instruments, lasers, fiber optics, imaging systems, optical design, and more.


Optics For Hire.  

Although we are not strictly a lens design blog, our articles often explain the fundamentals and goals of lens design. We also have articles that discuss the design principles of optics and lenses, as well as the latest advances in optical technology. Additionally, we often cover topics such as lens materials, coatings, and mounts, to help readers understand how these elements can affect their lens choices.


Online Courses


MIT-OCW 2.71 Optics

This course introduces optical science and its foundational engineering applications. Ray-tracing, aberrations, lens design, apertures and stops, radiometry, and photometry are some of the subjects covered in geometrical optics.


Coursera First Order Optical System Design

You may build the foundation for all optical design with the help of this first order design, and you can also gain the intuition necessary to swiftly assess the viability of complex solutions. You will learn how to input these designs into OpticStudio by Zemax, an industry-recognized design tool, to analyze and enhance performance using strong automatic optimization techniques.


Coursera Optical Efficiency and Resolution

This course discusses the propagation of intensity for Gaussian beams and incoherent sources. It also introduces the mathematical background required to design an optical system with the required field of view and resolution.  


Coursera Design of High-Performance Optical Systems

The course wraps up with a discussion of optical components beyond lenses and an excellent example of a high-performance optical system – the human eye. The mathematical tools required for analysis of high-performance systems are complicated enough that this course will rely more heavily on OpticStudio by Zemax.


Zemax Individual Training

Are you curious to explore Zemax and its optical capabilities? Look no further than this course series, which will give you the tools you need to get the most out of OpticStudio sequential mode. Through this course, you’ll learn to create, analyze, optimize, and test various optical systems, while becoming familiar with the features and functions of OpticStudio.


CODE V Discovery Training

CODE V’s cutting-edge optical design software is your perfect companion to model, analyze, optimize and fabricate optical systems for all kinds of applications. Thanks to its intuitive toolkit of optical techniques and calculations, you can now craft top-notch designs that will come to life as soon as they are built. Learn the fundamentals of CODE V with this training! Become comfortable with the CODE V interface and main features, so you can hit the ground running with the software.


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