Here’s an interesting behind the scenes video that shows the creation of a Canon 500mm f/4.0L IS lens. It’s a neat look at the guts of glass, and an opportunity to see how exactly the various components of a lens are created and put together.
You get to see the entire process, starting with raw materials and ending with the finished, $6,000 lens.
Seeing how fine-tuned many of the steps in the process have to be, it’s no wonder these lenses can end up costing as much as a car.
“Firstly, the front unit is assembled. Following a careful cleaning, the lenses are incorporated in the subbarrel. The fifth lens is the first to be placed, followed by the sixth lens. As the fifth lens is made of fluoride, extremely careful handling is required. As the lenses are directly incorporated deep into the front barrel, a high degree of technical skill is required. Next, the third and fourth lenses are incorporated into the subbarel. The first and second lenses are incorporated into the subbarrel. After each lens has been placed in its respective position in the subbarrel, they are firmly secured by mounting rings, and are fixed by adhesives. The EF 500mm is expertly assembled by the hands of skilled technicians. The seventh and eigth lenses used for focusing, are combined together and incorporated with the back unit into the rear barrel. The rear barrel in then attached to the completed front unit, and the EF 500mm lens begins to take on its final appearance. After focusing and other optical performances and checked, exterior components are attached. Both optical performance and electronic control functions of the completed EF 500mm f/4L IS USM are comprehensively inspected. This is the finished EF 500mm f/4L IS USM after completion of all processes. Canon optical lenses are a result of these varied production processes and are used throughout the world.”
UPDATE:In sharp contrast to the Leica way of doing things by hand, Canon has just announced that it is planning on completely eliminating the need for a human production line as early as 2015. So while your future Leica M10 will still be completely hand-made (with a price tag to match), your future 5D Mark IV (or maybe Mark VI by then) will be entirely robot-made.
Fortunately, Canon spokesperson Jan Misumi assured the press that the move won’t lead to job losses, as employees will be moved into other parts of the company. But it does seem to take a little bit of the humanity you see in the Leica making of video out of camera manufacturing.
ANOTHER COOL LENS MOVIE: