Although you needn’t study optical engineering to be able to use a large-format camera, there are advantages to knowing the evolution of the modern lens and the constraints within which lens designers must work. This knowledge not only will enable you to be an enlightened consumer of used and new equipment, but will also help you understand the optical limitations you will face each time you make a photograph.

The first part of this chapter will familiarize you with the general anatomy of a lens and with the challenges facing lens designers. As in any other complex field, the terminology of lens design is very specific. Some of the specific terms have other or broader meanings in casual conversation, but they are defined for ...

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