Macro Photography With Industrial Lenses

Line scan cameras are advanced devices used for process inspection tasks in industrial applications. Used to monitor the quality of silicon wafers and other high-accuracy tasks, they’re often outfitted with top-quality optics that are highly specialised. [Peter] was able to get his hands on a lens for a line-scan camera, and decided to put it to work on some macro photography instead.

Macro image taken with the hacked lens.

Judging by the specs found online, this is a fairly serious piece of kit. It easily competes with top-shelf commercial optics, which is what piqued [Peter]’s interest in the part. Being such a specialised piece of hardware, you can’t just cruise over to eBay for an off-the-shelf adapter. Instead, a long chain of parts were used to affix this lens to a Sony AIII DSLR, converting from threaded fittings to a Nikon mount and then finally to Sony NEX mount.

Further work involved fitting an aperture into the chain to get the lens as close as possible to telecentric. This improves the lens’s performance for certain tasks, and makes focus stacking macro shots more readily achievable – something we’ve seen [Peter] tinker with before.

You never know what you might find when sorting through surplus industrial gear, could could score some high-performance hardware if you know where to look. It’s always great to see a cheap find become a useful instrument in the hacker toolbox!

11 thoughts on “Macro Photography With Industrial Lenses

  1. A few years back there was a thousand dollar coated optics rangefinder lens booting around on the surplus scene for a few bucks. That made a banging telephoto or spotter scope with a few plumbing parts and abused converters.

  2. For extreme depth of field. X-ray machine lenses are a popular choice. In an attempt to limit exposure times X ray machines use massive apeture lenses, like An F stop of 0.75. These can be picked up cheaply, and are ideal for non SLR cameras. (The mirror box typically puts the lens to far from the CCD). One aspect that may cause problems is chromatic distortion. Xray machines are only interested in brightness, so a monochrome design and a (I presume) a colour filter can limit chromatic distortions. The Bokeh from these lenses are amazing.

    1. Wait… what? I didn’t think that was a frequency that could be refracted in such a way. I’m a basically a layman in that field, so I admit my ignorance. Fascinated, though. What are the lenses made of? Seems like you’d need a different medium for such a wildly different portion of the spectrum, but apparently not?

      1. Electronic X ray imaging is difficult because X rays can’t easily be focused. Some digital X ray machines pass the X rays through the specimen and onto a plate of scintillating crystals. These absorb the x rays, and re-radiates the energy in a visible light. This is then digitized using conventional optical camera techniques.

        Optimal sensitivity is required as this translates to reduced radiation exposure and associated cancer risk. In practice this means the use of massive apertures, and short focal lengths. This is aided by the fact that these use conditions are very tightly controlled,. One color light and a fixed, probably close, focal distance. Rodenstock is a popular manufacturer of these lenses, but don’t expect to achieve infinity focus. Focal distances are short, mine is less than a meter.

  3. I’m not going to say a whole lot on the matter as it is the bleeding edge of my photography business, but microscope objectives and cnc rails make the task much easier for this kind of work.

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