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FORUMS Canon Cameras, Lenses & Accessories Canon EF and EF-S Lenses 
Thread started 02 Jan 2012 (Monday) 23:30
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This lens has (x)elements, and (y) groups...

 
mafoo
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Jan 02, 2012 23:30 |  #1

Every time I see a lens described, it talkes about the number of elements, and the number of groups.

While I know what that means, I have no idea why I would care. Does anyone use this information for any reason when evaluating a lens?


-Jeremy
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RetroBlader
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Jan 03, 2012 00:41 |  #2

mafoo wrote in post #13637455 (external link)
Every time I see a lens described, it talkes about the number of elements, and the number of groups.

While I know what that means, I have no idea why I would care. Does anyone use this information for any reason when evaluating a lens?

Short answer: I don't know, buy maybe someone does.

Longer answer:

Theoretically, the more elements, the more air-glass interfaces, and thus more prone to flare. However, some of the most revered Canon lenses have lots of elements but still delivers amazing results (e.g. the 70-200/2.8L IS II has 23 elements in 19 groups).

For gearheads/lens-geeks who need something to talk about between the announcement of a new lens and its first test report, information about the elements/groups gives them basis for 50 pages of speculation....

:lol:


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JeffreyG
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Jan 03, 2012 05:31 |  #3

mafoo wrote in post #13637455 (external link)
Every time I see a lens described, it talkes about the number of elements, and the number of groups.

While I know what that means, I have no idea why I would care. Does anyone use this information for any reason when evaluating a lens?

It's like knowing how many cylinders are in the engine of your car. What you really might care about can be described by the area under the torque curve, but most car owners seem to know how many cylinders they have.

I guess people like knowing this kind of stuff (and looking at the little section view of the lens) but for the potential user this information doesn't tell you much of anything.


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mafoo
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Jan 03, 2012 07:35 |  #4

JeffreyG wrote in post #13638210 (external link)
It's like knowing how many cylinders are in the engine of your car.

But if you say a car has 8 cylinders vs 4, I can guess 95% of the time, the 8 cylinder car will get worse gas milage, and have more power from 60-80 mph.

I know how to turn cylinders into rule-of-thumb conclusions about an engine. I have no idea what more elements or more groups means in a lens.

Does it mean less CA, Faster Zoom, Better Lens Flair? Does it mean anything constant at all?


-Jeremy
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bdp23
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Jan 03, 2012 07:46 |  #5

RetroBlader wrote in post #13637694 (external link)
Short answer: I don't know, buy maybe someone does.

Longer answer:

Theoretically, the more elements, the more air-glass interfaces, and thus more prone to flare. However, some of the most revered Canon lenses have lots of elements but still delivers amazing results (e.g. the 70-200/2.8L IS II has 23 elements in 19 groups).

For gearheads/lens-geeks who need something to talk about between the announcement of a new lens and its first test report, information about the elements/groups gives them basis for 50 pages of speculation....

:lol:

Yep, no idea why anyone really cares, but it can point to how much was changed when a lens is revised and probably make it easier to find the patents relevant to the new lens which could be interesting reading if you're into that.

I'm not sure about the underlined sentence above.
I think the more groups then the more air-glass interfaces as elements can be sandwiched together to form groups.
Anyway, do some reading on Refractive Index (external link) and Pencil in Water (external link) if you're not already familiar with it, and note that there's a lot more going on in a lens than glass and air. Different types of glass and coatings make a very complex system, (kinda like the minds of the marketing team who think the elements/groups advertising is worth wasting ink on).


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Higgs ­ Boson
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Jan 03, 2012 07:51 |  #6

mafoo wrote in post #13638453 (external link)
But if you say a car has 8 cylinders vs 4, I can guess 95% of the time, the 8 cylinder car will get worse gas milage, and have more power from 60-80 mph.

I know how to turn cylinders into rule-of-thumb conclusions about an engine. I have no idea what more elements or more groups means in a lens.

Does it mean less CA, Faster Zoom, Better Lens Flair? Does it mean anything constant at all?

8 cylinder car MIGHT get worse mileage depending on the weights of the cars being compared, the gearing, and the technology the engine uses. it will not only have more power from 60-80 but also from 0-150, especially since the 4 banger will only go 102.

also, the 8 cylinder will have less lens flare than the 4 cylinder.


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bdp23
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Jan 03, 2012 08:09 |  #7

Higgs Boson wrote in post #13638510 (external link)
also, the 8 cylinder will have less lens flare than the 4 cylinder.

and twice the number of red rings ;)


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JeffreyG
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Jan 03, 2012 08:09 |  #8

mafoo wrote in post #13638453 (external link)
But if you say a car has 8 cylinders vs 4, I can guess 95% of the time, the 8 cylinder car will get worse gas milage, and have more power from 60-80 mph.

I know how to turn cylinders into rule-of-thumb conclusions about an engine. I have no idea what more elements or more groups means in a lens.

Does it mean less CA, Faster Zoom, Better Lens Flair? Does it mean anything constant at all?

Maybe my analogy was poor because you actually are reaching incorrect conclusions. In you experience, 8 cylinders are all those things, but this is actually because they are bigger engines in total. The number of cylinders has nothing to do with it.

If equally sized (total displacement), a lower number of cylinders will generally be more efficient.

So back to the lens question, the number of elements doesn't give you any specific information about how a lens will perform.

Oh, as for my analogy, I develop engines for a living so I probably think about them differently than most drivers.


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OneJZsupra
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Jan 03, 2012 08:14 |  #9

Higgs Boson wrote in post #13638510 (external link)
8 cylinder car MIGHT get worse mileage depending on the weights of the cars being compared, the gearing, and the technology the engine uses. it will not only have more power from 60-80 but also from 0-150, especially since the 4 banger will only go 102.

also, the 8 cylinder will have less lens flare than the 4 cylinder.

It also has to do with the load and the speed being traveled, it takes a lot more for a 4 cylinder to move at 70 mph then it does a 8 cylinder, but for the most part the 4 cylinder will almost always get better mpg.... unless we're talking about towing stuff. The fact of the matter is most v8 cars carry higher weight which drags them down a good bit. An example of this is the New Camero and challenger.... Both of which are almost over 4000 lbs, the challenger being almost 4200 lbs.

The other thing is that I know of plenty of inline 4's that can hit the 160 mph mark, but i'll keep my straight 6 twin turbo = )


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Higgs ­ Boson
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Jan 03, 2012 08:26 |  #10

seoul4korea wrote in post #13638611 (external link)
It also has to do with the load and the speed being traveled, it takes a lot more for a 4 cylinder to move at 70 mph then it does a 8 cylinder, but for the most part the 4 cylinder will almost always get better mpg.... unless we're talking about towing stuff. The fact of the matter is most v8 cars carry higher weight which drags them down a good bit. An example of this is the New Camero and challenger.... Both of which are almost over 4000 lbs, the challenger being almost 4200 lbs.

The other thing is that I know of plenty of inline 4's that can hit the 160 mph mark, but i'll keep my straight 6 twin turbo = )

I have a couple V8s in sub 2800 lb cars.....the new muscle cars are a prime example of terrible. and one can always add FI to a V8 so IMO FI vs NA comparisons are moot.

the new muscle cars are getting heavy, but so is everything, including civics, bmws, etc. btw, inline 6's are generally heavier than small block chevys....

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Jan 03, 2012 08:33 |  #11

Short answer, the amount of elements (single glass pieces) and groups (multiple glass pieces) are placed at certain distances in the lens to cut down on as many abberations as possible to produce the clearest image available.


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mafoo
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Jan 03, 2012 09:37 |  #12

Sigh...

http://www.fueleconomy​.gov/feg/best-worst.shtml (external link)

all the top 10 are 4 cylinders, and all the worst 10 are 16,12,8 cylinders. I think it's a good guess that the ones on the worst list have a little more power, and performance then the 4 bangers.

Yes, I am sure you can make a 16 cylinder and a 4 cylinder car, where the 4 gets worse gas milage and better performance if you wanted, but the reality of the market can lead you to use cylinders as a rule of thumb. (why I used that term).

Rule of thumb says 170 pound men can run quicker then 300 pound men. That's a true statement. No one needs to post that Bruce Campbell at 315 pounds, runs a 4.85 40 yard dash, and would smoke 99% of the 170 pounders in the world. it's a rule of thumb.

Is there a rule of thumb for elements and groups?


-Jeremy
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yourdoinitwrong
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Jan 03, 2012 10:08 |  #13

mafoo wrote in post #13638453 (external link)
But if you say a car has 8 cylinders vs 4, I can guess 95% of the time, the 8 cylinder car will get worse gas milage, and have more power from 60-80 mph.

I know how to turn cylinders into rule-of-thumb conclusions about an engine. I have no idea what more elements or more groups means in a lens.

Does it mean less CA, Faster Zoom, Better Lens Flair? Does it mean anything constant at all?

Leaving cars out of it, the answer to the question is no. What those individual lenses are made of and/or coated with comes into play too so just looking at the number of lenses and groups doesn't tell you anything absolute.


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mafoo
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Jan 03, 2012 10:23 |  #14

yourdoinitwrong wrote in post #13639127 (external link)
Leaving cars out of it, the answer to the question is no. What those individual lenses are made of and/or coated with comes into play too so just looking at the number of lenses and groups doesn't tell you anything absolute.

Ok, so to word it differently.

If you were choosing a lens for some application, and you had 6 that "made sense" for whatever you were doing. Elements and groups would play zero factor in the lens you chose?"

If this is not true, what factor did it play?


-Jeremy
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yourdoinitwrong
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Jan 03, 2012 10:31 |  #15

mafoo wrote in post #13639213 (external link)
Ok, so to word it differently.

If you were choosing a lens for some application, and you had 6 that "made sense" for whatever you were doing. Elements and groups would play zero factor in the lens you chose?"

If this is not true, what factor did it play?

Exactly, I have never made a lens choice that had anything to do with the number of elements or groups. I only care about the image that comes out the other end so I will leave everything in the middle to the engineers. If it had 2 elements or 58 in 32 groups it would make no difference to me as long as it produces good images.


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