This Mind-Bending Lens Can See Behind Objects. Here's How to Build Your Own

Just when you think you’ve got your head around light paths and optics, along comes a scientist to make you think again. Here’s how you can build your own lens that can see an object that, according to your brain, is hidden by what’s in front of it.

Ben Krasnow of the YouTube channel Applied Science gives a detailed breakdown of what might seem impossible, as well as running you through how to build your own lens (be sure to check out the video description to source all of the components). As I watched, I asked myself if there could be any practical applications for such a lens and sure enough, Krasnow suggests some possible uses.

It’s been an interesting couple of months for odd lenses. In April, Canon filed a patent for an 8mm fisheye lens that gives an angle of view of around 180 degrees. If that’s not quite wide enough for you, in March it emerged that C-4 Precision Optics had released a 4.9mm fisheye lens for Sony E-mount that can see behind itself — yours for just $39,000. Let’s hope that Canon’s lens is a little more affordable.

Sadly, there’s no news on whether any manufacturers are planning a hypercentric lens for consumers.

Will you try building one? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

Andy Day's picture

Andy Day is a British photographer and writer living in France. He began photographing parkour in 2003 and has been doing weird things in the city and elsewhere ever since. He's addicted to climbing and owns a fairly useless dog. He has an MA in Sociology & Photography which often makes him ponder what all of this really means.

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