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by Stephen Elliott
Adapted from a press release

MKS Launches Ophir MWIR Folded Zoom Lens with Disruptive Range and SWaP Capabilities for Drone and Small Gimbal Applications
MKS Instruments announced the newest addition to its LightIR family of lightweight, long-range, motorised continuous zoom lenses.  Known as the Ophir® LightIR 16-180mm MWIR f/3.6 continuous zoom lens, it is a compact, thermal imaging lens optimised for smaller size  VGA FPA detectors (10µm pitch). Its benefits include a folded optics design,significantly reducing the lens length and overall optical system size and weight.

Being 65% smaller than existing MWIR / medium wave infrared 10µm VGA lenses makes it ideal for reduced SWaP / Size-Weight-Power for UAV and small gimbal applications in homeland security or defence thermal imaging.

photo: MKS

“The LightIR 16-180mm f/3.6 folded zoom lens addresses the new market shift toward smaller size detectors,” said Kobi Lasri, general manager of Ophir Optics Group. “With its disruptive combination of SWaP capabilities, detection range over 13+km, and cost-effective pricing, the new zoom lens is an enabler for advanced drone, UAV, and small gimbal thermal imaging applications.”

According to Chris Johnson, president, Sierra-Olympic, “Once we recognised the market’s movement toward low-SWaP MWIR 10μm pitch VGA FPA optical systems, we began collaborating with Ophir’s R&D and Engineering teams to design an innovative and cost-effective zoom lens. Their low-SWaP 10μm pitch VGA zoom lens has allowed us to be first to market with our newest optical systems. We have worked in partnership with Ophir for years and are confident in their advanced optomechanical design and manufacturing capabilities.”

With a focal length of 16-180mm and an f/stop of 3.6, the latest LightIR is a compact, high-performance, motorised, continuous zoom lens. The folded optics design enables long optical lengths, to produce a reduced sensitivity to tolerances in compact configurations that incorporate fewer optical elements. The innovative design also enables near diffraction-limit performance in harsh environments, and addresses challenges such as line-of-sight  stabilisation and athermalisation. At only 460g, it is one of the lightest weight, continuous zoom lenses on the market. It maintains sharp focus over the entire zoom range. The mechanical and electrical interface assures easy integration into camera systems.