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Posts Tagged ‘Home.’

Cutting Corners: LOT-EK’s 21-Box Sliced Shipping Container Home in NYC

20 Oct

[ By WebUrbanist in Architecture & Houses & Residential. ]

Rising up from its corner lot like a ship on a wave, this shipping container home in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, is a stunning private residence made from sliced, diced and strategically reassembled cargo boxes.

The cut containers were flipped and reassembled to avoid waste, reusing various angled sections generated through diagonal slicing (images by Danny Bright). Moving through the home, the logic of these cuts becomes increasingly clear.

Designed by LOT-EK, a firm famous for its industrial-style containertecture, the corrugated facade is spliced with vertical windows along the sides. Along the front and back, container ends open up for larger views and terraced roof access — there are outdoor spaces at each level, given privacy thanks to the angled cuts. Below, those same cuts provide a natural opening for the building’s sunken entry, garage and cellar.

Social living, dining and kitchen spaces are on the first floor. The inside is also shaped by the slice angles, forming spaces like a media room with bleacher seating and a projector. Upper levels include bedrooms, play areas and other private spaces.

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Spiky Shipping Container Home Blooms Like a Flower in the Joshua Tree Desert

30 Sep

[ By SA Rogers in Architecture & Houses & Residential. ]

Since shipping containers are made to be stacked, that’s how they’re usually arranged when reclaimed for architectural projects. It just makes sense, right? They fit together in a certain way. But architecture firm Whitaker Studio just smashed that convention in spectacular fashion with one of the most bonkers shipping container projects we’ve ever seen, and the results are as beautiful as they are unusual.

Rising from the rocky Joshua Tree desert in California like a rare flower, this all-white residence is laid out in a starburst shape with several shipping containers pivoted up toward the sky. Each container is capped with glass and oriented to take advantage of a certain view, whether of the sky, the distant mountains, or the adjacent boulders.

Each individual container either serves as a small room for the interior, or as a giant skylight bringing natural light into the core. Dining tables and beds can be spotted through the glass from outside, wedged into the narrow spaces. In some areas, several containers are combined with their walls removed to create larger rooms. The layout is hard to determine from the exterior, but once you see images of the 2,150-square-foot interior, it makes more sense.

Though these renderings are pretty convincing, construction on the Joshua Tree residence is not set to start until 2018 on a 90-acre plot owned by a film producer. Architect and studio founder James Whitaker told ArchDaily that the client and his friends were visiting the plot of land, imagining what should be placed there, when someone pulled out their laptop and showed the group an image of a structure he’d designed several years prior, but that had never been built.

The containers are arranged to fit within the topography of the site, angled wider in some areas to accommodate the hills and rocks, creating sheltered outdoor areas for decks and hot tubs. The site is set on a natural gully created by stormwater, so the containers are raised off the ground, allowing water to pass underneath.

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Western Digital unveils My Cloud Home wireless drives with up to 16TB of storage

31 Aug

Western Digital has taken the wraps off a set of new wireless backup drives called My Cloud Home at IFA 2017. Building upon its previous My Cloud wireless drive, the new Home product combines an updated design with a better app experience that promises to make it easy to manage content from anywhere with an Internet connection.

WD is also offering a My Cloud Home Duo option that automatically duplicates content onto a secondary backup drive.

As the product’s name suggests, the Western Digital My Cloud Home is designed to function similar to traditional cloud backup services, though the consumer owns and controls the physical drive onto which their data is stored. Data can be synced to the My Cloud Home drive from a variety of sources—including phones, USB drives, and social media accounts—and the companion mobile app lets you remotely access and share the stuff you’ve stored.

From an aesthetic perspective, the updated wireless drives shed the previous models’ rounded, somewhat clinical look and replace it with an angular, more artistically inclined design that’s more “art deco” than “ar[n’]t you going to hide this somewhere?” With the aforementioned Home Duo option, a pair of drives are configured in Mirror Mode RAID 1 for duplication, ensuring there is a copy of the data should one of the drives fail.

The My Cloud Home is available now in capacities ranging from 2TB to 8TB, and the My Cloud Home Duo in capacities from 4TB to 16TB. Prices are listed below.

My Cloud Home

  • 2TB: $ 160
  • 3TB: $ 180
  • 4TB: $ 200
  • 6TB: $ 260
  • 8TB: $ 320

My Cloud Home Duo

  • 4TB: $ 310
  • 8TB: $ 400
  • 12TB: $ 550
  • 16TB: $ 700

Articles: Digital Photography Review (dpreview.com)

 
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7 Non-Photography Items Which No Travel Photographer Should Leave Home Without

27 Aug

It’s fair to say that as a travel photographer you can never be 100% prepared for everything. There are so many different scenarios and variables that can affect your photography and your journey that you simply can’t predict. But over time you will begin to learn techniques that will help you be able to tackle the issues you’ll encounter.

Part of this is your list of equipment. While the obvious photographic equipment might seem straightforward, there are also a number of non-photographic items that will begin to make it on your list. As you will discover over time they can also be invaluable. Here are seven of my must-have items that might also help you along the way.

7 Non-Photography Items Which No Travel Photographer Should Leave Home Without

#1 – Plastic Bag and a Rubber Band

It doesn’t matter how well you prepare and how many times you check the weather forecast, at some point every travel photographer will get caught in the rain. Most times you can avoid you and your camera equipment getting wet by trying to wait it out under some shelter. But sometimes you can’t or more importantly, you still want to photograph. After all, rain can provide wonderful reflections on the surface of pavements and roads not to mention people with umbrellas that can really help tell a story.

So to avoid getting your camera wet, simply take an ordinary plastic bag and cut a hole big enough for your lens hood to fit through. You want roughly half of the lens hood sticking out and the hole in the bag should be a tight fit. Put your camera in from the top of the bag (as if you were putting shopping in it) and stick the lens with the hood attached through the hole. Put the elastic band around the bag near the hole to keep it in place and voila you have created a bag to keep the rain off your camera.

When you want to shoot with your camera simply put your hand in the bag and hold the camera inside. Sure you can probably find an expensive version that you can buy, but why waste money when you can make it yourself?

7 Non-Photography Items Which No Travel Photographer Should Leave Home Without

DIY rain cover.

#2 – A Face Towel

If you ask me what is the one non-photographic item that I always carry with me, it’ll be a small face towel. I have lost count of the number of times that I have used a towel in different scenarios. Whether it’s to wipe my camera dry after getting water, mud, or anything else on it, or wiping my face when I’m hot and sweaty (it’s amazing how much better you feel when you can simply wipe your face with a clean towel when you are out and about all day), wiping my finger when I have cut myself, or even just wiping a bench dry after rain so I could sit down while waiting instead of standing up (or getting my trousers wet by sitting on a wet bench). The number of times that a simple towel will come in handy will astound you.

The number of times that a simple towel will come in handy will astound you.

7 Non-Photography Items Which No Travel Photographer Should Leave Home Without

#3 – Smartphone

Okay, so technically speaking a Smartphone isn’t a “non-photographic” item but ignoring the camera element, it has become a must these days for travel photographers. Whether it’s to check sun direction, weather forecast, maps, making notes about potential shoot locations and metadata details, to simply having access to pass the time by reading the news while waiting for sunset, a Smartphone has become an essential tool for every travel photographer.

7 Non-Photography Items Which No Travel Photographer Should Leave Home Without

#4 – Compass

For the majority of photographers, a Smartphone has replaced the trusted compass. But it’s still worth having a small one in your bag just in case your phone runs out of power or you can’t get a signal. Besides being able to bail you out when you get lost, a compass can help you determine sunrise/sunset direction where the light will move, which is essential for any travel photographer.

7 Non-Photography Items Which No Travel Photographer Should Leave Home Without

#5 – Gloves

Travel photography usually means early starts and late finishes as the soft light in and around sunrise and sunset is great for photography. This usually means you’ll be out and about when it’s colder than during the day and trying to work your camera dials with cold hands or even carrying a tripod is not an enjoyable experience.

During the daytime depending on the time of year, it can be pretty cold for your hands and even in the summer months it can get much colder in the evenings and early mornings. So do yourself (and your hands) a favor and keep a pair of gloves in your camera bag.

7 Non-Photography Items Which No Travel Photographer Should Leave Home Without

#6 – Pen and Paper

Sometimes you simply can’t beat pen and paper. It might be to take notes, to jot down ideas for shoots, to sketch a composition that you want to try and create later, or it might simply be to take the email address of the person who’s photo you have just taken so that you can email them a copy. Whatever the reason, a pen and paper is always useful to have in your camera bag.

https://www.amazon.com/LowePro-Photographers-Glove-L/dp/B019GXBYZG/ref=as_li_ss_tl?s=electronics&ie=UTF8&qid=1502657159&sr=1-1&keywords=lowepro+gloves&linkCode=ll1&tag=dpmentor-20&linkId=fb11ba7773e3b22547c80f4862d69570

#7 – Sunscreen and a Hat

It’s easy to forget sunscreen and a hat among all of the other things above, in addition to your photographic equipment, but they are essentials for anyone working outdoors. As a travel photographer, you will be spending most of your days out and about and it’s easy to get distracted and not notice a few hours going by. The last thing you need on a photo trip is to get sun burned.

https://www.amazon.com/LowePro-Photographers-Glove-L/dp/B019GXBYZG/ref=as_li_ss_tl?s=electronics&ie=UTF8&qid=1502657159&sr=1-1&keywords=lowepro+gloves&linkCode=ll1&tag=dpmentor-20&linkId=fb11ba7773e3b22547c80f4862d69570

Conclusion

Over the years, I have found that these small items have become invaluable. I will, of course, adapt this list as I go and add or remove things for certain destinations. For example, if I’m out in the wilderness I would carry a first aid kit, an emergency kit with things like a whistle, blanket, etc., a torch, and the relevant maps of the areas I’m planning to explore. But my basic list of items accompanies me on any trip even a short city break.

Over time you will build up your own set of items. But for the time being, I hope this list is useful for you.

Anything else you can think of? What non-photographic item do you always carry with you and why? Please tell us in the comments below.

The post 7 Non-Photography Items Which No Travel Photographer Should Leave Home Without by Kav Dadfar appeared first on Digital Photography School.


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10 Amazing Photography Tricks You Can do at Home with Everyday Objects

26 Jun

Here is a quick video showing you 10 photography tricks or projects you can try at home using everyday objects. You may have some of these things lying around your house, if not most are inexpensive to buy.

Try some of these ideas:

  • Make it snow indoors
  • Use a magnifying glass for fun effects
  • Create your own light flare
  • Try some refraction using water drops or a glass

Have any others? Please share your ideas in the comments below.

The post 10 Amazing Photography Tricks You Can do at Home with Everyday Objects by Darlene Hildebrandt appeared first on Digital Photography School.


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New IKEA Smart Home Fixtures Compatible with Google, Apple & Amazon

26 Jun

[ By WebUrbanist in Design & Fixtures & Interiors. ]

Furniture giant IKEA is making its new low-cost smart home fixtures voice-controllable can connect with ease to systems including Google Home, Apple HomeKit and Amazon Alexa.

The company has been pushing in the direction of making homes smarter for some time, with furnishings able to wirelessly charge phones, for instance. But with TRADFRI, they are taking the next step, providing low-cost options that can be operated through a variety existing connected-home systems.

“With IKEA Home Smart we challenge everything that is complicated and expensive with the connected home. Making our products work with others on the market takes us one step closer to meet people’s needs, making it easier to interact with your smart home products,” says Björn Block, Business Leader for IKEA Home Smart.

Smart lights, motion sensors, dimmers, door locks, all with additional layers of remote control, are slowly transforming everyday interiors into interactive design spaces. The barrier to entry is also intentionally low: the cost is one factor, but the solutions are also plug-and-play, requiring no complex knowledge or specialized coding. Their latest releases are set to be in stores later this summer or early this fall.

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Mini Living: Breathable Cylindrical Home Slots Into a Tiny Alleyway

07 Apr

[ By SA Rogers in Architecture & Houses & Residential. ]

Extending beyond the existing rooftops like a fast-growing plant, this compact cylindrical home slotted into an unused urban plot in Milan features a breathable ‘skin’ connecting the interiors to the outdoors. Designed by New York-based architects SO-IL for Milan Design Week 2017, the MINI LIVING ‘Breathe’ installation is a response to the growing challenge to maximize available space in cities to comfortably accommodate more residences.

Built on a modular metal frame covered with a flexible, semi-translucent envelope that reacts organically to the environment, the home was designed for a family of three, and features six rooms and a lush rooftop garden. The ground floor is transparent to encourage interaction with the world outside; climb the spiraling staircase and you’ll find a series of private spaces for relaxation, work and sleeping, all separated by fabric canopies.

The outer skin lets in filtered sunlight, while the rooftop garden collects rainwater and helps filter the city air. Hammock-like nets suspended from the upper levels look out onto both the city outside and the interiors below. The architects describe the skin as a ‘jacket’ that can be zipped and arranged differently to protect against various external conditions. The more you layer it, the more privacy or water resistance it offers, so inhabitants can customize the needs of different rooms.

The idea, in part, was to ‘tune’ the interiors to the rhythms of the city, the weather and the sun outside, eliminating the closed-off feel that many homes tend to have. While the tent-like design may not be viable for many urban centers where cold weather, rain and theft might be a problem, it’s an intriguing idea for layering with more solid and secure materials like glass.

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Inhabited Ruin: Modern Home Hidden Inside Abandoned Masonry Shell

07 Apr

[ By WebUrbanist in Architecture & Houses & Residential. ]

inhabited ruin

When the architect of this remarkable remodel was hired to create a new home for his clients, a derelict building on the site caught his eye and turned out to be the focal point of a marvelous design project.

ruin exterior

ruin side

Estudio Castillo Oli (images by Angel Baltanas) balances old and new in this hybrid project, inserting a contemporary dwelling into a stone-and-brick shell on the site.

window glazing

ourtyard inside

Part of the existing structural remnants were retrofit with modern windows and a roof to create interior spaces for the home while the rest were left up as a kind of fence for a semi-private exterior courtyard.

inner workings

view above

New ceramic tiles and timber framing matches the existing context while steel and glass add a modern touch. A glass wall between inside and outside spaces reduces the sense of separation between them.

window detail

timber modern

Inside, new walls are pulled back from window openings to reveal the old structure. Glass and trim likewise give space to old openings, preserving what was there. The net result is a gorgeous, rich and complex mixture of aged elements and new, creating something with a sense of time but also fit for modern living.

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Cold Yet Comfortable: 13 Surprisingly Inviting Concrete Home Interiors

06 Apr

[ By SA Rogers in Architecture & Houses & Residential. ]

brisago 4

It may be cold to the touch, but concrete doesn’t have to make a home feel uncomfortable and unwelcoming, even when it makes up most of the surfaces throughout the interiors. In fact, concrete proves to be surprisingly versatile – polished to a mirror finish, molded with wood or given a rocky, irregular texture for visual interest – and setting it off with timber, glass, greenery and natural light strikes just the right balance.

Courtyard House by NOA Architecture

noa concrete house

noa concrete house 2

noa concrete house 3

noa concrete house 4

This stunning intergenerational house by NOA Architecture is programmed “as an inhabited landscape contained within a modernist slab,” with a single glass-wrapped layer between a floor and roof plane, so the concrete floors, walls and other surfaces are offset with views straight out onto the lush green landscape of Aurora, Oregon. The best part is that oculus-style atrium in the center of the living room.

Pitch House by Iñaqui Carnicero

pitch house 2

pitch house 3

pitch house 4

The dramatic ‘Pitch House’ of Madrid by Iñaqui Carnicero uses textured concrete to transition visually into its sloped, rocky surroundings. Using wood as formwork for concrete, and leaving the resulting textural imprint behind, lends a richness that the material usually doesn’t have. Glazed walls reflecting a crystal-clear swimming pool on the terrace don’t hurt, either.

Casa Dem by Wespi de Meuron Romeo Architetti

concrete wespi 1

concrete wespi 2

casa dem

casa dem 3

From street level, this blocky concrete house doesn’t look like much, but its beauty is hidden on the other side of the slope. Casa Dem by Wespi de Meuron Romeo Architects was made with several different types of concrete, including smooth, minimalist textures and rougher, more gravelly textures for an unexpected and beautiful contrast. The house is defined by its many square- and rectangle-shaped cutouts, from the smaller ones on the facade to the openings for windows and doors.

Low-Cost Modernist House by Terra e Tuma Arquitetos

vila matilde

vila matilde 2

vila matilde 4

vila matilde 5

Cement blocks are more commonly associated with prisons than residential architecture, and when you hear that they’ve been used to create a remarkably low-cost home, your expectations might be low. But Terra e Tuma Arquitetos pulled off quite a feat with Vila Matilde, an ultra-affordable modernist home in Brazil. Despite these cheap and typically ‘cold’ materials, the space feels comfortable and homey, with special thanks to plenty of natural light and a clever design incorporating a plant-filled courtyard.

Casa Brutale Cliffside Concept

casa brutale i

casa brutale ii

casa brutale iii

casa brutale iv

On the other side of the spectrum is Casa Brutale, a residence so luxurious and dramatic it seems like it could never be real. But this modern villain’s lair cut directly into a cliffside by OPA is actually under construction, with most of the interior spaces tucked beneath a glass-bottomed swimming pool for lots of watery reflections.

Next Page – Click Below to Read More:
Cold Yet Comfortable 13 Surprisingly Inviting Concrete Home Interiors

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The home of the L-series: We tour Canon’s Utsunomiya factory

20 Mar

The home of the L-series: Inside Canon’s Utsunomiya lens factory

Recently, following the CP+ 2017 show in Yokohama, we were granted the enormous honor of a guided tour through Canon’s Utsunomiya lens factory. Canon has been making lenses in Utsunomiya since 1977, and we were the first journalists ever to be allowed to see the L-series assembly line.

Utunsomiya (indicated with the dropped pin) is the capital and largest city of Tochigi Prefecture, in the northern Kant? region of Japan – about 80 miles north of Tokyo.

On February 27th, we made our way from Yokohama to Utsunomiya in the company of several representatives from Canon Inc., and our friends Dave Etchells and William Brawley from Imaging Resource. Click through this slideshow to see what we found.

The home of the L-series: Inside Canon’s Utsunomiya lens factory

Plant Manager Kenichi Izuki introduces his team. Of the six ‘Master Craftsmen’ within Canon, two of them work at the Utsunomiya plant. 

The home of the L-series: Inside Canon’s Utsunomiya lens factory

Mr Izuki explains what the Utsunomiya plant does. As you can see, several different families of products are manufactured in Utsunomiya, from high-end broadcast and EF lenses to components for office equipment.

The 2-story plant itself employs around 1,700 people and covers an area of almost 80,000 square meters (roughly 20 acres). 

The home of the L-series: Inside Canon’s Utsunomiya lens factory

Painted yellow lines snake through the corridors of the Utsunomiya factory. These are ‘read’ by robotic carts that carry components to various parts of the plant on pre-programmed routes.

The home of the L-series: Inside Canon’s Utsunomiya lens factory

Why, here’s one of them now!

The home of the L-series: Inside Canon’s Utsunomiya lens factory

One of the two ‘Master Craftsmen’ at the Utsunomiya factory, Mr Saito explains the incredibly fine tolerances involved in the creation of 4/8K broadcast lenses. Canon claims a tolerance of +/-30 nanometers. As such, if one of the finished elements were scaled up to the size of an Olympic stadium, the surface variation would be no thicker than a plastic grocery bag. 

Yes, you read that correctly.

The home of the L-series: Inside Canon’s Utsunomiya lens factory

To make these lenses, first you must make the tools which shape them. In the foreground, on the left you’ll see a steel ‘prototype standard’. Every element in a broadcast lens was born here, from a prototype standard – effectively a ‘master’, rather like a shoemaker’s last, from which the element takes it essential shape. Canon stores thousands of them.

The home of the L-series: Inside Canon’s Utsunomiya lens factory

On the left is the diamond plate, which takes its shape precisely from the prototype standard. This is used to make the lens polishing tool. Each grey disk on the plate is a diamond grindstone. On the right is the polishing tool itself, with its array of polyurethane pads, which is used to polish a single side of each glass element.

Each surface of every element takes roughly 90 minutes to polish, and this is done by hand.

The home of the L-series: Inside Canon’s Utsunomiya lens factory

The grinding and polishing process of broadcast lens elements explained. 

The home of the L-series: Inside Canon’s Utsunomiya lens factory

A replica prototype standard, with a measurement tool on the right. The tool is incredibly accurate, and is used to check for surface inaccuracies. Even a divergence of 0.1 microns (1/10,000th of a millimeter) from design parameters would be considered unacceptable.

The home of the L-series: Inside Canon’s Utsunomiya lens factory

Mr Saito demonstrates how a diamond plate is shaped by hand, using a large (and very heavy) carborundum disk. 

The home of the L-series: Inside Canon’s Utsunomiya lens factory

With decades’ of experience, Master Craftsmen (or ‘Takumi’) can tell when to apply more or less pressure by feel alone. Some processes, like this one, are considered so critical that they must be performed by hand.

It typically takes between 25-30 years before a lens polishing technician attains the status of ‘Meister’, and their experience is essential to the production line. 

The home of the L-series: Inside Canon’s Utsunomiya lens factory

Here, an element is being smoothed. Afterwards it will be centered, and then polished. Every day, the manufacturing process uses 400 tonnes of water, which is purified and re-used continually in a ‘closed loop’ system.

The home of the L-series: Inside Canon’s Utsunomiya lens factory

Not everything is done by hand. When it comes to EF lenses, Canon is expanding its automated manufacturing capabilities. We were extremely privileged to be shown this lens element polishing machine, which processes glass elements from a raw ‘cake’ of glass right through to final polishing, without any human intervention. 

During our tour, this particular machine was processing elements for the new Canon EF 16-35mm F2.8L III USM. From a raw cake of unpolished glass to a finished element the process of grinding, polishing and centering takes about 30 minutes. If this were done in the traditional (non-automated) manner it would take about 3 days per element. 

The home of the L-series: Inside Canon’s Utsunomiya lens factory

Here’s a single element from the Canon EF 16-35mm F2.8L III USM at the beginning of its life, as a cake of raw glass. This is what gets fed into the polishing machine. A finished element emerges from the machine every two minutes, and we’re told that all of the non-aspherical elements in the new Canon EF 16-35mm F2.8L III USM are processed in this way. 

Aspherical elements are produced using a separate high-precision molding process, which happens elsewhere in the facility, behind closed doors. 

The home of the L-series: Inside Canon’s Utsunomiya lens factory

Canon is at pains to point out that machines like this can only be created as a result of the Master Craftsmen’s decades of experience. The machines themselves are made in-house too, by Canon’s Production Engineering Headquarters. 

Although there has been a factory on this site since 1977, Canon opened the current building in 2005. According to Masato Okada, Deputy Chief Executive of Image Communication Products Operations, this move provided an opportunity for Canon to completely revamp its lens production methodology.

The home of the L-series: Inside Canon’s Utsunomiya lens factory

After watching elements being polished, the next stage of the tour is lens assembly. Before we set foot in this area of the facility, we need to don coveralls and take a cool, refreshing ‘air shower’ to make sure we don’t accidentally contaminate the production line. Here’s Barney, trying not to brush against the (sticky) walls of the decontamination room. 

The home of the L-series: Inside Canon’s Utsunomiya lens factory

This area of the factory is where Canon’s high-end L-series lenses are assembled. Like the broadcast lenses, much of the assembly process for fast prime telephotos is still done by hand. 

The home of the L-series: Inside Canon’s Utsunomiya lens factory

Here, a Canon assembly line Meister (her badge tells us she’s been a Meister for 17 years) works on the front assembly of a telephoto prime lens. 

The home of the L-series: Inside Canon’s Utsunomiya lens factory

A finished EF 300mm f/2.8L IS II USM is checked by computer before its final housing is put on.

The home of the L-series: Inside Canon’s Utsunomiya lens factory

‘OK’ – this one passed! You can read up on Zernicke Polynomials here, if you like that sort of thing.

The home of the L-series: Inside Canon’s Utsunomiya lens factory

This finished lens is being checked on a computerized test rig, which measures the lens’s optical characteristics in three positions, across 48 points of a proprietary test chart (which we’re not allowed to show, sorry). The camera is a modified EOS 5D Mark III. We don’t know exactly how it’s been modified, but our guide mentioned some firmware and hardware differences compared to a stock model. 

Interestingly, information about the lens’s optical characteristics is saved to a chip inside the lens itself. This data can be read and updated by Canon if and when the lens comes back for service. This allows information to be gathered about the durability of certain components over time and allows Canon to learn about long-term wear patterns.

The home of the L-series: Inside Canon’s Utsunomiya lens factory

Although rarely-used now, some lenses are still occasionally tested partly by using the traditional ‘projection’ method. Here, in a darkened room off to one side of the assembly line a technician (just visible in the background, under the image of the chart) is inspecting the image projected through a telephoto prime lens.

The home of the L-series: Inside Canon’s Utsunomiya lens factory

Increasingly, Canon uses automated assembly processes for its L-series zooms, which have a comparably higher sales volume than telephoto primes and broadcast lenses.

Again, the new EF 16-35mm F2.8L III USM is at the forefront of developments in automation. Roughly 50% of the assembly process of this lens is automated and Canon tells us that, they’re aiming for 80% automation within a year.

The home of the L-series: Inside Canon’s Utsunomiya lens factory

Because the non-aspherical elements in the EF 16-35mm F2.8L III USM are polished automatically, and 50% of the assembly process is done by machines, the amount of people involved in the manufacture of the new EF 16-35mm F2.8L III USM is relatively small. Roughly 10% of the manpower required if it were manufactured entirely by hand, we’re told.

The home of the L-series: Inside Canon’s Utsunomiya lens factory

Here, the view from a tiny camera inside the assembly machine shows a technician what’s happening. A EF 16-35mm F2.8L III USM’s focus positioning brush switch is being installed – a highly delicate procedure which requires extremely precise positioning.

The home of the L-series: Inside Canon’s Utsunomiya lens factory

Here’s another one of those modified EOS 5D Mark III lens checking cameras, this time hooked up to a finished EF 16-35mm F2.8L III USM.

The home of the L-series: Inside Canon’s Utsunomiya lens factory

It passed! We get the impression that very few lenses don’t. From start to finish, it takes roughly 24 (non-continuous) hours to manufacture each 16-35mm.


Editors’ note:

It’s impossible to come away from Canon’s Utsunomiya plant without an appreciation for the vast amount of expertise employed by Canon in the manufacturing of its high-end lenses. One striking aspect of the assembly process of broadcast lenses is how many steps are deemed so critical that they must be accomplished by hand. In the broadcast lenses assembly line we were told repeatedly that ‘this process is too complex to be performed by a machine’.

One of the reasons that Canon’s broadcast lenses are so costly is that as we saw, each element is hand-polished – often by someone with a minimum of 30 years’ experience. Internally, assembling one of Canon’s high-end broadcast lenses is considered among the most difficult jobs in its entire production line.

Manufacturing high-volume EF lenses in this way would be impractical (the wait-times for new models would likely stretch into decades…) but even so, when it comes to fast telephoto primes, much of the process is still performed by hand.

‘anyone that fetishizes the words ‘made by hand’ should try shooting with the EF 16-35mm F2.8L III sometime.’

Perhaps most impressive though is the automation. Canon has clearly invested a lot of time and energy (not to mention money) in automated lens polishing and assembly. We’ve been lucky enough to visit several factories, run by several manufacturers, and Canon’s Utsunomiya plant is definitely the most advanced that we’ve seen. Automation of critical lens polishing and assembly processes makes perfect sense for mass-produced products, and anyone that still blindly fetishizes the words ‘made by hand’ should try shooting with the EF 16-35mm F2.8L III sometime.

Canon’s self-calibrating lens polishing machines (designed and manufactured in-house) are capable of incredible precision, and the data gathered by automated testing and eventual servicing can be used in any number of different ways, to improve quality control over time.

After watching the entire assembly process from lens element polishing to final QC checks, we’re most excited by the possibilities which emerge from Canon’s inclusion of a chip inside each recent lens, which saves data about its own specific optical characteristics.

‘This could allow for… a bespoke ‘lens profile’ to be applied automatically’

As well as data-gathering and long-term quality control improvement, this also opens up the possibility that at some point a lens’s specific optical characteristics might be made available to the camera to which it is attached. This could allow for automatic AF fine-tuning, or potentially even for a bespoke ‘lens profile’ to be applied automatically to correct for optical characteristics unique to that one lens. This isn’t possible right now, but we’re told that Canon is working on making it a reality.

What did you make of this tour through Canon’s Utsunomiya factory? Let us know in the comments. 

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