FoldIR Zoom Lenses

Infrared imaging applications are evolving at a rapid pace and continue to drive challenging requirements for reduced Size, Weight, and Power (SWaP). In particular, gimbal size and weight are critical factors impacting UAS (unmanned aircraft systems) flight and mission time. With this in mind, MKS Ophir has developed an innovative folded optics design that significantly shrinks the length of the lens assembly, reducing the overall volume of the entire integrated system.

Optimize payload gimbal systems with folded optics design

The use of folded optics enables the creation of ultra-compact electro-optical systems, mainly gimbals, with unparalleled image quality. This technology paves the path to incorporating a large aperture lens with long effective focal length (EFL) and extended vision ranges (DRI’s), while minimizing the total size of the payload gimbal.

Typical vs. folded optics designs

Typical zoom lens designs are characterized by a train arrangement of several lens elements, in which the front element has the largest diameter. In such a case, the largest lens diameter determines the diameter of the payload gimbal. However, in the case of a folded optics design, the height and width of the overall lens assembly (that impacts the gimbal size) are reduced.

Image 1: IR thermal image taken with SupIR 28-850mm f/5.5 HD format continuous zoom lens from 3.6km distance, via IR cameras infrared imaging system.

Enhancing gimbal volume usage

Folded optics designs better utilize the available volume for both lens and detector modules. This reduction in size is accomplished by “double­folding” the lens optical axis back on itself by two, reflecting mirrors at 45° AOI, significantly reducing the overall length of IR lens.

Ophir FoldIR lenses: tailor made for payload gimbal systems

The new FoldIR product family of zoom lenses, developed by MKS Ophir, utilizes a double-folded design to generate small-size, lightweight, small aperture and long vision (DRI) ranges. These continuous zoom lenses enable near diffraction­limit performance in harsh environments, addressing challenges such as line-of sight (LOS) stabilization and athermalization. This makes them ideal for advanced UAS IR cameras, creating crisp, clear images in a wide range of conditions.

Image 2: IR thermal image taken with SupIR 16-180mm f/3.6 VGA format continuous zoom lens from 6.1km distance, via Ventus Micro by Sierra Olympia Technologies Inc.

Products Characteristics

  • Meets low-SWaP demand with long-range observation capabilities.
  • Efficient folded optics design for maximum volume use.
  • Designed for variable size thermal imaging aerial gimbals and various other volume constrained platforms.
  • Focus is maintained through the entire zoom range, providing extremely fast zoom and focus response.

DRI (Detection, Recognition & Identification) Performance

FoldIR 30-450 mm f/3.4

FoldIR 16-180 mm f/3.6

FoldIR 28-850 mm f/5.5

FoldIR 50-1350 mm f/5.5

Cooled MWIR