How Moth Eyes Inspired the Camera Lens

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Zeiss 50mm f1.4 Milvus lens review product images (6 of 8)ISO 4001-200 sec at f - 4.0

Camera lenses have optical elements inside of them which each have coatings designed to cut down on glare and reflections. Instead of reflecting light, they were designed to hold the light for a piece of film, a digital sensor or any other sort of photographic material. According to Wired, camera lenses and film are designed to mimic the way that a moth’s eyes work–specifically with light holding properties in mind.

The process of biomimicry, which is designing technology to function just like something does in nature, was specifically mimicked here because of the way that a moth’s eyes are black and tend to absorb light instead of reflect it lest the moth attract predators.

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Lensbaby Fujifilm Announcement (2 of 2)ISO 4001-125 sec at f - 6.3

The video talks about how the idea was also mimicked to make film anti-reflective and instead to absorb all the light it can.

Beyond this though, consider that the camera lens itself was designed to work very much like the eye. There is an iris, focus, etc. When two of them are put together, we get 3D content. Add even more lenses and then you start to get one of the ideas partially behind a light field camera–like the Lytro. However, most of the world takes pictures with one lens and so everything is typically in 1-dimension–though companies have been trying to find a way to make scenes look and function in a more 3D fashion with micro-contrast, specific lighting techniques, etc.