The next time you complain about spending thousands of dollars on a precision camera lens, stop and think about all the all hard work that went into its design and creation. As camera maker Mats Wernersson reveals, were you to make a lens yourself, you’d be spending days ensuring every last component was flawless.
In this fascinating how-to video that’s been edited down to just over four minutes, Wernersson makes almost every last piece of this 90mm f/2.8 lens himself, milling the housing for the optics from a single piece of aluminum, and polishing a raw chunk of glass to a near-perfect finish. That part’s handled by a slow and methodical machine, but knowing when a lens’ glass is ready requires a trained eye.
The resulting lens looks like something you’d find in a camera shop, and the images it captures have a deliberate swirly, dreamy bokeh around the edges. Wernersson’s lens is relatively simple compared to the electronic-packed glass most cameras use today, but the satisfaction—inevitably tinged, of course, with frustration and impatience—you’d get from a project like this would far outweigh any joy you’d get from unboxing a new piece of gear.