The world's biggest photographic lens is massive… and this is what it looks like

1.57m main lens for the LSST telescope

The main lens for the telescope measures five feet across

(Image credit: SLAC)

Pictures of what are claimed to be the largest-ever photographic lens have been released... and it sure is a whopper. The lens measures 1.57 meters, or 5.1 feet, in diameter and has been designed for use at the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST), which is currently being constructed in Chile, where it will be mounted in front a camera with a 3,200 megapixel sensor.

Called L-1, the lens is currently at SLAC, the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center, in California, which is assembling the super-resolution camera for the telescope. The lens is mounted with a smaller companion lens (1.2 meters / 3.9 feet in diameter) in a carbon fiber structure. Both lenses have been designed by the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL), and have been built over the past five years by Boulder, Colorado-based Ball Aerospace and Technologies Corp. and its subcontractor, Tucson-based Arizona Optical Systems.

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Chris George

Chris George has worked on Digital Camera World since its launch in 2017. He has been writing about photography, mobile phones, video making and technology for over 30 years – and has edited numerous magazines including PhotoPlus, N-Photo, Digital Camera, Video Camera, and Professional Photography. 

His first serious camera was the iconic Olympus OM10, with which he won the title of Young Photographer of the Year - long before the advent of autofocus and memory cards. Today he uses a Nikon D800, a Fujifilm X-T1, a Sony A7, and his iPhone 15 Pro Max.

He has written about technology for countless publications and websites including The Sunday Times Magazine, The Daily Telegraph, Dorling Kindersley, What Cellphone, T3 and Techradar.