Almost every aspect concerning the design of modern panoramic lenses brings new challenges to optical designers.
Examples of these include ray tracing programs having problems finding the entrance pupil which is moving through the
field of view, production particularities due to the shape of the front lenses, ways of tolerancing these systems having
strong distortion, particular setups required for their characterization and calibration, and algorithms to properly analyze
and make use of the obtained images. To better understand these modern panoramic lenses, the Optical Engineering
Research Laboratory at Laval University has been doing research on them during the past few years. The most
significant results are being presented in this paper.
Controlled distortion, as in commercial panomorph lenses (Immervision), is used to image a specific part of the object
with more pixels than in a normal fisheye lens. This idea is even more useful when a zone of interest vary in time with
dynamically adjustable distortion as in a panoramic locally magnifying imager. Another axis of research is the use of
modern computational techniques such as wavefront coding in wide-angle imaging systems. The particularities of such
techniques when the field of view is large or with anamorphic imagers are considered. Presentation of a novel circular
test bench in our laboratories, required to calibrate and check the image quality of wide-angle imaging system, follows.
Another presented setup uses a laser and diffractive optical elements to compactly calibrate wide-angle lenses. Then, a
discussion of the uniqueness in tolerancing these lenses, especially the front elements due to the large ratio between lens
diameter and entrance pupil diameter, is included. Lastly, particularities with polarization imaging and experiments of
triangle orientation detection tests before and after unwrapping the distorted images are briefly discussed.