Parfocal Objective Lens – What Is It?

One of the best tools to use for microscopy and other relevant fields is the parfocal objective lens.

However, if you are like most people out there, you may not be fully aware of what the para focal objective lens is or what it does, which is why you should read this guide.

Parfocal Objective Lens – What is it

What Is A Parfocal Lens?

A parfocal lens system keeps focus even when the focal length or magnification of the lens changes. This enables filmmakers to zoom in and out of a subject while keeping focus.

The varifocal lens is the inverse of the parfocal lens. Varifocal lenses shift focus as the focal length shifts. Sometimes, this makes it extremely difficult to capture a zoom shot at the same time as staying consistently in focus.

DSLR cameras are now used by many aspiring cinematographers and filmmakers. Many beginners use varifocal lenses because parfocal lenses are much more expensive.

Parfocal Lens VS Varifocal Lens

Varifocal lenses necessitate a camera operator zooming out while changing focus. This can be extremely difficult to accomplish.

When zooming with a varifocal lens, the shot might capture the lens’s focus breathing. This can be extremely distracting to an audience and make a shot look amateurish.

Initially, varifocal lenses were designed for still photography. Because still photography is a multi-step process, photographers may choose to zoom in first and focus later.

As a result, the mechanisms that control focal length and focus are the same.

Varifocal lenses, unlike parfocal lenses, fluctuate focus as the focal length of the lens changes. This means that when using a varifocal length, the focus point will change whenever you zoom in or out.

What Are Parfocal Objective Lenses?

Optical elements include objective lenses. Because they are the closest optical elements to the specimen, objective lenses collect light from it.

The objective transmits a precise image of the sample to the eyepiece. To generate the base magnification, objectives are required.

Compound Microscope

A parfocal compound microscope means that adjusting magnification progressively, such as 4x up to 10x up to 40x and up 100x and down in order, requires only minor changes to the fine focus knob to keep the specimen in focus.

This subtle adjustment will only deliver if you move through magnification levels in order, you’ll need far more focus adjustment.

Stereo Microscope

For a stereo microscope, parfocal does not mean the same thing.

Once you have a clear focus on a specimen at the highest magnification of the microscope, you can zoom out to lower magnifications and the sample will remain in focus.

Microscope Cameras

The camera image and the eyepiece image must be in focus at the same time for a microscope camera to be parfocal.

To achieve simultaneous focus, some c-mounts, the most common type of lens mount, have focus adjustments that are built in.

Sometimes you can’t get the camera image to focus; if this happens, make sure your eyepieces are set to zero.

Parfocal Objective Lenses In Microscopy

Parfocal Objective Lens – What is it

As previously stated, parfocal microscope objectives maintain focus even when magnification is adjusted.

Clearly it is not flawless, and there will be minor magnification errors, but these are so minor that they are nearly imperceptible.

Parfocal objective lenses are useful because they allow you to change magnification while having little to no impact on the focus of your scope.

Microscopes lacking parfocal lenses must be refocused whenever the magnification is changed, which can take some time.

That’s one headache you’ll never have to deal with again, particularly since most newer microscopes now include parfocal lenses.

Telescope parfocal objective lenses are essentially the same as microscopy parfocal objective lenses. You can change the eyepieces in any order, just like a parfocal stereoscope, without having to refocus the telescope.

You are able to change the focus from low to high or high to low and it remains focused.

Like the microscope, most new telescopes are made with parfocal lenses, and you should have no trouble finding one, though they can be quite expensive.

Parfocal Objective Lenses In Photography

Parfocal lenses are essential. The obvious first reason for this is their ability to focus. Parfocal lenses have made it easier to zoom in and get a better view, whether with a camera or a microscope.

Photographers must also deal with less lens breathing when a parfocal lens is used.

Lens breathing occurs when a varifocal lens zooms in and the frame’s edges move in and out. This is no longer an issue because parfocal lenses remain focused as it zooms and after zoom.

Parfocal lenses are also used in film. After all, for movies to be good, they have to be.

Filmmakers use parfocal lenses to keep the camera in focus while zooming. It would be nearly impossible to get clear shots in cinematography without parfocal lenses.

How To Parfocal Microscope Objectives

Parfocal Objective Lens – What is it

You don’t want to have to refocus your microscope every time you change the magnification level on the objective turret. To avoid this, you must parfocal your compound microscope objectives.

When you change the magnification of your microscope, it’s beneficial if the lenses stay in focus the entire time.

When switching between magnification, parfocalling compound microscope objectives lets you adjust each objective lens to ensure it remains in relative focus with the other objective lenses on the microscope.

If the microscope objectives are not named, you must refocus the microscope each time the objective turret is changed to a different magnification.

When microscope objectives are not properly aligned, it is a hassle and can lead to eye strain as well as microscope wear and tear.

Each microscope manufacturer’s method for parfocalling objectives is slightly different.

Remove Objective Outer Cover

The first task will be to remove the outer cover from the objectives you intend to parfocal.

If you remove all of the objectives, you will parfocal and remove all of the outer covers at the same time. Make sure you know which covers are for which objectives and don’t mix the covers up.

The cover should be simple to remove by unscrewing it counterclockwise.

Adjust the Parfocality Ring

After removing the outer cover, locate the adjustment ring to adjust the parfocallity. Attempt to turn the ring.

The ring will most likely not move. The ring is almost certainly held in place by optical cement. Because the ring is so small, you’ll have to look closely to find the adhesive.

Remove The Optical Cement

A Q-tip and a bottle of acetone are the best tools for removing the cement. Dip the Q-tip into the acetone and lightly dab it on the adhesive.

The adhesive will dissolve, and you will be able to move the ring; it may take a few turns turning the ring one way and then the other to completely free the ring.

Replace the objective, minus the cover, with the microscope once the ring is fully movable.

After the 10x, put the next highest power objective onto the microscope; prepare the objectives in ascending order.

Test The Objective Lens

To put the objectives to the test, you must first rotate the 10x objective and focus on an object. Something with lines must be used as the object. Move on to the next objective once you’ve focused and the object is in focus.

The focusing controls will not be used to focus on this objective. Rotate the ring you freed in the previous step while looking through the microscope.

Because the ring is more sensitive than a focusing control, you must be precise when adjusting it.

Repeat this process with the remaining objectives once the subject is in focus. You’ll be able to move through all of your objectives without needing to refocus your microscope every time.

Secure The Parfocality Ring

If you do not secure the ring, you risk the ring moving, which means your objectives are no longer valid.

You will need some optical cement for this, which you can do while the objective is still in place.

To apply the cement, I prefer to remove the objective and replace the outer covers. Replace the objective covers after the cement has dried for a few minutes.

Parfocalling your goals should be done only once. But if it doesn’t work or you need to parfocal microscope objectives again, you will know what to do.


Unlike varifocal lenses, parfocal objective lenses are great for keeping focus no matter the changes or adjustments in the lens. This means that you can keep focus even when you are zooming in and out.

Because of this, those who are in the film industry favor these lenses as everything is much smoother and more convenient when getting shots.

Jennifer Dawkins

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