Coddington magnifier

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The cross-section through the optical axis shows the grooves that limit the aberration.

A Coddington magnifier is a magnifying glass consisting of a single very thick lens with a central deep groove diaphragm at the equator, thus limiting the rays to those close to the axis, which again minimizes spherical aberration. This allows for greater magnification than a conventional magnifying glass, typically 10× up to 20×. Most single lens magnifiers are limited to 5× or so before significant distortion occurs. The drawback is that the diaphragm groove reduces the area seen through the magnifier.


In 1812 William Hyde Wollaston introduced a much improved version of the earliest magnifiers consisting of a spherical glass by employing two hemispheres of glass mounted together with a small stop between them. Sir David Brewster found that Wollaston's form worked best when the two lenses were hemispheres and the central space was filled up with a transparent cement having the same refractive index as the glass. He therefore used a sphere from a single piece of glass with a deep groove cut in it.[1] In 1829, Henry Coddington brought the Wollaston–Brewster lens into general notice and further refined the design by modifying the shape of the groove, though Coddington laid no claim to being its inventor.[2]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ An Introduction To Applied Optics, Volume II, L. C. Martin, Sir Isaac Pitman & Sons, Ltd, London, 1932.
  2. ^ History of Science, Williams, Book 4, chapter V.

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