A varifocal lens is a camera lens with variable focal length in which focus changes as focal length (and magnification) changes, as compared to parfocal ("true") zoom lens, which remains in focus as the lens zooms (focal length and magnification change). Many so-called "zoom" lenses, particularly in the case of fixed lens cameras, are actually varifocal lenses, which give lens designers more flexibility in optical design trade-offs (focal length range, maximum aperture, size, weight, cost) than parfocal zoom. These are practical because of auto-focus, and because the camera processor can automatically adjust the lens to keep it in focus while changing focal length ("zooming") making operation practically indistinguishable from a parfocal zoom. Varifocal lenses can be used for image display as well as capture, and Oculus VR has confirmed developing a varifocal display for virtual reality.
- Cavanagh, Roger (2003-05-29). "Parfocal Lenses". Archived from the original on 2007-10-07. Retrieved 2007-11-18.
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