What is a Fiber-Optic Lens?

H. Bliss

Fiber-optic lenses are used in objects like lights and cameras. These types of lenses are usually glass objects contained within a metal or plastic assembly that either contains or affixes to a light or a camera. Lights that use fiber-optic lenses are usually for theater or for decorative lighting. Fiber-optic lens fittings for camera lenses are most often found in spy cameras like those used by law enforcement or private detectives. These cameras are most frequently used for surveillance or loss prevention.

A spy camera may be used to document and confirm a case of suspected child abuse.
A spy camera may be used to document and confirm a case of suspected child abuse.

When used for lighting, fiber-optic lenses help a lighting designer focus and direct the diffuse glow of fiber-optic lighting. Types of lights that use fiber-optic lens assemblies to operate include fiber-optic spotlights, downlights, and decorative lights. These lights are used in theater lighting as well as in interior decorative design lighting.

A spy camera may be used to confirm suspected cases of elder abuse.
A spy camera may be used to confirm suspected cases of elder abuse.

Flexible fiber-optic cameras can also be called spy scopes or snake cameras. They employ a fiber-optic lens at the end of a flexible tube that can be manipulated to best position a hidden camera. This type of hidden camera is most often used hidden within a bag or to hide a camera among wall or shelf fixtures.

Fiber-optics technology is essentially light transmitted over fibers of special glass. In addition to camera and lighting technology, fiber-optic technology can be used to transmit many types of data. Use of fiber-optics technology is usually more expensive than its electrical counterpart. Its preferable to electrical signals because fiber-optics are not susceptible to interference from other nearby electrical devices, making them a good choice for studios and offices using many electrically-powered devices. Use of fiber-optic cameras can also help ensure the a spy camera signal is not intentionally or unintentionally interrupted or disabled by electrical feedback.

Spy cameras are often used to catch abusers in the act of abusing their victims. A well-placed hidden camera can confirm cases of suspected child or elder abuse, which can occur at the hands of relatives, caretakers, or acquaintances. Hidden cameras can also be used to record crimes like theft and can be used as a backup to a visible camera system in case the visible devices are disabled or destroyed. Hidden flexible fiber-optic lens cameras are most commonly used by tactical teams during surveillance of a crime scene.

Pinhole spy cameras involve fiber-optic lens assemblies that are extremely small, sometimes smaller than an American dime coin. These cameras can be focused to catch footage close up, a function that is often necessary when monitoring drawers in which currency is handled. Exceptionally small, close-focused cameras can identify theft that happens in a concealed areas, and may help catch a cashier in the act of pilfering from the till or manipulating register data.

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