Some people might be happy just to look through an image-stabilized supertelephoto lens like the Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS USM, let alone take pictures with one. Not the geeks at Pop Photo — we want to look inside the lens. But at $5,500 (street), it’s too pricey for us just to take apart. (Besides, we borrow our equipment for testing and have to send it back in one piece.)

That’s why Canon’s virtual lens plant tour is so cool. In a three-part Flash video, the company takes you through the whole lens-making process, from the sifting of the raw materials (100 of them), through the crucial fusing and cooling of the glass, through the pressing and polishing of the lens elements, to the hand-assembly of the final product. It’s like visiting an actual factory – but without the noise and the safety goggles.
—Miriam Leuchter
Managing Editor