I'm thinking about building an all-sky camera, i.e. an automated camera that points straight up to the zenith and that captures the entire sky down to the horizon. The idea is to capture celestial phenomena like meteors.

A lot of the all-sky cameras on the web suffer from suboptimal image quality. I was wondering if, perhaps outside of the classical photography market, there are any lenses that offer a 180° FOV with very little chromatic aberrations, coma and astigmatism, but that are "faster" than about f/4.

If not, is it even possible (from a theoretical optics point of view) to design such a lens?

  • You might want to give pierretoscani.com/echo_fisheyes_english.html a read - it gets quite a ways into the lens design (there are some high quality lenses that have a field of view of 220 degrees, and one that was designed and patented but never built that has a field of view of 270 degrees). – user13451 Feb 3 '16 at 14:33
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    Basically the answer will be "no", for a similar reason to why a map of the whole world is distorted compared to a globe. Your lens would be trying to map half a sphere onto a square which inherently involves some distortion. There are ways to mitigate this, but all introduce their own problems. – Chris H Feb 3 '16 at 16:51
  • @ChrisH Why not? Note that there is no distortion-free image requirement, the question is not that naive! And there is this monster: cnet.com/news/nikon-insane-6mm-f2-8-fisheye-lens-costs-100000 – szulat Feb 4 '16 at 2:28
  • Your title uses "optical errors" rather than the aberrations you're more interested in. But to get the angles involved you're quite likely to need an aspheric front element (and not just a small departure from a spherical element). Chromatic aberration tends to be an issue with aspheres as the choice of glasses to make them from is reduced, and lens designers don't have all the options they could use to correct chromatic aberrations in a spherical system. – Chris H Feb 4 '16 at 6:47
  • Overall you might be better off with multiple cameras (think Street view) - if detection is your goal you don't have to stitch the overlaps. – Chris H Feb 4 '16 at 6:49

For ~ U$350 there's this: http://kodakpixpro.com/Americas/cameras/actioncam/sp360/ - Video and Photos, F2.8 Lens. One Camera does 214°, but you can buy two and the link themselves for 360° VR.

We need to know your Budget if you want pricey answers.

That Camera shoots: Still, Burst Shot, Movie, Time Lapse, Loop Recording, & has WiFi - with WiFi you can not only watch from the comfort of indoors but also change the Settings.

In addition there are Accessories to attach to your Drone or Bike (for getting your money's worth during the day).

There are a few Cameras like that but that one is the newest, a Company you've heard of, and seems (from your question) to provide more than you want for what you seemed willing to pay.

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