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An object much farther than the focal length f from the lens should produce an image near the focal plane, because the second term on the right-hand side of the equation above becomes negligible compared to the first term, so we have ${d}_{\text{i}}\approx f.$ This can be seen in the plot of part (a) of the figure, which shows that the image distance approaches asymptotically the focal length of 1 cm for larger object distances. As the object approaches the focal plane, the image distance diverges to positive infinity. This is expected because an object at the focal plane produces parallel rays that form an image at infinity (i.e., very far from the lens). When the object is farther than the focal length from the lens, the image distance is positive, so the image is real, on the opposite side of the lens from the object, and inverted (because $m=\text{\u2212}{d}_{\text{i}}\text{/}{d}_{\text{o}}$ ). When the object is closer than the focal length from the lens, the image distance becomes negative, which means that the image is virtual, on the same side of the lens as the object, and upright.
For a thin diverging lens of focal length $f=\mathrm{-1.0}\phantom{\rule{0.2em}{0ex}}\text{cm}$ , a similar plot of image distance vs. object distance is shown in part (b). In this case, the image distance is negative for all positive object distances, which means that the image is virtual, on the same side of the lens as the object, and upright. These characteristics may also be seen by ray-tracing diagrams (see [link] ).
To see a concrete example of upright and inverted images, look at [link] , which shows images formed by converging lenses when the object (the person’s face in this case) is place at different distances from the lens. In part (a) of the figure, the person’s face is farther than one focal length from the lens, so the image is inverted. In part (b), the person’s face is closer than one focal length from the lens, so the image is upright.
Work through the following examples to better understand how thin lenses work.
Step 1. Determine whether ray tracing, the thin-lens equation, or both would be useful. Even if ray tracing is not used, a careful sketch is always very useful. Write symbols and values on the sketch.
Step 2. Identify what needs to be determined in the problem (identify the unknowns).
Step 3. Make a list of what is given or can be inferred from the problem (identify the knowns).
Step 4. If ray tracing is required, use the ray-tracing rules listed near the beginning of this section.
Step 5. Most quantitative problems require the use of the thin-lens equation and/or the lens maker’s equation. Solve these for the unknowns and insert the given quantities or use both together to find two unknowns.
Step 7. Check to see if the answer is reasonable. Are the signs correct? Is the sketch or ray tracing consistent with the calculation?
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