Steven Manios Sr., former owner and president of Century Precision Optics, died Jan. 3, 2021, from complications of COVID-19. Known for his groundbreaking work in camera optics, his career in Hollywood spanned five decades.
Manios developed numerous optical devices, including wide-angle and telephoto lenses, which became standard equipment in film and television production. His work in adapting the Canon 150-600 zoom lens to professional use brought Century Precision Optics a Technical Achievement Award from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in 1992. Manios was recognized with the Society of Camera Operators’ Distinguished Service Lifetime Achievement Award in 2016. He was awarded several U.S. patents.
Over the years Century Precision Optics’ Tele-Athenar telephoto lenses were used in filming action sports and wildlife, including the film “Endless Summer” and television series “Wild America” and “Hawaii Five-O.” A custom relay system was developed to use in shooting model sequences in the first “Star Wars” movie. Other gear has aided underwater photography and newsgathering.
Manios sold the company to Tinsley Laboratories in 1993 and remained on its board of directors until 1998. Continuing to develop optical devices into the 2000s, Manios saw a need for a high-quality, wide-angle, short-zoom lens for Steadicam cinematography. Working with Angenieux, his design resulted in the Angenieux 15-40 T2.6 Optimo, the first in the company’s popular Optimo and DP series of zoom lenses.
Manios is survived by his wife, Linda; children Athena, Steven Jr. and Dina and seven grandchildren.
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