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Zemax File Extensions

This article provides a list of the extensions used by all of the files that are a part of Zemax. The necessary location for each file type is also provided.
 
Sanjay Gangadhara
07/09/2009
Frequently Asked Questions

Introduction

Designing a lens system in OpticStudio involves using many pieces of information, which in general are distributed in a variety of files and file types. Here, we provide a simple listing for all of the various file types supported by OpticStudio, sorted by category. An alphabetical listing of the file types - along with their necessary location - is also provided in this article.

File extensions grouped by category

General

CFG: Zemax configuration file, which contains saved analysis settings

SES/ZDA: Zemax session file, which contains information on open windows and their settings

ZAR: Zemax archive file, which contains all of the files associated with a given lens design

ZMX: Zemax lens file, which contains all design specifications

Input data

AGF: ASCII glass format catalog file

BGF: Binary glass format catalog file

BSDF: Contains measured scattering distribution (BSDF) data to be used for modeling surface scattering

DAT: Contains ABg scattering distribution data to be used for modeling surface scattering

IND: Input n(l) data file that will be fit using the Glass Fitting Tool
 
GRD: Used to define GRADIUMTM profile data

TID: Input n( l,T) data file that will be fit using the Glass Fitting Tool

TPD: Test plate data file 

ZMF: Lens catalog data file 

ZTG: Zemax table glass file 

Surface data 

DAT: Contains data used to model the Grid Sag surface in sequential mode 

DAT: Contains data used to model the Grid Phase surface in sequential mode

DAT: Contains data that can be imported into the Extra Data Editor for modeling a surface
 
GGD: Contains grid gradient index data for the sequential Grid Gradient surface

Object data 

TOB: Contains data used to model a Tabulated Faceted Radial object 

TOB: Contains data used to model a Tabulated Faceted Toroidal object 

User-defined data

C: C language source code files

DLL: Dynamic Link Library file, to model user-defined surfaces, objects, scattering distributions, etc. 

POB: Contains data used to model a user-defined Polygon object 

UDA: Contains data used to model a user-defined aperture (sequential and NSC)

Imported data 
 
F3D: OptiWave file containing electric field data for an input beam

INT: Contains interferometric measurement data used to model a surface (Zernike, Grid)

CAD-related
 
IGES, IGS: Initial Graphics Exchange Specification file

SAT: Standard ACIS Text file 

STEP, STP: Standard for the Exchange of Product model data file

STL: Stereolithography file

ZEN: Used to specify face number assignments on a CAD file
 
ZPO: Zemax Part Designer object file

ZOF: Zemax object format file

NSC Sources

DAT: Used to define a Source File object

IES: Used to define a Source IESNA object

LDT: Used to define a EULUMDAT source object

SPC: Used to define a source spectrum
 
RSMX: Radiant Source Model File

NSC Objects 

DAT: Contains default coating/scatter profiles for NSC objects
 
ZAS: Phosphors and Fluorescence absorption spectrum data
 
ZES: Phosphors and Fluorescence emission spectrum data
 
ZQE: Phosphors and Fluorescence quantum yield data
 
ZEX: Phosphors and Fluorescence excitation spectrum data

NSC Ray Trace

ZRD: Ray database file, containing information on ray positions, trajectories, etc.

Graphics 

ANN: Annotation files (binary), used to store user defined annotations for Zemax graphics

ELE: Settings file for the Zemax Element Drawing

NOT: Element Drawing note file.

Image Analysis 

BIM: Binary image file, used by the Image Simulation and associated features

BMP: Bitmap image file, used by the Image Simulation and associated features

EMF: Enhanced metafile, used by Metafile graphics

IMA: ASCII or binary image file, used by the Image Simulation and associated features

JPG: Joint Photographic Experts Group image file, used by the Image Simulation and associated features

Polarization

DAT: ASCII coating file

ZEC: Encrypted coating file

POP

ZBF: Zemax beam file, which stores beam electric field data

ZMM: Zemax multi-mode file, used to define a multi-mode POP beam

Optimization 

MF: Contains saved settings from the Merit Function Editor

Tolerancing

TOL: Contains saved settings from the Tolerance Data Editor

TOP: Contains saved settings from the Tolerance settings dialog box

TSC: Tolerance script file, used to run scripted analysis during tolerancing

“”: Files that contain user-defined statistics to use in tolerancing can have any extension

Macros

ZPL: An ASCII file containing script commands in the Zemax Programming Language

File extensions listed alphabetically

Here is a list of the extensions used by all of the files that are a part of Zemax, sorted alphabetically. The necessary location for each file type is also provided.
 

Extension Description Location
AGF ASCII Glass Format. These are ASCII files which contain the data for glass catalogs. An ASCII format is used so that additional data may be incorporated in future releases of Zemax. These files should be located in the directory {user}\Documents\Zemax\Glasscat\, or in the Glass Path provided in the File...Preferences...Folders menu.
ANN Annotations files. These binary files store user defined annotations for Zemax graphics. These files may be located in any directory.
BGF Binary Glass Format. To accelerate the loading of AGF files, Zemax converts AGF files to BGF, which are the version specific binary images of the glass catalogs. These files will automatically be generated by Zemax from the AGF files. The location of these files is the same as for the AGF files.
BIM Binary Image File. These files are used to define an extended source for the Image Simulation and associated image analysis features. The input files should be located in the directory {user}\Documents\Zemax\IMAFiles\.
BMP Bitmap Image File. These files are used to define an extended source for the Image Simulation and associated image analysis features. They can also serve as a reference for the Focault Analysis, or can be used with the non-sequential Slide object. The input files should be located in the directory {user}\Documents\Zemax\IMAFiles\.
BSDF Bi-Directional Scatter Distribution Function file. These files contain tabulated BSDF values which represent measured data for the angular distribution of scattering from a particular surface (see the article entitled "How to Use Tabular BSDF Data to Define the Surface Scattering Distribution" for more details). These files should be located in the directory {user}\Documents\Zemax\Miscellaneous\.
C C language source code files (i.e. for creating user-defined surfaces, objects, etc.). These files may be located in any directory.
CFG Configuration files. Zemax.CFG is the main configuration file which describes the user-selected options on the environment dialog box. There are numerous other files that may be present which end in CFG; for example, RAY.CFG contains the user-defined defaults for the Ray Fan plot. The configuration files associated with general analysis features, such as RAY.CFG (Ray Fan plot) or POP.CFG (Physical Optics Propagation) are located in the directory {user}\Documents\Zemax\Configs\. Lens-specific configuration files are located in the same directory as the corresponding lens (.ZMX) file.
DAT DAT files are used for a variety of applications in Zemax. They are:

(1) ASCII files which contain sag data used to model a surface via the Grid Sag surface.

(2) ASCII files which contain phase data used to model a surface via the Grid Phase surface.

(3) ASCII files which contain data for input into the Extra Data Editor, for those surfaces in which this editor is needed to define the full range of surface parameters.

(4) ASCII or binary files which contain data used to model a non-sequential source via the Source File object.

(5) ASCII files which contain coating data for use in sequential and non-sequential mode.

(6) ASCII files which contain ABg scatter data.

(7) ASCII files which contain coating/scatter profiles to apply to various faces of non-sequential objects.
For the first 3 applications shown to the left, these files may be located in any directory. For the Source File object, the input files should be located in the directory {user}\Documents\Zemax\Objects\Sources\Source Files\, or in the \Sources\Source Files\ directory for the Objects Path provided in the File...Preferences...Folders menu. The input files which contain coating data should be located in the directory {user}\Documents\Zemax\Coatings, or in the Coating path provided in the File...Preferences...Folders menu. The ABg scatter data files should be located in the directory {user}\Documents\Zemax\ABg_Data. The coating/scatter profile data files should be located in the directory {user}\Documents\Zemax\Profiles\.
DLL Dynamic Link Library files. These files are externally compiled programs linked into Zemax at run time. They can be used to model user-defined surfaces, objects, scattering distributions, etc. The location for these files is application-dependent. For example, the files for user-defined surfaces should be located in the directory {Install directory}\Zemax\DLL\Surfaces\, whereas the files for user-defined objects should be located in the directory {Install directory}\Zemax\DLL\Objects\. From OpticStudio version 17 and later, this directory is {user}\Documents\Zemax\DLL\
ELE Element drawing settings files. These files contain saved settings for the Zemax Element Drawing feature, that can be used to define the settings of this feature in any lens file. The input files may be located in any directory.
EMF Enhanced Metafile. These files contain graphics exported from Zemax in the Windows Metafile format. These files may be located in any directory.
F3D OptiWave F3D files. These files contain electric field data for a beam generated by a fiber or waveguide, as calculated by the OptiBPM or OptiFiber codes (see the article entitled "How to Get Real Waveguide Mode Data into Zemax" for more details). The files can be converted into the Zemax Beam File (ZBF) format for use with the Physical Optics Propagation tool. The input F3D files may be located in any directory. The converted ZBF files must be located in the directory {user}\Documents\Zemax\POP\Beamfiles\ if they are going to be used with the Physical Optics Propagation tool.
GGD Contains grid gradient index data for use with the sequential Grid Gradient surface These files should reside in the {user}\Documents\Zemax\Glasscat folder
GRD GRADIUMTM profile data files. These files contain refractive index profile data for stock gradient index blanks provided by LightPath Technologies, Inc. These files should be located in the directory {user}\Documents\Zemax\Glasscat\, or in the Glass Path provided in the File...Preferences...Folders menu.
IES Source IESNA files. These are source files that contain measured photometry data for a real lamp, formatted according to the Illumination Engineering Society of North America(IESNA) Standard File Format for Electronic Transfer of Photometric Data. These files are used with the Source IESNA File object in non-sequential mode. The input files should be located in the directory {user}\Documents\Zemax\Objects\Sources\IESNA\, or in the \Sources\IESNA\ directory for the Objects Path provided in the File...Preferences...Folders menu.


 

Extension Description Location
IMA Image File. These files are used to define an extended source for the Image Simulation and associated image analysis features. These files may be ASCII or binary. The input files should be located in the directory {user}\Documents\Zemax\IMAFiles\.
IGES, IGS IGS Initial Graphics Exchange Specification file. These files contain CAD representations of system components, which may be used to model objects in non-sequential mode. The input files should be located in the directory {user}\Documents\Zemax\Objects\CAD Files\, or in the \CAD Files\ directory for the Objects Path provided in the File...Preferences...Folders menu.
IND Refractive index profile data file. These ASCII files contain index vs. wavelength data for a glass, to be fit to one of the dispersion formulas supported by Zemax (see the article entitled "Fitting Index Data in Zemax" for more details). The input files should be located in the directory {user}\Documents\Zemax\Glasscat\, or in the Glass Path provided in the File...Preferences...Folders menu.
INT Interferometric measurement data file. These files contain surface measurement data obtained with an interferometer. These data may be used to model a surface in Zemax by converting the measured data into either: (1) Zernike coefficients to be used with the Zernike Standard or Zernike Fringe surfaces, or (2) Tabular data to be used with the Grid Sag or Grid Phase surface. The input files may be located in any directory.
JPG Joint Photographic Experts Group Image File. These files are used to define an extended source for the Image Simulation and associated image analysis features. They can also serve as a reference for the Focault Analysis, or can be used with the non-sequential Slide object. The input files should be located in the directory {user}\Documents\Zemax\IMAFiles\.
LDT Source EULUMDAT files. These are source files that contain measured photometry data for a real lamp, provided in a common format known as the EULUMDAT format. These files are used with the Source EULUMDAT file object in non-sequential mode. The input files should be located in the folder {user}\Documents\Zemax\Objects\Sources\EULUMDAT\, or in the \Sources\EULUMDAT\ directory for the Objects path provided in the File...Preferences...Folders menu.
MF Merit Function file. These files contain the full list of operands, targets, and weights for a saved merit function. The files can be used, e.g., to define the same custom merit function for different lens files, or to define different Merit Functions for tolerance analysis. The input files may be located in any directory, although the default path is {user}\Documents\Zemax\MeritFunction\.
NOT Element drawing note file. These ASCII files contain the notes to be appended to the notes section of the Zemax Element Drawing feature, to be used in any lens file.  The input files should be located in the directory {user}\Documents\Zemax\Miscellaneous\.
POB Polygon Object file. These ASCII files are used to define polygon objects in non-sequential mode. The objects are based on a collection of 3D triangles whose vertices are placed in the ASCII file. The objects may be open polygon surfaces or closed polygon volumes. The input files should be located in the directory {user}\Documents\Zemax\Objects\Polygon Objects\, or in the \Polygon Objects\ directory for the Objects Path provided in the File...Preferences...Folders menu.
RSMX Radiant Source Model File. These source files can be downloaded from the Radiant Source Model catalog (Premium Only). They can be used to generate a source file accurate in the near and far fields. When downloaded from the catalog, these files are placed in the {user}\Documents\Zemax\Objects\Sources\Radiant Source Model Files
SAT Standard ACIS Text file. These files contain CAD representations of system components, which may be used to model objects in non-sequential mode. The input files should be located in the directory {user}\Documents\Zemax\Objects\CAD Files\, or in the \CAD Files\ directory for the Objects Path provided in the File...Preferences...Folders menu.
SES / ZDA Session files. These files define the display configuration and open windows and settings for the corresponding lens (ZMX) file. If the SES or ZDA file is present in the same directory as the corresponding lens file, then when you open the lens file all of the analysis windows and editors appear in the exact same location as they were when the file was last saved, and all of the open analysis windows use the same settings as when the file was last saved. These files should be located in the same directory as the corresponding lens (.ZMX) file.
SPC Spectrum Source file. These ASCII files contain spectral data (i.e. wavelength and weight) for a source to be modeled in non-sequential mode. This data is similar to the data input for the Wavelength Data dialog box, but allows up to 100 wavelengths to be defined for a single source (the Wavelength Data dialog box only allows 24 wavelengths per configuration), and different files to be used for different sources. The input files should be located in the directory {user}\Documents\Zemax\Objects\Sources\Spectrum Files\, or in the \Sources\Spectrum Files\ directory for the Objects Path provided in the File...Preferences...Folders menu.
STEP, STP Standard for the Exchange of Product model data file. These files contain CAD representations of system components, which may be used to model objects in non-sequential mode. The input files should be located in the directory {user}\Documents\Zemax\Objects\CAD Files\, or in the \CAD Files\ directory for the Objects Path provided in the File...Preferences...Folders menu.
STL Stereolithography file. These files contain CAD representations of system components, in both ASCII and binary formats. These files may be used to model CAD objects in non-sequential mode. The input files should be located in the directory {user}\Documents\Zemax\Objects\CAD Files\, or in the \CAD Files\ directory for the Objects Path provided in the File...Preferences...Folders menu.
TID Refractive index profile data file. These ASCII files contain index vs. wavelength and temperature data for a glass, to be fit to the Zemax thermal model and to one of the dispersion formulas supported by Zemax (see the article entitled "How to Fit Temperature-Dependent Index Data to the Zemax Thermal Model" for more details). The input files should be located in the directory {user}\Documents\Zemax\Glasscat\, or in the Glass Path provided in the File...Preferences...Folders menu. 
 
TOB Tabulated object data file. These ASCII files contain data used to generate a Tabulated Faceted Radial object or a Tabulated Faceted Toroidal object in non-sequential mode. The input files should be located in the directory {user}\Documents\Zemax\Objects\Tabulated Objects\, or in the \Tabulated Objects\ directory for the Objects Path provided in the File...Preferences...Folders menu.


 

Extension Description Location
TOL Tolerance file. These files contain the full list of operands and perturbation values (min and max) for a saved Tolerance Data editor. These files can be used, e.g., to define the same custom tolerances for different lens files. The input files may be located in any directory, although the default path is {user}\Documents\Zemax\Tolerance. 


 
TOP Tolerance settings file. These files contain the saved settings from the settings dialog box for the Tolerancing tool. These files can be used, e.g., to define the same tolerance analysis settings for different lens files, or to define the tolerance analysis settings to be used with the TOLR optimization operand (see the article entitled "How To Optimize for As-Built Performance" for more details). For general tolerance analysis, the input files may be located in any directory, although the default path is {user}\Documents\Zemax\Tolerance. For use with the TOLR operand, the input files should be located in the directory {user}\Documents\Zemax\Configs\. 


 
TPD Test Plate data files. These ASCII files contain test plate lists supplied by various optical fabricators, for use with the Test Plate Fitting tool. The input files should be located in the directory {user}\Documents\Zemax\Testplate\.
TSC Tolerance script file. These ASCII files contain script commands which allow a procedure to be defined for evaluating the performance of a lens during tolerancing. This is useful for simulating complex lens alignment, or for monitoring and reporting specific system values during tolerance analysis. The input files should be located in the directory {user}\Documents\Zemax\Tolerance.
UDA User Defined Aperture file. These ASCII files contain commands used to define an arbitrary aperture (or obscuration) shape. Shapes may be composed of a series of line segments, arcs, circles, polygons and rectangles, and may be closed in a simple or complex way. Nesting of shapes is allowed as well. The input files should be located in the directory {user}\Documents\Zemax\Objects\Apertures\, or in the \Apertures\ directory for the Objects Path provided in the File...Preferences...Folders menu.
ZAR Zemax Archive file. These files contain all of the files associated with a lens design in a single, compressed format. This is useful for keeping track of the files associated with a given lens design, and for sending that information to others in a compact manner. These files may be located in any directory. Upon restoration of the archive file, the associated files (i.e. glass catalogs, coatings, CAD, etc.) will be sent to the appropriate directories.
ZAS Zemax Absorption Spectrum. The absorption spectrum data for use in the non-sequential Phosphors and Fluorescence volume physics model. Located by default in the {user}\Documents\Zemax\Objects\Phosphors and Fluorescence\
ZBF Zemax Beam file. These files contain beam electric field data used with the Physical Optics Propagation (POP) analysis feature. User-defined files, which may be ASCII or binary, are used to specify the initial POP beam. Zemax can also generate binary files which contain the electric field data for the beam at any surface along the propagation path. The input files should be located in the directory {user}\Documents\Zemax\POP\BEAMFILES\.
ZDA Session files. Please refer to SES/ZDA for detail.  
ZEC Zemax Encrypted Coating file. These files contain encrypted coating data, which allow the user to specify a coating in a lens file without having to know the detailed coating information. This is useful for users who wish to distribute lens files that contain coatings but without having to provide any proprietary coating information. The input files should be located in the directory {user}\Documents\Zemax\Coatings\, or in the Coating Path provided in the File...Preferences...Folders menu.
ZEN Zemax Face Number file. These files contain the face number assignments for a CAD object imported into non-sequential mode. These files are generated by Zemax once the CAD object is imported into non-sequential mode. The files are thus located in the same directory as the parent CAD objects.
ZES Zemax Emission Spectrum. The emission spectrum data for use in the non-sequential Phosphors and Fluorescence volume physics model. Located by default in the {user}\Documents\Zemax\Objects\Phosphors and Fluorescence\
ZEX Zemax Excitation Spectrum. The excitation spectrum data for use in the non-sequential Phosphors and Fluorescence volume physics model. Located by default in the {user}\Documents\Zemax\Objects\Phosphors and Fluorescence\
ZMF Zemax Lens Catalog file. These files contain compilations of ZMX format files which are used to define lenses in the stock lens catalogs. The input files should be located in the directory {user}\Documents\Zemax\Stockcat\.
ZMM Zemax Multi Mode file. These ASCII files are used to define a multimode beam for use with the Physical Optics Propagation analysis feature. The beam is created from a coherent or incoherent sum of other beams. The input files should be located in the directory {user}\Documents\Zemax\POP\BEAMFILES\.
ZMX Zemax lens file. These ASCII files contain the complete description of the lens, including apertures, wavelengths, prescription data and the merit function. These files may be located in any directory.
ZOF Zemax Object Format file. These files contain the representation of a CAD object that is used by Zemax internally. Zemax will automatically convert any CAD objects that are imported into non-sequential mode as IGES, STEP, or SAT files into a corresponding ZOF file. These files are located in the same directory as the parent CAD objects.
ZPL Zemax Programming Language files. These ASCII files contain macro commands which can be used to run Zemax in a script mode. This is useful for automating tasks in a lens design, generating custom plots, etc. The input files should be located in the directory {user}\Documents\Zemax\Macros\, or in the ZPL Path provided in the File...Preferences...Folders menu.
ZPO Zemax Part Designer Objects. These files are CAD entities that were generated in the Zemax Part Designer, for use in Non-Sequential or Mixed Mode. These object files reside in the {user}\Documents\Zemax\Objects\Part Designer Objects folder
ZRD Zemax Ray Database file. These binary files contain complete information (such as position that the ray hits the object, direction of the ray after refraction, polarization state of the ray, etc.) for each ray that is traced in a non-sequential system. Filter strings may then be used to isolate specific rays in the database (see the article entitled "How to Identify Specify Rays Using Filter Strings" for more details). These files should be located in the same directory as the corresponding lens (.ZMX) file.
ZTG Zemax Table Glass file. These ASCII files contain tabulated data for the refractive index and transmission of a glass vs. wavelength. This is useful for modeling glasses when the index data cannot be well fit to one of the dispersion models supported by Zemax. The input files should be located in the directory {user}\Documents\Zemax\GlassCat, or in the Glass Path provided in the File...Preferences...Folders menu.
 

Summary

There are many file types that can be imported or associated with OpticStudio models and analyses. If you have a question regarding a file type which is not covered in this article, please contact support@zemax.com.