Insufficient vision information, such as occlusion, low resolvability, and a small field of view, represent important issues in microassembly and micromanipulation. We propose an active optical system to solve problems related to insufficient vision information through the integration of robotics and optics technologies. The proposed system integrates a double-prism system and a scanning mirror system to supply a compact flexible view. The kinematics of the imaging system is analyzed based on a simplified model initially to investigate the workspace and identify the kinematic performance. A more rigorous analysis of kinematics of the system is then made based on the ray tracing method. The simulation results based on the preliminary design are provided for investigating the workspace and demonstrating the capability of the system in imaging with variable views. (C) 2008 Optical Society of America.