For the past year, iLHP has been collaborating with some of the industry’s best brands and manufacturers in order to bring you the newest and latest in photography. We’ve had early sneak previews and exclusive interviews. This past month, we attended the PhotoPlus Expo in New York City and met with ZEISS. We had the fortune of speaking with Nicole (Marketing Manager), Christoph (Brand and Product Communications), and Christophe (Senior Product Manager).
What is Zeiss Up To?
They were very enthusiast in answering your and our questions. Many projects are being developed and as you can imagine the partnership with Sony is their main point of focus, so to speak. There are obviously some secrets that they have to keep as the industrial competition is always ongoing but they could let us know that we can expect about 5 new Full-Frame E-mount lenses, including 2 to 3 new ones in 2016.
The Full Frame system is now clearly what the engineering and R&D teams in Germany are asked to develop. The A5100 and the A6000 are amazing cameras but are not the primary targets they want to address. They admitted being surprised by how popular and successful the A7 series is.
The German optical systems manufacturer, Carl Zeiss, has had a 168 year legacy in creating some of the world’s best lenses. In 2011, H.H. Nasse wrote a series of technical papers for Carl Zeiss detailing their modern lens history and genealogy. In his three part series, he discussed 5 lens designed that changed the world. They are the Planar, the Tessar, the Biogon, the Distagon, and the Hologon (click on these links to download the original PDF files).
While very detailed and technical, it is a difficult read for your average Joe. That’s why, we have repackaged the information in a more reader friendly format and filled in some holes with our cited research (such as adding the missing Sonnar lens). That being said, I still recommend you read Nasse’s original papers after you read this article. They are filled with interesting tidbits about optics and engineering.
Zeiss Normal and Telephoto Designs
A normal/standard lens means its focal length is about the diagonal length of the image capturing area. For 35mm film and Full Frame cameras, that translates to 24x36mm with a diagonal of 43.3mm. This means, lenses with focal lengths near 43.3mm can be considered normal lenses. We usually consider lenses between 35mm – 60mm as normal lenses.
This legendary Zeiss design trademarked Planar (also known as Biotar or Biometar in E. Germany’s Carl Zeiss Jena) is derived from, and suggests, a “plane/flat” field curvature. Most of the world’s fastest lenses today are derivatives of the Planar design, including:
I took an early morning stroll today through the world famous Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). It really needs no introduction. The best science and engineering university in the world. Ranked #1 university overall on the QS World University Rankings. Its alumni invented the radar, transistor radio, nuclear fission, condensed soup, Technicolor, GPS, the internet, and the list goes on. It is just across the Harvard Bridge, about a 30min walk from me, in Cambridge, Massachusetts. I thought I’d give everyone a photo tour of its high-tech campus.
Leica Summacron 35mm f/2.8 @ f/5.6, ISO 800, 1/100s