History of Camera and Cine Lenses

How it all began

Every photographer wants the perfect lens for any situation. With its wide product range, ZEISS has been providing the camera lenses of choice for more than 100 years. The story began with the famous Planar® invented in 1896. Today, ZEISS is the world’s leading company when it comes to developing and producing high-performance camera lenses for all areas of photography and cinematography.

Whether for architecture or sport, portraits or fashion, landscapes or nature, still life studies or scientific applications, ZEISS provides just the right lens for any occasion. Even Hollywood has come to recognize this: Camera lenses made by ZEISS have received three Academy Awards in the Science and Engineering category (1987, 1999 and 2012).

1890

With the invention of the first anastigmatic lens with distortion-free imaging (later: Protar®) by Paul Rudolph, ZEISS launches a new era of camera lens development.

1896

Paul Rudolph develops the prototype of the Planar®lens: the Planar f/3.6.

1902

Tessar lens®, the "camera’s eagle eye"

1931

High-speed Sonnar lens® f/2 for Contax® cameras. Considerably increases the range of use of 35 mm cameras.

1933

Robert Richter develops the Topogon, the first fast and distortion-free lens with 90° angle of view. This lens revolutionizes the field of photogrammetry technology.

1935

Alexander Smakula develops anti-reflection coating for glass surfaces (Carl Zeiss T-coating). These provide the optical designer with totally new possibilities for the development of multi-element lenses

1954

Biogon lens® f/4.5 based on Ludwig Bertele’s design expands the possibilities of 90° wide-angle photography.

1966

The world’s fastest lens: Planar® 0.7/50.

1969

Photos of the first lunar landing were taken with ZEISS lenses.

1972

The super wide-angle F-Distagon lens, a fisheye-type lens, is launched.

1972

The first camera lens with perfect chromatic correction: Sonnar Superachromat® f/:5.6/250 for Hasselblad® camera systems.

1983

Start of the partnership with Kyocera, which by this time has acquired camera manufacturer Yashica (Contax)

1993

Carl Zeiss develops zoom lenses with exceptional imaging performance (Variable Primes) for Arri® 35 mm movie cameras..

1996

The first Carl Zeiss lens for a SONY camcorder marks the beginning of a long-lasting partnership.

1999

First lens for a consumer digital camera (Sony DSC-F55E): the Distagon 2.8/6.85. This marks the first venture into amateur digital photography.

2002
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DigiPrime ® lenses – extremely powerful and with hitherto unparalleled quality – are used in the film industry.

2005

Beginning of partnership with Nokia. Nokia N90 device marks the start of the Nseries.

2006

ZEISS SLR lenses for F bayonets (ZF). 

2006

Start of the partnership with Logitech.

2007

Collaboration with Sony on lenses for a projector (VW200).

2009

ZEISS SLR lenses for EF bayonets (ZE). 

2012

Compact Zoom CZ.2 70-200/T2.9: Einzigartiges Unique Cine-Zoom lens for current and future HD video and cine cameras.