Carl Zeiss AG
ZEISS’ Camera Lens Division is located inside the Oberkochen headquarters, and consists the lens design, general R&D, marketing and sales departments, also a customer support center that responds to inquiries from all over the world.
Unfortunately, for corporate secret reasons we are unable to provide detailed information about the production site, but one thing we can share is that the attention to detail and precision in their production system is similar to what we see in Japanese factories. For example, the desks and racks in the manufacturing facilities were all custom built by the in-house craftsmen to suite each workers’ tasks. Such attention to details and the will to improve precision and productivity seemed to be very well carried out throughout all production & service sections.
*The Customer Support Center, Lens service training etc. will be featured in issue 02 onwards
ZEISS Museum of Optics
The entrance to the ZEISS Museum of Optics is to your right upon entering the corporate headquarters lobby. It is free and open to the general public.
Carl Zeiss AG / Mr. Dietmar Mondon
Here at the museum it is shown not only the history of Carl Zeiss, but also the world history of optical products and technology, with various historic products on display.
The museum was built in 1971 to commemorate the 125th anniversary of the company, and recently finished the renovation. Inside its spacious 1000 square meter building, there are some very rare products such as Napoleon’s spyglasses on display, which the Carl Zeiss foundation had to reach out to world known collectors.
The exhibition area begins with the introduction of the first optical product: the microscope. Then the exhibition branches into 10 categories – Cameras, lenses, eyeglasses, optical instruments, microscopes, medical instruments, telemetry equipment, optical lithography, binoculars and planetarium.
Among all product categories Cameras and lenses are given a wide space, and showing special items as the Scientific-Technical Academy Awards received in partnership with the ARRI on Master Prime lenses, as well as a replica of the HASSELBLAD 500EL + Carl Zeiss Distagon 60mm F5.6 Space Camera which was used to take photographs on July 1969 moon landing of Apollo 11. There is also a hands-on exhibit area where visitors can learn about the structure of lenses and optical theory, as well as learning the mechanism behind macro and zoom lenses. There is even a small planetarium. You can easily spend half the day looking through all of the areas. (Opening hours 10:00-17:00)
The Best Standard Lens in the World: Otus 1.4/55
Otus means an “Owl” in Latin. One can consider that this lens, which made its debut in 2014, as the culmination of all the years of Carl Zeiss’ work. It is a world-class lens with “absolutely no compromises” to the lens’ performance. The Distagon design lens with 12 lens elements in 10 groups produces a high-quality image even to the corners at full open aperture. It really is a crystallization of the company’s optical theory.
Carl Zeiss AG, Laboratory/Application Technology, Camera Lens Division / Dr. Stefan Ballmann
Not only the optical performance but also the exterior design has been taken one step higher, the placement of ZEISS logo and engraving fonts and colors on the lens barrel are similar to the high end cinema lens Master Prime series – which shows further testament to the company’s dedication to workmanship and aesthetics.
Prior to this visit, we have been hoping to present readers with a special interview with Dr. Hubert Nasse at ZEISS laboratory, the father of Otus and the pride of ZEISS. Sadly, Dr. Nasse passed away just one month prior to this interview.
We visited the image quality assessment laboratory where Dr. Nasse conducted his tests. The laboratory still had many interesting items that he used, including the test chart that incorporates many elements necessary for all aspects of a lens test, as one can see in the video above, and it is still being used by young lab scientists to test lens prototypes. It is clear that these young talents will follow Dr. Nasse’s footsteps and will continue to make new pages of lens history.