Carl Zeiss and Photography

What is the connection between spectacle lenses and photographic lenses?

People have always liked to keep their memories documented in pictures and they still do today: The dream beach they combed on vacation, their baby’s first smile or a bunch of boisterous friends at a birthday party. Thanks to today’s rapidly progressing digital imaging processes, everyone can now have immediate access to photographic material that was just snapped and can exploit it further. Everything seems to take pictures these days – from mobile phones to high-quality reflex camera. The key player that helps you get better photos: The lens.

Carl Zeiss and Photography

In addition to spectacle lens manufacturing, Carl Zeiss is also a leader in the field of manufacturing lenses for amateur and professional photography. In these fields, as with spectacle lenses, the precision and performance of the lens are a part of image reproduction.

How Did Photography Start?

Around the year 350 B.C., Greek scholars discovered that through a miniscule opening in a dark room, the outside world was displayed laterally reversed and upside-down on the wall opposite that opening.

Leonardo da Vinci used the term “camera obscura” to describe this phenomenon around the year 1500. This is where the word “camera” comes from. The first actual photograph was created in 1826 by Joseph Nicéphore Niépce. The Frenchman Louis Jacques Mandé Daguerre (1787-1851) and the Englishman William Henry Fox Talbot (1800-1877) leveraged photography in the first half of the 19th century with their developments.

Talbot’s photographic negative/positive method made images reproducible. The first wooden daguerreotype cameras were sold by the Parisian company Alphonse Giroux in 1839. 

It wasn’t until the 1880’s, using the new types of glass developed by Otto Schott, that higher performance lenses could be developed. Ernst Abbé and Paul Rudolph at Carl Zeiss used this circumstance to develop new types of lenses in the newly created "Photography Department."

Carl Zeiss and Photography

Famous brands, from Nokia mobile phones to Sony and Rollei, count on ZEISS lenses

The ZEISS Anastigmat® lens appeared in 1889. It was so technically outstanding that 100,000 of these lenses had been sold worldwide within the first 10 years. With this lens and the subsequent Planar® and Tessar®, Carl Zeiss gained a leading position in the field of photo optics, a position that holds to this day and from which more innovations have followed. 


High-performance lenses are still in demand, and not only by today’s rapid development in the field of digital photography. Carl Zeiss continues to write history here as well: Famous brands, from Nokia mobile phones to Sony and Rollei, count on ZEISS lenses.

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