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Carl Zeiss

The Carl Zeiss AG is a German manufacturer of optical systems, industrial measurements and medical devices, located in Oberkochen with important subsidiaries in Aalen and Jena. Carl Zeiss is the premier company of the Zeiss Gruppe, one of the two large divisions of the Carl Zeiss Foundation. The Zeiss Gruppe is located in Heidenheim and Jena.

The organization is named after its founder, the German optician Carl Zeiss (1816-1888).

The other division of the Carl Zeiss Foundation, Schott Glass AG, is located in Mainz.


Zeiss Ikon history

The history of Carl Zeiss AG begins in Jena before World War II, then the world's largest location of camera production. Zeiss Ikon represented a significant part of the production along with dozens of other brands and factories.

The destruction of the war caused many companies to divide into smaller subcompanies and others to merge together. Nevertheless, there was an enormous amount of respect for the innovation and engineering that came out of Dresden—before the war, Dresden had been responsible for the world's first SLR camera (the Kine Exaktra) and the first miniature camera with good picture quality.

After the war, Zeiss moved to Oberkochen (in southwestern Germany), and Braunschweig.

Following the total economic collapse after the German reunification, Zeiss has returned to the marketplace. Since the 1990s the companies of the Zeiss Gruppe in and around Dresden have branched into new technologies: 3D-LCD screens and products for the automotive industry, for example. Zeiss nonetheless still continues to be a camera manufacturer, and still produces the Pentacon, Praktica[1] (http://www.praktica.de), and special-use lenses (e.g., Exakta). Zeiss also owns the Contax brand and produces other international brands.

Zeiss also produces lenses for space projects.

Today, there are arguably three companies with primarily Zeiss Ikon heritage: Zeiss Germany, the Finnish/Swedish Ikon (which bought the western German Zeiss Ikon AG), and the independent eastern Zeiss Ikon. Jenoptik produces cameras in the same city as Zeiss Germany (Jena), but is not related. There are additionally some Asian firms which still produce products under the Exakta brand, although it is rumored that this will be changed for quality reasons.


Carl Zeiss AG has been responsible for a number of optical innovations since the early 20th century.

  • Tessar® lens: from the Greek 'tessares' ('four') and patented in 1904, this lens was invented by Dr. Paul Rudolph and featured four glass elements. Tessars were originally fixed focal length and are otherwise typically normal lenses. Further development yielded longer focal length telephoto lenses, and in 2002 Kyocera produced the T4 Zoom 35mm camera, equipped with the 28-70mm Vario-Tessar® T* f/4.5-8.0 lens, the first zoom Tessar.
  • T* Coating: a multi-layered antireflective coating for lenses. Pioneered by Zeiss, the technology was further expanded in a joint venture with Rollei to yield 'HFT' lenses, sold under the Rollei name. Zeiss claims that there is no detectable difference between the two and that HFT was developed in response to the low output volume plant Zeiss was capable at the time.


Now over 100 years old, Zeiss continues to be associated with expensive and high-quality optical lenses. Zeiss lenses are generally thought to be elegant and well-constructed, yielding high-quality images. Even old lens designs such as the Tessar demonstrate engineering elegance and in the modern age of plastic parts, many Zeiss lenses are still made with predominantly metal components.

Although many lenses of other manufacturers commonly generate the sharpest images while operating at a very small aperture, Zeiss maintains that their lenses are sharp "wide open."

Zeiss licenses its technology to be manufactured by third party companies and, indeed, a great many have done so. Notable names include Hasselblad, an independently prominent name in medium format professional cameras; Rollei; Sony; and Alpa. Notably absent from this list are the Japanese companies Canon and Nikon, who by and large produce their own lenses.

On April 27, 2005 the company announced a collaboration with Nokia in the camera phone market.

Outside the world of cameras and imaging, Zeiss also produce superb spectacle lenses - particularly those with a high refractive index. These allow patients with a complex prescription to enjoy a thinner, more visually attractive lens.

See also

Contax, Rangefinder camera

External links

de:Carl Zeiss (Firma) id:Zeiss sv:Carl Zeiss (företag)


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